New Year Pep Talk: I Hate Bullies

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by Rustic Mama

You know what I hate?? I hate bullies.

Really, there are several other things I hate as well – injustice, living in a mess (although I love getting my hands dirty), rudeness, unnecessary and un-called-for criticism, selfishness, cantaloupe. Yes, cantaloupe. I loathe it. I would rather starve than eat it!

But mostly, I hate bullies.

I hate watching a fellow human being who has been made in the image of God and who deserves to live in freedom and dignity being beaten down to the point where they have lost all hope and sense of self-worth.

I’ve been there, done that and after 22+ years I left his sorry ass and slowly, gradually, painfully and with the help of a few good people, fought my way back to live a life of strength and deep personal conviction that I do deserve every single positive thing in my life.

I’m seeing a lot of bullying these days. Lots of it! It’s not just the type of bullying from one person against another, one political movement to another or one social group against another, although a lot is that. What I’m seeing is bullying that we are inflicting on ourselves inside our own head.

And I hate bullies.

Self-bullying sounds like this:

“My life will never get back to ‘normal. Why should it? I don’t deserve it! This sucks!”

“I’ll never feel loved again after losing *insert name of friend/loved one lost in the past 2 years.”

(We’ve all lost someone we love and sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to move through the natural stages of grief {denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance} into a life of hope.

“Happy New Year??!! What’s there to be happy about??!! I’ve lost my job, my family won’t speak to me because they/I have taken/not taken certain medical procedure, I have no money left, S*#@ will hit the fan, and I’ll die because I won’t be ready! The world is chaotic, I hate *insert name of public figure, I’m afraid all the time….! What’s there to be happy about???!!”

“I’m so exhausted! I can’t take this anymore!

While you consider your own internal bully dialog I’m going to put the kettle on so we can have a chat. I’ll give you a minute.

A few years ago I had the supreme pleasure of traveling to Croatia with a bunch of strangers (who are now among my closest friends) to learn survival lessons from Toby and Selco, two men who have lived through extremely tough times. Every lesson was valuable, but one of the most life-changing for me was the lesson of dealing with what goes on inside my head.

“Propaganda,” Selco said. ‘There will be lots of propaganda and you won’t always know what is truth.”

Propaganda exists inside our heads, too.

“Happy New Year” is, in my humble opinion, one of those sources of such propaganda.

Riddle me this: What makes January 1 any different from March 2? Or June 20? Why do we make promises to ourselves and sometimes to others that we often forget a week later? Why do we put so many expectations on ourselves for things to be different ‘next year’? Won’t we still be surviving the same challenges, the same difficulties, in the same body with the same mindset? If we choose to, yes.

But what if we chose something different, not because it’s a “Happy New Year,” but because we decide to stand up to our own bully.

Here are some strategies that may help you survive your own bully, regardless of what the next 365 days bring:

  • Do not isolate yourself!

I don’t give a flying flip what your local restrictions are because with the use of that device you’re probably reading these words on you can reach out in numerous ways to your fellow human beings. Focus on Facetiming or phone calls like in the good old days where we could hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces instead of letters and emoji’s on a screen. Call, Facetime, spend time chatting about your lives.

And of course there’s always the option to practice a bit of civil disobedience and visit with people anyway.  😉

  • Shut off or severely limit your social media accounts in favor of real-life relationships.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing but it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, replace real-life relationships. At the start of this-thing-going-on my dearest and closest friend of 20 years was dying of brain cancer. For my own mental well-being, and in order to be fully available for her, I all but shut off my SM accounts and blocked anyone I hadn’t spoken to or seen for a while or I didn’t know in real life. This simple step took a huge load off me both mentally and emotionally providing some level of help in the midst of enormous grief.

Real relationships are based on truth, not a keyboard. Of course, they are possible via technology (in fact I met my current husband two decades ago while we lived 9,500 miles apart and we have remained happily married to this day) but in balance. Find your balance.

  • Find and keep your own moral compass. Be authentic! Stay humble.

