You hear the word "bullying" and you immediately associate it with children and teenagers. But adults are bullied too - you'll find bullying in friendships, relationships and in the workplace.
Significant others, friends, bosses and co-workers use bullying as a tactic to intimate you. Being a bully lets someone else be in control. Your boss may bully his employees because he knows they fear losing their jobs and wouldn't dare stand up to him.
Bullying is all too common. It starts on the playground and continues into adulthood. As common as it may be, it's important to know that if you do not act against bullying, it can destroy who you are.
My actions against harassment varied throughout my life. As a young child I did very little to fight back. I was afraid to stand up for myself. Sadly, the bullies realized my weakness and continued. Later, I did report it to authorities, but eventually, they just moved on to someone they believed was weaker than me.
Being bullied as an adult
As I grew into a young adult, I experienced bullying in intimate relationships and in the work place. This time I wanted to be strong and not timid. I wanted to show others that I had what it took to fight back - I reacted with insults and a hot-temper. It did nothing to solve my problems and only made those around me afraid I was a bully, too.
I asked God to help me find a balance between weakness and aggressiveness. And he answered my prayers.
Asking God for help
Today, I find that people who are just getting to know me confuse my kindness and calmness for weakness. They believe I do not have a voice. However, I am not weak and I do have a voice. I am strong-minded. I simply choose my battles carefully. It took prayer and maturity to understand that bullying back is never the answer.
I decided that how others perceive me is their choice. I don't have to defend myself or proof anything - and you shouldn't have to either. You can pray to God to help you overcome your bullies while still keeping your kind and calm disposition. I learned to take care of myself, while still reaching out with prayer and compassion.
No matter your situation, the one thing you should do is allow God lead the way.
Below are two ways to stand up to bullying:
Psalms 18:3 reads, "I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy, to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies."
Prayer is a powerful instrument. Praying will give you the inner strength to stand up for yourself without losing your dignity. When bullies realize you have the strength and courage to not play their game, they will back down. They will see your strong will and know they won't be able to intimidate you.
Fighting back physically or with a sharp tongue is never the answer. It may seem cowardly to not bully others back as a way to fight, but the best way to defeat bullying is to stand firm and assert your calm strength. Let bullies know their actions are not hurting you, they are just hurting themselves.
Realize their actions are motivated by insecurities. Show them God's love and remember the words in Romans, chapter 12:20: "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." God's place is give judgement and vengeance - it is your place to serve those, even if they are your enemies.
As much as we want to end bullying entirely, it's impossible. But we can stop it one situation at a time by setting a positive example for others. Make a commitment to stand up to bullies with God as our leader.
Mayra Colón is a freelance writer, former independent author and avid reader. She holds a MBA from the University of Phoenix and completed the Freelance Writing and Selling Online course from Rutgers University of Arts and Sciences.