Many highly creative people have been bullied as kids. Are you one of them?
Perhaps you loved singing, writing poems, dancing, making fashion, or being innovative in other ways as a child. When you were young, you invested in yourself fully in a creative endeavor. Those early years were the foundation of the creative life and work you enjoy today. Though these aspirations brought you joy, they also made you the target of bullies who made fun of, mocked, or ridiculed you. You felt humiliated, alone, and scared.
Why did this happen? It’s probably because your passion and talents were perceived as threatening by other kids. Maybe they were jealous or didn’t know how to handle someone who was so gifted. Bullies hate to feel “less than.” When they do, they attack, minimize, humiliate or want to “destroy” people and their talents.
As a highly creative child, you also probably tended to be sensitive and compassionate. You lived with an open and vulnerable heart. You were affected by others’ emotions and were attuned to the internal world of the people around you. These are strengths that allow you to be creative and impact others with your talents or craft. Unfortunately, bullies turned such strengths against you and took advantage of your vulnerability. They intimidated you and used you to show others how “strong” they were.
Highly creative kids sometimes live in their own inner world because they immerse themselves in their fascinating, unique mind. This may attract the attention of bullies who can’t tolerate it when other people are so in touch with themselves. They’re intimidated by those who find joy within their own minds and who are invested in their own creative endeavors. As a child with some unique qualities, you stood out in some particular way, but your differences made you a target.
Back then, as a result of bullying, you ended up feeling bad for doing something you loved. Perhaps you went from feeling passionate about your interests to feeling like a joke. You might have doubted yourself and even you dropped your talent in an attempt to be liked and have friends. Maybe you ended up spending hours and hours alone, exploring your talents but no longer sharing anymore. You started to feel insecure. It affected your self esteem. You began to question your value in the world.
But here you are today. This child who was once the target of bullies? This is not who you are!
Now, even if you’ve experienced great success as an adult, the memories of being bullied in the past still haunt you. You still feel their imprint on you.
These memories are, very likely, at the root of what you feel in the present: insecure, dependent on outside validation, and maybe stuck in doubts and fears about your abilities to succeed.
Despite all you have accomplished over the years, part of you still feels self-conscious. You don’t trust the value of what you have to offer. Though it may not seem like it to those around you, you’re afraid to show up in the world. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to push through and stay focused on your dreams or goals. You can’t stay consistently connected with your creativity. Maybe you’re giving up on yourself, even though you have so many gifts and talents.
In some cases, bullying can leave a lasting legacy of depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
A Psychotherapy Approach Called EMDR Can Help
In my clinical experience, I have found that many adults can trace their current emotional challenges back to being bullied as children.
Being bullied is traumatic and can have long-lasting effects on you.
Treating such trauma requires a certain emotional resilience and grit. It takes emotional strength to be able to face repressed feelings and beliefs that could potentially be re-traumatic.
How do you find the strength to face such difficult memories? A specialized approach called EMDR (or, Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing) combined with other psychotherapy approaches – the psychodynamic psychotherapy, the neuropsychology of relationships, and the cognitive behavioral therapy – can help you reconnect to or to build your emotional resilience so you can process and heal from childhood bullying.
EMDR is so effective in helping you recover or build the emotional grit that you may not need to “go back” and reprocess old traumatic memories to heal yourself. Healing and transformation happens as you go back in the world with your renewed emotional resilience.
Re-gaining internal emotional resilience can help you rediscover your trust in yourself. It opens you to begin to look inside rather than outside for validation of your talents, skills, and abilities. You resolve face self-doubts and fears so you’re freed to create and accomplish your life goals and dreams.
However, sometimes, the imprint of traumatic bullying childhood experiences still persist, even after you have built up fresh stores of emotional resilience. In such situations, with the renewed emotional resilience, EMDR will further help you reprocess these bullying memories so they will no longer have control over you.
A skilled therapist who is well versed in both the art and science of therapy can blend different techniques in the course of your treatment so you can reprocess and re-integrate emotionally charged memories.
Thanks to the synergy of these therapeutic approaches (EMDR, the psychodynamic psychotherapy, the neuropsychology of relationships, and the cognitive behavioral therapy), you can release the legacy of bullying. Free of those old patterns, past traumatic incidents will not be triggered by unrelated present moment stresses and challenges. You’ll be able to deal with the actual struggle of the moment rather than flashing back to the bad childhood experiences.
No matter how long you’ve carried the scars of bullying, with the help of EMDR and a supportive, dedicated therapist, you can regain your emotional freedom so you can create your life grounded with confidence in who you are.
To set an appointment for EMDR therapy please contact me for your 15-20 min free phone consultation.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives here.