Can Bullies Change?
By: Flowering Spring Tree
November 1, 2013
Can bullies change? That is a question that I have often asked myself throughout my life. And, I think that I have an answer that I would like to discuss here.
An important issue regarding people who are bullies – or who are viewed as bullies by others – is that the bullies, themselves, are unable to realize that they are bullies. If they have grown up in environments in which they have been bullied by others, have not been cared about, and/or have been abused in any way, people who are bullies may not realize they are bullies. If they have had experiences that encourage and/or support bullying, and or if they have come to identify with bullies as a way to survive, whether emotionally or physically, they likely do not view themselves as bullies.
Therefore, for many bullies, bullying is a normal, and even expected, encouraged, or supported way of life. In their environments and through their experiences, bullying may be common for them. When bullying becomes an ingrained and entrenched part of their lifestyles and life experiences, they are unable to step outside of themselves to see what they have become. And, sometimes, even if they realize it, they may believe that it is too late to change, that they are unable to change, and that, in order to change, they may have to transform ‘who they are’ as individuals in regard to their personalities and identities. For many, this is likely a daunting task that may fill them with anxiety, worry, and discomfort. Therefore, they do not change, and stick to what is comfortable and familiar.
On the other hand, there are people who are bullies who have changed. In my life, I have not met many, however I am familiar with a few who have changed. The first step that a bully must take in order to make a positive change is to realize and recognize that they are being a bully. They must be open to recognizing and admitting to themselves that they are hurtful, mean, insensitive, vengeful, and/or worse toward others. Once they can do that, and not blame others or remain in denial about their own worldviews, there is the potential for positive change.
Following this, individuals who have been bullies must also be open to trying to behave toward and think about the world in a different way that is more sensitive and positive. Having compassion for others as well as oneself is important. One does not have to bully others in order to be tough. One can be compassionate and still stand up for oneself and others without being a bully.
Therefore, I believe that people can change – and that people who are bullies can change – but only if they really want to and put forth genuine efforts to do so.