This statement was made recently by a passionate speaker during a current affairs interview. It doesn’t matter who she is – she gave voice to a popular point of view. But I disagree.
I think the reason that statement is made is because it seems to justify bullying and people hate that idea, understandably. We don’t want to align ourselves with those who deliberately set out to hurt others.
But there’s a word missing in the above statement, and that word makes all the difference. The missing word is ‘always’: ‘Bullying is not always character-building.’
In other words, our response to the event determines if it will be character-building or not. If we choose to be defeated by the event, our character will not grow; if we choose to deal with it in a more useful manner, our character will grow. It’s as simple as that. Nothing is either good or bad; it’s our response that defines it. Every event is neutral until we place a meaning on it.
Some people will object. They’ll say that cruelty and aggression and violence are always and only evil. But if you can extract some good, some insight, something positive from that bad event, it’s not purely evil.
Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl is probably the definitive text on this topic: if you can survive a concentration camp and come out of it as a richer human being, then the event itself is not the whole truth about it. As this famous quote states:
"We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Viktor Frankl spent three years in concentration camps and lost his parents, his brother, and his pregnant wife. If anyone has the right to make the claim that a hellish experience can be enriching, it is he.
His conclusion was that life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. If we have a purpose we can live through even the most horrendous experiences, and come out the other end not as a cripple but as a stronger, more compassionate human being.
Apparently one-quarter of young Australians (those aged 14-25) are bullied;
36% of those are bullied online;
16% turn to drugs and alcohol;
23% are in the care of a GP or mental health professional;
six men under 25 years commit suicide each day.
But more people are speaking out. More effort is being made to understand and address these issues. And all of those energies and efforts are the ‘good’ that come out of the ‘bad’.
It seems to me that an important distinction needs to be made between process and outcome. The process of being bullied and dealing with that experience is unpleasant – for sure. But if the right attitudes and actions are taken to it, the outcome can be positive.
A young woman on the same current affairs programs said that when the bullying took the form of writing (online), it was ‘terrifying’ and ‘damaging for a long time’. But the terror and the damage are not inherent in the bullying; they occur in the response.
I deeply believe that Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills need to be taught in schools as a core curriculum subject from Prep to Year 12 because EVERYONE needs those skills, whatever their particular interests and vocational direction. This subject should be taught several times a week. It should take precedence over most other subjects because without these skills we can’t properly maximise our potential.
The widely respected and controversial public thinker Jordan Peterson made the statement in one of his podcasts that we are all responsible for the Columbine shootings. In particular, he said, those who bullied the shooters over the four years prior are also responsible for the deaths of all students and staff in that incident.
We will not resolve the issues of bullying, workplace harrassment, domestic violence or even terrorism if we play ‘Goodies and Baddies’. To say that all bullies are bad and the bullied are innocent victims is a mistake and not useful. What is needed here is skill-development – for both sides of the equation. And a big dose of honesty, since we’ve all played both roles.
Bullying CAN be character-building; it’s up to us to determine its effect.
Please do comment (below) and share (with attribution) if you feel this blog would be useful to others. NB Picture courtesy Visual Hunt.
It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it? And such a wonderful sense of relief when (if) you find the missing item.
In this picture my daughter was trying to reach my car keys, which had fallen out of her pocket while she was clambering around at Hanging Rock. We were all greatly relieved when she retrieved them!
I’m hoping to retrieve my launch-plans for my newest book, Quest For Riches, which was supposed to be officially released last year but was repeatedly delayed for various reasons.
However there is never a wrong time to launch a book about financial literacy for teenagers! (Or for adults, if it comes to that…) The need for better financial management is URGENT, and increasingly so as our digital currency and hole-in-the-wall practices confuse young people about the nature of money.
Since writing this book I’ve discovered that Australia has one of the highest levels of household debt in the world. So stand by for your invitation to the official launch of QUEST FOR RICHES – Four teenagers discover the keys to wealth and prosperity in May this year.
The four teenagers represent the four ‘money personalities’, so when they are offered a school trip to India in Part I of the book, each one responds according to his or her ‘type’ - one saves methodically, one expects parents to pay, one assumes he can’t afford to go, etc.
In Part II they come to grips with the extremes of wealth and poverty that they encounter in India. This is where the book explores wealth in the form of rich life experiences.
