10 Ways for Adults to Heal From Childhood Bullying

Discover how to move beyond the lasting effects of bullying

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Bullying often leaves kids feeling helpless, unsafe and insecure. In fact, bullying can be so traumatic that the effects can last well into adulthood, especially if the bullying was never resolved.

As a result, adults can experience psychological damage from bullying that does not go away just because a person grows up. In fact, adults who were bullied as a child are at an increased risk for anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts.

But if you have been a target of bullying, there is hope for recovery. Here are ten things you can do to recover from bullying you experienced as a child or a teen.

1. Acknowledge the bullying you experienced.

Victims of bullying often spend years minimizing the bullying, dismissing it or pretending it didn’t happen. Or, they succumb to feelings of guilt, shame or self-blame, believing if they had been different or tried harder the bullying would not have happened. The only way to begin the healing process is to recognize that the bullying did occur and that you were not responsible for it.

2. Make your health and recovery a priority.

Victims of bullying often deal with a host of health issues. These can include everything from insomnia, stress conditions and headaches to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety issues and eating disorders. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you are experiencing.

Bullying does more than just impact mood and self-esteem it also can have a serious impact on your health.

3. Reclaim control.

Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness can carry over into adulthood. As a result, you run the risk of living your life as a perpetual victim. Realize that while you cannot control what happened to you, you can control your reaction.

Start your recovery by taking control of your thoughts, emotions and actions and making healthier choices.

4. Recognize your value and worth.

Bullying often causes people to lose confidence and self-esteem because it is packed with lies about your worth as a person. Reject the lies that the bully said about you and replace them with the truth about who you are. Focus on learning to be you again.

5. Avoid isolating yourself.

A big part of recovery from bullying is maintaining contact with supportive friends and family. Talk with friends and family about what you are experiencing or find a support group in your area. The key is that you should not go through the healing process alone.

6. Seek support.

Sometimes healing from a childhood trauma like bullying requires outside help and support. Talk to your family doctor and ask for recommendations for a counselor that specializes in healing from childhood traumas. A counselor will help you process and make sense of what happened to you.

7. Focus on personal growth.

Identify areas where you need to grow or heal. For instance, that you need to build your self-esteem or become more assertive. Likewise, you also may benefit from learning to set boundaries, taking a self-defense class or by joining a health club.

8. Change your thought processes.

Many times people who are healing form childhood bullying ruminate about what they experienced or become obsessed by not experiencing that pain again. Learn ways to take your thoughts captive. Set goals and focus on things that make you happy or bring joy to your life. Avoid focusing all your time and energy on your past pain and your current recovery.

9. Find closure.

An essential part of your recovery is to move beyond what has happened to you. While you need to recognize that it happened and should be able to acknowledge how it impacted you, you also need to detach from it at some point. The bullying you experienced does not define who you are. Instead, rediscover who you are and close the door on the past.

10. Be patient.

Childhood bullying leaves deep scars and recovery is not a quick process, especially if you did not deal with the bullying when it occurred. As a result, you likely have a number of wrong perceptions and bad habits to break. Celebrate your progress no matter how small and give yourself time and space to heal.

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