Bullies. They are everywhere: at school, at work, in the grocery store check-out lane. But sometimes, a bully can be where you least expect it: within yourself.

Check out these 5 bullying behaviors and the best ways to combat them!

#1 – Control, Control, Control

man yelling at woman desk

The need to control others stems from a basic insecurity that we aren’t good enough. Because bullies can’t raise their own self-esteem, they turn to others to do it for them. This lack of self-worth creates a sense of internal chaos. As a result, bullies attempt to control whatever they can, whether it’s a situation or another person. Many times they will break down another person’s confidence, if only so it will heighten their own. As long as they feel like they have the power, then there is no threat.

If you feel like you need to control others in your life, it’s time to self-examine. What people in your life make you question your self-worth? And why? Once you determine the answer, it’s best to confront these people. When you set boundaries with others, it creates a healthy barrier that protects your self-esteem.

#2 – Victim to Impulses

Bullies can’t control their emotions. When an emotion like anger or fear surfaces, they don’t care or think about the consequences of their words or actions, which results in lashing out and hurting those around them.

One way to combat this is to be in tune with your personal fears and not only work on them, but be able to recognize when they are triggered. Tell yourself that, while you have a right to be angry, you also have a choice whether or not you let anger control you. This is the first step towards self-soothing.

#3 – No Empathy

teen bullies

Believe it or not, a lack of empathy stems from feeling the pain or distress of others so many times that it leads to an emotional burnout. Because this hurt is uncomfortable, some people block it out, creating a distance between themselves and other people. They no longer see others as individuals, but instead label or stereotype them, which then makes it easier to cause suffering.

The best way to gain back some of that empathy is by recognizing that each person is an individual with his or her own life issues. Open yourself up to the other person. Try to find the commonalities that exist between you. Allow yourself to feel their pain. This will bring about a sense of compassion, which then creates feelings of peace and well-being.

#4 – Zero Accountability

Bullies are always the victim. They never take responsibility for their words or actions and always have someone else to blame. If they lash out and hurt someone, it is the other person’s fault. Ironically, they also see themselves as the hero. President Snow in The Hunger Games, for example, believes that by sending children to their deaths every year, he is reminding everyone of the dangers of rebellion, and, thus, preserving the peace.

The best way to fight this line of thinking is to show accountability for your actions. Admit that there may have been healthier ways you could have responded to a negative situation. Yes, the other person might have done something to hurt you, but own up to your own mistakes. How could you have handled the situation better?

#5 – Intolerance

bullying computer

Bullies tend to see others not as individuals, but instead as factions that fall into one of two categories: “like me” and “not like me.” The “not like me” group is persecuted and demonized. Why? Because of learned prejudices and stereotyped differences. This form of detrimental thinking can spread to all areas of life, from race to religion to politics. On social media, for example, it isn’t uncommon to see various groups fighting each other over perceived differences.

How can you overcome this? Take a step back and recognize that other people are allowed to have a different point of view. Instead of attacking someone with different beliefs, try to understand their thought patterns. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Still not sure how to overcome bullying? Author Noah Elkrief can help!

Psychology Today