Adult Bullies (and How to Defeat Them)

Sarah Palin recently called Kathy Griffin a 50-year-old bully. Seems Griffin has made a career out of harassing Palin and her kids, pushing the family around in the press and mocking their troubles. Griffin has even vowed publicly that it was “Willow’s [Palin’s 16-year-old daughter] year to go down.” Classy.

Building one’s self up.
Tearing another down.

That sounds like the work of a bully to me.

Whether we’re young or old, we face bullies in our lives. Yesterday I wrote in TOMM,

The closer you get to doing what it is you want to do, the more people will try to bring you down.

The people who seek to bring you down as you get closer to your sweet spot are nothing more than bullies. They are trying to make their situation in life more tolerable by attempting to make you miserable. They use fear, politics, drama, cruelty and, in Kathy Griffin’s case, biting, sarcastic humor to enforce their bully rule.


You have to realize that’s what bullies are: Cowards. They see you taking chances, making moves, living a life that they want to be living and can’t be honest enough to admit it. Instead of honesty, they choose to cut you down to make their like more tolerable. They would rather demonize, marginalize and ostracize you than take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and ask the question, “What am I going to be about?”

Here’s the thing about bullies, about cowards: They almost always back down when you confront them head on. I’m not saying you need to physically confront bullies, but “confront” them in other ways:

  • Lean into the talents and gifts you’ve been given.
  • Love your family with bravado, enthusiasm and determination.
  • Make mistakes. Lots of them. And then get back on the horse and try again.
  • Live outside of their box. Bullies can only enforce their rule if you play in their box. Make a new one.

You get the idea.

I’m convinced that you were meant to live a life that is full of joy, peace, happiness and freedom. Don’t let the bullies, even well-meaning bullies, tell you otherwise. And for God’s sake, stand up to the Kathy Griffin’s in your world. runs on the Standard Theme

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9 Responses to “Adult Bullies (and How to Defeat Them)”

  1. Em March 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Nice post, sir.
    My favorite line is: “Live outside of their box.”

    So true.

  2. Kyle Reed March 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    how true this post is (and unfortunate)
    I have faced these exact bullies you speak of. Honestly at first they made me shrink back into my hole and wait to return for fear that my head would be chopped off again.

    Sometimes my bully is my fear. That thing bullies me around all the time. And usually manifest itself in wondering what others will say, how they will react, and what critique they will provide.

    But I have found that everyone is like me, afraid and nervous. When you confront those fears others get jealous and want to bring you back to where they are. That could be the reason why it is easier to critique then to praise.

    • Justin Wise March 9, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      “That could be the reason why it is easier to critique then to praise.” Shagow. You delivered, homey.

  3. April March 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I am on a committee for programs in schools to help counteract bullying. I was a bully in high school (perhaps in adult life back in my younger more broken times) and it stemmed from some real self hatred. I was fat and unhappy. And it was easier to draw attention to something I saw weak in someone else than to allow anyone to see my weakness. I’m not defending the bullying but just adding a perspective. Cowards maybe. Broken, absolutely. And we go into even deeper things when we realize celeb bullying like Kathy Griffin is a marketable “talent” that Americans eat up. Something has to change in our culture. Thanks for posting this J. It’s provoking and reminds us all to be brave.

    • Justin Wise March 9, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      Miss you, girl. And as one former bully to another, I’m so glad we’re out of that stage! Here’s to correcting some of the mistakes we helped to make….

  4. MAC March 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Excellent post about the bullies we all have to face. I agree that bullies are cowards that are jealous of the joy-filled life that others live around them live. I believe that bullies are people that have a emptiness in themselves so deep and they think that they will fill it up with controlling others and every situation around them. Bullies are also afraid-afraid of change, afraid of losing control, afraid of knowledge that is outside of their area of expertise and afraid of success in others.

  5. Katie March 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I find it interesting that Kathy Griffin speaks out publicly against bullying, specifically when it comes to the LGBTQ community, but she has no compunctions about viciously targeting/bullying people with differing views. I’m not really a fan of either woman but Kathy Griffin’s tactics are counterproductive for her stance as an advocate for the whole anti-bullying movement.

    • Justin Wise March 9, 2011 at 7:21 am #

      Bullies don’t get logic. Fear isn’t rational and, as we know, bullies primarily use fear to get what they want. You’re observations are spot-on, though.