I grew up in a fairly rough Chicago neighborhood.
Gangs were everywhere and the girl-gang was, especially, scary!
But the bottom-line was there was a “code” and a “pecking-order.”
Invariably, the “big peckers” were surrounded by “little peckers.”
Pecking someone down was designed to establish relative hierarchical position, status and turf.
In the neighborhood I lived in, jockeying for your place meant the difference between life and death.
Well, more symbolically, you either decided to “stand your ground” or you chose to “give up without a fight.”
In prisons, the inmate who is beaten and raped but defends himself every time is someone to be respected.
The one who “gives up without a fight” becomes everyone's “bitch.”
When two or more people are in close proximity to one another, the issue is one of evaluation.
There appears to be something about human beings which prompt this insidious comparison and contrast.
“Look at her!” “What does she have?” “Who does she think she is, anyway?” “She's no better than me.”
Evaluative comparison and contrast “kick-in” and someone, invariably, gets their “ass kicked”...
Unless, of course, there is a meaningful consequence applied to the aggressor...
With swiftness and certainty...
Each and every time.
As a society, we encourage our children to “walk-away” from conflict or to “tell a grownup.”
History informs its students that “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
And yet we only need to listen to the news of any given hour to know we live in a very violent world.
Sooner or later you run out of real estate and there is nowhere else to go but where you are right now!
If you can walk-away, by all means, do so.
If you cannot walk-away, run.
If you have no options (or poor ones) then you have a decision to make: “take a stand” or “fold.”
Truth be told, most bullies are cowards.
I know this to be true because whenever you have to prove something, it proves the opposite!
Think about it.
A “real man” has nothing to prove.
Neither does an honorable person or a charitable individual or a good soul.
You are what you do.
What you do is who you are.
However, bullies have something to prove.
Remember, whenever you have something to prove it proves the opposite.
So what bullies prove by pecking someone down proves that they really are the “little peckers.”
We know from physics “that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Psychoanalytic theory suggests that a “reaction formation” results from anxiety or fear.
Consequently, fears and wishes are viewed as opposite sides of the same coin.
In a sense, we fear what we wish and wish what we fear.
Bullies fear being bullied and wish that they were never bullied because bullies have, themselves, been bullied!
Bullies wish they could stand their ground with the bullies in their universe but fear taking a stand.
Bullies target weaker targets so they can pretend to feel big and strong.
The “back story” is that bullies are afraid.
They fear those who are bigger and stronger.
Rarely, does one speak in terms of “pecking up.”
Almost always the words are phrased “pecking down.”
So what should you do when a bully bullies you?
A bully puts the “faceless face” of their own anxiety and fear on your face.
You must face that “faceless face” and put your face on the confrontation.
If talking works, then talk.
If telling a grownup or person in authority works, then tell.
If you can walk away, then walk.
If you can run, run.
But when it is abundantly clear that no viable options remain, then it may be time for decisive action.
And if you don't “stand your ground”, under these conditions, then prepare to become someone's “bitch!”
Author Note: Dr. Larry B. Gelman is a Clinical Psychologist and a Personal Mentor
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Dr. Larry B. Gelman, Dr. Glenn B. Gelman, All Rights Reserved.