Monday, October 21, 2019

Book Nook: Unbullied – 14 Techniques to Silence the Critics: Externally and Internally

Anti-bullying campaigns in schools and communities get a lot of press, so have all the bullies in the world simply stopped being bullies just because there's a heightened awareness of the issue? Of course not. More needs to be done, and some of the answers may lie between the covers of Unbullied – 14 Techniques to Silence the Critics: Externally and Internally from anti-bullying advocate Kalyani Pardeshi.

In her book, readers will discover simple, yet effective, techniques for overcoming the debilitating effects of bullying, while ending the fear of suffering in silence, the fear of feeling powerless and the fear that no one will believe you. The author shares easy to use, compelling tactics developed from years of being bullied herself.

Additionally, exercises accompany each chapter to help readers hone their strategies along the way. Plus, Pardeshi includes a letter template to show readers how to communicate effectively with those who have the authority to help them.

While being a handy guide for teens, parents and educators alike, the techniques provided in this book can be applied to all forms of bullying: verbal, social, physical and cyberbullying.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

Why did you write this book?
Back in 2017, I closed my successful online fitness business and walked away from almost three thousand social media followers all in pursuit of my “real purpose”. While the business was successful in helping many mothers rediscover their self-confidence through fitness, it left me feeling unfulfilled. Somehow, I felt I had a bigger purpose in life. I gave up my career in finance 7 years before this to raise my children, but I felt that I was meant to do more while raising my children. The online fitness business was one of the many ventures I delved into in futile attempts of identifying my true purpose on this planet.

My breakthrough came when I volunteered at an anti-bullying workshop at my daughter’s elementary school. Having experienced bullying at all stages of my life - in school, in the workplace living in post apartheid South Africa and within family, I was curious to see what solutions this workshop would offer to those who often suffer in silence. The workshop was well presented and touched many lives. A few weeks after the workshop, the bullies were at it again and my daughter asked me, “What is the point of these workshops if kids are still bullying?”

This was the soul-searching question that felt like a sucker punch in the gut. What more could we do? What could we do differently? Of course, there are countless stories out there in the media of celebrities who faced bullying, overcame it and went on to be very successful. My thought was - how could an ordinary teen relate to this story, wouldn’t a story of a plain Jane who turned out to be stronger, despite being bullied in her life, be more relatable to a young mind? Someone who is just like them and not a celebrity?

And so, birthed “Unbullied: 14 techniques to silence the critics - externally and internally.” In this book, not only do I share my own personal experiences of bullying I faced in boarding school, far away from home, but I share what I learnt from each experience - personal growth lessons while I have included techniques, tasks and actions those facing bullying can take to empower themselves, to show them that they are not helpless at all.

Truth be told, this is the first time I am openly sharing what I faced for the sole purpose of making a difference in the world, in someone’s world even if it is only one teenager, one parent, one educator - I have fulfilled my calling.

Why do bullies bully and what can people do to prevent this behavior?
No one is born a bully. Then how are bullies reared? From my own personal experience which I talk about in Unbullied, bullying is a cry for help, a cry for attention. Not in the way a two-year-old would throw a tantrum seeking attention but more in the way of: hey, I am here, I have a voice and my voice matters, I exist, please don’t ignore me and my feelings. Bullies are hurt people and hurt people hurt other people. You can only give what you have and if all you have is hurt, anger and pain within you then that is how you will show up in the world unless if that hurt, anger and pain is addressed properly. Bullies are dealing with their own emotional trauma stemming from their own experiences which we are not privy to, it could be trauma within the family, trauma in another learning environment. Fact is - happy people don’t wake up and say, “Oh my gosh, I am so happy, I will go out and hurt someone today.” Sounds ridiculous, right? Bullies feel that they have no control over what it is that is causing them hurt and anguish, so they act out, they want to feel in control of something because they feel that they have no control to stop what is hurting them.

How can we prevent this behaviour? The simple answer? Compassion. Instead of punishing a bully, how about approaching the situation with compassion? Sitting the bully down and saying to them, “Hey, I know you really don’t want to do the things you do because it hurts other people and you know what that pain feels like. So, let’s talk about what is hurting you and how we can help you with that.” Usually, a bully is told to stop their behaviour because how they are behaving isn’t nice etc., this angers the bully even more because no one is stopping whatever and whoever is hurting them, no one is addressing this. No one stops to ask the bully what is wrong, why are they doing this, is everything okay, what can others do to help them? Just asking these simple questions will stop the bully’s train of destructive and hurtful thoughts and behaviour. These questions will enable them to realise that they really are people out there who care enough to help, they are reaching out, lending a helping hand and all the bully needs to do is take a leap of faith by grabbing that hand.

