Adult Bullies: The Accusing Bully

Disclaimer: For those of you who know me and my work around healing from abuse, please note that this blog is not about clinically abusive people (aka narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths). This series on adult bullies is about the other type of difficult people. The average garden-variety type of folks we run into out in the world.  

The Different Types of Adult Bullies

This is the second post in a series on adult bullying. If you missed the first one on the topic, you can read it here at The Bitter Bully.

Who are these accusing adult bullies? They are individuals who, for some reason, need you to play the role of scapegoat. The accusing bully doesn’t know the real you. They know their distorted, constructed version of you. The accusing bully has created a false image in their head and since what we think is what we feel, they feel like you deserve their scrutiny. They might snap, be annoyed, and you have no idea why.

Now, we know not everyone is going to think we are fabulous. We sometimes just do not gel with certain personality types and that’s perfectly normal. The accusing bully doesn’t have an actual aversion to you.  They have an aversion to how they see you. That’s the crazy-making part of being the target of an accusing bully.

When this happened to me, I found myself on the receiving end of someone saying that I was going to respond to conflict in a way that is not at all how I handle myself or disagreements. I thought this individual knew me well too so I was taken aback by their perceptions. It caused me to do some immediate soul searching. How do I carry myself in the world that I am perceived in such an incorrect way by this person? Was it incorrect or do I not know myself very well? Am I the type who would react the way this person expected me to? As you can see, the accusing bully can really challenge your views of yourself. At least for those of us who take the time to be self-reflective; in an effort to always be growing as individuals.

After spending time rattling around in my own thoughts, I asked a couple of people who knew me even better than the individual who was accusatory about my responses to conflict. Those closest to me confirmed that I didn’t have some false view of my conflict resolution skills. These conversations helped cement the idea that the accusing bully had their perceptions that had nothing to do with the real me.

Why do some people adopt a distorted view of us and do so on purpose? Yes, I do think the accusing bully chooses to paint an inaccurate picture of our character.

This is especially true if they should know better but still go ahead and scapegoat us. Watching this in my own life and with some of the clients I have worked with as a therapist, I believe that the accusing bully has a need to misunderstand us. Our role as scapegoat somehow works for them. Maybe they want to continue in their own unhealthy behaviors and if we can take some of the responsibility, then less ownership lands on their lap.  Perhaps the accusing bully projects their own areas of growth onto us, rather than addressing their limitations. In the case of my accusing bully, I honestly believe that rather than taking a hard look at their own issues of conflict resolution, they projected outward and onto me. Luckily, I was able to catch this tactic and not allow their words to have a lasting impact on my view of myself.

What is the best way to address an accusing bully? You might try pointing out that you don’t see yourself in the way the bully is accusing. It is possible that you are going to get push back and a level of denial from them. If you are not able to openly discuss that you feel scapegoated, you may need to consider distancing yourself from the person. It is very difficult to have any level of authentic relationship with someone who feels the need to create a falsehood about you and then treats you differently because of the lies they have told themselves.

Keep dreaming big!


Adult Bullies: The Bitter Bully

Disclaimer: For those of you who know me and my work around healing from abuse, please note that this blog is not about clinically abusive people (aka narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths). This series on adult bullies is about the other type of difficult people. The average garden-variety type of folks we run into out in the world.  

The Different Types of Adult Bullies

What happens when we run into adults who don’t know how to treat other people?  Our reactions can range from explosive anger all the way to deeply internalizing the ugly messages that bullies send us. Why do bullies exist in the adult world? As kids, weren’t we all told that schoolyard bullies would one day “grow up” and realize the error of their ways? I know I heard that mean kids would grow out of the need or desire to bully and yet, I see adult bullying in too many life situations.

There seems to be a few different variations of behaviors from individuals who clearly are old enough to know better, and yet, roam the adult schoolyard looking for someone to kick in the shins. Over the course of several blogs, I am going to share with you a few of the types of bullies I have either experienced myself or have been witness to through other people.

