The Antidote to Bullying – The Power of Relationship-Centered Care©
As someone who has experienced bullying first-hand, I know the pain and trauma it can cause. It can make you feel isolated, helpless, and afraid. It can make you question your worth and your place in the world. It can make you spin in the pain and keep you chained up like a victim. But what if I told you that there’s a way to overcome bullying, not just by standing up to the bully, but by building strong relationships with yourself and others? It all starts with Relationship-Centered Care©.
What is Relationship-Centered Care©?
After years of having worked as a nurse, I have come to realize that physical, mental and emotional health, are all required to be in good relationship with self, others, and our universal energy overall. When we are in good relationship with ourselves first, we are better able to show up authentically, asking for what we need, offering what we can and being very clear about our boundaries. We are in touch with what matters and what our past may have influenced in our present-day responses. We are better able to build honest relationships with ourselves and others. Whether it’s between you and a patient, you and a doctor, or you with a colleague or family member, these relationships are an important and integral part of quality healthcare. My strong belief is that the foundation of Patient-Centered Care is Relationship-Centered Care©. This must come first and is not taught in ANY school.
How is Relationship-Centered Care© an Antidote to Bullying?
When dealing with a bully, it is important to focus on the person, not just their actions. What you focus on expands. So, if you focus on their actions, you will most likely respond to the actions instead of the root of where their actions are coming from. It means recognizing that behind every bully is a human being with their own struggles and pain. I love the anonymous quote that explains this well: “What is hurting you so much that you feel the need to hurt me?”
When you can empathize with the bully and come more from a place of curiosity, you are better able to be authentic, ask questions, set your boundaries, offer what you can, and show a willingness to bring peace to the situation versus being a victim or maybe worse yet, a bully right back, spilling out defensive hurtful words or stonewalling, walking away and holding the poisonous energy of that encounter. Taking a step back may be needed to help calm the situation, and going back with empathy is important. Avoidance does not solve anything, and gossiping about it to others will only feed the evil wolf that lurks within. This does not mean that the bully will stop the behaviour immediately but staying calm, true to yourself, not taking things personally, and leading by example will most certainly have the bully think about what you said and how you handled the situation. Remember that you only have control of yourself, not others.
For me, building a healthy relationship with myself was the first step. I had to learn to ask for what I needed, to set boundaries in a respectful way that made it about myself first. I had to learn to recognize my own worth and to stand up for myself. And once I did that, I was able to build better relationships with others, which in turn provided stellar patient-centered care and was a clear message to bullies that they were not going to get satisfaction in bullying me.
It’s important to remember that bullies are often struggling with their own pain and trauma, and their actions may be a way of deflecting that pain onto others. This does not make it right, but it does make more understandable. That’s why it’s important to remain strong and grounded in your own boundaries, while also showing care and concern for the bully.
At the same time, it’s important to give consequences for the bully’s actions, both good and bad. This means rewarding positive behavior and showing that their actions have an impact on others. It also means holding them accountable for negative behavior and showing that their actions have consequences.
We must remember that dealing with a bully can be very different if the bully is a patient. For the most part, the stakes are higher for a patient. They are often in an unfamiliar setting with a loss of control, confused by all the new lingo, treatments, approaches, nurses, doctors, and fear is at it’s peak. One of their basic human needs of certainty is totally crushed. They have more questions than answers and they are not authentically themselves. Rather than dealing with the actions of a bullying patient, chose to be curious about their emotions and questions. Offer what you can and ask for what you need to make that happen for them.
And what about forgiveness? It’s often forgotten in discussions about bullying, but I believe it’s crucial. Forgiveness is about recognizing that if we or anyone else could have done better, we would have. We may not yet have worked on our relationship with ourselves, which would have given us the understanding of how to work with our emotions, how to move forward from what’s possible, and not just from our experiences. It would have taught us how to deal with our triggers, how to communicate more effectively. It’s about understanding that we may be struggling with our past and do not have the tools to deal with the present. It’s about realizing that often, we blame others to take the pain off ourselves. Forgive yourself, as I have done with myself and others who have bullied me. Begin with looking at yourself.
In conclusion, the antidote to bullying begins with Relationship-Centered Care©. By focusing on building strong, healthy relationships with yourself, and then others, by approaching the bully with curiosity, empathy, and compassion, by giving consequences for their actions, and by forgiving yourself and others, you can overcome bullying and build a better world for yourself and others. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Let’s take the first step together.