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Adult bullying: The epidemic no one talks about | Kevin Ward | TEDxSantaBarbara

May 30, 2021
Translator: Leonardo Silva Reviewer: David DeRuwe It's my first day in third grade and I'm very excited because we just moved to a new city, so this is an adventure: a new school, new friends and... my pair of glasses new. (Laughs) I'm on the playground and a boy comes up to me. He's about my size, with this thick, bushy blonde hair, and he's like, "Hey, do you want to fight?" (Laughs) "No!" (Laughs) "Well, I do!" (laughs) The next thing I know, I'm in a headlock and the punches are going back and forth, and I can feel my face being squeezed, and it feels like my hair is being pulled out of my scalp!
adult bullying the epidemic no one talks about kevin ward tedxsantabarbara
I'm eight years old now and getting spanked is new to me. Bam! Another blow and another. Finally, I managed to break free. "My glasses!" They are broken. And he broke them. And the only thing I can think is... run, get away as fast as I can, and that's what I did. I get home, my mom sits me on her lap, tears are streaming down my face, and she says, "Bub, you did the right thing by not standing up for yourself. You just turn the other cheek and kids like that will leave you alone." "Okay, Mom's always right, right?
adult bullying the epidemic no one talks about kevin ward tedxsantabarbara

More Interesting Facts About,

adult bullying the epidemic no one talks about kevin ward tedxsantabarbara...

But in fourth grade, it was Colin, with red hair and freckles, and he wouldn't leave me alone. The next year, it was Greg, with his tough-guy swagger. In the high school, it was Santos, our star running back, and then Robert, and then Dean... In high school, it was this little punk, Raul, who beat me up every day in the locker room, and I just took it. My friend Johnny said. : "Face him!" And Johnny was right, but I listened to Mom. And it didn't end with the classmates. In my senior year, my first

adult

bully showed up.
adult bullying the epidemic no one talks about kevin ward tedxsantabarbara
We had just moved to another new city, so I am. the new kid again. And our basketball team was ranked number one in the state and some said I was the best player on the team. That's me, number 14. But to Coach Reeves, I was an outsider in. his team. And so, when I missed a layup in the first game, he benched me permanently a few days later he told me it was up to me if I wanted to sit on the bench for the rest of the season or I could quit. He left. I graduated college, got my first job, and was harassed.
adult bullying the epidemic no one talks about kevin ward tedxsantabarbara
I was bullied in my marriage. Seventeen years of marriage and not a single fight with my wife. Because? Because I just turned the other cheek. Until one day all the problems exploded and, like in third grade, I ran away. Only now... with three little girls, what's broken... is much more than a pair of glasses. We think of

bullying

as a childhood problem. Yes, and it is. And yet, the brutal reality is that one of the greatest oppressors of our time is

