I have a lot of experience working with and teaching groups of kids. The younger the better, I say. I love the little ones! Their little hugs, their little words of encouragement, their little pieces of oh-so-true wisdom. Working with children is one of my passions. I love working with the "easy" kids but hold a special place in my heart for the "problem" kids, too. I see that they are crying out for attention. I see that they have a hidden message, a hidden talent, a hidden gift that resides below the tough exterior of being a bully. I will never forget these children. They stood out.
One such child was a first grader named Juan. He was t.r.o.u.b.l.e. He was labeled as having O.D.D. (oppositional defiant disorder) and never, ever failed to disrupt the entire class on a daily basis. He was only six years old, but managed to get into physical altercations on the regular. He prided himself in taking all of the teacher's attention for himself to the detriment of the rest of the class. He was such a challenge. He was never unnoticed, never forgotten, always begging for the wrong kind of attention.
What he really was was scared. Where he was really coming from was a broken home. What he was really dealing with was too much for a six year old to take. What he desperately needed was love. How he knew to get attention was disorder. He was rough around the edges, begging to be seen, possibly dangerous, yet still in need of love. He wasn't going to go away. Sending Juan to another classroom didn't solve the problem. Kicking Juan out of school wasn't the answer. Working with Juan. Helping him. Listening to him. That was the answer.
I've recently been dealing with a strong round of inner bullying. That little voice that says "you aren't good enough" is creeping up inside and it seems louder than ever. It feels a lot like my mind is bullying my heart. Like my mind is bullying my soul. My mind is being an irrational meanie and it is out of control. I realized today that my inner critic is a lot like Juan. The harsh voice gets louder when I just ignore it, much like Juan would increase his bad behavior upon being ignored. The inner bully can appear violent, terrifying, and intimidating, but all it is is a voice. All Juan is is a wounded child. All my inner bully is is my own wounded child. The part of myself that feels neglected, rejected, and wrong. It seemed so obvious to me that Juan was calling out for love with demonstrations of aggression. I now choose to see my inner bully as the same thing. As a part of myself that needs validation, that needs to be seen, and needs to be loved.
Moving forward, I see my inner bully for what it is. I will meet its fear mongering with love. I will meet its taunting with acceptance. I will meet its anger with a listening ear. It has a message, it holds meaning, and ignoring it won't make it go away. Working with it is the key to inner peace.
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