The effect of being bullied can have long-lasting effects and be very traumatic. It can lead to chronic anxiety and stress, and if it happens during childhood the effects can be even more intense. There have been many headline stories of young people ending their lives after being repeatedly attacked by bullies at school. What can we do to protect our children and ourselves?
An urban issue?
The world population has nearly doubled since the year I was born and since 2009 the majority of people on the planet are now living in city environments. This has lead to increased levels of tension, aggression and stress that we deem as the new 'normal.' It is the nature of the urban beast so to speak, so we have to live with it. The word scapegoat refers to a person who is compelled to bear the burden of someone else's guilt, or to symbolically bear the burden of sin. It is essentially a release valve for tension and stress as well as aggression. I was watching a wonderful documentary, The Hidden Life of Wolves, by Jim and Jamie Dutcher and discovered that in wolf hierarchy there is an omega role. Although the observations of the omega have been made mostly in unnatural settings such as in captivity or living in close proximity to human observers (and so may be exaggerated to truly wild wolf behaviour), this mirrors the way most humans are now living in relatively unnatural environments that are enclosed and overcrowded so it is perhaps relevant.
A need for the omega?
According to the Dutchers, the social hierarchy of a pack is what maintains order dictating who makes decisions, who mates with whom, who eats first and who eats last. Although wolves are very affectionate and playful, this order is constantly reinforced by displays of dominance and submission. The lowest position in the pack hierarchy is one or more wolves, usually a male and a female, known as the omegas. These wolves are dominated and pushed around by all the other wolves in the pack. The only apparent consolation for the omega wolf is that they are typically the jester of the pack and are the one who starts up play and chasing games, perhaps to diffuse these very tensions.
You can hear the concern and worry in the Dutcher's narrative about a favoured wolf that is given the role of omega.
"When I first recorded his howl, I was amazed at what was coming through my headphones. Lakota, eyes shut and head thrown back, was just pouring his heart out. His rich, mournful voice soared into the evening and hung in the air for what seemed like forever. I actually found myself welling up at the sheer beauty and expressiveness of his song. I felt as though I were listening to him sing the blues, giving voice to all the loneliness and pain that his social position brought him. Even when new pups were added to the pack in later years, no member of the Sawtooth Pack ever came close to comparing with the beauty and sadness of Lakota’s howl."
Who is the omega?
Once the role is determined, the omega wolf seems to be left without any other options and he must play the role utterly and completely each and every day. He has been delegated to a role not of his own choosing. Even if it seems unjust or unfair, the only way his role changes is if another wolf is given a lower rank. As this omega bears the brunt of the tensions and aggressions of the pack one or many of the wolves assert themselves over him and he will flip over onto his back whimpering in surrender. Generally this is a bloodless exchange but at times, especially during the breeding season, it can get vicious and extremely difficult to watch. Essentially the softest and gentlest of the group needs to become assertive and aggressive to simply maintain his space, have access to food and not be attacked.
Watching the wolves' aggressive behaviour around the omega is similar to the disturbing video I saw recently of a group of young people where the bully is beating on another girl, ending with the bully standing over her and hitting her while the girl is cowering and covering her face. The rest of the youth looked on, no one moved to get involved or stop the violence.
According to Glynis Sherwood, "Usually they are either sensitive, unhappy, vulnerable, ill and/or the outspoken child or the whistle-blower." We make weakness, difference or threat to social order into something separate and maintain that isolation through violence and aggression. The role of scapegoat does not have to remain throughout life however. And the idea that we can stop bullying by campaigning and educating people about the bully's behaviour only goes so far.
What we can do about bullying?
It is the inner world of the person that needs support, their perception of themselves in relation to the world around them is what is possible to change. A bully is a force of nature looking for an outlet, how can someone no longer be a suitable receptor?
I have seen in my own experience how a core homeopathic remedy can change our inner experience profoundly. The child who has an illness can be given a chance to regain their strength, the unhappy an opportunity to discover their joy, the vulnerable a means to develop their strengths, the sensitive an avenue to explore their talents, the outspoken support and encouragement for their voice. In my own experience a core remedy was like going from a 40-watt bulb to a 100-watt bulb. Suddenly who you are burns brighter and gives off more light.
This approach will not directly change a bully’s behaviour, but if it enables the bullied person to feel stronger and less vulnerable, then they often find that they cease to be the target of bullying. With an increase in self-esteem and confidence the cycle can be broken naturally without confrontation and blame. The child can then see a reduction of stress and anxiety and continue with other methods to help recover from the experience and to move on with their life.
How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.
Homeopath and Holistic Practitioner.