How to Stop Blaming Yourself for Being Bullied

Young woman being sad

If you have been bullied, you know how easy it is to blame yourself for what happened. You may ask yourself questions like, “Why didn’t I say something?” or “Why did I just stand there while she belittled me?”

But if you do that, you are missing the point. You did not ask to be bullied. The bully made that choice and you are in no way responsible for another person’s thoughts and actions. As a result, victims of bullying should never engage in self-blame.

Self-blame is destructive and can lead to depression.

How to Stop Blaming Yourself for Being a Victim of Bullying

If you do find that you are blaming yourself for some bullying you endured, here are five steps to help you stop these destructive thoughts and move on.

Understand the futility of self-blame. Self-blame doesn’t do you any good. It also doesn’t make you feel better. And it certainly won’t keep you from being bullied in the future. Self-blame is just another form of rejection. So stop blaming yourself for the bullying and let the situation go. Instead, focus on your healing and what you can learn from the situation.

Learn how to reframe your thinking. Reframing involves changing your perspective of your bullying experience. For instance, instead of focusing on the horrible things someone did or said, you focus on what you can learn from it. Or, you focus on how you can take this experience and use it to help others.

When you reframe your thinking about bullying, it allows you to see the bullying for what it really is—a choice made by the bully.

As a result, it can drastically reduce your stress levels. The key is to learn how to challenge your negative thoughts (and stop blaming yourself) and replace those thoughts with positive ones.

Get outside help or counseling. Bullying is a traumatic experience and healing from it is not always easy. Sometimes you can really benefit from getting outside help or talking with a counselor. They are very good at helping you keep things in perspective. They also can give you tools for dealing with the effects of bullying in healthy ways.

You should never feel embarrassed about needing a little extra help overcoming bullying. In the long run, you will be glad that you took the steps needed to stay healthy. Ask your family doctor or school counselor for suggestions if you do not know who to call.

Stop being critical of yourself. Bullying usually communicates all sorts of negative messages about who you are. The bully wants you to believe that something is wrong with you. But there isn’t. Don’t agree with the bully by being critical of yourself and focusing on things you wish were different.

Learn to appreciate the positive things about yourself. And, don’t dwell on the mistakes you make. Making mistakes is a normal part of life and should be embraced as learning experiences.

Focus on the things you do well and spend time enhancing those skills. And if there are things that you want to improve, make a plan to tackle those issues. But allow yourself the freedom to fail without being critical.

Take responsibility for only the things you can control. Being bullied is not your fault. You didn’t do something to cause it. When it comes to bullying, it is essential that you recognize that you have no control over a bully. You cannot make them stop and you cannot change them. Only they can do that.

You need to decide what you are going to do and how you are going to heal from the bullying.

You have control over how you respond. Are you going to work on your assertiveness skills or are going to drown in victim thinking? The choice is yours.

Remember, you cannot keep bullying from happening but you can be better prepared next time. You can have a plan in place of how you will respond and to whom you will report it. These types of positive steps will help you ward off any desire to blame yourself for being bullied. 

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