How Positive Thinking Benefits Bullying Victims

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It is common knowledge that being bullied can scar victims emotionally leaving them feeling hopeless and vulnerable. Consequently, it is important for targets of bullying to know how to persevere despite the intense pain of the situation. One way to do that is to engage in positive thinking in spite of the negative impact of bullying.

In fact, researchers are finding more and more evidence pointing to the benefits of positive thinking and optimism.

Research from 2017 shows that positive thinkers are not only healthier and less stressed, but they also have a greater overall sense of wellbeing.

Additionally, people who think positive thoughts also may experience a number of other benefits including lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, and better coping skills.

Positive thinking can even lower this risk of dying from stroke, heart disease, infection, cancer, and respiratory disease. In fact, in one 2017 study, the most optimistic women (or the top quartile of the study) had nearly a 36% lower risk of dying from the diseases analyzed compared with bottom quartile of the study.

Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking often begins with self-talk, which are the unspoken thoughts that run through a person’s head. And when it comes to bullying this skill is especially important. Many times, victims of bullying will engage in negative self-talk, often repeating the bully’s messages in their head, such as “I’m a loser,” “No one likes me,” and “I am worthless and stupid.” But this is a huge mistake and can lead to depression, hopelessness and even thoughts of suicide.

Instead, victims of bullying should be telling themselves that the messages the bullies are saying are not true and replacing them with more affirming messages like “There is nothing wrong with me,” “I am a good person,” and “I have something to offer the world.” Not only will these statements reaffirm their worth and identity, but they also will benefit them in other ways. Here are the top three ways positive thinking benefits victims of bullying.

Ability to Cope

Positive thinking impacts a person’s ability to cope with bullying. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of and messages from bullying, optimistic people tend to cope with the situation in much more productive and positive ways.

For instance, positive thinkers often identify areas where they can use the situation to their advantage such as helping others in similar situations.

Positive thinking helps victims of bullying cope by prompting them to develop a plan of action for overcoming the bullying and making it stop.

Positive thinkers also are more likely to believe that others will be willing to help them with the bullying situation including teachers and administrators. They have hope that the situation will end instead of seeing the situation as hopeless.

Building Resilience

Positive thinking enhances overall resilience. Resilient people are able to face bullying with strength and resolve. Rather than falling apart, they are able to persevere and overcome the negative impact of bullying. And optimism, or positive thinking, plays a major role in this ability.

People who are able to keep their thoughts positive may be more likely to bounce back from a bullying situation than those who are prone to negative thoughts. They instinctively know that the bullying experience is not the end of the world. They also are able to redirect their thoughts to their goals and plans rather than focusing on the choices of another.

Improves Health and Well-Being

Positive thinking improves health and well-being. Bullying can have devastating consequences including everything from academic struggles and health issues, to depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

But positive thinking can provide a buffer for some of these issues. People who are optimistic are able to focus more on the things that they can control like their response to bullying or how they are going to address it.

Additionally, they avoid ruminating about the things they cannot control such as name-calling, cyberbullying, and relational aggression. By doing so, they are able to avoid negative ways of coping with the pain of bullying.

A Word From Verywell

Overall there are many benefits to positive thinking, but it is important to keep it all in perspective. For instance, no matter how positive a person is, bad things will happen. People will bully them and make fun of them. But positive thinking can help if the person focuses on tackling challenges in a productive way and trying to make the most of bad situations like bullying.

However, this does not mean they should try to handle the situation on their own. Positive thinking can help people move on from bullying, but it is still important to get help from parents and teachers to make sure the bullying ends.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Geurts B. Making sense of self talkRev Philos Psychol. 2018;9(2):271–285. doi:10.1007/s13164-017-0375-y

  3. Nemours Teens Health. The power of positive emotions.

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. The power of positive thinking.

  5. Copeland WE, Bulik CM, Zucker N, Wolke D, Lereya ST, Costello EJ. Does childhood bullying predict eating disorder symptoms? A prospective, longitudinal analysisInt J Eat Disord. 2015;48(8):1141–1149. doi:10.1002/eat.22459

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.