The Bitter Bully

I have personally come in close contact with this bully. It is one who appears in the form of a friendly face that is all good with you until, wait for it, the seed of bitterness comes to full harvest. What causes this person to shift from a caring friend to a snarky person who you cannot associate closely with anymore? Bitterness usually shows itself when the adult bully feels threatened by you in some way. Perhaps you stepped on their toes by achieving success in “their” self-designated area of life. It’s as if they have metaphorically tinkled on a bush like a dog to claim it as their own and you dared to come sniffing too close. You hear the low growl and turn to see their teeth showing. They don’t like you anymore. Suddenly you’re now annoying and they have numerous previously unspoken complaints of you. Their view of you has changed but the only thing that is new is your success.

Maybe your success stepped on their toes and rather than coming clean with you about their internal conflict, it seeps out through their pores in bitterness. Of course, they would adamantly deny any jealousy or bitterness. Didn’t they already tell you they are not an angry person? They are the outward picture of confidence but as an intuitive person, you feel the wave of bitterness and it pushes you away from them.

What causes the bitter bully to emerge from the outer covering of a good friend? I believe it is deeply held insecurities. When people feel overly territorial it is because they are scared that you are taking something away from them; that they will lose the goodness in their life. These individuals may have dealt with scarcity or neglect previously and they are triggered on a subconscious level by you coming to close to their now good life.

Is this your fault? Not at all. Are you expected to shrink back in life just so you don’t push insecurity buttons in someone around you? Never. We do not clip our own wings for fear we might fly too high for another person’s comfort level. Their bitterness and internal conflict is theirs, and theirs alone, to work through. However, it is helpful to pause and ponder the “why” of the bitter bully’s projection outward towards you. When we can cognitively understand why people behave the way they do, it takes the personalization out of it. We stop going over what we did to make that person change their ways with us. We start recognizing that not everyone can stay on the same road.

People say that failure will show you who your friends are and that is true. Success will show you the insecurities hiding in those around you. Sometimes, it’s not pretty. Sometimes success brings a chill of loneliness as people react in different ways and bitter is one of them.

Personally, I would rather be surrounded by a few key people who love themselves and their lives so much that anything I might have going on positively isn’t at all a threat to them. It is also my gift back to them because real friends don’t pour bitterness on one another like acid.

Keep Dreaming Big! (so big it makes people uncomfortable)



Things to Remember When on Empty

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” – Charles Dickens

Almost three weeks ago I published my first sole-authored book. The lead up to launch day reminds me of this famous quote by Mr. Dickens. It truly has been the best and worst of times. Through each season of life we get to glean a little more wisdom and, sometimes, a little thicker skin. Now that I am a couple weeks out of the post-launch vortex, it seemed like a good time to encapsulate some of what I have noticed while running this intense sprint to complete the book and get it into the hands of readers.

As an entrepreneur, there are times when not only the candle is burning at both ends, but in the middle and just about melted down to a puddle of wax. That basically sums up my energy levels during the book project. It was a slow slide into chronically living on fumes. Many of us can recall times when we would have to muster up enough energy to get through the must needed tasks of adult living, and the fluffy extras just dropped off the cliff into the abyss of not going to happen.

