The hardest part

The hardest part about solving our problems is realizing we need to let go of some of our pain to do it. Most people are not willing to let go of their pain because it is part of what defines them. They want whatever is happening to be about them, even if what is happening is not pleasant.

The problem is that in difficult interpersonal relationships, if you want to solve your problem, you have to consider your adversary compassionately. Again, most people aren’t willing to do that because they want and need to be the victim in their drama. And so, they would rather allow their problems persist than to consider the possibility that they might be contributing to the problem.

Regardless of how hard it is and how scary this is to do, if you want to heal, you need to find compassion for yourself and your adversary, in that order. You have to love yourself enough to allow yourself to heal by thinking beyond your hurt to consider someone else’s point of view.

In my latest book, The Bully Vaccine, I spend a couple of chapters talking about the need to consider bullies through the lens of compassion. I know full well that most people reading my book will refuse to do this. What they really want is for the bullying to stop without them having to do any hard work.We Humanists live in the real world. We know that if we want something to happen, we need to take responsibility to make it happen.

When it comes to dealing with a bully, you have to know what is actually motivating them. Hint - bullies rarely bully just to be mean or evil. Most are just trying to feel less insecure or are doing it to try and fit in.  Once you understand a bully’s true motivation you use that information to essentially “retrain” them to not bully you.  If you are too wrapped up in your pain to try and see the world through another person’s eyes, you are not going to be able to achieve the emotional distance you need to implement my program.

There are two main benefits of feeling compassion for a bully. The first is that it puts you in the state of mind to actually respond to them in an emotionally secure way – which is essential to ending the bullying cycle. The second benefit is that instead of focusing on your pain, you are focusing on the pain of someone else. And this really does help insulate you from the mean things the bully is doing. It’s like having an emotional force field around you.

Another way to think about this is that you and the bully have been going round and round on a carousel. By deciding to feel compassion for the bully, you are deciding to step off the carousel while the bully continues to go round and round. You can see them, see what they are doing, but because you are not on the ride with them anymore, you are unaffected by their activities and it is easier for you to encourage them to get off the ride they are on as well. And if they refuse, well, that’s their problem.

So, yes, feeling compassion for bullies and other obnoxious people is probably the hardest thing you can do. However, it is also the smartest thing you can do.

Get your copy of The Bully Vaccine Now!


  1. I really like that article....I look forward to reading the book. I am dealing with my dad...him and I do not get along...he is dying from cancer, matter-in-fact both are and I have moved back home from the state I love (Wyoming) to take care of them. I will read the book but right now I am reading another...again thanks!!!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this. Very tough. But, if your dad was ever in need of compassion, now is the time. My thoughts are with you.


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