In Part III they return home and discover that each teenager’s family is dealing with some sort of financial challenge, and they learn a number of practical lessons about money management, especially the importance of saving and the danger of debt and credit.
QUEST FOR RICHES is a collaboration between me and life coach Camilla Mendoza, who first came to me with the idea for a novel to accompany her ‘Money Mastery For Teens’ workshop a few years ago. Camilla is based in Sweden and actively working over there to interest schools in the book and workshop.
Right now it’s Global Money Week, and the focus is on youth financial literacy! Please help us empower and educate youth by sharing this information with anyone you feel would be interested. Every reader who personally introduces me to a teacher will receive a free copy of Quest For Riches! Thank you.
Last night my husband had a dream about a man whose life goes bad as a consequence of choosing hard drugs. We sat on the couch this morning talking about it, and our conversation brought up a memory of a recent news item about a police officer who had his head repeatedly bashed into the ground after he tried to stop violence at a drug-influenced party. My husband remarked that probably the attacker would get away with a reduced sentence because his lawyer’s defence was that he was ‘on ice’.
You can just see where this is going. Ice (and other hard drugs) will become the new insanity plea. But why is it okay for a police officer to go to work expecting to do his job in service of the community, and instead have his head bashed into the ground?
Perhaps it’s time for crimes like this to be assessed on the basis of prior choices, on the basis of a series of past choices rather than one drug-induced ‘bad moment’. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to view that ‘bad moment’ as being the natural consequence of a series of poor choices, for which the person is accountable, rather than viewing the chooser as the ‘victim’ of his or her choices.
‘Same same’ for all of us. Being interested in health, I immediately find myself pointing to the pattern where people choose to indulge ‘pleasure now’ and then become upset when their bodies and health ‘betray them’ in later years; surely that later ill health is just a consequence of prior choices? Should we feel sorry for the person who is experiencing a heart incident after twenty or forty years of over-indulgence or unhealthy practices, or do we take a more neutral position? Do we instead say, ‘That’s not surprising’?
It seems cruel but life is a cause-effect game. Nothing comes out of nowhere; everything has seeds that are rooted somewhere, and healing requires some degree of responsibility.
When I left my 29-year relationship so suddenly it probably looked like I had treated my long-time partner badly, but that decision was some twenty-five years in the making; it was the outcome of lots of little choices over those years. He had made choices not to create a shared vision for our family, not to participate in various family activities, not to invest more in our relationship… But because there was also a lot of love and affection and honesty between us, those ‘not to’ choices got lost in the tide of events. It wasn’t until life landed a surprise new man at my feet that I had to weigh and evaluate all the moments of the previous twenty-nine years in order to make my decision.
This is an uncomfortable blog to write, and perhaps to read as well. We are biased towards being kind and nice, and towards avoiding confrontation and conflict; but often that means we avoid responsibility, which is one of the most enriching states of mind that we can enter.
So how best can we support each other in being responsible, in making the choices that best serve us and the people around us? We will not suddenly, magically, create a world in which everyone makes the best choices all the time; but we can create educational models in which life skills are prioritised. (My old hobby horse.)
We can insist that our schools prioritise life skills such as communication and conflict resolution skills and financial management; we can expose our children to the real-life stories of people who made poor choices and people who made good choices; we can rank this sort of education even more highly than other subject areas simply because everyone needs to communicate and everyone needs to be responsible for their choices, no matter what their vocation.
Let’s give our children a fighting chance against the scourge of unhappy consequences. Let’s empower them with the sort of education and support that enables them to make the small everyday choices that lead them in the direction of an inspiring life.
Yesterday was my first wedding anniversary. You might recall my blogs of a couple of years ago about meeting a new man, a dancer, in the wake of writing my first novel for adults, Wanted: Greener Grass. My character’s life in that book was turned upside down, and so was mine. I ended up leaving my much-loved partner of 29 years to be with this new man. I moved in with him only three months after meeting him, and we married on the 25th February 2018.
To begin with, my ex was extraordinarily supportive. He loved me and so he wanted what was best for me, and if this new man met my needs more completely than him, I deserved to have the new man. I was blown away by his love and generosity. The new man in my life was stunned as well. Others around us admired him, and probably wondered how I could leave such an extraordinary human being.