When we are in seasons like this, it is a great time to watch ourselves and the attitude of those around us. For our own self-reflection, we need to be aware that our reactions may be more exaggerated because we are crazy tired. Little life annoyances that would have left us shaking our heads before, may now be dealt in ways that are unusual for us. Example? While driving on a busy street that resembles a slow freeway, I was first off the blocks at a light and apparently I did not gun by car’s engine quite fast enough for the lady behind me so she kept incessantly honking at me. When I jerked my head up to look in the rear-view mirror, I saw that she was wildly waving her arms in the manner as if to shoo me forward and then, she gave me the middle finger salute. Oh no she did not! Oh yes she did!! I would like to say I just shook my head in calm, I-have-my-emotions-under-control disbelief and drove my car normal from that point but, I did not. Remember, I have been living life on empty and right at that moment, rude-lady-driver was the tipping point of my patience. So I very passive-aggressively slowed waaaaaay down and continued to check my rear-view mirror to watch this lady alternate between waving me on, to flipping me off again, to then jerking her mini-van into the lane next to me and zoom past. Did I just keep my eyes on the road and my hands at 10 and 2? No, I did not. I jumped into the cesspool with her and we exchanged “friendly” gestures.

Did our road rage stop there? Nope. It continued light after light after light. After a while I started to worry that perhaps she was headed to the same school pick up that I was and good grief, was this rude-lady-driver a fellow school parent?! Oh, please say it isn’t so. Reality set in of just how ridiculous I had behaved in response to this extremely annoying person. Luckily she kept going when I turned left to head to the school and I really felt stupid by my exhaustion induced actions.

Now, being in a busy season does have some benefits. Maybe not the most patient while driving but living on empty can bring into crystal clear clarity who we want to spend time with and who is a soul drain. When we find ourselves very thin on time and attention, we see which individuals are there to walk along side of us and who is there for their own benefit.

When we have nothing to give, the takers seem to vanish and that’s a good thing.

Often times when we are well-rested we have the energy to make excuses for people’s poor behaviors or attitude towards us. We may fill in the gaps where they failed to do what they were supposed to do and our actions cover up the truth about them. When we have normal energy, we will do the heavy lifting to maybe keep a broken relationship limping along. This can occur among family, friends, or in the workplace. During normal energy times, we may take on more weight than the other person. Now, enter into a season of spinning deadlines or high stress and no way are we expelling time or resources to make a bad situation slightly better. Sweep the issues under the rug? Nope. Have the desire to bounce back again and make something keep going that needs to end? Nope. Going to spend time with people who have shown their true colors?  Nope. Nope. Nope.

Your true friends and your true foes become a lot more clear during and after a season of living on empty.

When you have sorted through who is there for you, these people become like little breaths of air in a stuffy room. They shine like gems of many beautiful colors. They are your people and your appreciation of them runs at an even deeper level. Relationally cleaning house is a good thing and a time of being on empty will help facilitate healing changes.

If you find yourself in a tough, busy season, I hope that you will give yourself the gift of acceptance for where you are right now. Make a plan for when your busyness will end so it doesn’t feel like a never ending dark tunnel.  If you are working on a project (like I was with the book), I hope it is a huge success for you. Trust me when I say that you will learn about yourself, but mostly about how other people relate to you going after your dreams.

Keep dreaming big!

Book Release! – “Masterminding Our Way: The Power of 5 Minds”

The book is DONE! I am beyond thrilled and overjoyed to announce that the book I co-authored with four other entrepreneurial women is completed! It has been a great journey to get to this point.

The book is now available on Amazon! “Masterminding Our Way: Power of 5 Minds”

Group photo copy (4)

(L-R: Sarah Gilliland, Lauren Midgley, ME 🙂 Bottom: Nicole Smith, Wendy Knutson)

A huge Thank You for all of the support and encouragement! – Shannon



Too Busy For The Next Order

Too Busy For The Next Order

A few months ago, I was the presenter for a morning training and it was my plan to have fresh coffee and donuts when the attendees arrived.  The day before, I had stopped into the donut store and placed my order.  It was the final task on my presentation To-Do list and with that completed, I felt fully ready for the next day.

The morning of the presentation had gone smooth; until I arrived at 7am to get the coffee and sweet treats. Not only had my order from the afternoon before not been prepared for me to swing by and grab on my way to the presentation, but my order couldn’t be found anywhere. To top off the situation, the coffee shop was hopping busy. The drive-thru was swarming with cars and inside, the lobby was full of sleepy people waiting for their jolt of coffee and sugar to start their Wednesday morning.