When I looked into Selco’s eyes in Croatia, I saw peace where I thought I should see anger and the circumstances he endured. I saw calm where I expected to see chaos. I saw humility and a gentle willingness to teach and be open about his circumstances when it would not have surprised me to see arrogance and pride.

Who we are, how we live, and the choices we make all come from the Core of our Being and many of us have no clue who that is. We live from one media crisis or family drama to the next, like little paper boats being tossed around in the ocean, and then wonder why our minds are in such anguish.

Believe me, the tougher our world becomes to deal with, with supply shortages, financials pressures, health issues, higher crime, etc., the more critical it will be for each of us to stay committed to the values to which we are already committed. If you don’t have values, then God help us all because our society needs people of moral conviction.

May I suggest reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl?

  • Surround yourself with people of character, like yourself. Keep others at a distance.
  • Stay healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually in whatever way that is for you.

I am a person of faith (I believe we all are in some way or another), but it can become difficult in these rapidly evolving times to remain focused on healthy habits and positive vibes. I escaped my bully one Monday morning in 2000 but it took years to evict him from inside my head. It’s a lifelong process.


I love watching old TV shows: Mayberry, Little House on The Prairie, old westerns, and so on, but I find myself watching the backgrounds more and more to see the tools and equipment they used. My prepping style is what you’d call low-tech, and I like it like that. Among other things I decorate my home with usable oil-burning lamps, stock up on postage stamps, hoard wool blankets from the thrift store, and cook from scratch, buying very little processed foods.

I also love learning from older folks, including the things my mother’s family did during the Great Depression. Last week I was coming down with a cold (yes, despite what they’d have us believe, the common cold still exists!) so I made myself a Hot Toddy before bedtime. The next morning I woke up refreshed and with no symptoms.

Simple! Thanks Mum! (FWIW: Juice of 1/2 lemon, shot of whiskey or bourbon, 1 Tbs of honey, topped up with boiling water.)

(Check out our FREE Quickstart Guide for other advice on how to deal with disasters.)

  • Spend time outside regularly.

Toby is a big proponent of this and you can read his wisdom throughout TOP. I don’t need to repeat anything.

So what’s my point, you ask?

My point is that life comes with no guarantees. And at the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, life is about going from one challenge to the next, day after day, every day, hopefully finding something to celebrate in each day from now until we stop.

Haven’t we been doing that all our lives? What makes a specific calendar date any more significant? Won’t we still be putting one foot in front of the other and outlasting our circumstances on January 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and until the cows come home?

I say bring it on!

I’ll die when I’m good and ready, but in the meantime, the bully in my head is just a pitiful voice from the past. I’m going to live today, for today and plan for the part of the future I can control, not that which I can’t.

If none of this sounds familiar or helpful to you, that’s ok. Feel free to scroll onto the next article. Or better yet, leave a comment and share your secret of never having bully demons in your head. I’d love to learn.

Happy New Year Folks.

And Happy Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and any or every other day of the week. You are in charge! Not the calendar, and most certainly not any bully in your head!

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  • Great article. We have several health drinks. Juice of fresh lemons, grated ginger, hot water and honey. Another we learned in Ireland years ago when we got sick on the plane enroute there. Slice of lemon stuffed with whole cloves, honey, shot of Jamison and hot water. Also take powdered vitamin C every morning, 10,000 iu vitamin D, plus numerous other vities. Spiritual support is the most important. So many Bible passages I’ve learned in the past 2 years. 2 Timothy 1:7: God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind. Hosea 4:6: My people perish for lack of knowledge. John 2:15, 17 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. Ephesians 6:10-13  The Whole Armor of God 10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the [b]wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

  • Buddhism also has a lot to say about befriending and silencing your inner critic; I’ll leave interested parties to search for themselves. As I posted in an earlier article, our mindset is one of the most important components. I believe that our lives are made of the decisions we make every day; we make our own Heaven or Hell right here on this earth. By befriending and silencing our inner bully we go a long way to making that life a good one. In fact today’s Daily Dharma from Tricycle speaks on the subject. Namaste!

