The World’s Worst War: The Bullies vs. The Bullied
Bill Cottringer

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” `Benjamin Disraeli.

The Problem:

Today we are witnessing a major showdown between two failure extremes—the strong vs. the weak, or more in today’s terms, the bullies vs. the bullied. The bullying conflict is pervasive in every aspect of living. It is a destructive epidemic that cries for urgent attention and immediate cure. Just consider this spectrum of the conflict:

• Weaker kids in school (or employees at work) getting picked on by stronger ones.
• Parents trying to over-control their children’s freedom exploration.
• Donald Trump vs. the apprentices, or any other reality TV program.
• Unions vs. management in business or government; or simply employers vs. employees.
• The US political party majority vs. the party minority.
• Facebook and other social media institutions against individuals.
• Wars between countries over ideologies, oil or land.

The Solution:

To unravel any problem behavior, it is necessary to look at what purpose it is supposed to serve. What is the purpose of bullying behavior? Solid research reveals that bullying serves several inter-related means to one end—to go from failure and losing, to winning and success and how that makes you feel. The bully uses any means available—usually being aggressive, intimidating, fear-provoking and uncaring—to dominate a weaker person. The bully pulls himself up by pushing someone else down.

On the other side of the coin, what about the bullied? What purpose can being bullied as a victim possibly serve? By being bullied, that is a good excuse for failure and losing, and not having to do what is needed to be responsible, courageous, and successful.

But herein lies the real problem—the bullying problem is buried from sight in a win-lose mentality where there have to be winners and losers. In this sense it has just perpetuated itself from schools to world politics. Such a win-lose mentality causes too many problems and the really smart people know we have to shift from it to a win-win mentality, but that may be one of the most difficult transformations to make. And right now, the trigger mechanism—the common definition and sense of success—is tied much too closely to the wrong side.

The natural creative process in life is the only solution to such a conflict—going from one extreme to the other and then landing in the middle for a better viewpoint. A good example and maybe even a cause of this bullying problem, is the grading systems we use in schools. The typical dichotomy is: (a) the public school bell curve in which students are competing against each other, where there are always winners (A & B students) and losers (D & F students), and (b) the Catholic school system of absolute standards in which 90% successful answers to a test = A grade, where students are competing against an absolute standard.
The creative solution to this go-no-where, either-or, win-lose mentality is a difficult one that requires hard work and critical thinking. It involves measuring a person’s knowledge and abilities going into each new situations, applying the program, training, counseling or educational “treatment”, and then measuring the progress made at the outcome, after the treatment. This way the individual is competing against himself in a win-win mentality.

Another good example is how we foolishly over-embraced the half-truth of the self-esteem movement started in schools and social welfare programs in the sixties. The main result we see today is the entitlement generation that wants something for nothing and can’t deal with their bruised egos as a result of the realities of failure and disappointment. The real goal for parents to teach children and teachers to teach students, is how to develop and stick to a simple formula to be successful in life and build true self-esteem (the golden mean in between under and over self-confidence—especially understanding the lessons of failure to build stronger character to weather the inevitable adversities that won’t ever go away in life.

In summary:

1. Bullying is the most destructive and pervasive problem the whole world faces today and that sad reality must be changed for the better now. There is no time to encourage awareness or evolve a sense of urgency about this.
2. There are more legitimate ways to get what we really want other than bullying or being bullied and it is up to each of us to be creative and find those ways. That is what life is all about—learning, growing and improving our response to life.
3. The best path to success is being inner-directed and following your own conscience about what is the best way to think and act and then choosing and using that information to be successful. Being other-directed is just a diversion away from our destiny to be successful.
4. The single best transformation we need is moving away from the win-lose mentality that traps us all, and closer to a win-win one that can set us all free. But that takes a tremendous faith and trust in the goodness of life taking us to a better place.
5. A good start is to stop the external competition against others or even against some absolute standard, and start the passion for inner competition against self; we could call this “coopetition.”
6. Since bullying and being bullied involves a battle between the extremes of aggression and passivity, assertiveness is the easiest and quickest response that gets the best results with the least negative side effects.

We have all experiences at bullying and being bullied. The question we can ask ourselves to pull the plug on this destructive behavior is, does it really help us to be successful and feel the way we want to feel? I’ll take the silence as a “no.”

“Bullying is not limited to schools; it is universal. Show me where it doesn’t exist and that is the place where I want to be.” ~The author.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or