When it was my turn at the counter and the manager realized that my order had not been completed, she did her best to suppress her own annoyance and promised to have it ready as quickly as possible. For the next forty minutes (yes, forty) I stood back and watched her and the other staff members move at lighting speed but only every so often, did anyone stop to work on my order. I normally would have become agitated by a situation like this but I could clearly see with my own eyes that they simply had too much to do to give my order the attention it needed.

After about 30 minutes of waiting, I positioned myself closer to the counter where the manager could keep a view of me waiting. I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just knew that if I continued to fade out of her sight, I might run the risk of having to leave for the presentation without coffee or donuts. What she couldn’t see, she seemed to not be giving her attention to. She dealt with the tasks that were right in front of her eyes.

As I stood there watching the clock tick closer to the start time of my presentation and seeing the donut shop staff scramble to meet everyone’s needs, I knew there were some great life lessons to be gleamed from the situation.

How often do we get so busy doing the tasks at hand that we literally have no time for the additional things that are thrown on our plate? How often do we only give attention to the tasks that are right in front of our faces and ignore those we can ignore? How often do we put out fires rather than plan ahead so that our stress levels can stay lower?

When we cram our schedules with no time margins, we do ourselves a terrible disservice. I am as guilty as the next busy person in this area. As I write this, I am not just hoping others can sit back and reflect, but I plan to as well.

What are some practical things that we can do to help create time margins in our lives so that we are not too busy to respond to the unexpected hiccups in our schedules or even great things that might pop up?

1) We have to plan ahead for disruptions: 

That morning at the donut shop, my stress level did not go as high as it would have if I had given myself my normal 10 minutes to do anything. See, I have this weird internal theory that most things will only take me 10 minutes to complete. I am usually wrong and it ends up leaving me a few minutes behind. But not this day. The day of the presentation I gave myself a huge (by my standards) margin of time and guess what? I needed every minute. The donut shop disruption was annoying but not a schedule changer. It was only that way because I had planned for unseen disruptions of some sort.

2) We don’t have to be busy every minute of every day:

For those of us who enjoy a productive life, leaving margin in our schedule feels weird and like we are not maximizing every moment to its fullest potential. In reality, when we are not busy every minute of the day, we are allowing the space to be available for that phone call we really want to enjoy or an unexpected quiet moment that gives our spirit some rejuvenation. Not having a schedule that is maxed out every single day allows us the opportunity to get to the “next order” and perhaps, that may be something really special. How sad would it be to miss it because we just flew by on our way to the next thing on our daily list.

3) We have to figure out what are the important things in our lives and what are just good things:

Being able to decipher between great projects and merely good projects is critical to living a high quality life that still has margin. There are so many wonderful things to get involved in and to be a part of but if we want to have enough time for the next order when it comes up, we have to get clear about our priorities. If you find yourself (as I often do) with too full of a schedule, let’s both take the time this week and make a Priority List. I am not just talking about the basics that include family and friends. We all know those have to be on the list. I am talking about a list at a much deeper level.

We can ask ourselves where we want to be in the next year, three years, five years and ten years. If we could have anything, what do we want our lives to look like? From that time of productive day-dreaming, let’s backtrack all the way to today. What steps do we need to take right now in order to get us pointed in the right direction of where we hope to be? With that in mind, we can better learn to say no to the people and projects that don’t help us stay on course to living a life we find enriching and peaceful.

I hope you enjoy this exercise of day-dreaming and then putting in to place the small daily steps that will get you where you want to be or maintain the course you have already started. Not everyone needs a huge re-direct. Many of us have done these types of exercises before and we are headed in the right direction. Even then, we must guard our schedule and energy level so that we don’t get derailed by excessive and unproductive busyness.

Do you have time in your daily schedule for the next order that might come up? If not, what can you do to change the situation?