    Many of us have complicated, and often negative, feelings about ourselves. . . . When we can see ourselves as just another imperfect human, equally deserving of love as anyone else, it becomes easier to offer love to ourselves.

    Kevin Griffin, “May All Beings Be Happy”

  • I have been through such a ridiculous amount of garbage (as most have) that I have learned to just say to myself “just another chapter in a book I should have been writing all along!”. If you can’t shrug off all (or at least the majority) of the slings and arrows that come your way, you will drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of them all and trying to deal with (a la have a remedy for everything) them in what would be a logical way. You are so very right in saying deal with what you can control, not that which you cannot. Have a blessed day!

  • Practical uses for bullies you can’t stand?

    I had my early experiences with such bullies, most of whom were of a dominant and intolerant religion that was not mine. One had to get used to being shunned, ignored, being last chosen, being obligated to publicly bow to the bullies, and watch other such oppressed locals plus newcomers experience the same kinds of social oppression. The less mentally resistant kids would sometimes just collapse. The lucky ones would be moved by their parents to some other community. The unlucky ones were forced to remain in the shadows for up to 12 years of public “schooling.”

    The entirely unexpected benefit of such disgusting treatment was to lend some experience to one’s coping ability with bullies in adulthood. Some of the worst were in the military where the chain of command was a constant threat to honest and well-intentioned troops, but an ugly whip when used by higher-ups to order immoral or disgusting and unconscionable actions. Some of the worst were during the Vietnam war where orders to murder women and children was so disgusting that offended troops would “frag” the officers charged with passing such orders down to them. They would first issue a warning by putting a disabled fragmentation grenade on the officer’s cot. If the officer chose to ignore that warning message and continued to pass along such really disgusting orders, the next grenade on his cot would be a live one. When such protests became somewhat widespread, that was one of the issues that helped end that war that had begun with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was about an attack that Admiral Stockdale [who was on site at the time and who years later testified that no such attack happened], but was drafted several months prior so that liar Lyndon Johnson could deliver it to our unknowing Congress at his convenience

    That’s an extreme example. More common examples are politicians in constant search of greater power and responsibilities while remaining insistent on not losing that which they already have. Other examples are mega-corporations and their backers that seek to achieve “regulatory capture” where governments become mere tools of such corporations and oligarchs. At the extreme such capture is labeled accurately as the fascism such as Mussolini advocated in the 1930s. We see it today with examples such as the mega-pharmaceuticals buying congress members (where once US Senators were strictly state legislature appointees, and instantly withdrawable upon misconduct). We see it where political appointment of government agency employees is made based on their loyalty to such non-voter powers.

    Those mega-pharmaceuticals also provide, for example, about 45% of the FDA’s budget and maintain a revolving door for ex-FDA employees who have “toed the line” so they can inherit a cushy position later with the Big Pharmas, eg.

    Other examples of such bullying are the central banks of the world that do everything possible to avoid the accurate label of counterfeiting of their fiat currencies to appear in the media, government records, or especially in government controlled schools. Heaven forbid that the little kiddies should ever learn that such theft of the currency holder’s purchasing power was once a death penalty offense. Our 1792 Coinage Act (with such a death penalty) was still fresh in the minds of those who survived our Revolution and remembered those who nearly starved when our “continentals” were badly over-printed in addition to British counterfeiting which was a British war measure to destroy our ability to pay for the war.

    This doesn’t discuss the ways to correct such disgusting situations, but it does illustrate that early schoolyard experiences with bullies help to recognize the “grownup” version on the real playing fields of “adulthood.”


    • Dear Lewis:
      I hope you are a teacher! An acerbic & accurate description of “the winnergets to write the (fake) history. Thank you .
      Old English Teacher, Althea

  • Social isolation is a big problem for us and has been for years. According to a lady I talked to who had lived in many different states our area is one of the roughest for making new social connections. Some times I quit trying because it is all so fruitless and drains too much energy away from other places.
    Anxiety and depression are good and giving you mental bullies. I call mine anxiety brain. Once I learned the mental pattern and how it was fed I was able to tune it way down. I takes more than just wanting to not listen to them though if you have any kind of mental health issues. You need to find the tools that work for you and practice them until they are habits. The internet is a treasure chest for people who need help but can’t afford traditional therapy, pricey courses or endless books. Obviously if you are at the point where you need medication to avoid harm don’t try to self treat but I was never that bad.

