Connie was fed up with her live-in boyfriend Paul trying to take over her life.
She felt intimidated by his intellect and bullied by his “logical” opinions for why something should or shouldn’t be done.
She seemed to freeze in what became arguments, not able to get words out that made sense to refute his points…
And she’d end up doing exactly what he wanted.
Tired of the resentment and anger that Connie tried to keep hidden…
She reached out to us for a conversation to get some clarity about her relationship.
Here are a few “light bulb” insights she had during our conversation that can help you as well if you think your partner is a bully…
1. Slow down and become aware of the “stories” that are constantly running
When Connie slowed down her thinking to see what thoughts she’d been running…
She discovered that the main thought was that she couldn’t “win” an argument because Paul was so much smarter so why try.
She also saw that she’d been labeling him as a “bully” for quite awhile.
When you see what thoughts are running your show, stimulating your reactions…
You can decide whether they are ones you want to focus on or not.
So often we’re on auto-pilot and keep doing the same things over and over, having the same results.
When you look at the thoughts that are creating those results, you can choose something different.
2. Look at how you might be contributing to the situation
As Connie was able to step back and take a “neutral” look at their interactions…
She saw that she hadn’t really been willing to listen to Paul or consider his point of view–at all.
It was a surprise to her to see that she’d been just as stubborn, holding on to being right, as she believed him to be!
She even had the thought that her withdrawal could be perceived as stone-walling.
To her horror, she saw that this was what she witnessed her mother doing when there were disagreements with her father.
Without blaming herself, she realized that her refusal to engage could be perceived as bullying, even though that certainly wasn’t her intention.
As this understanding came to her, she saw Paul in a different light.
When you look at your situation and interactions with neutral eyes…
You might see something new as well that helps you gain an understanding that you hadn’t had before.
3. Open to new possibilities
Equipped with a new understanding about what had been happening between her and Paul…
And that she didn’t want to keep repeating her mother’s mistakes…
The next time Paul had a different idea about what should be done than she had, she listened instead of arguing and shutting down.
At first, he was taken aback at the change in her, especially when she asked more questions about his opinion instead of arguing and shutting him out.
As they talked, he was more open to listening to her ideas.
When she opened to new possibilities, starting with her thoughts…
She began to see their relationship in a new light.
What about your relationship?
Could your labeling the other person as a bully be keeping unwanted behavior in place?
Could your behavior be labeled as bullying and you not know it?
These questions are certainly not meant to excuse behavior that is detrimental or even dangerous to you and your relationship…
Or meant to imply that you should keep putting up with that behavior.
It’s only meant to expand your thinking and to help you choose another path.