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Why do I seem to attract bullies?

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Hi Mark,

My question is: how do I get over social anxiety that seems to have arisen mostly from my experiences of being bullied at school, work, and through life in general? I have read that most people are not paying the sort of attention to you that you think they are and are not judging you as harshly as you may think, which I think is mostly true.

But as someone who has been on the receiving end of nasty remarks and behaviour from others and has even had people I barely know or don’t even know spread lies about me, it seems as though I have some sort of sign on my forehead that draws negative attention to me. As a result, I feel that there must be something 'weird' about me and I feel distrustful, wary, and anxious around people. Even when someone is nice to me, I tend to feel anxious and feel that it’s only a matter of time until they think I'm weird too and treat me the same way. As a result, I tend to push others away from me.

Thank you,


This question was submitted by 'Susan'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hello Susan,

Bullying in all its forms certainly does condition people to mistrust or sometimes misinterpret the intentions, words, and behaviours of others. So many people have told me that after past suffering at the hands of bullies, it seems to happen again and again - as if they have the word 'victim' tattooed onto their foreheads.

It does seem to be the case that some bullies can spot who has been victimized. In one famous experiment, sociopathic criminals successfully picked out the people who had been assaulted in the past simply by watching them walk down a corridor for a few seconds. Their 'sixth sense' had nothing to do with age or physical size. This is quite chilling. What they are picking up on, I think, is nervousness, trepidation, and low confidence. The people looked to them like prey, like victims. It might seem like a glib thing to suggest, but often small things can make a big difference, so check out the short 'power pose' article here to get you looking and feeling less like a victim.

It's a real shame to push others away through fear that it's just a matter of time before they discover you are 'weird' and start treating you badly. So many people secretly feel they are weird or different. In fact, I suspect just about everyone feels this at some time or another. It would be a good idea for you to look at the 'Stop Being So Defensive!' article. I think it's vital to give people the chance to behave like decent human beings, which means letting them get to know you as you are. Some people will always bully if they feel they can, but most people are not sociopathic or vindictive and it's time you began to have high-quality relationships with high-quality people.

You might also be interested in the 'I'm OK, You're OK' hypnotic download.

I hope my answer has been of some help, Susan.

All best wishes,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - April 9th, 2014 in

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