No matter what is said about bullies, and how they will get their come-uppance some day, how Karma will wreak havoc in their lives eventually, how they are really just pushovers when it comes down to it–sorry, but it ain’t true.
Bullies win. All the time.
Whether you meet them in the schoolyard, the workplace, at the family dinner table or just waiting at a stoplight, make no mistake–if you challenge a bully, if you stand up to him/her, if you stand firm on your principles then be fully prepared for the punch in the nose (or your wallet, or your emotional core) that will almost certainly follow. The proverbial bully who runs away isn’t really a bully at all; he’s a fraidy-cat wearing a bully mask. The real trick is to know when you are dealing with the real thing.
Lesson #1: Don’t EVER mistake a real bully for a fraidy-cat. All you are likely to achieve is to confirm what they already suspect–that you’re scared of what they might do.
Many years ago I worked for a man (but it could have been a woman, too) who was a quintessential bully–and he was enormously successful. Why? Because he had it all figured out. He routinely hired small to mid-sized contractors, beat them down on price and when the work was done (with their materials & labour) he just waited…and waited…and waited. Invoices passed the 30-day mark, the 60-day mark and the 90-day mark. If polite enquiries became more demanding (or desperate) the file was sent to the lawyer who was on retainer to deal with these folks “before legal costs” were incurred (by the guy trying to collect). And it worked. The retainer he paid the lawyer was far less than the 50% or more “we’re not paying” discount that the lawyer “negotiated” on my boss’s behalf. Of course, there were always the courageous ones who stood up for their principles and fought for their money. Some of THOSE files (with the same lawyer) were several years old by the time I saw them. And none of them were resolved within the 6 months that I worked for the bully.
Yup, 6 months. You guessed it. I stood up to him. Told him I was not going to follow his instructions to send a contractor to a site to do work that I KNEW the boss was not going to pay for. I insisted that we pay him 50% up front, as per his contract (obviously, this guy had run into bullies before). Voice shaking, hands sweaty, I quietly refused. He fired me on the spot.
The cherry on top was that he refused to pay me the $4,000 he owed me (unpaid overtime, unpaid holiday time, auto expenses, travel expenses, etc.); yup, I was on contract too, that’s how well he played the game. Hiring people outright meant benefits, OHIP, CPP, etc. In the end I had to eat the worst-tasting crow of my life when I dragged myself back to his office, stood there while he utterly humiliated me, and I literally begged for the money he owed me. I was a single Mom and I knew his foolproof system would crush me–and I needed the money more than my pride. I crawled away with a cheque for 1/3 of the amount he owed me but at least it covered my out-of-pocket expenses. I had worked for him for a month for a big fat zero. His accountant nearly had tears in his eyes when he walked into the boss’s office with the cheque in his hand. He and the rest of the staff knew I had stood up to the bully (as they wished they could do) and lost. And. . . I had to say thank-you before the bully handed me the cheque.
Bullies win. Forget about Karma. Forget about “deep down they are marshmallows and they will back down.” The genuine bullies win. It’s that simple.
A few more lessons I’d like to share about dealing with bullies:
If it’s too late for lesson #1:
Lesson #2: Avoid the inevitable moment of confrontation by getting as far away from anyone you even suspect is a bully. In a word . . . RUN!!
If you missed (or ignored) the lessons in #1 and #2, then
Lesson #3: Don’t EVER stand up to a bully. Take your lumps. Crawl away and find peace in survival. Whatever the bully took from you (or out of your hide) is far less than if you had stood there and duked it out. Remember, they do this because they are good at it. And they really, really enjoy winning.
Lesson #4: Forget about principles. Bullies have had their moral compasses surgically removed very early in life. And anyway, what do principles have to do with winning?
Lesson #5: Don’t try to teach a bully right from wrong. He/she already knows the difference. To repeat the lesson of #4: What’s that got to do with winning?
Lesson #6: Don’t jump on your white charger and fight the good fight for all the victims before and after you. It’s already too late for the folks who went before you–hopefully they’ve learned the lesson and moved on. For the hapless victims to come…you’ll do more for them by walking away (while you still can) and balancing all that negative energy by adopting a positive, compassionate, wholesome outlook and practicing honesty in all that you do.
