(by Brooks Gibbs)
Brooks Gibbs is a youth crisis counselor, bullying expert, youth speaker, author of “Love is Greater Than Hate,” and a great friend of TheHopeLine®. Brooks has presented at over 1,500 school assemblies reaching over 2 million students in 7 countries around the world. In fact, Tom Jordan of CBS News said “Brooks Gibbs is America’s most rational voice on bullying.”
I am excited to share his approach to bullying intervention…LOVE THE BULLY. As Brooks points out, anit-bullyling programs do not seem to be helping. He believes this is because rather than empowering the victims of bullying, current anti-bullying campaigns assume victims can’t handle their own social problems and need external intervention to help them (such as the government passing legislation). This approach teaches bullying victims that they are helpless. Brooks’ approach is to arm the victim with resilience by teaching them how to disarm a bully by loving them. It’s a radical idea…love your enemy. Sound familiar? – Dawson McAllister
Every day teachers are called upon to intervene in disputes that range from pushing and shoving to rumor wars, verbal harassment, and social exclusion. Students accuse one another. Before long, friends and parents take sides, and teachers and administrators are forced into the role of judges.
So how can a simple principle like the Golden Rule provide the solution to the complex problem of social aggression that’s plagued humanity throughout its existence?
According to my good friend and School Psychologist Izzy Kalman, humanity is biologically programmed for what many social scientists refer to as the Law of Reciprocity. Another term to describe this is “the rule of nature.” Simply stated, this principle means I’ll treat you the way you treat me. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice back, and if you’re mean to me, I’ll be mean back.
In nature, if you were nice to me, you were probably my friend. This meant it was safe for me to be nice back because it would benefit both of us. But if you were mean to me in nature, you were probably an enemy trying to injure me or kill me. Being nice back when you were mean to me made it easy for you to injure or kill me. But if I acted like your enemy who was even angrier, I gained an advantage over you. People figured out that life was generally more harmonious when they treated people with kindness and difficult when they were unkind.
We’re all biologically programmed for reciprocity. When someone is nice to you, do you feel like being mean back? Of course not. You feel like being nice back. And when someone is mean to you, do you feel like being nice back? No. You feel like being mean back. Our instincts tell us to be nice to people who are nice to us and mean to people who are mean to us. With the exception of some people who have serious neurological or emotional disturbances, we all come into the world hard-wired this way.
But living life according to the Law of Reciprocity means everyone else is in control of our emotions. They act—we react. This is where the genius of the Golden Rule comes in.
The minute someone is mean to us and we choose to be kind back, a switch flips in their brain. Their brain tells them to stop being mean and to start reciprocating kindness.
Practicing the Golden Rule puts us in charge. It frees us from living in reaction to our enemy’s actions. It disempowers bullies who are seeking control. It reverses the balance of power in our relationships. It allows us to communicate from a position of strength and confidence: calmly and kindly, motivated by positive virtues of reconciliation and peace rather than negative reactions of anger, resentment, and revenge.
The Golden Rule is our ultimate empowerment.
When we treat our enemies like friends, we control them and we “win.” But more than that, we hold the power to change them and transform enemies into friends—to be peacemakers and reconcilers.
Recently I hosted a teacher in-service training and demonstrated the power of the Golden Rule to solve social problems quick and easy. Watch the video below.
For additional help and information, click here to download TheHopeLine® resource eBook on bullying.