• Dr. Julie Granger DPT

That time I was bullied online for being myself...

Not too long ago, I was bullied by fellow PT colleagues.

It wasn’t overt clear-as-day bullying.

It was the kind that appears "kind and professional" on the surface. It was done in the name of “integrity.”

But the shots that were fired were obvious digs.

Especially because it was done by a colleague in whom I have placed trust, referred friends, family, and clients, and have gone above and beyond to support in their career and businesses.

And — a lot of other people have done the same with this person.

I don’t write this to have a pity party, because I know it wasn’t about me.

I don’t actually feel upset with them. People have rough days/weeks/months/years and say and do some crazy shit sometimes. I don't know what they were going through. I send them nothing but love (but also-- to be clear -- I've set a boundary, and I know I don't have to put up with it).

But it's not the first time I’ve been the recipient of bullying by a PT colleague for being kind.

Yes, I was simply being kind.

It’s not the first time I have received passive aggressive remakes for attempting to be supportive.

Yes, I was simply being supportive.

But unfortunately, that intention was not seen, even though I went out of my way to state the intention upfront.

For whatever reason, snap assumptions were made about me which means no matter what I did -- my intentions weren't heard.

And it's not the first time a PT colleague has thrown me under the bus for what I can truthfully say is me attempting to be kind and supportive.

This time, with the filter of computer and social media between us — it was likely so easy to make snap assumptions about people. To tell stories. To say things we would never say close up to each other.

In the words of Brene Brown in Braving the Wilderness —

“It’s hard to hate people close up.”

But through a computer, it's easy to jump to conclusions when there is no tone of voice, or body language, or literal VISUAL or AUDITORY input. All we can see is what our eyes take in via words and what stories our brains make up about it.

And in many ways — especially as we are so torn apart in 2020 — it’s such a commentary on where we are.

On the same day — I witnessed posts from other colleagues “calling out” other colleagues — making snap assumptions about how smart or skilled they are — and how they “shouldn’t” be doing jobs they’re doing because they are phonies.

I’m not as bothered by the open bullying and passive-aggressiveness among my colleagues as I am by the hundreds of bandwagon comments that followed on that post — shaming the unknown persons they know nothing about and having a field day airing their grievances for all to see.

And in my own situation — I know I’m not the first person who has been met with the all-too-competitive insecurity of someone else. They were assuming the support, collaboration, and kindness I was offering was not genuine and I was actually there to "compete."

In other words, even though I told them I wanted to learn and support and collaborate, they didn't believe me.

In the online space -- collaboration is SUCH a beautiful thing! But it is also becoming a lost art based on seeing things through our own lens of competitiveness.

People assume that because you can SEE what other people are doing and because we are so “connected” that the world is small and there aren’t enough patients/clients/products out there for all of us to share.

The scarcity mindset — it comes across as competitiveness and righteousness (telling people exactly how they SHOULD be teaching or coaching or practicing or conducting business) — which is just a cover and defense mechanism for one’s own insecurity in their own practice or business.

And even if the bullying isn’t said out loud — it may be thought in someone’s head, they may be passive-aggressively inserted into attempts to copy or compete.

Or it leads one to shut down and avoid and procrastinate because “everyone else is already doing it.”

Here’s the deal — a rising tide lifts all ships.

We all know that adage.

But how often are we actually EMBODYING it?

Competitiveness is 100 percent a very slippery slope in business and marketing. And I don’t recommend even going there at all. Ever.

Contrary to what many gurus and attorneys and marketing experts say, business and marketing is not a tennis match or a track meet. It’s not a sport where a little “healthy” competitiveness helps.

This is a service industry where people are being SERVED. And they choose to be served by YOU because they know, like, and trust you.

It's hard to earn others' trust when openly or discreetly putting someone else down or attempting to "win."

In other words, competitiveness is a terrible thing for your branding. It’s not a good color on anyone.

It robs you of your authenticity, your true essence, and it is a projection of what you really believe about yourself.

It's artificial inflation. A mask. A mirage. If you have to TELL everyone why what others do is wrong, then it likely means you don't have a lot of confidence in yourself.

Competitiveness, or more clearly -- the "win-lose mindset" — implies that there can only be ONE winner and everyone else is a loser.

Because when you want to WIN, what you also want is for someone else to LOSE. In other words, you want them to FAIL.