As the wheels turned and my decision evolved from idea into reality, as we began to separate our possessions and make practical arrangements, the pain of this new development bit hard. My ex experienced anger and sadness and regret. His initial generosity was swamped by waves of grief. He wanted to turn back time. He reminded me of what we had and how rich it was – he wanted me to decide that leaving would be a pointless pursuit of greener grass, since we both knew that there is no such thing: every life option holds a balance of positive and negative.
But I also knew that the core of our issue was that we wanted different things. He wanted a slower more relaxed life; I wanted more adventure and growth and challenge, and the new man shared those desires. And I’d experienced so many little signs, little impulses, little intuitions that were calling me to make the move that I felt I had to trust them.
My trust was repaid tenfold, a hundredfold. I know now that my leap into the unknown, a leap that seemed so risky and even cruel two years ago, was actually guided and right, at some deep, mysterious level. Not only am I deeply fulfilled in this new relationship, but my ex has just met a woman who deeply nourishes him.
The beauty of this tricky and testing journey is that my ex and I have retained our loving and warm relationship, and our family unit is as close as it ever was. It’s expanding now, as new partners enter it, but all of the relationships are solid and caring and open-minded.
The irony is that my ex is now embracing adventure in a way that he resisted during our years together. It’s funny how life delivers these twists and turns. But after my initial hurt I felt glad for him; I certainly have no need to indulge in resentment because my own life is now so full of love and challenge and growth that I am completely content.
Of course it’s not yet the end of the story. So much more will happen before we truly know ‘the end’. But it’s a development that encourages me more than ever to trust myself and to remind you to trust yourself, your inner promptings and callings, your intuitions, your deep desires. They just might be the kernel of vast and magnificent change.
We all know that the internet is a two-sided beast: it’s just fabulous to be able to connect with people all around the world, to uncover news and information that might otherwise be difficult or even impossible to access, to make unexpected friends and find new clients…
AND it’s an overwhelming pressure to stay up with all the e-information, to not be constantly comparing our lives with the golden lives of others (or at least, the golden bits they share), to resist nasty comments if we’re the subject of cyber-bullying, to not get sucked into buying everything we don’t need because of the exciting offers that land in our inbox, etc. etc. And I’m just scratching the surface of the pros and cons!
The darker side of Facebook loomed closer as we began to recognise those pressures and learnt about privacy and security leaks and other significant issues. The Boomers among us, for example, are concerned that our young people are growing up in an exceedingly public era where everything they think and feel and do is announced to the world, whether their big successes and failures, or what they ate for breakfast.
So what could be the silver lining on that constant public exposure?
Here’s one possibility: What if it’s to prepare them (us) for leadership?
I remember doing a personal development course many years ago in which most of the participants were aspiring leaders of one sort or another. We were presented with the question: Are you prepared, in becoming a leader, to have all your thoughts and behaviours scrutinised by the world 24/7?
They say that the true sign of character is who you are when no one is watching; living by that principle will call out the best in us for sure, but being watched is just as compelling a factor, and as a leader someone is always watching, so the pressure to ‘live your best character’ at all times becomes acute when we step into a leadership role.
The more famous we are, the more immortal our words because everyone is watching, listening, recording. We’re not anonymous anymore. And while most of us will never achieve true fame, at another level we are all famous these days. We all have ‘followers’. We all have at least some people we don’t know very well who are observing us. A very real practical application of this dynamic is that potential employers check our social media pages.
So maybe the hidden purpose of Facebook (et al) is to give each of us the opportunity to be a leader. Maybe the ‘fame’ (i.e. public exposure) that we achieve on these pages provides the experience leaders have when everything they say and do is in the spotlight.
Some leaders clearly don’t care what others think of them, or they have such different values and standards that we are gob-smacked by their behaviour. (You know who I mean.) But what if we used the ‘fact of our fame’ to pause for a moment, to create a gap (as mentioned in Quest For Riches regarding expenditure), to reflect on who we’re being and to consciously choose who we want to be and how we want to be.
In that case, our ‘Facebook fame’ might serve us.
Let me know your thoughts – comment below!
Meanwhile, The Hidden Order is still on special at half-price – this juicy book looks beneath the covers. Rather than reacting to how life appears on the surface, it explores the deeper universal laws and principles affecting all of us. Just use code HIDDENORDER when you place your order.
