At any stage of life, being bullied, either mentally or physically, can seriously affect self-esteem. However, if it happens at school, particularly over a long period of time, it can be potentially soul-destroying. To some people, bullying may seem like a bit of fun, something that the victim ought to just get over, but to the person being bullied, it can seem like the end of the world. There are a number of ways that being bullied at school can affect your self-esteem.
Those who are bullied tend to be relatively shy people who find it hard to make friends anyway. If this applies to you, the chances are you will find that the more you are bullied, the less likely other people want to be around you, because they will be scared of being tarred with the same brush and you will withdraw from them anyway. Unfortunately, all but the most self-confident of people need others to reinforce their presence in society, so being bullied can lead to even more difficulty in making friends.
*Distrust of others
It is a natural progression to distrust people if you are bullied. Gradually, you begin to see everyone as a potential bully and tend to withdraw from all but those who you see as completely safe. Even when you are praised, you will find it very hard to accept, because you believe that they are just making it up. You may also be afraid that your bullies will use the praise against you. The combination of isolating yourself and distrusting others is bound to have a serious affect on your self-esteem.
*Belief in the bullies’ words
Unfortunately, bullies have a way of sounding so confident that you are likely to believe what they say, even if deep down, you know that their words are untrue and everyone else tells you so. Sometimes even a chance remark can stay with you for years, so that if someone says you are ugly, you find it hard to shake off that belief. At school age, it is all the more likely to affect your confidence, especially when going through puberty and starting to experiment with the opposite sex.
*Lack of support
Few people like to admit to being bullied and, unfortunately, if you don’t ask for help, you are unlikely to get very much support from teachers, parents or friends. This realisation that there is no-one around who can help you can be a very debilitating feeling. Gradually, you will turn in on yourself, believing you are the only person you can trust. As you grow, getting through life can seem very difficult and the inability to turn to others to help will really bring you down, especially if you don’t make a huge effort to put the bullying behind you.
*Desire to stay out of the limelight
One of the most embarrassing things about being bullied is that the bully tends to do so in front of other people – they want the attention after all. People’s reactions are unfortunately either to join in or to look embarrassed. This can lead to a fear of the limelight on the part of the victim. Self-esteem at least partially needs other people’s approval to grow and staying out of the limelight is not going to help matters. When moving on from school to work, this can be a real problem.
*Fear of showing your personality
Confident people are happy in their own skins; they are sure of themselves and don’t mind showing other people what they are really like. If you have been bullied, or are being bullied, you are probably afraid of letting people know what you are really like and you may well find that you pretend to be something or somebody you are not. If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, you will find it very hard to both show confidence and to believe in yourself.
If you are being bullied, or have been in the past, and want to ensure that it does not affect your self-esteem on a long-term basis, then you should seek the support that you need. Admitting that you are being bullied can be very difficult, but in the long run, it will be the best thing that you can do.