Bullying takes many forms. One common aspect of bullying that I experienced was name calling. Using a different variation of my name, a group of individuals would chant – mirror, mirror on the wall who is the ugliest of them all. What they were saying felt mean.

In reality, when you point your finger at someone and say mean and nasty things, you have at least three fingers pointing back at yourself. If you find yourself blaming, name calling, or pointing your finger at others in judgment, consider it a great opportunity to look in the mirror.

While I don’t pretend to know all the reasons people are mean, here are some thoughts on what might spark their behavior:

  • If you hate yourself for some reason, do you build yourself up by judging others negatively?
  • Have you experienced anger about being treated unfairly that led you to project that anger onto others?
  • Ever witness mean behavior modeled by a parent, then decide to repeat that same behavior?

Do you think any of the following behaviors are “mean” ways to act towards others?

  • As a member of a work team, you are triggered by another team member and refuse to work with them.
  • A relationship with a person you’ve known a long time feels like it is over so when they call you, you ghost them.
  • You make a commitment to someone knowing you have no intention of fulfilling it, but continue to lead them on anyway.

You may or may not see these behaviors as mean, but how would the person on the receiving end feel?

If you are the purveyor of these behaviors, take a moment to consider this:

  • If someone triggers you, what is the quality in them that you find offensive. Take a little time to sit with it, and once you identify it, look in the mirror and say “I am that quality”. For example, maybe you are triggered by someone you think is stupid. Take a moment to look in the mirror, say to yourself, “I am stupid” and see how it feels.
  • If you’ve known someone for a long time and have chosen to “ghost them”, ask yourself “what kind of person would dump a long-time friend and devalue not only the other person, but the entire relationship and connection?”
  • If you feel like you are in integrity when you lead someone on, and possibly even laugh behind their back, consider saying to yourself instead – “I am dishonest and a manipulator”.

Some people make a conscious decision to be mean, others do it unintentionally. In either case, once you observe the behavior, you can make a conscious choice to do something differently. In this month of Thanksgiving, consider taking a look in the mirror and asking yourself – “in what ways am I mean to others, and in what ways am I mean to myself?” If your meanness has escalated beyond words, look in the mirror and say to yourself – “what kind of person wishes to harm others?”

In my book, Pathways, Puzzles and Possibilities: A Magical Journey of Transformation, I share a situation that happened to me that highlighted how our physical bodies can hold the memories of the mean and nasty behaviors of others directed towards us. Something to keep in mind as you ponder any mean behaviors of your own. “Think the mean and nasty things you say and do to others and to yourself don’t have a lasting impact? Think again.”

If you see yourself being mean towards yourself or someone else, consider participating in the next Meeting the Shadow workshop series which I will offer in 2022. Register for the waitlist here. It is a great opportunity to take a look in the mirror and do some impactful work in just 6 weeks.

© 2021 Systems of Change, LLC