Written by Dr. Eric Perry
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” ~Anonymous
I wish the above quote was true. The reality is that, unless you are machine or lack basic human emotions, negative words and behaviors do have a profound effect on the way you feel about yourself. Fortunately, in our current society, we have become vigilant and sensitive to all forms of bullying. As a result, we are quick to notice this taboo behavior in others and ready to condemn it.
While we readily see this behavior when it is committed by others, many of us fail to see the same actions in ourselves. It is important to take off our blinders and realize that we may be exhibiting the same behaviors that we condemn.
Below are some behaviors exhibited by an emotional bully. You may recognize this behavior in others or in yourself. By gaining the self-awareness that you may be acting as an emotional bully you can choose to change the behavior. Self-awareness may lead to personal growth if you choose to change negative behavior to positive. Through positive evolution, you can become happier and as a result, have healthier relationships with others.
Here are some signs of an emotional bully:
1. Constantly interrupts and forces opinions on others
Having a conversation with an emotional bully will leave you feeling unheard and intimidated. In a conversation or discussion, they need to be the one doing all talking. They believe their opinions are the only ones that matter. They do not listen when others are talking. They will wait for a pause or break in the conversation and jump in and state their opinions and thoughts without taking the other person’s point of view.
2. Will Throw a tantrum in order to control an argument
An emotional bully will use emotional outbursts to control a discussion. If they are involved in an argument or discussion that is not going their way they may act out in a childishly and throw a tantrum. They may storm off to another room in order to end a discussion or even resort to jumping up and down in an attempt to physically get the attention back to their point. In many ways, the emotional bully will behave like a toddler trying to get their way by throwing a tantrum. They may yell, scream or cry in order to get the other person to give in to their point of view.
3. Will Accuse and blame
An emotional bully will blame others around them when events in their life are not going as planned. They may accuse others of direct wrongdoing that has led to their shortcomings in life. They may also blame loved ones for their misfortune and will fail to grasp that they may be in their current situation because of their own behavior.
4. Cries as a way to manipulate
An emotional bully has learned to weaponize emotions. When words fail to get them what they want they may resort to crying in order to manipulate the other person. Crying will usually elicit benevolent emotions from the other person and this will allow the emotional bully to control the situation.
5. Uses profanity
An emotional bully will use profanity in an aggressive way to intimidate others in order to get their way.
6. Throws objects when upset
When upset, an emotional bully may throw objects around the room so that those around them know they are upset. They may also throw objects in order to intimidate the other person.
7. Emotional hostage
When upset, they let everyone around them aware of their foul mood. They will hold others as emotional hostages. They are held as hostages to the emotional bully’s emotions. Others may feel the need to kowtow around them in order to avoid further drama and will do anything to appease them in order not to upset them.
8. Exhibits passive-aggressive behavior
If an emotional bully does not get their way they will act out their hostilities in an indirect manner. For example, if you choose where to have dinner over the place they suggested then they may become ill during or after they eat.
9. Uses Threats
An emotional bully will threaten certain negative outcomes or negative behaviors in the future if they do not get their way.
10. Seeks revenge
If an emotional bully feels slighted or wronged they will make it a mission to get back at you over the perceived slight.
11. Always needs to have the last word
In an argument or discussion, they always need to have the last word. Even if someone is trying to disengage from the argument the emotional bully will continue to argue until they feel they have made their point.
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your experience with emotional bullying and how you responded.
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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