On Bullying

by Dorothy Ann Cole

On Bullying – A Potent Exercise

Bullying is a much bigger problem for children and teens than most of us consider, and cyber-bullying is on the rise. One third of kids between the ages of 10-18 have experienced cyber-bullying. Of those, 10% are not telling their teachers or parents*. The suicide rate in this age group is rising too. It is in the news, on the web, and should be on the lips of every parent and teacher offering support and understanding – a massive outreach to every kid.

Fortunately, there are solutions. This lesson was sent to me in an email, so I believe Felissa is the teacher. (Request: If you know Felissa, tell her thanks from me.)

Felissa Elfenbein:
A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child; they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on or better yet, if you’re a parent or a teacher, do it with your child/children.

My Observation:
This is a powerful visual lesson for children and teens and adults to understand the impact and potential harm our thoughts, words, and deeds have in affecting others.

My View:
I disagree that the scars never go away. There are several ways to minimize the hurt and pain, and in fact, neutralize it. One of these is self-empathy which is tuning into your own feeling and an unmet need. Lesson 6 on Needs has an exercise on self-empathy. Try it out. Here are some secrets on self-empathy that I discovered with my Language of Peace mentors and the advice of a holistic doctor.

One day, my partner said something that infuriated me. I recognized that it was not about him; it was about me. Immediately, I was thrown back into a different time and place. This is a common PTSD happening. Once there, I decided to do Self-Empathy. I sat at my computer and I wrote: I feel …. because I need …. plugging in a Feeling and Need for each sentence. I did this over and over, may be 10 or 15 times. Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion, that I cried and cried. Then I wrote again, I feel…because I need…, and a little more came up and I wept some more. Then I was done–complete and at peace.

The most extraordinary thing is that to this day, I cannot remember what it was about. Even just days later, telling a practice group about it, I could not remember. Somewhere on my computer, the writing must be there, but I have never found it.

About Crying:
The other extraordinary thing which I have known for a long time, is that to cry is not a bad thing. When I cry, I am releasing blocked emotions. When I finish, I feel better. Real healing occurs. Now some find it hard to cry. One male friend told me that he never cried. My response: “Wow, that’s too bad. You would feel better for it.” Later, I learned from a holistic doctor that in the tears we shed, are homeopathic remedies which help us calm down. Her advice was to lick up the tears, instead of wiping them away. And remember, there are also tears of joy too!

(You may want to print out the Feelings & Needs list; it could come in handy as you do this exercise.)

With self-empathy, your scars might just go away. However, if you find you need deeper work on this, you might want to have a session with me. Let’s get your need for relief met today! Call 503-208-4098 or email info@peace-matters.net to schedule an appointment or go to the Services page for payment options.

* Common Sense Media provides more information and strategies for preventing bullying for teachers and parents.


When the power of love overcomes the love of power,
the world will know peace.
~ Jimi Hendrix



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