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Stoic Street Smarts

Stand Tall Against Bullies: Applying Ancient Wisdom to Modern Conflict

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

I dug into my stats and discovered that the newsletter page has an abysmal conversion rate. I am working on cleaning that up, but I got inspired to dig deeper into growing my newsletter by reading the Growth In Reverse newsletter.

The author does a deep dive into different tactics newsletters use to grow, and the information should not be free. But it is, and you can tell she's having fun doing it. ​Check it out.​

Also, if you've enjoyed my writing/newsletter, I'd love it if you sent a message I could use as a review to help the newsletter grow. With that said, let's dig into bullies and stoicism.


Stand Tall Against Bullies: Applying Ancient Wisdom to Modern Conflict

I reserve my emotional energy for things I can control. As a result, I don’t experience anger very often. However, there is one thing that always bothers me, and I have a hard time ignoring it when I see it—abuses of power and bullying.

By definition, any abuse of power is a form of bullying, but it's not restricted to the domain of power imbalances. Bullying is the repetitive and aggressive behavior that deliberately intends to hurt, intimidate, exclude, or humiliate another person physically or emotionally. The three components of bullying are:

  • Power Imbalance. An actual or perceived unequal power distribution exists between the bully and the target, and this makes it difficult for the target to defend themselves. I had to bite my tongue so hard I could taste blood at two instances of bullying I witnessed in the Army that went beyond training. I have a heart, but discretion is the better part of valor.
  • Intent to Cause Harm. The bully acts to physically, emotionally, and/or socially harm the target. They go beyond teasing or horseplay. Everyone joking is cool; everyone trying to take each other's heads off is cool. What's not cool is one person thinks it is a joke, and the other is out for blood.
  • Repetition. Incidents are not isolated. Bullying behavior repeats over time toward the target. If you act like the prey, you tend to get treated like prey by predators. No one understands this dynamic better than a bully.

Bullying isn’t limited to physical confrontations. There’s also emotional and social bullying. Because of how wired into the internet, social media, and smartphones everyone is these days, the latter is now more commonly described as cyberbullying.

I won’t be addressing cyberbullying in this article, but not because I don’t think it’s real. I have two reasons.

  1. It's because parents have a responsibility to protect their children from the internet. I was a tutor for high schoolers. I've seen it done in multiple households, so I know it's possible to protect developing minds from the uglier side of the internet AND keep them up to date with the latest technological trends.
  2. If you are an adult, you understand how to use blocking functions on all platforms. If that's still not enough, spend less time on the internet. It's good for you.

For everyone else, today's newsletter will teach you how bullies think and how to deal with them. This advice is for more than just kids in school. They are more protected from bullying now than they were in my day. This newsletter is for everyone else dealing with bullies personally and professionally.

Read on to learn how bullies think and how to squelch them, regain your power, and keep your sanity all at the same time.


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Cool content I've read this week

  • "Book Stores Refuse To Host An Event For My Book": Rob Henderson has one hell of a life story. A former foster home kid who became a sergeant in the Air Force and graduated from Yale and Oxford, his life story got him a book deal. But many bookstores in San Francisco and New York City refuse to host his book tour. In this article, he covers what he learned from this experience that taught him that in many circles, legacy trumps merit. Rob has a top-notch Substack worth signing up to.
  • Better To Learn From Their Mistakes Than Your Own: Torrey Dawley is a nearly 20-year veteran in the design and branding space. He was doing this before it was the cool thing to do. This post talks about his first job out of college, how it taught him what *not* to do, and how he made a notebook out of it. The rest of his content is great as well. Sign up.

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