Bully Vaccine Toolkit Lesson 4 – Why Bullies Bully

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series The Bully Vaccine Toolkit

Lesson 4: Why is the bully bullying

Younger sister offers comfort to her big sister after a fall.It is very easy to think of bullies as horrible people. We often call people who behave poorly and abuse others “ogres.” This name calling serves to dehumanize our bullies so that we no longer feel compelled to consider them compassionately. After all, why should we feel compassion for someone who isn’t compassionate with us?

The reason you want to find compassion for obnoxious and abusive people is because feeling compassion is something you do for you. It will help you emotionally distance yourself from the abuse. Insults don’t sting nearly as much when all you can think is how sad it is that this person feels so horrible that they can’t help but act horrible. This really does work.

This lesson contains a Reason and Compassion Worksheet as well as a video lesson on compassion. The purpose of this worksheet is to try and figure out the reasons why your bully is bullying and to find ways to make them seem less horrid to you.

Download the Reason and Compassion Worksheet

Figuring out Why a Bully Bullies

What I want you to do is print out one compassion worksheet for each of the people who are bullying you and fill it out. Consider the following questions.

  • Why do you think they are behaving poorly?
  • Are their parents absent all the time?
  • Are the jealous of you?
  • Do they get beat up at home?
  • Are the insecure about something?

I want you to come up with three potential reasons why they might bully. You won’t be able to answer these questions with any degree of certainty. But that’s not the reason you should do this exercise.

By taking the time to think of all the different reasons why someone is behaving poorly it helps you understand that what they are doing isn’t about you. It is about them and their inability to handle whatever it is that is bothering them. And this is, again, key to distancing yourself from the emotional trauma that often comes along with bullying.


Next list all the positive attributes your bully has that you can think of.

  • Are they handsome or pretty?
  • Can they sing well?
  • Dance well?
  • Are they smart?
  • What about them do you admire?

Again, I want you to list at least three things.

The reason for doing this is to help you humanize the bully. You need to understand that they are a human being just like you are who has similar fears and insecurities just like you.

You also need to consider that just because they are being mean to you doesn’t mean they are evil. Everyone has the capacity for both good and evil. If you can think about the good aspects of your bully, it will help you interact with them with compassion instead of anger.

Responding with compassion  is critical because one of the responses the bully wants, is for you to get angry. Don’t get angry – think kind compassionate thoughts instead.

Finding compassion for your bully video lesson


The final thing I want you to consider is what is your bully afraid of? Everyone is afraid of something. Bullies often bully because they are trying to compensate for something that makes the afraid. Identify what is making them afraid and you may just be able to help them cope with their fears more effectively.

You may not guess this section correctly. However, making the effort to consider their possible fears, again, helps you to humanize the bully and helps you to consider them as someone who is scared and worthy of your compassion as opposed to someone you should be afraid of.

When you realize your bully is just as scared as you, you will be less afraid of them. This will translate into you being able to respond not only more calmly and with less fear which will help get the bullying to stop. It will also help you understand that while they are bullying you, their behavior isn’t really about you, and so you shouldn’t take it personally.

Coming Up

Lesson 5 will focus on how to develop an action plan. What should you include in your plan, who to ask for help and when to seek legal assistance.

Series Navigation<< Bully Vaccine Toolkit Lesson 3 – Documenting BullyingBully Vaccine Toolkit Lesson 5 – Developing an Action Plan >>