adult

bullying

. Now, what is adult bullying? Well, it's this. This is not a textbook definition of bullying, and yet I think the cartoon version is sometimes clearer.
A little sand in your face and... a little threat, just to remind you that you're nobody. And that happens countless times every day all over the world, in the workplace, when the boss says, "Do you want to keep your job? Keep your mouth shut!" Or when a coworker is rudely late to his presentation just to throw him off his game. In a recent survey of 2,000 adults across the United States, 31% said they had been bullied as adults. They surveyed 9,000 federal employees and 57% said they had been harassed in the last two years. And yes, the government has an anti-bullying policy.
And obviously, it's not just limited to the workplace. Adult harassment is equally common at home, in marriages, in our communities, on the street if you've ever driven during rush hour, in politics... It's everywhere. And it is not the external repercussions that are as significant as the internal impact on the individual, the target, the victim. The emotional and psychological damage to self-esteem, confidence and dignity is enormous. I know this because I was bullied for most of my life. Not anymore. And along that journey, I learned three hard-hitting truths about the oppression of adult bullying. The first truth is how personal it is.
Now, bullying between adults isn't a big deal if you've never been bullied. It's something like the difference between major and minor surgery: if I have it, it's major; you have it, it's minor. Good? And that's what a lot of people think about bullying. They've never been harassed, they can't identify themselves, so it can't be a big deal. And anti-harassment policies are often created by those in positions of power who have never been harassed. And yes, even when they tell you, “Oh… Don't let it bother you,” that's personal. Psychotherapist Jenise Harmon suggests that bullying is not about you. "You're not the one with the problems, so you should never take bullying personally." Excuse me, lawyer, with all due respect, when you're the one who gets punched every day, it's personal.
When a coworker accuses you of saying something you didn't say, his problem becomes yours. When a bullying husband tells his wife every day how worthless she is, it's personal. The second hard truth about adult bullying is how helpless you feel. The real problem is not the bullies; It's fear, it's the feeling of helplessness to do something about it. It is this dark cloud of constant shame and anxiety that stifles self-esteem, kills dreams, and can lead to depression and even suicide. For me, it was this feeling that I couldn't stand up for myself. I always did pretty well with everything until conflict arose and then I would back down and run away.
I train salespeople and one of the things I've discovered is that fear and personal insecurities probably push us more than any other type of harassment. And for me, it was that feeling that I just couldn't defend myself. I spent so much of my life avoiding conflict, hiding out of fear of bullies, that my biggest bully had become fear itself. And in any case, the impact is equally devastating. The third truth about adult bullying is that it can be solved. Now, all the talk about anti-bullying policies and safe spaces hasn't worked, and won't work. Because? Because bullying is worth it to the bully, and because bullies are not stupid, they are not going to follow the rules.
They don't attack you when you are in the safe space. Many times, the bullies are the ones in power. So there is no safe space. The solution is not external; the solution is internal, here. Bullying will never stop at the corporate or political level. Bullying can only be stopped at the individual level. All research confirms what no one wants to admit: bullying can only stop here. Just as the problem is personal, so is the solution. And that's what Skinny finally discovered. After his day of humiliation on the beach, he decided to do something about it. Now, he didn't do it alone.
He found someone to help him. (Laughter) In this case, Mr. Charles Atlas, with his leopard speedometer. (Laughter) And he armed himself. Now, what the cartoon doesn't show us is all the hard work it takes to get there. And make no mistake: becoming bullying-proof is hard work, and yet it starts with the decision to take control. Now, how did I stop being harassed? I went skydiving. Now, the biggest fear of my entire life was the fear of heights, and I had to prove to myself that I could face my fears. And that day became my personal declaration day that I will never let fear stop me again.
I had spent so much of my life avoiding conflict, hiding out of fear of bullies, that my biggest bully had become fear itself. Everyone who's been bullied has to reach that chair-kicking moment where you decide, "I'm not going to take it anymore," stop waiting for someone else to come rescue you, and take control. For me, I started reading, I started attending workshops and seminars. I walked through fire at a Tony Robbins event. I simply began to face my fears that I used to run away from and step by step my personal strength and confidence grew. If you are being harassed, that is the only solution: take action.
Start reading, attend seminars, join a self-defense class, learn martial arts, master something that gives you the courage and confidence to take control. There is no other solution. You become your own safe space. In this, Charles Atlas was right: you have to become strong. And you can do it; It doesn't matter how old you are, we can all do it. We take absolute control. Now, right after that, Charles Atlas blew it because he was out to get revenge. Now, mind you, at least he got the girl. We all say Charles Atlas was a marketer, not a humanitarian, so we'll cut him some slack.
But I want to be very clear that we are not talking about becoming a bully, but simply being bully-proof. Look, a master of self-defense has deadly power, but hopefully he'll never have to use it, what Bruce Lee called "the art of fighting without fighting." Now this is not the easy path, but it is the only path that will win. Personal strength and confidence is the true safe space because you can take it with you everywhere. And, by the way, so can an eight-year-old on his first day of third grade. Thank you. (Applause)

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