    • Excellent thoughts Colleen and I completely understand where you’re coming from.
      Mental health issues are a whole different beast (and Beasts they are!) to internal bullies and I would absolutely and categorically encourage anyone suffering from that kind of isolation to reach out to someone, ANYONE.

  • Interesting article.

    I think the New Year is a psychological milestone for many. It is a time to reflect on the past year (the good, the bad and the ugly), and for change for the new year. Same could be said about reflecting on other dates, be it a birthday, wedding anniversary, a loved ones death etc.
    A truly useless date is Valentines Day. It is nothing but a conspiracy by the flower and card industry to force us to buy things that we should buy or celebrate on any other day but that one.

    Anyways, while I do not call it bullying per-say, I do an objective self-assessment of things over the past, note what or where I succeeded and failed. What can I do better in the coming year.

    Without a doubt, 2021 was truly bad for goodly number of people. There are things beyond our control (e.g. inflation) that we have to deal with the best we can.

    Not going to try to blow UV rays up your posterior end with something inspiring, I am a Marine after all.
    I will say keep prepping, and that bully in your head, make them your ally.

  • While I quit making new year’s resolutions ages ago (except one – to not make any new year’s resolutions), I do like to use the turning of the calendar as a time to reflect on the past year and make course corrections in my life. No, the calendar date is nothing special, but I do have a reason for that choice of date. Listen to Jim Rohn’s The Art Of Exceptional Living (I have a copy of the audio). He says to take a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect, a few hours at the end of the month for the same, and a few days at the end of the year (or something like that). That’s a time to think to yourself what’s going right and what’s going wrong, and correct what’s going wrong.

    And funny thing is that it seems most of the time when I get to starting on a workout routine, it just so happens to be in the vicinity of the first of the year (this time I started in early December). I think that’s more a function of the changing weather and daylight than anything else (the shorter days and colder weather send me inside to the gym to lift weights).

  • One method I use to help “frame the mood” of the day (and control the opportunity from useless thoughts) is to play the old Bible Hymns softly in the background.

    They are widely available on the internet to download for free, with different parties singing them, allowing you to choose your preferred performances.

    It helps with inspiring the soul, and focuses the mind on the more important issues of life.

    And listening to them while driving around in the car really helps to keep a good attitude !

    • Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (KJV)

  • Another Great article. Too many “Americans” are Mental, Emotional, Physical & Spiritual SLAVES to MSM Media, Government, Social Media, Celebrities, but somehow have little or No belief or Faith in GOD. You can Only be Bullied if You Refuse to Stand Up for Yourself & Your Rights – that Requires Courage & Faith.

  • Great advice, Rustic Mama!

    Over these last two years, I’ve ditched most social media, read only the news that counts (and balanced it with positive news), stayed in touch with good friends, and have learned a ton about gardening, homesteading, prepping, and natural remedies.

    Something that has helped–I’m part of a group of 5 women who worked together at one time or another. One of the group started texting an encouraging word to the group every morning and it has grown into all of us sharing encouragement and celebrating successes (or grieving losses) with one another. While we don’t see each other often, this daily touch really helps not feeling isolated.

    Oh, by the way, try watching Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm on Prime. It’s an historical recreation of how farmers operated during those times. Lots of tools, methods, and cooking lessons 🙂

  • Happy New Day everyone.

    I decided to use the New Year as a tool, an arbitrary date where I used the general mood of renewal to give myself permission to shed outworn ideas and habits. When I feel something toxic rearing its ugly head inside me (like self bullying, which I do a lot) I can say “it’s a new year. I’m choosing to leave that behind,” and do it with self compassion rather than more self bullying.

    Mental and physical health are intertwined and a good attitude really helps with both.

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