Active and Passive Bullying – What’s the Difference?

From a very young age, I was bullied quite consistently by a number of different people in my life. Some were peers, others my family and, in my later years, they showed up in my career.

For many years, I believed the reason I was being bullied by other people was because of how I looked. I had big ears when I was younger and I stood out like a sore thumb. I came to believe the way to solve my problems was to fix my ears. That seemed to be the wisest solution.

When I arrived in Australia in 1996, my parents and I decided we would go ahead with cosmetic surgery, before I started my new school in a new country. The surgery went well and low and behold, I was a new man.

I started school a week after the surgery and I began to receive attention I’d never had before. My confidence levels grew and I became more extroverted. Definite upsides, after dealing with the pain and agony I experienced after the surgery.

A year later, however, there was a dramatic turn of events which perplexed me, to the point it took the next 14 years to understand what had happened. In year (grade) 11, a big party was put on by the year 12’s and I decided I didn’t want to go.

The reason I chose not to, was because I knew people would be drinking and smoking and it just wasn’t my idea of a good time. Instead of keeping that to myself, I voiced my opinions quite strongly. Some would say I even projected them onto the rest of my grade.

As a consequence, there was a huge backlash and my classmates ostracized me for close to four weeks. I was alone and without friends to connect with. I experienced another form of bullying, yet it had nothing to do with my ears.

In the last two years, I have expanded my knowledge of human behavior and universal laws and principles. I worked through my previous years of ‘bullying’ and developed a deeper and rich understanding of the dynamic based on my own personal experiences.

I never perceived myself to be a bully, until I took the time to see where I was doing it in another form. I was, in my own mind, always the victim. I had this “always and never” attitude to life.

Then not long ago, I revisited the bullying dynamic, but from a Chinese Medical Theory perspective. I knew from my experience the body is composed of two distinct energies – a masculine and feminine energy; principles I later grounded through the work of Dr. John F. Demartini.

I also knew masculine energy is generally an active or outgoing energy and the feminine side is generally a passive or receiving energy. Both, however, do have their own respective passive and active components.

When I looked deeper, I discovered something fascinating. Something I had overlooked and never seen before. A piece of the dynamic overlooked by most. I noticed on both sides of the dynamic, with the ‘bullied’ and the ‘bully’, there were active and passive components in each.

The ‘bullied’ portrayed an active or masculine victim persona to the outside world. Yet, under the surface, there appeared to be a passive or silent ‘bully’ hiding no one could see. After taking a look into my life, I uncovered something about my reality I hadn’t recognized.

For most of my childhood, I was over protected and, at the same time, propped up on a pedestal. I was led to believe, due to being challenged I was better than other people. That I was smarter, the bigger man and so on.

In essence, my ego was silently being boosted on the inside. Naturally this helped to balance out what I was dealing with but at the same time it was also creating the very challenges I wanted to avoid.

The passive bully was building inside of me and I actively engaged that part of myself by sounding more ‘intelligent’, using my body in certain ways to assert myself and walking around with an air of superiority. This was something I had never noticed when I looked into the dynamic, but it was now evident.

I was both the ‘bully’ and the ‘bullied’ at the exact moment. I actively portrayed the victim and I was silently or passively ‘bullying’ my perpetrator without even know I was doing this. I was, to an equal degree, the cause of my own challenges by being over protected and put on a pedestal.

I had somehow manifested this process, subconsciously, to break my addictions or infatuations I had, to empower myself more and to become more humble. What a revelation this was.

I then took a look at the ‘bully’ and thought; if this pattern exists within me, then it must exist within the person or people who ‘bullied’ me. The ‘bully’ was actively challenging me. That was an obvious one and there could be no denying it, but what was the passive side? What was the feminine component in the bully?

It took some time to uncover this but I realized behind all their aggression, verbal assaults and other tools, was a passive victim. Silently they were hiding deep wounds and covering them up with bravado. The people who I had labeled for years as terrible human beings, were going through the same challenges as I was, except no one could see it.

Through all their challenges to me and others, and the subsequent punishments they received, they were getting what they needed to grow. They were subconsciously creating scenarios where they could receive nurturing, support, appreciation and care – everything I had been receiving in excess.

At the same time, they were subconsciously humbling me and others, to enable themselves to gain more power and become stronger. Elements they perceived were lacking in their lives.

In my experience, the bullying dynamic is far more complex and intricate than it looks on the surface. This issue has been tackled from so many different angles, all yielding similar results and no real transformation. Both sides of this dynamic are playing both sides towards each other at the time of interaction. They are both equally a victim and a bully.

This may be a confronting idea to digest, yet there is no denying it. We all know our parents or loved ones have propped us up when we got challenged by other people, and this action most likely inflated our egos, which we then projected onto others.

Any time a person projects their beliefs or values onto another human being, without caring about them, those people naturally close down, become defensive and aggressive in response.

We as the bully, require this humbling process to bring us back to centre and we, as the bullied, require this process to help us validate ourselves. Nothing is ever missing. This dynamic is a perfect interplay and interconnection of energies, constantly aiming to balance each other out and achieve a position of neutrality and appreciation.

“I am who I am both as a result of people who respected me and helped me, and of those who did not respect me and treated me badly.” –Nelson Mandela

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