Of course, this takes time and commitment, so people tend to look for quick solutions by calling the bully out on their behaviour. Compassion requires self awareness - if something were hurting you, wouldn’t you want people to show compassion instead of aggression? What would have a greater impact?

Why is it still so hard to speak up against bullying?
There are two fears associated with speaking up against bullying namely, fear that no one will believe you and fear of retaliation by the bully. So, how do we overcome these fears? I have addressed both in detail in my book, Unbullied, but to touch on these fears briefly, let’s start with the fear that no one will believe you. My first question is this - do you believe what is happening to you is bullying? Or are you downplaying it in your mind because you want to fit in, because you don’t want to be singled out as the odd one out who isn’t seeing the bullying as building camaraderie?

It is a basic human need to want to fit in, to want to be accepted by your peers but you get to decide what boundaries to set when it comes to fitting in. Often, we fear that no one will believe us when we complain about a bully because we are in denial about the bullying. Why? Because traditionally, it was the “weird” ones who were targeted by bullies and we don’t wish to label ourselves as “weird”. So, the first thing I will say about addressing this fear is that normal people don’t go around putting other people down. Would you hurt others? Would you put others down? The answer is no, so that makes you an exceptional person because how others feel matters to you. Trust how you feel, the first step in getting others to believe you about the bullying is believing your story yourself. Once you do, the conviction with which you will express yourself to those who can help you will be undeniable, there will be no wavering in your voice, no doubt in your eyes, just pure truth. No one can deny you what you feel so if something doesn’t feel right, tap into those feelings when you speak your truth and trust me, people will believe you.

What if the bully retaliates? When you speak to those who can help you with the conviction that I spoke of above, ensure to share this fear specifically telling them that it is this fear that held you back from speaking your truth but you are trusting that person to help you and protect you. Put the onus on them to ensure that your safety will be their top priority. Be very clear in communicating this.

One of the bonuses included in my book Unbullied are templates which readers can use to articulate what they are experiencing. Often, victims of bullying are unable to express themselves with the right words because of the overwhelming pain they feel which suffocates them. Hence, they are unable to elicit the right type of reaction and action from those who can help. The templates in my book addresses this obstacle.

If someone has been bullied, how can they rebuild their self-confidence?
Once again, I have addressed this in detail in my book Unbullied in a section called “How do you move on.” Touching briefly on this, the first step in moving on is recognising that none of the bullying faced by the victim was by any way or means the victim’s fault. It is so normal to question and doubt yourself when you have been through something so traumatic. The next thing is to stop asking yourself - why did this happen to me? We try to find logic behind the pain, to justify it, to blame karma because we want to rationalise what had happened. There is no rationale. It is not your fault. Period

Recognise that you are a hero because it takes a special kind of person to have faced bullying and survived it, you chose to keep trudging forward. See yourself as a hero. As I mentioned earlier, happy people don’t hurt others and your bully is an unhappy person so none of this is your fault. You always were and always will remain a hero.

Forgive yourself. As a victim of bullying, it is normal to blame yourself for what happened to you - I did that for many years. Look at yourself in the mirror every day, look into your own eyes in the reflection and say, “I forgive you”, take a deep breath and release it. Shift that energy from feeling like a victim to seeing yourself as a hero.

Surround yourself with those who love you and lift your spirits - family members, friends, educators, coaches. Spend time with them, laugh and soak in that positive energy as a constant reminder of how wonderful you are and how much you are loved.

Seek out activities that make you happy - painting, pottery, sports, singing, dancing, anything that taps into the creative side of your mind, when you immerse yourself into the energy of creation, it washes out all those negative feelings associated with bullying. Keep trying different things until you find what speaks to you. Personally, I joined the badminton team in university, and I went on to be ranked 2nd. I was crowned 2nd runner up in the intervarsity queen competition as well. Around 6 years ago, I took up strength training which I continue to do.

You are a hero who will keep trudging forward. I say this because I was repeatedly told to end my life by a family member whom I turned to for support when I was bullied. I didn’t end my life, I am here today, sharing my story so that you can believe in yourself, just the way I did, especially when no one else did. Belief in yourself starts with you.

A strong advocate against bullying, Kalyani Pardeshi connects with teenagers through a mutual enemy: Bullying. She openly shares her own experiences of bullying and overcoming the emotional scars left by it. In her own words, she says it is safe to say that wherever she went, bullying followed her, leaving her no choice but to develop skills to silence her bullies and build self-confidence. A short story of her experiences was published on more than 500 websites, including local news sites under internationally recognized authority brands like ABC, NBC and Fox news. She has been interviewed by Chris Burns from Burn It Up Coaching and by Trisha Malika Ghosh on Soulful Saturdays.

To learn more about the author, please visit or connect with her on Facebook at

For the author's compelling anti-bullying video, please visit

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