Lesson #7: Fighting bullies can rob you of your inspiration, compassion and positive outlook. Save your energy for the good stuff. Remember, you attract what you focus on. Focus on love, compassion, caring, openness and well, yes, forgiveness (even for the bully…if you can).
Lesson #8: Spread the word: bullies win.
Here’s the P.S. Remember my bullying boss? Are you thinking, hey, you don’t know what might have happened since. He may have got his just desserts in the end. But, er….nope. The last I heard (a few months ago) he had turned his fortune into a VAST fortune. He owns some of the flagship real estate in the city (we won’t name which one). When I watched him interviewed on television for the re-opening of a fabulously renovated downtown building I was nearly speechless at how effortlessly he played the down-to-earth nice guy. Gad, he’s good, I thought. And how many contractors got sc*#wed?
Bullies. They win.
On sticky bottle
Hard to believe it’s been nearly two weeks since my sneak preview experience at the retirement home. I am so impressed with my new-found ability to actually take pictures with my phone that I have to share some of the photos I took of the fabulous suite I stayed in. (Tried to upload them that night but, alas, technotardia struck deep.) Looking through these photos reminds me of the strangeness of the whole experience. Even stranger is the confusion of feelings I had about living in a retirement home. Crashing for a couple of days after I came home was a mystery too, and I still don’t get why. Was it culture shock, or, more accurately “elder shock”?
I tried to write a summation of my thoughts on the whole deal the day after I came home, but it was too big. There was too much to feel and think to actually commit anything to hard copy. I had to just absorb it all.
Here are a few of the things I learned, or learned again:
- Don’t be late for dinner.
- If you are late for dinner don’t make excuses; just be grateful for whatever is on your plate.
- Slow is relative.
- Peace and quiet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
- When life revolves around mealtimes, the spaces in between fill up pretty quick.
- Retirement is an opportunity to re-create your life. So much more is out there waiting to be discovered, even when you’re 90.
- Five walkers and walker-owners really will fit into a regular-sized elevator.
- Some people are just crabby. It’s got nothing to do with age.
- People who accept change as inevitable don’t get caught in a log-jam; they travel on downstream.
- Luxury is not synonymous with comfort.
- Men don’t last. Enjoy ’em while you have ’em.
There were a few other surprises, like what it might feel like to live in a foreign country, or on another planet. I had underestimated my own aversion to frailty and the inevitable end of life. After a day, I surprised myself more than once when I saw a worker or visitor (they stood out) and caught myself thinking, “I look like them!” It was a relief to feel I was “other than” an elderly person. But I got my come uppance one morning when I was waiting for the elevator with another resident. She struck up a conversation with, “So have you just moved in?”
It was a long three days. Not just because I was away from home and hubby and pets but because there was simply no escaping that no matter how we dress up aging it is coming after us. If we are lucky. And the women outnumbered the men by about 30 to 1, seriously! At 53 I am so much younger than I think! I am going to (try to) stop looking over my shoulder at the young woman I once was and start to recognize and embrace the gifts that only come with time and experience. It’s tough to not wish for youth to return (especially when I find out I can’t twist like I used to) but really, how dumb is that? It would be like a 23-year-old wanting to trade her youth for experience. You get one or the other; so–love the one you’re with.
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Tagged aging, elderly, elders, electric scooter, old, retirement, retirement home, senior resdience, seniors lifestyle, The Home, youth
Now that The Gift: Sharing Your Life Lessons with the People You Love Most is out in the world, I’ve been thinking of the best way to help people take full advantage of everything the book offers. With this in mind, over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my own answers to the questions and exercises as a way to illustrate and hopefully inspire readers into diving in (or picking up where you left off). First off, the questions look pretty simple on the surface–trust me, they only look innocent. I am always amazed at the places these questions take me, even when I respond to a question or exercise that I have already written about; it seems there’s always another layer. And to paraphrase the great philosopher Shrek, “Ogres are like onions. . .they have many layers.”
So do humans. And so does The Gift.
