Coping With Being Bullied for Your Values

Creative differences can make tempers flare in any office

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone was in agreement. It would be pretty peaceful, right? While at first agreeing on everything might seem like the ideal solution to today’s firestorm of difficulties, it also could get pretty boring. The world needs diversity, different opinions, and different people. In fact, it is a good thing when people have their own thoughts, opinions, and values. This fact can lead to new ideas, fresh perspectives, and productive discussions.

Differences of opinion only become an issue when people are unable to respect another person’s beliefs and values. For some people, it’s all too easy to get so wrapped up in their own beliefs that common courtesy and respect are ditched at the first hint of disagreement. And in some cases, the result can become so harsh and cruel that the discussions no longer qualify as disagreements. Instead, they morph into bullying complete with name-calling, emotional abuse, threats and sometimes even physical violence.

Most of the time when people are bullied for their beliefs, opinions, thoughts or values, this falls into prejudice-based bullying. Aside from being intolerant of another person’s opinions and beliefs, these bullies also might attack someone for her religious beliefs and political opinions. Typically, prejudice-based bullying is motivated by fear and a lack of understanding. As a result, if you want to fight this type of bullying you need to alleviate those fears and help foster understanding. Most of the time, this begins with education.

Once people understand why the differences exist, they are more likely to be respectful and tolerant in response.

If you are being targeted for your beliefs, whether they are simple opinions, political views or in a support of a particular cause like animal rights, abuse prevention or climate control, there are ways to deal with this type of bullying in a calm and effective manner. Here are some things you can do to cope with being bullied for your beliefs and values.

Understand Why They Are Bullying You

Bullying is always wrong and never acceptable. However, when you are dealing with someone who is bullying you for your beliefs, it helps to know what is motivating them. Having some understanding of the bully helps to take the focus off what he is saying to you and instead puts the focus back on him.

Are they bullying you because they are afraid you expect them to be exactly like you? Do they engage in bullying because they do not understand the cause you are supporting and need more information? Or, are they bullying you simply because they lack empathy and enjoy trolling or flaming you? Once you can grasp the motivation behind the bullying, you will know how to deal with it. For instance, you can provide more information to someone who lacks understanding about your beliefs but if the person is a troll, it is best to ignore or report them.

Communicate That You Do Not Expect Them to Change

While it would be wonderful if everyone supported the same causes, this simply is not feasible. If the person bullying you is a co-worker, family member or someone you regularly interact with, it might be helpful to remind him that just because you support a particular cause does not mean you expect them to follow. People are less likely to get defensive or mean if they do not feel pressured, judged, or threatened in some way. Be sure that you are just as respectful of their opinions and beliefs as you want them to be.

Expect Respect From Others

While you cannot expect everyone to change or conform to your way of thinking, you also should not conform or hide who you are because they do not agree. Expecting others to be respectful is not asking too much. Healthy friends, family members, and co-workers should accept your values and beliefs even if they disagree. They should never make fun of you or what you think, ever. If they are unable to be respectful, be sure you stand up to their bullying. You also can reduce or eliminate your interactions with them if they are unable to treat you well. There is no room in your life for toxic people or fake friends.

Continue to Be Authentic

Be proud of who you are and do not let anyone attempt to define you with their insults and bullying. What you believe in is not stupid or pointless. You have a right to your opinions, values, and beliefs just like anyone else. Remember, there will always be someone who disagrees with you. There are many people out there who enjoy debating, arguing, and sometimes even bullying. But that does not mean that your beliefs are invalid. Unless your beliefs are harmful to others, you are not doing anything wrong.

Get Help When You Need It

Unfortunately, there are times when disagreements go too far. If you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or if you feel unsafe or threatened in some way, it is important to either report the bullying or get others involved who can help you or protect you. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes bullies can be so determined to gain control over you or force you to change that they will go too far to make it happen. Never put yourself in danger to support your cause. Make your personal safety a top priority.

Join or Form a Group

Having the extra support of being in a group that shares your values and your goals can be invaluable. The extra support and validation you feel from being around others who agree with you can offset the negative impact of bullying. Join or start a club, participate in meet-ups, find online forums, or follow others with similar views on social media. The support, friendships, and discussions will not only have a positive impact but also will build your self-esteem and confidence.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert.