We define bullying as “social sorting through despotic means”.

In that way of thinking, we could liken attempts to bully as someone trying to seize the role of “casting director” for the social “play” at hand.

Refusing to be cast into the role of victim (either outwardly or in one’s…


Humans have intuitive, unconscious, evolved awareness that being mean can be socially profitable. If we want to stop group bullying we have to face this reality and deal with it as-is.

Empathy standing in the way of cruelty-based social profitability. It gives us a troublesome sense that cruelty is just…


Why do Bullies Gang Up on Targets?

We define bullying as “social sorting by despotic means”. In group bullying targeting a specific person is a natural part of people trying to sort a social group.

In that frame, there are three reasons for a group to gang-up on an individual:


Shame is the most potent and concerning emotion related to bullying and the centerpiece of the emotional system that drives the three actions of bullying:

• taking Advantage of power
• using Aggression
• and Accepting mistreatment

Shame places people at risk both for being targeted and for engaging in…


Shame is the centerpiece of the emotional system that drives bullying. It is the most common, and most powerful of the related emotions. It flows from, and also reinforces the greatest number of other emotions driving the three actions of bullying behavior:

  • taking Advantage of power
  • using Aggression
  • and Accepting…

It’s time to understand Bullying and the role of sadness and how that emotion activates the three actions of the bullying system:

  • taking Advantage of power
  • using Aggression
  • and Accepting mistreatment

It might seem that sadness would only influence the third action of bullying — acceptance of mistreatment.


Welcome (back?). Last time, I promised to disclose why some surrender to being bullied, and how that choice can lead to shame, sadness, and depression — even becoming a life-long narrative of victimization — or even harm to self or others.

Motivational Literacy considers surrender as an emotion — that…


Welcome (back?). This installment is about Angry Kids — or really about the function of anger and the role it plays in the bullying dynamic.

The change you want to see is waiting — for you to make it happen.

All that’s left is to gain an understanding of bullying…


If you’ve been following the series, you may remember how action-and-results-focused other installments have been. I’ve mentioned how things like reporting (statistics), judging (labeling), postering (kitschy sayings), and punishing don’t create real and useful change.

Anything that doesn’t build coping skills or shift culture isn’t going to make real change.


Most of what I find written about bullying falls into four categories:

  • Statistical reports
  • Labels and value judgments
  • Posters and Platitudes
  • Punitive actions

Statistical reports help us notice that bullying is universal across time and human culture, but provide no suggestions for useful strategies.

Labels and value judgments make us…

John Bailey

Live life at 100 smiles per hour!

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