The other day I was listening to an interview with author Wayne Dyer. One of the main topics discussed was how we react and interact with others. At one point, Dr. Dyer said something that really caught my attention, “No one ever died of a snake bite.” “What does he mean?” I wondered, “People die of snakes’ bites all the time!” He went on to explain that while people may die after being bitten by snakes, it wasn’t the bite itself that killed them, but the venom.
I thought about this, and found that it was a great analogy for viewing our interactions with others, especially when we are talking about the difficult situations related to bullying. Imagine that someone comes up to me and calls me a name. The name-calling itself isn’t what is really going to bother me, but how I interpret what happened.
If I dwell on this incident, believing that what they said is true, and taking it as proof that I am unpopular, or if I harbor a deep-seated anger towards this person for a long period afterwards, it is akin to being bitten by a poisonous snake. Scientifically speaking, the “bite” itself probably had little effect on my physical and mental state, but my interpretation of the event, and the after effects, can be devastating.
However, maybe I am able to shrug it off, look at the big picture and think, “Maybe this person is having a rotten day, deep down they are probably a kind person, I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, I don’t need everyone to like me, etc.” Then, the name-calling would be akin to getting bitten by a non-venomous snake. Sure, I would prefer that it didn’t happen at all (I am petrified of snakes), but it is not the end of the world.
Obviously, one big difference is that with bullying, we actually are in control over whether or not the “snake bite” is “venomous.” It may not seem that way at times, but I believe that with the right training and proper mindset, we can avoid letting bullying “poison” our minds.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Here are some examples of thoughts that might go through a person’s mind after being bullied. I have labeled them as to whether or not they seem venomous to me.
1. I am sad, that hurt my feelings. (Non- venomous)
2. This is an absolutely horrible day; no one likes me. (Venomous)
3. That was rather unpleasant. (Non-venomous)
4. I really hope something bad happens to that guy/girl! (Venomous)
5. Maybe he/she is having a bad day. (Non- venomous)
6. He/she is an absolute rascal/scum/etc.! (Venomous)