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This is one of those stories that, even if it doesn't deserve my attention, I have decided to share it here on the blog because I believe it's not an uncommon experience in the big cities, and it's useful to know how to deal with it: the bullies.

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Last week I was on a flight from Stockholm to Portugal, with scale in Munich. It was an early flight, and the airport was crowded, as usual. I had to leave home at 5.10am, and take an also crowded train to the airport, and then wait in a snake line with multiple turns to pass security.

On the first flight, I got the "lucky seat" next to the emergency exit, which left me looking out to a windowless view. Next to me was a teenager with green hair and equality green hands, and green god knows what else. I have nothing against green, but it's just really lovely to have washed hands, especially at an airport.

Nevertheless, everything was running smoothly.

Flight #1 went by, and as I was waiting to board on flight #2, I thought to myself: "how cool to be feeling so peaceful and calm in such a stressful environment."

I felt like I was in my little bubble of peace and coolness, even without listening to music (which of course helps for that), but just by simply being in a relaxed and calm mindset.

Then the time came for boarding on flight #2, to Lisbon.

I happened to be one of the first passengers passing through the gate, and out into the bus that was waiting for us. Walked all the way to the back of the bus and decided to sit on the last row with two seats, on the aisle seat, with my knees facing the aisle and able to hold my trolley, also on the aisle, leaving enough space for someone to pass through and sit on the window.

As I was indulging on how cool and stress-free this trip was, a lady with about 60-65 years old walked in and points at the window seat. 

To which I say "it's free," and moved to let her pass through.

To which she waves her hand says: "can you move?". And, of course, I immediately start to respond to her request to move and change my seat.

I ask her: "will you hold my bag?" (because I thought my bag wouldn't fit with me on the window seat).

She doesn't reply and, in a matter of seconds, I move to the window seat, she holds my bag and throws it at me. As she sits on the place I had kindly given her, she tells me in a harsh tone of reproval:

"you are not here alone you know."

To which my heart perceives as an aggression and starts racing. While I try to kindly explain that she could well be sitting in the window seat too. Then I realise that she was with her husband and she wanted the aisle seat to be next to him. OK. But, I gave her my place, AND I'm insulted?

Perhaps to you this is nothing, and surely there are much more severe bully attacks. But in that calm lake my mind was floating in, this was like a massive rock thrown in the water, and the ripples of this negativity were immensely felt. So is the power of unkindness.

Plus I would never say a lady with that appearance would carry such anger. At that age I would suppose she had learned to handle herself a little more gracefully. Which makes things even a little harder to manage. I mean, how do you stop a bully when you're completely not expecting the attack?

My heart was racing, and so was my mind.

I wanted to say something but I didn't have the calm to choose the right words because I was so taken by the shock of being treated that way. I was speechless.

When I got to my seat on the plane, I was still in shock, and my heart was still racing.
I looked back and I saw where she was seated. Then finally I got the words that would be perfect to say. I was going to "teach her a lesson" about the word "thank you". Not realising that "teaching a lesson" was precisely the same kind of energy I had been attacked with.

As I was preparing to stand up and go to her seat, my heart was racing even more. Then I came to the most important realization.

The anger I was feeling was not mine; it was hers.

That agitation, discomfort, and rage was something that she was carrying within herself and that I accepted to carry for her when she spilled it on me. That negativity wasn't mine; it was hers.

So, instead and feeding that energy and adding wood to her fire, I decided to shake off her energy from mine, and get back into that bubble of peace I was before the attack, and find my peaceful lake again.

Here's what I did:

If you're not into energy work, and the word "aura" make you itch, then this might not be the best solution for you 🙂

1) I spent about a minute imagining a warm golden light all around me. It pours out from my heart in all directions and fills my aura, so that any holes in my energy are healed, and filled with this warm, sunlight gold light.

2) At the same time, I took long and intentional breaths, breathing slowly in through the nose, and out through the mouth.

3) After I felt recharged and glowing from the inside out, I sent a little prayer for her. That she finds the peace and contentment in her life that will let her be a different person, to herself and those around her. That both her and all around her can find a more peaceful, and happier life.

Then I got my headphones and started listening to my "ready to take off" tracks. My heart was beating more calmly, and I felt cleansed of that disturbed energy.

It's not easy to stop a bully. They come in all "shapes", ages, and walks of life. And it can be particularly hard to deny their "gift" of negativity, and to not make it our own.

It's important to understand that people can only impact us as much as we let them. We have the power to accept their gifts or to deny them. The choice and the power is ours.

If you have a hard time calming yourself down, and having a less reactive attitude to what happens to you, you may want to check out the guided meditations I have prepared for you inside the toolbox

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About the author

Ana Batista is a psychologist focused on making change easy. Besides therapy, she teaches online courses and workshops on positive psychology, brain science, and self-authoring. 


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