It is easy to label a bully a coward. They manipulate, undermine and humiliate. The label may be correct, but it does not offer an insight into how to deal with them. Instead, it may be useful to consider a bully for what they are: an immature and unruly child who is constantly trying to gain the approval of an imaginary parent.
You may recognise two types of bully; the first is easily recognisable. They will constantly undermine, verbally attack, and humiliate their victim in front of others. One becomes increasingly anxious about what they are going to do or say next. The second type is more subtle. They can initially present as caring for everyone. However, listening to their language offers insight into their true behaviour: “Look what I am doing for everyone.”. Constantly expecting thanks and compliments but ignorant to issues. When this type of bully is appropriately challenged, they may be initially dismissive. When the challenge continues, they will become just as aggressive as the other bully type.
What links both types of bully is the immature behaviour they display when appropriately challenged. Their body language becomes defensive. You may notice they ignore you even when you are part of the group. I am always reminded of a petulant child who is not getting what they want. They may act like a petulant child, but you are not their parent.
It is understandable to continually reflect on why they are picking on you. However, this can promote an idea of helplessness. Perhaps it is more constructive to consider how they are affecting you and how to counteract their behaviour. Try to consciously stay calm during interactions regardless of how you feel inside. Do not feed their drama but do not submit to it either. If you feel confident enough, reflect that you find their tone and behaviour inappropriate. Continue with this response even when their drama intensifies. This will intimidate the bully and make them question the power they thought they have over you. If you are a union member, contact your representative or official to explore a strategy.
Therapy can help you process what the experience is doing to your self-worth and how to overcome feelings of anxiety and stress. Many therapists will offer compelling reasons to invest in their type of therapy. Choose the therapy and therapist you feel speaks to you.