Dealing with Bullies: An Unexpected Lesson from Luke 6
Life, they say, comes full circle, and often in the most unexpected of ways. Today, I find myself drawing parallels between an ancient biblical passage – Luke 6:6-11 – and a recent encounter with a person whose toxic behaviour left a profound impact on me. Yes, you heard it right, a tale from the Bible shedding light on how to deal with bullies in my professional life as a dog trainer.
Luke 6: The Healing Hand
In Luke 6:6-11, Jesus enters a synagogue and comes across a man with a withered hand. Despite the watchful and judgmental eyes of the scribes and Pharisees who sought to accuse him of breaking Sabbath rules, Jesus went ahead and healed the man. His actions, driven by compassion and the need to do good, disregarded the negativity that others tried to stir.
Here’s the striking part – rather than rejoicing in the healing of a man who can now lead a better life, the Pharisees directed their energy towards discrediting Jesus, who they saw as a threat to their authority. It’s a poignant reminder that power can sometimes blind individuals to the actual good happening right in front of them.
Drawing Parallels: Bullies in the Dog Training World
In the not-too-distant past, I had an encounter with an individual whom I initially had the intention of working with to aid rescue dogs. As time rolled on, our interactions deteriorated, pushing me to address our issues. This step proved eye-opening, leading me to the realization that I did not want to be professionally involved with such a toxic person.
The person in question exuded an unending storm of bullying and toxicity. Much like the scribes and Pharisees observing Jesus’ actions in the biblical account, this individual seemed poised, ever ready to criticize and cast aspersions upon me.
What struck me most about this individual was their harsh judgement. They belittled me continuously, operating under the assumption that they had all the answers. An air of self-assured arrogance replaced what should have been an empathetic curiosity—a vital characteristic when dealing with animal behaviour.
This individual’s habit of passing harsh judgments extended from our initial encounter to our most recent interaction. Overwhelmed, I reached out to my mentors to understand what I could do better. Their words were a beacon of hope, helping me realize that this person’s toxic attitude was reflective of their shortcomings, not mine.
Standing Firm Amidst a Toxic Storm
In his insightful book “The Gift of Fear”, Gavin de Becker introduces us to a subtle manipulation technique known as “Typecasting”. Typecasting works by poking at your self-esteem with slightly critical comments, hoping you’d feel compelled to disprove their unfavourable view of you.
Reflecting on my last face-to-face interaction with this person, I realised they used this technique expertly. They’d ask me questions under the guise of ‘understanding’, yet they never took the time to ponder on my answers or address my subsequent queries. Instead, they moved on swiftly to their next point of criticism, using it as another opportunity to undermine me.
Yet, the profound message I draw from Luke 6 transcends merely standing firm against negativity or scrutiny. It underscores the importance of an unwavering commitment to doing what’s right, regardless of the circumstances or the impending threat of criticism.
In my scenario, it translated into dedicating my free time judiciously to ensure my well-being and prevent burnout. This required me to make a tough choice: Should I assist my existing clients or volunteer to aid this individual with rescue dogs?
Recognising no compelling reason to collaborate with this person for the sake of rescue dogs, I chose to continue my service to my clients and rescue dogs, not involving this person. Despite the hostile remarks from this individual, I remained steadfast. I took the decision to eliminate this toxic influence from my life, choosing peace.
Persisting with Compassion and Commitment Amidst Bullying
Much like Jesus, who remained undeterred by the scrutiny of the scribes and Pharisees, I chose to not allow this individual’s toxic behaviour to distract me from my calling as a dog trainer and coach for dog owners. Unwaveringly, I continued to offer top-notch training for my canine students and volunteer my time to a wonderful rescue, ensuring that their bullying behaviour did not impact me or those I assist.
To sum up, we will always encounter bullies and toxic individuals in our path, but how we respond to them is entirely within our control. So, when you next face a bully, remember the story of Jesus and the withered hand. Stay resolute, cling to your beliefs, and let no amount of negativity hinder you from performing acts of kindness and righteousness.