Handling The Bully

Scut FarcusWe all remember the kid…that is unless you were the kid. The guy who seemed to fear nothing, who back-talked the teachers, who never waited in line. You know, the class bully. There’s always at least one bully in our lives that we remember, right? I remember our 3rd grade bully, vividly. I feared him. He was the Scut Farcus (A Christmas Story) of my childhood. We never crossed wires, but I always knew if we did, I was toast. He’d kill me and then laugh about it while he kicked my Steelers book bag sliding down the hall. O how we longed for the days when we’d grow up and not have to deal with bullies, ever again. Right?


But the truth is, there will always be a bully. Today, as a 40-something year old grown man, my bullies aren’t people exactly. They’re mostly emotions, fears, phobias. Worries about what might happen. They may not be in my face, but they’re real, nonetheless. And one of my biggest bullies is stress. Always there. Still fearless. Still bucking the system. And still paralyzing me with the knowledge that it would just love to kick my book bag careening down the hall.


So how do I deal with that guy? How do I keep stress from controlling me? How do I keep my bully from scaring me into worry and failure, every single time?


Well I believe, what most of us do (and what I’ve typically done) is to do what we did in third grade. We keep our distance. We stay clear and out of the line of fire. And by staying out of sight, we save ourselves from a certain beating.


The problem with that though, is that is never solves the problem. And eventually, your bully will cross your path. Stress will eventually rear its ugly head. Then what?


Our bullies, both then and now, don’t particularly want our lunch money, or our extra roll, or our book bag, or our job, our kids, our health or our reputation. They want what every bully wants…control. Whatever they take is just a means of gaining control over us. And the best way to side-step the bully is not to avoid him, it's to take away his ability to control us. Once you understand that he’s basically pretty pitiful, then you can learn to deal with him.


I can’t avoid stress. It happens. I mean it happens like every hour. Stress laughs in the face of my schedule. Stress spits in the eye of my good demeanor. Stress kicks the book bag of my enjoyable morning and glares back at me, daring me to resist his power. Stress is a bully and will find me, no matter how much I try to avoid it.


So I learn to live with it. I learn to control myself. I learn to refuse to allow stress to manipulate me and control my emotions and feelings. Stress then goes from being a bully, to being just a pebble in my shoe. It’s irritating, but not so much so that it ruins my day or my evening or my time with my kids. I stay in control. I am in charge. Stress doesn't control me.


Stress tries to get under my skin, constantly. And if you’re finding yourself in the same boat, then know there is hope! Through faith, confidence and determination, you can end the reign of stress in your life. Smile, look ahead, and refuse to allow stress to bully you today!