Loving the Bully Within


The world is full of bullies. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors.

It’s true. In one way or another someone will eventually intentionally overpower you. Kick your ass and/ or heckle and tease you until you cry.

Maybe it’s in a romantic relationship. Maybe it’s that asshole boss. Or your idiot neighbor. Or any of a million other people that just keep firing in your direction. It is (part of) human nature.

Yes, there’s tons of goodness and love and sweetness and ice cream, too. But this post is about the bully part.

So what’s a bully all about? As far as I know (and I should, because I was bullied as a kid at summer camp), a bully is someone who hurts us and ridicules us just because they can. Their intention is to exert power through intimidation. Of course, it always comes from the bully’s own fear and insecurity. This is a huge piece of the bully pie.

When someone has a reasonable amount of security, stability and self-esteem, there’s no reason for them to push anybody else around. People may get frustrated and aggressive at times, but at their core, anyone with their basic needs met will eventually back off when they come to their senses. Bullies rarely back off.

When a bully shows up in your world, your lizard brain kicks right in. Fight or flight. And since the bully’s mission in life is to harass and terrorize you, and they’re probably pretty good at it, chances are good that you’ll pick ‘flight’. However, if you’re at the end of your tether, or if the bully pushes the wrong button on the wrong day, you may pick ‘fight’. I’m gonna suggest another option that transcends these primal responses.

Love the bully. Seriously, deeply, with all the kindness and compassion your heart can stir.

You know they’re hurting. Somewhere along the line, like all of us, they’ve been abused, mistreated. In one way or another they’re scared, anxious and tormented themselves. And for whatever reason, they choose to act out in the board room, the bedroom, the freeway, the street.

If you run from the bully, they gain power. You encourage them to act out again with you and with others. If you step up and fight with the bully, whether the violence is physical or emotional, it adds conflict to the universe. And we really don’t need any more of that.

That said, I do believe there are times to fight.

So when the bully is rattling her saber, if you can lose the fear and engage her with genuine love, it’s a win. The bully will feel it, even if she doesn’t show it or react at the moment. And you just took a monumental step in your personal evolution. In fact, now would be the time to take it to the next level.

Be grateful for your bully. Deeply and genuinely.

Do it (for real) and your karma points will skyrocket. You will be a superstar. Click To Tweet

So I suspect up until now you’ve been conjuring memories, futures or current issues with bullies out there in the world. And this wisdom still goes. But the real deal is bringing the love to the bully within.

You know what I’m talking about. The inner voice that talks you into (or out of) taking bold action. Believing in yourself. Loving yourself. Taking risks. Trusting your intuition.

This bully is the biggest bitch. The worst offender. The most destructive. This bully lives in us all. Sometimes she whispers and sometimes she shouts but she’s always there. She’s been hurt, wounded, harmed, traumatized.

Running from her only makes her stronger. Fighting with her may temporarily overpower her voice, but she’ll be back. The only way to quiet her for real, forever, is to love her deeply. To love yourself deeply.

There are a million ways to do this but first you have to acknowledge her and her pain. Accept her. And then open your heart to her. She’ll probably cry. Then she’ll thank you. Then she’ll vanish. Then your heart will shine again in ways you cannot imagine.


Pop Quiz
(Every answer is the right answer)

How have you dealt with external bullies?
How do you deal with your internal bully?
How have you expressed love to a bully?

Originally published on ElephantJournal.com.


About the Author:

Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission—to inspire writers, artists, musicians and random creative types to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world. Author. Award winning musician/ producer. Internationally distributed filmmaker. College prof. Photographer. Speaker. Consultant. Not F*ing Around—The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground is Jeff’s first book.


  1. Nichole January 26, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I’ve always been an asshole to a bully. I never loved them. I was the one standing up for my friends when they would get bullied. In third grade, when I had a cast on my leg, I remember threatening a bully telling him if he didn’t leave my friend alone, I’d kick him in the balls till he fell to the ground. I bullied the bully, and felt good about it. Your post also made me think about how much my lack of tolerance and kindness for a bully is exactly how I am with myself when I think I’m not measuring up. I want to love bullies. I’m going to start with me. Thanks for this!

  2. Joanne Healey February 7, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Hey Jeff, liked this story idea and thought of Carl Sagen who talks about how societies handle conflict, Golden rule, tit for take, the Silver rule, family rule.
    All had pros and con but when tested “tit for ta”t is the most effective. Most people will get what they did and stop doing what they are doing. He states that when you do nothing, people are actually rewarded for their bad behavior. There will always be some who want to keep going, upping the anti, but tit for tat works the best overall.
    My view is when you come up against a bully, loving yourself is primary. There is never one way to do things, but I find when I love myself, things work out best, and when I neglect this, they don’t.
    I also would have liked to hear some real life examples in your story that impacted you, where you did this and how they turned out. Best.

  3. Charles September 7, 2018 at 3:08 am - Reply

    I’ve always found it helpful to act instead of reacting, especially when it comes to bullies. As you said, Jeff, the bully will be surprised by the love and it may change their trajectory.

    As far as the bully within, its been a bit more difficult to address. I’m thinking of making some significant changes in my life, and this email couldn’t have come at a better time!


    • Jeff Leisawitz September 10, 2018 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Hey, Charles. So glad the post was helpful for you. Bullies tend to be surprised when love is reflected back at them. That includes the bully within. Try loving on the dark spots with everything you’ve got— love and acceptance. It’ll help the bully within love himself. Good luck. Please let us know how it goes…

  4. Sheri February 4, 2019 at 11:54 am - Reply

    I think there’s a now-famous thread from twitter when comedian Sarah Silverman was dealing with an online heckler who was being very verbally abusive. She got curious, leaned in and asked how he was doing, and what was going on in his life, what unfolded was nothing short of miraculous. He revealed, and she helped. I cried reading it. This article reminded me of how I want to show up, for myself and for others. Thanks Jeff!

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