Back to Back Issues Page Newsletter -- Issue #016 -- How Lucky Are Targets of Bullying?
February 27, 2012

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How Lucky Are Targets of Bullying?


How lucky are you? Most targets of bullying probably feel if it wasn't for bad luck they wouldn't have any luck at all. Would you like to change your luck? You can. I don't mean that by concentrating really, really hard you can change the roll of the dice from a 5 to a 6 but there are things within your control that can improve your quality of life and increase the number of serendipitous positive experiences. Does that sound like nonsense? Well, it's scientifically proven.

Some of you may have heard of the research by University of Hertfordshire psychologist, Professor Richard Wiseman into luck and what makes people "lucky" or "unlucky." There is a corollary between how lucky you are and your overall outlook on life. For example, in one experiment Prof. Wiseman gave people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky a newspaper and asked them to find how many photographs there were. However, he had also placed an advertisement that took up half a page and printed in letters larger than 2 inches the line, "Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250." Generally, the lucky people spotted the ad while the unlucky people missed it.

Why this discrepancy? Even though everyone was presented with the same opportunity and one group didn't have an advantage like money, position or connections that could have helped them be "lucky" it seems the "unlucky" people were too focused on finding the photographs to see an opportunity staring them in the face. Prof. Wiseman has found that unlucky people tend to be more anxious and have an expectation of being unlucky. This interferes with their ability to notice and therefore take advantage of unexpected events. Because of this their outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy which further enforces their belief that they are unlucky. So instead of going through life more relaxed and seeing what is there and enjoying the good things that come their way they only see what they are looking for as if going through life with blinders on.

If one is predisposed to "unlucky thinking" it can exacerbate the situation if they are also subjected to the daily onslaught of bullying. While many targets of bullying may start out as positive, outgoing and lucky people, as the abuse takes its toll the cumulative effect can result in one becoming more and more distrustful, cynical and negative. The bullying can color our experience of the world and soon it affects our work or school lives as well as time with family and friends. We can begin to see bullying everywhere. Does this mean that the bullying is imagined? No. It's just that it takes over our conscious attention. While our heads are filled with thoughts of bullying there is less and less room for noticing the good things.

I remember when I was deciding on getting a new car. I had a gas-guzzler that even needed premium gas because it had a super-charger. It was time to get something a little easier on the wallet (not to mention easier on the environment). As I was deciding which car to go with I noticed that I would start to see the model I was considering everywhere. Just like with bullying, I wasn't imagining the cars and there weren't any more or less of that particular model than before, it was just that now I was conscious of them.

Thinking about getting a new car can be fun. Thinking about the nightmarish ordeal of bullying, what the bully will do next and the consequences of bullying on you and your family is not. So how can you pull yourself out of the morass of anxiety ridden, enraged, self-fulfilling doom of full-emersion negativity and transform your outlook (at least enough to get your head above water) and start to get to a head-space that is positive with a hopeful outlook?

According to a recent email I received from my friend Ricky Powell (The Happiness Guy), the average person has about 65,000 thoughts per day. It also said, "For most of us, approx. 85% of those thoughts are negative." For those overwhelmed by bullying or mobbing it could be much worse than that. So we need to do whatever we can to turn the tide. Start small with daily reminders and build from there.

There are a lot of daily emails you can subscribe to but there are a couple I really like (both are fr'ee). First is Ricky Powell's TGIT. You can find more information about subscribing to it and his Lifelong Happiness 30 Day Challenge on his website here. The other is "Notes from the Universe" from Mike Dooley who you might remember from the movie "The Secret" and his program "Infinite Possibilities." You can get more info about those here.

Anton Hout

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Thought for Today

"Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities - always see them, for they're always there."

~ Norman Vincent Peale

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