Add Us On:


[Q&A] Dealing With Mean Girls

Full_hero_image

Photo: (Getty Images)

Need an answer to a burning digital question? Every other week, we'll be running one of the best Q&As we've received from our team of experts on digital ethics. This week’s response comes from Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD, of Hartstein Psychological Services, PLLC.

Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD
Hartstein Psychological Services, PLLC

QUESTION

There are about 4 girls who really hate me and they send me texts messages saying im a c***, b*****, etc. and not just texts but they write mean things about me on facebook and any other site they can find me on. I don't write back on their messages often but it really is starting to hurt me bad. What do I do?

ANSWER

This is a really tough situation, certainly, and I commend you for NOT writing back or retaliating.  Often, that is our first instinct, when, in fact, it can make the bullying worse.  One of the most immediate things you can do it take some time away from the social media, phone, etc.  It's so tempting to check all of the sites, sleep with your phone, keep the computer on all night.  Unfortunately, if you are sleep deprived, you are less able to manage your emotions and will feel worse.  So, especially, at night, leave your phone out of your room, shut down the computer, and focus on getting some solid sleep.

When the bullying does happen, first thing you need to do is take a breath.  When we feel (or are) attacked, we often speed up and want to go into action, or feel so hurt we withdraw.  If you can stop and take a breath, it allows you to think about what you want to do, what you can do and what you will do.  Just breathing, observing your thoughts, and breathing more can really help you make some good, effective decisions.

If you can address it with the girls, go for it.  Ask them to stop.  This is often really difficult to do, and can actually get you what you want.  It also allows you to stand up for yourself...not in a bullying, mean or aggressive way, rather in an assertive, direct way.  Ask for what you want. Be specific.

Challenge your own thoughts.  If you do not believe what these girls are saying (even though it is hard when it happens all the time), remind yourself that you are a good person with lots to offer.  Challenging your negative thoughts, and replacing them with positive ones can help you to feel better about the situation too.  These girls are not going to be in your life forever, and you have a lot to offer the world.  Remind yourself of that.

Find people in your life who appreciate you.  These four girls may be mean and put you down, and I'm sure that there is at least one person who thinks you are terrific and appreciates you for you.  Use that person to help boost you up.  This takes away a lot of the power that these girls have, and helps you feel better about yourself and your life.

If it continues, ask for help from a trusted adult, who will help you, not ignore you or put you down.  You are not a "tattle-tale" for letting someone know this is happening.  In fact, you have to feel safe in your world, and asking for help will promote this idea.

It is really challenging to not take on the bully's remarks as if they are true.  The more you can surround yourself with positive people, who appreciate you, the more likely you will be to reinforce a protective wall around yourself so that their comments cannot get in.  It is so tough, and if you can rely on the positive people in your life, you'll end up the stronger person in the end.

Have a question about how to delete digital drama from your life? You can submit questions to be answered by trained experts by sending an email to QandA@athinline.org.

ALL POSTS

Chatter