How to Stop Being a Bully

Four Parts:Understanding BullyingConducting a Self-ExaminationTaking Control of Your BehaviorMaking Amends

Bullying others has a long-term negative effect on both the people you bully and yourself. If you make a habit of intentionally hurting other people, whether physically, verbally, or emotionally, it's time to break that pattern. The following steps will help you figure out why you tend to bully and how to put a stop to it.

Part 1
Understanding Bullying

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    Know what constitutes bullying. If you're involved in one of these behaviors, you are bullying others:
    • Verbal bullying is when you tease, mimic, name call, and insult someone.
    • Physical bullying is when you hit, kick, push, shove, punching, pinch, or physically hurt someone in any other way.
    • Emotional bullying is when you manipulate someone for your own gain by making them feel shame or taking away their power and confidence. This includes gossiping, backstabbing, isolating, and leaving people out.
    • In total, it is when someone harasses, abuses, or intimidates others physically or emotionally. It is also repeated behavior toward the same or to different victims.
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    Learn to identify bullying and fully understand its consequences.
    • Watch videos online that detail the problems related to and how to stop bullying.
    • Inform yourself of the many bullying incidents that have led to victims becoming bullies or killers later in life, deaths, and suicides.
    • Know that bullying can lead to suspension, expulsion, or even arrest depending on the severity of the situation.
    • If you know that you are more inclined to bully people who you dislike, learn more about them to make them less unlikable. You may even make new friends that way!
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    Know what causes bullying. Different bullies may have different reasons to bully. They may have learned to be abusive from the environment in which they lived or they may have a feeling of aggressive dislike towards others.

Part 2
Conducting a Self-Examination

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    Identify bullying patterns in your life. Do you hurt others because you're being hurt? Sometimes people bully others because they learned how to do it from someone else. Think about how other people in your life deal with their own insecurities and sense of powerlessness.
    • If you are being bullied in your home, seek the help of a school counselor, a therapist, or someone you trust immediately.
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    Identify your insecurities. Many people bully others because they're insecure with some aspect of themselves. Consider the following questions:
    • Are you bullying to cover your own weakness? Putting someone else down as a way to hide your own powerlessness is a common reason to bully.
    • Are you bullying to show off for others? Perhaps you're trying to stay afloat in a harsh group situation by putting on a display of power.
    • Do you tease someone else about something you dislike about yourself? Bullying someone else who shares an unwanted trait is also common.
    • Are you hurting other people because you're unhappy with your life? Some people act out against others when they feel powerless to change something about their own circumstances.
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    Reflect on how it feels to bully others. What goes through your mind when you're hurting someone else? What events usually occur to lead to the bullying? If you can thoroughly understand the pattern that happens when you lash out, you stand a better chance of stopping negative behavior.

Part 3
Taking Control of Your Behavior

Standing in the other person's shoes

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    Put yourself in the victim's perspective. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in the situation in which they are. If you would not like it if someone else hurt you physically or emotionally, do not give others this pain. Treat others how you would want to be treated.
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    Ask yourself how the victims of bullying feels when you're bullying them. To stop yourself from bullying, you must be able to communicate how you feel with the victim or the potential victim. For example, if the person was once your friend and a misunderstanding caused your friendship to end, it may be helpful to clear up the misunderstandings.
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    Ask yourself what the reason is for the bullying. People do not normally bully for no reason. There has to be a cause of the problem. There can be many reasons, but here are a few:
      • Is it to feel superior because you had been bullied in the past?
      • Is it because you have been in an environment in which bullying is common?
      • Is it because, you envy someone or want something from them?
      • Is it because you are trying to "fit in" or "seem cool?"

Stopping yourself from bullying

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    Take a moment to think. If you're bullying other people because you have a temper problem, practice thinking before you act. For example, if someone says something that might usually set you off, take a deep breath and pause before responding.
    • Realize that with every action you are making a decision to behave in a certain way. Your words and behaviors are under your control.
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    Remove yourself from groups of people who reward you for bullying others. If you hurt other people as a way to gain status in a group, that group is having a negative influence on you. Chances are you don't actually want to be hurting others, but you feel you have to for "survival" purposes. Remove yourself immediately and halt your bullying behavior.
    • If the group threatens you into bullying someone else, tell someone you trust that you need help handling the situation.
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    Practice empathizing with others. Perhaps you're mean to other people because you aren't thinking about things from their perspective. Ask yourself, how would you feel if someone were hurting you this way?
    • Spend time with people and get to know them on deeper level.
    • Understand that everyone is equal: you are not better than other people, and they are not better than you.
    • Appreciate what makes each person unique, instead of judging them for their differences.
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    Change outlook on things. Based on the reason for bullying, change the way you feel about victims or potential victims. Look for positive things in others instead of negatives and reasons to bully. For example, if you are bullying because you want to "seem cool" and in-power, them think about how you could be even more popular as someone who was kind to others. Turn into a game of "finding the best" in every person you meet––did you know that can actually get through to even the prickliest of people when you work out their good features and highlight those rather than picking on their worst? It's a much more effective way of dealing with others than being mean or offensive. It may even gain you lifelong allies, if not friends.
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    Get help from a professional. If you feel you can't control your bullying on your own, talk to a counselor or therapist about your problem. She or he will provide you with tactics to help you change your behavior.

Part 4
Making Amends

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    Apologize to people you have bullied. When you've gained control of your behavior, you still have a long way to go toward getting people's trust back. Start by thinking through the entire part you have played in the upset; then, offering a sincere apology to those you have hurt. Be vulnerable and courageous. Keep the focus on what you have done/said. Then, let the person know what you can be counted on for in the future and be wedded to the words coming out of your mouth. If you admit that it was wrong to start bullying the victim, then the victim will have less of reason to dislike or fear you. You may even become friends with the person, which an help to make the relationship between you less abrasive.
    • Don't apologize until you sincerely mean it. People will be able to sense if your words are not genuine.
    • If you've hurt someone deeply over time, they may not want to talk to you. Respect their space, and realize that relationship may be permanently damaged.
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    Treat people with respect from now on. Practice new ways of understanding and relating to people until it becomes habit to treat people respectfully. If you find yourself veering toward angry thoughts again, remember to pause and think before acting. Focus on what you have in common with people and appreciate their humanity. You can't control other people, but you can control yourself.


  • Avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd. If your friends do not like your change of heart, then simply tell them you can no longer be friends.
  • Practice complimenting others, rather than insulting them. Try to always see the best in people, rather than the worst.
  • Set a good example for others. Be kind to people who get picked on so that others see it is not acceptable to bully them.
  • Practice being kind to others. The first thing you should do is apologize to the people that you have bullied and tell them that you have decided to change the way you act.
  • Just treat people the way you want to be treated.
  • Think carefully about what you say or type. Think about whether it may hurt or insult anyone. Make well-informed choices––remember that opinions are just that, things you think, they're not facts.
  • If someone disagrees with you, consider the other person's point instead of starting a fight with that person.


  • Never be a bystander. Being a bystander is like encouraging bullying because you allow it to happen. When you see bullying happening, stop the bully peacefully or get help from a trusted adult/coworker/friend, etc.

Article Info

Categories: Dealing with Bullying