Life is about adjusting to new things, dealing with stress and memories of old wounds, picking yourself up and brushing the dust off to do it again. Interspersed with that is the people and animals you love, your hobbies, passions, desires and dreams. The trick is to prioritize and keep the power of your thoughts on the things that keep you happy, calm, safe and encouraged. Recently, I let an intruder into my thoughts. He was a physical embodiment of a bully, but I rarely saw him. When he did make his presence known, he was unkind, rude and very angry. I let him into my mind and he took over. I became upset, paranoid to go outside and afraid…not to mention very reactive. I was afraid to leave my dogs at home alone, I was afraid to be home alone and I was afraid of going outside. This intruder took over my thoughts, without permission or invitation. I mulled over it, I ruminated about it and I had bad dreams about it. The worst part of it is that I know he hates me, but even more distressing is he hates my dog. I’m a people pleaser, and I want everyone to like me but winning this bully over is of no interest to me. He messed with my dog and spread rumors about her; and me. This morning I woke up and decided I have had enough of waking up with a pit of anxiety in my stomach. It’s time to pick myself up and brush the dust off and move on. He’s a bully, always will be. How do you deal with bullies? Well, when my son was little I told him to stick up for himself. Don’t instigate a fight, but don’t walk away from it either. Make a boundary. Stick to it. He grew up to be a pretty great adult, so I’m giving that Mom I used to be a virtual high five! Now, I will put the advice into practice. I have words, I will use them. I have a brain, I will use that too. He’s a bully, but in reality he’s a coward. Aren’t all bullies cowards? So, if you’re a bully I’m saying to you; knock it off. If you are being bullied, stop letting that person take residence in your brain. I know it’s hard because negativity sticks in our brain like velcro. It’s true! There is scientific evidence that our brain keeps our negative experiences so we learn from them and don’t repeat them. It’s a coping mechanism from our ancestors so they would learn what they shouldn’t eat, which animal not to bother, which path not to walk. It takes purposeful effort to focus on the positive things and not the negative. Even the bullies have this going on in their brain. The difference is I choose to focus on positive experiences and that will loosen the velcro of the negative. It’s a choice that must be made every moment of every day, but the alternative is unacceptable. The bully has a right to live in my neighborhood, but he doesn’t have the right to live in my brain. He’s evicted from my mind and my thoughts. Should I run into his unpleasant company again, I will use my words to stand up for myself and my dog. I will be brave. Let me make this very clear: Being brave doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. It means I am choosing to stand my ground despite the fact that I’m afraid. In my opinion this is one of the most powerful things a person can do for themselves. I encourage you to take your power back if you are being bullied. If you aren’t encountering this unpleasant experience in your life, then I encourage you to support and edify those who suffer from this torment. It’s not just the fear of physical harm that is so threatening, it’s the amount of time, space and energy it takes to try and live a normal life with a bully in control. Help your friends if they have a bully in their life. Encourage them to take their power back. Tell them they are worth it. Help them stand up for themselves. Don’t make them do it alone.