They always said sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. A playground mantra in my days. But what is abundantly clear is that those bullying taunts from school stay around a lot longer than a few bruises from sticks and stones. How many people who were taunted and bullied mercilessly as children or teenagers now suffer from social anxiety as adults maybe even 30-40 years after those bullies had you in their target?
Imagine your only experience of groups of people was that you were taunted and made fun of or worse?
How is this going to affect how you perceive yourself?
How will your self esteem and self confidence look like and feel like?
What will you see when you look in the mirror ?
What will your thoughts be full of when you’re contemplating meeting up with people in a social environment?
Will you try to people please so everyone will like you?
Will you try to shy away from attention so no one will look at you or judge you or notice all those flaws that are so evident to yourself?
What does the anxiety and the fear of judgement feel like in your body?
What bodily sensations accompany those feelings and thoughts? Sweaty, red face, palpitations in your heart, butterflies in your tummy, a sick feeling perhaps?
Not that I’m saying that all anxiety is due to bullying but maybe a little bit of perspective on what happened to you as a child isn’t “in the past” and actually it’s with you every single day until you decide to look back and try to heal that part of yourself that was hurt and frightened.
Maybe that part of you needs some care and attention?
Can you do that while still feeling safe in your body ?
Visualise yourself as your adult self giving your younger self what they needed to support them through those challenging times. As always if this feels too challenging ask an experienced therapist for support.