Social media image by Tracy Le Blanc, Obama pic by Daniel McDonald, both via Pexels.
Society gives us lots of messages about laws and rules:
- we’re supposed to obey the laws of the land and parent and school and workplace rules,
- we’re warned of the dangers of anarchy,
- we are increasingly ‘politically correct’…
but we are often inspired and encouraged by those who break society’s ‘silly rules’ or who live by a higher more empowering set of principles.
Last week I ‘interviewed’ ‘Law abiding, Rule breaking, Fear conquering, Future Creating', Georgia Ellis about her recent experience of creating her future.
When Georgia talks about being ‘law abiding’, she is referring to Universal Laws. She honours laws like the Law of Gestation, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Resonance and Vibration – laws that govern us whether we believe in them or not. Truly powerful, absolute laws. And then she decides what she'll go along with where human-made laws and rules are concerned.
When Georgia talks about ‘fear conquering and future creating’, she means not being fooled by how our circumstances look, and overcoming the terror of claiming a more inspiring life by deliberately holding the vision. (I write about this in The Mastery Club and The Hidden Order.)
In 2017 Georgia set a number of goals and worked to realise them in a very specific and very committed way. They say that consistency is the key to success, and her results are impressive: fourteen months after setting her goals she had achieved every single one (from an almost zero starting point).
Here’s the link to our conversation: http://www.lilianegrace.com/blog/interviews
Listen and be inspired! And then do leave a comment on the blog – and create yourself a magnificent 2019.
Toward the end of last year I began thinking about recommitting to the old ‘Top 6 or 7 For Success’ formula. I’ve heard it so many times: all the successful people make a list of their top priorities and then do those first, before tackling anything else, and that’s how they are so successful.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Easy, even. But I have to confess that I was often bamboozled. What counted as a priority? I mean, obviously a top priority is revenue-generating work, and then there are the marketing tasks that don’t generate anything immediately but are important, and then there are writing tasks and phone calls and emails and working on the business instead of in it and walking the dog and eating well and meditating/visualising and family needs and so many other important things.
These ‘soft lens photos’ are of me presenting at Rosemary McCallum’s ‘Christmas Spectacular’ a few weeks ago.
BIG THANK YOU to Rosemary for inviting me back to share my story and books. I felt very at home among her clients and friends and followers, who all share my values on growth and fun – and we broke a record in sales!
This lady has such a big, faithful, devoted following that she must be doing something right. As my NLP teacher used to say, ‘Success leaves clues’…
If you’d like to experience her wisdom, playfulness and grounded guidance, consider attending the Introductory evening to her Course In Life Mastery in January.
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I don’t have favourites! I love all my three kids with all my heart.
But I think of my books as my children too. I went through a long gestation period with each one of them, labour pains, a birthing experience, infancy, etc. Some of my books are now adolescents – gosh, they grow up quickly! And some of them are still just toddling around…
But I love all of them – the journey they took me on, the insights, the growth, the sheer joy when people like you write back to thank me for them.
So this is...
You’ve probably been at least partially following the conversation about domestic violence, the ‘Me too’ movement, sexual predators and their unveiling, etc. Perhaps you’ve also heard these statistics: ‘Some 42% of Australians believe women lie about being sexually assaulted, while 31% said a lot of times, women who said they were raped had “led the man on” then had regrets.'*
Melbourne is shocked by the apparently random death of Sisto Malaspina of Pellegrini’s café in Bourke Street – murdered in the course of trying to help someone.
Coming to grips with this shocking event reminds me of the process I went through in trying to understand the concept of divine order when I was writing The Hidden Order.
Years ago I read Getting the Love You Want by therapist and educator Harville Hendrix, and was really impressed. His book guides couples through a ten-week course designed to resolve their relationship problems. As the blurb on his book explains, Hendrix ‘shows how your frustrations originated in unmet childhood needs, and how you are unwittingly trying to resolve them with childhood tactics.’
I was stunned and deeply troubled recently to hear about a friend’s financial circumstances. From beginning married life with a $10,000 mortgage some twenty years ago, today she and her husband are burdened by a mortgage in the hundreds of thousands for the same suburban three-bedroom unit.