What if We Loved the Bully?

What if we lived life above the norm in EXTREME LOVE; not seeking revenge, not speaking badly of our enemies, and refusing to stay angry?

Love is Greater Than Hate

A good friend of our organization, Brooks Gibbs, wrote a book on bullying called, Love is Greater Than Hate. Gibbs was a victim of bullying as well as a bully himself and in his book, he discusses some alternative responses to bullies.

Here's what he suggests, "The ones who hurt us need our love the most. In fact, I believe that this is the ultimate pathway to healing - to turn the hate that you feel towards someone into genuine love and care for them." (page 29) In other words, what if we loved the bully?

Now you might read that and think this is crazy. You might be saying, "But Dawson, do you have any idea how it feels to be tormented to the point that you feel absolutely worthless. I can't even love myself, let alone love a bully."

First of all, if that is how you are feeling, I want you to know that I believe you are amazing! You are not worthless; you can make a difference in someone else's life. I know this is asking a lot, but what if loving the bully worked? What if you had the power to change the cycle? Gibbs talks about how when we love the unlovable, lives are changed. It "reverses the cycle of hate, breaks the back of bullying, and launches us into a new cycle of life." (page 32)

3 Steps for Choosing Love over Hate

It is important to understand that a bully is often the victim of hate themselves and to feel better, they try to assert hateful power over someone else. That's why YOU could be the start of a new cycle. You could choose to react with LOVE. Love that is a choice, an action of the will.

Like I said, I know it isn't going to be easy to love the bully, so here are three steps that Gibbs suggests to help in the process.

1. Change your thought patterns. A normal thought pattern after someone hurts us is to begin thinking about them negatively, dwelling on it, magnifying it, and turning it into hateful thoughts. Rather, think of bullying as opportunities to learn to deal with difficult people (they are always present!), begin thinking of them as good and think kind thoughts toward them.

2. Change your actions. Choose not to participate in the drama. By doing so you demonstrate maturity, humility and respect which will totally disarm the bully. Pray for the bully, ask God to help you change your attitude about them.

3. Change your feelings. Feelings follow our thoughts; as you change your thoughts and choose to love, your feelings will follow. "Love will open your eyes. You will gain the ability to see past their masks of hate and see a heart full of hurt." (page 44) Learning to forgive will also help change our feelings. I love Gibbs definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness is "releasing the person that did you wrong from the responsibility of fixing it." (page 45). Forgiving someone sets us free from letting them hurt us over and over again as our mind dwells on how we were wronged. Gibbs says that unforgiveness re-victimizes upon every remembrance.

Bullying Support Groups

I have had a number of teens tell me recently about their own experiences of being bullied and how that has motivated them to start a bullying support group in their school. I'm proud of them for wanting to do something to make a difference. It is so important that people who are being bullied have a place to go that is safe and have others supporting them. My word of advice for starting a bullying support group would be that the group not become a revenge group or a place to spew hate about bullies, but rather a place to be "above the norm" and consider how to show love to bullies.

Hate is easy. Love takes courage! You can do it!

For more from Brooks Gibbs check out this video: Anti-Bullying Youth Speaker Brooks Gibbs

For more information on bullying, here's a guide to understanding the types of bullying and cyberbullying and how to deal with it. 

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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3 comments on “What if We Loved the Bully?”

  1. In some
    cases I have from experience realized that bullying is a last ditch effort of
    humanity. Why? When a person feels inadequate they are in essence still lazy
    and will take the quickest route they know of to feel better. Bullying is one
    of the easiest routes since there is those with low self-esteem and timid
    personalities. They can manipulate them easily to make whatever the situation
    they live in better. Family abuse, neglect, inadequate love, pressure, and
    among other things their low self-esteem. How is it their last ditch effort to
    remain human. Because when my Bully got older over time things didn't get
    better. He continued upon his path yet after high school bullying will make it
    so you have no job, no friends, and no place to go. So without being able to
    make light of their own situation anymore through the means of others. They end
    up committing the final act which will take away that last fragment of
    humanity. "Suicide" Think of each person who bully’s as a person who
    is reaching out. The worst part of it is that once they form a group they can't
    stop since its peer pressure. Ever notice when herd mentality ends when you and
    that person are alone. Herd mentality goes like this if one thinks it then the
    rest go along with it. Like a stampede if one cow runs the rest of them do to.
    This also goes for entire crowds becoming frozen or ignore what is going on.
    Its due to the fact they are only following the herd since the herd believes
    their actions will ensure their safety. I was the savior type in School. If
    someone was being bullied I step in and make them back off even if they were
    stronger or a lot older than me. When it came to me though I became silent and
    took whatever was dished out. It’s going to take more than your love to stop
    them especially if they have a herd. They need real professional help and schools
    need to take a proactive step in these cases. Mentors in sports preaching the
    good fight against bullying. Students banning together to develop support
    groups assist in traumatic events. The greatest bystander of bullying is
    teachers and administrations. Once they realize it’s happening they try
    sweeping it under the rug or over react and kick them out of school. In my case
    I believe if the school I attended had the right frame of mind and had methods
    in place instead of punishment or lack thereof. They would enforce counseling
    the students. One hour a day the child is forced to attend counseling instead
    of a class if they are apprehended bullying. In my situation I was in principles
    office many times. With the guys bullying me in Jr. High. Each time the
    principle just say can’t we just be friends and of course my kindness I said
    yes. Yet, sweeping under the rug mentality made it worse. Till one day he
    physically attacked another student and was kicked out of high school. Instead
    of the school attending to his psychological needs they did the lazy way. Let’s
    hold hands and sing “YAY! For ignorance.” Teachers should have at least a minor
    or two classes under their belt of psychology. Instead they are the greatest of
    offenders and bystanders. In the end school systems and way things are handled
    right now… Will not fix things.

  2. I need to share to some people. I was raped sexually abused verbally abused over a period of time very painful emotionally and physically.

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