Be honest (you don’t have to say it out loud) — when was the last time you felt GENUINELY happy for someone else’s success, especially when — on the surface — it appears they do the same thing as you or serve the same clients as you, or when they appear to succeed and you're struggling?

I heard a beautiful quote from my favorite book, the Alchemist, last night:

“People who stand in the way of someone else’s ability to achieve their personal legend will most surely never reach their own.”

In other words, that which we openly or secretly wish for others is what we openly or secretly wish for ourselves.

Holding a grudge, wishing someone else would fail, judging others, excluding rather than sharing with others does not keep someone else from succeeding.

It just robs you of your joy — and certainly reflects your own level of confidence in yourself and your work.

And --what if someone else's success was not a reflection of ANYTHING about you at all, except what is possible for you?

What if you are simply denying yourself the ability to dream and vision about what is possible for you?

Interestingly — in the situation, I experienced a few weeks ago —

The same people who were bullying others in their profession also happen to be the loud voices CONSTANTLY complaining publicly about how people don’t “get” PTs or listen to PTs … or they’re complaining about PTs don’t get paid enough or how clients should be listening to THEM and not professionals in other fields.

And ironically -- the same people who have bullied me and others are advocating to decrease bullying and increase “support” each other.

I get it, they bully others (and likely — via the inner critic voices in their own heads — they bully themselves) on a daily basis. So yes, the cry out loud to STOP the bullying certainly makes sense.

That’s what it’s called a projection — we see the problem “out there” but aren’t aware or conscious enough to see that we do it to ourselves.

So the truth is — bullying and competition (whether it happens outward to others or inward toward yourself) is ALWAYS a cry for love and support and for help. It doesn’t make bullying OK, but it certainly makes it understandable.

We are all human, after all. We all have dark spots.

The truth is, is a lot of dark junk that we are all feeding through right now.

But taking it out on each other is not the solution.

It merely adds more fuel to your own fire.

If you're feeling icky when you see someone else, or you find yourself feeling jealous or angry at other people's success -- there is nothing wrong with you.

If you are beating yourself up or constantly over-worrying over what's next in your business -- there is nothing wrong with you.

It doesn't make you a bad human or bad colleague.

Chances are -- you got unconsciously programmed to believe that business is a sport where there is a winner or a loser. Or that clients are like a pie -- if everyone else takes a slice, there is less left for you.

And that is ok.

If you start to get triggered by what someone else is doing, I'd challenge you to not try and solve the problem on your social media feed. Resist the urge to judge, or copy someone to "keep up" or go into a rabbit hole to stalk what someone else is doing.

Unfollow them. Do what you need to do to lessen the noise "out there" that is triggering you. And then, send a little extra permission to yourself to just be gently honest with yourself and solve the problem in your own heart.

Pause. Breathe. Place your hand on your heart. And check your intentions at the door before you act or react to someone else.

Ask yourself the question “What am I feeling right now in my heart? What stories am I telling about the situation? What am I really trying to accomplish here?”

And most importantly, ask yourself — “What do I TRULY need right now? And can I get that by doing this or thinking this thing about that person or saying or doing this thing on social media?”

And my favorite “What do I see in them that I admire, I can cheer them on for, and is a reflection of what I really WANT for myself? And what are the steps I can take to get there? Who do I need to ask for support?”

And lastly “How can I practice gratitude for the lesson this is teaching me?”

It’s 100 percent ok to not feel ok. You’re not alone. It’s 100 percent ok to get emotionally triggered by things you see other people do out there.

We have ALL found ourselves in this trap before.

The tricky part is when we unknowingly and unconsciously REACT before being aware of what’s actually going on in our hearts. Before challenging the self-defeating narrative in our heads that triggers insecurity and defensiveness.

But my friends — it doesn’t have to be this way.

And — chances are, making small shifts to be more mindful of what’s going on in your heart can help not only in your business and marketing, but also in your family, relationships, and with your clients.

Here are your challenges for the week:

  1. How can you build in time this week to pause, take a breath, and ask yourself what your heart and soul need — even if just for a moment?

  2. How can you shift into full unconditional support for one similar-to-you colleague this week?

  3. And how can you practice gratitude for yourself for how hard you work, how far you’ve come, and how amazing you REALLY truly are?

In love and health,

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