I think the first thing to recognize is that there can be many different interpretations or approaches to nearly all of the exercises in The Gift. What I will be sharing here is just one way, and hopefully, not just my way. I encourage (in fact, say PRETTY PLEASE to) feedback, differing opinions and approaches, and just sharing in any way (respectfully) to help broaden the perspective of anyone working with The Gift. By sharing an entirely different viewpoint or approach, you may open up possibilities that others (including me) may not have discovered yet.
For ease of reference, I’ll begin at the beginning (woo-hoo!) and then work through the book in the order the exercises appear, but feel free to dive in at any point with questions, your own story or reflections, or comments on my reflections on any part of the book.
To be honest, I really thought I didn’t need to write down my Intentions before starting. I figured, heck, my intentions are pretty straightforward, I mean, I’m writing a book about this stuff. Well, it wasn’t quite that simple when I got down to it. I realized when I started answering some of my own questions that there was a lot more meat to them than it seemed (yeah, we could get into some heavy stuff here about how I channelled a lot of this stuff, so I failed to realize just how deep some of the questions are but we’ll save that discussion for another day.)
I’m going to skip over my answers to the first few questions from INTENTIONS (starting at page 2 of the Workbook) and share what I wrote about Core Values and Beliefs. I chose this one to write about at the outset because it SO surprised me. It unexpectedly opened a door for further enquiry into my own personal beliefs and motivations. (I will be coming back to all the questions repeatedly, so there will be a bit of movement back and forth.)
First of all, if you uncover something you didn’t KNOW you thought, congratulations! The Gift is as much about self-discovery and life review as it is about sharing your life with others. So what did I uncover? This: I harbour a hidden and deep admiration for…wait for it…insecurity! I was so surprised to discover that I actually view insecurity as a form of humility. Where did that come from?
When I wrote about my core values and beliefs it came across sounding like I was “bigging myself up,” something I really can’t stand when I see it in myself (or, if we’re being honest, anybody else). My responses showed I have a pretty high opinion of myself and believe it or not, that surprised me! Remember, initially I answered the question with no intention of actually sharing my answers; it was just a test drive for the book. I was just following instructions like every other reader would, so that I could see what (about the book) worked and what didn’t flow or make sense. And wham! There it was.
According to my answers, I seem to think that I’m purposeful, determined, tenacious (in a good and a bad way), and that I have an unshakeable belief in the fact that my life has purpose and even more—that I have a specific purpose to fulfill in this life. Pretty heady stuff, eh? Think a lot of yourself, do ya? So what happens to folks who big themselves up? They get brought DOWN, man. Like, totally. “Who do you think you are?” “Let’s show this guy a bit of humility.” Wham! Slam! Pow! Holy ego, Batman! Where did that come from?!So…do I mistake insecurity for humility? If I expressed core values and beliefs that sounded a little less hi-falutin, a little less idealistic, a little less like I thought I was getting somewhere, achieving something special, living the dream just a little bit–would that make me sound more humble? Would it mean I actually own the admirable quality called humility? Do I admire that kind of humility? Is that humility at all or an imposter wearing humility’s plain old clothes?
OK, my answers to that question will be shared another day, but PLEASE feel free to jump in, tell me what you think, or share your own Core Values and Beliefs and any surprises you uncovered. Please use this blog to interact, share your stories and get the boost you need to get on (or back on) track with your legacy statement project. I will (attempt to…remember, I’m still officially a technotard) cross-post these on the FB page for The Gift and I’ll (try to!) copy any comments so that we can get a good exchange of ideas happening. OK, team, let’s go!
At the urging (dare I say whin-jing) of my East End friend I shall attempt to rectify the deficiency of sandwich-related content on this blog. Forgive me, comrade, I still have my learner’s permit on this thing and can only hope to absorb the lessons of the elders (figuratively).
Given my moo-cow theme I could lapse into a dairy-related diatribe (especially significant for us lactose-intolerant folks) or maybe get lazy and throw in some prewritten but very neat historical stuff about local dairies that thrived in the region but instead, I will mooze with some food for thought. Please note: it is not even 9 a.m. and us literary folk who do not have real jobs are still in our jammies so this post might still have one eye closed.
Food for thought: In life’s game of rock, paper, scissors, who is brave enough to be the glue?