On this National Day of the Pet, we are celebrating how our precious pets can help us heal from anxiety and depression often found in victims of bullying. Dr. Bria Bliss, best-selling author of Breaking Free of Bullying discusses how fearful thoughts about our bullying creates more bullying into our lives. Additionally, she talks about thinking of at least one thing in your life that you are thankful for. It is easy to turn to your pet(s) for thankfulness.
Life is not a chore, but a gift. So if you are not unwrapping gifts of abundance daily, then you are truly not living life. When you are being bullied, you are trapped in the depths of despair, because you are not noticing the good in your life right now. How could you? The feelings that accompany bullying are devastating, humiliating, and shaming….like it’s your fault. Well, technically it is not your fault, but it is your thinking bad thoughts that make this bullying thing come to fruition. I know that’s the last thing you want to hear, so let’s try and fix it.
MINDFUL PETTING – I have rarely met anyone who does not like some type of loving pet and the sweet emotion that comes with petting them. Unfortunately, not even today’s wonderful technology and cool apps won’t substitute for the natural healing of petting a loved one or even a pet you do not know. I suggest, if you are being harassed and bullied right now, it will be important for you to be around pets as much as possible and engage in the active healing of petting. If you don’t have a pet, find a friend who does or visit your local pet store or more importantly, seek out a rescue pet. Believe me, they will help you out as much as you will help them!
Dr. Bria Bliss encourages using pets to break free of the bullies in your life. In her book Breaking Free of Bullying, there are numerous strategies to use and connecting with a pet can also be a great strategy. She states, “Petting or taking care of an animal is a great way to switch your mood from the bad to the good zone. ” When you understand how the brain works and how when the amygdala part of the brain gets triggered, it sets off a “fight or flight” response to situations. Bliss goes on to say, “Petting and breathing calms the amygdala, and therefore, creates a more positive response to the stresses of life, like bullying.”
If you are a parent reading this, and your child is having a difficult time coping with the pressures of school life, you need to have an honest conversation with your child’s counselor or teacher. Ask about special services like a 504 plan which allows your child certain accommodations for their learning style (it is a Federal Statute and not optional, all school districts must comply). If your child’s school does not allow pets on their school campus, I suggest you take action by encouraging your child’s school to develop a new philosophy and cite research-based evidence supporting the use of animals as an alternative healing method.
What do you do if your child’s school does not embrace change? You need to be proactive and release any roadblocks to your thinking about how school life should be. I know I had my own visions of how great school would be for my children based on my own experiences. So how can you help? Talk to your child’s teacher, and ask them about adopting a class pet that you can care for on the weekends. If your child is older perhaps working with animals is a good fit. Pets have a magical way of healing and understanding hurtful thoughts. Dogs are especially great listeners!
A pet journal is a great way to connect with your inner thoughts. Young children can draw pictures or write letters to their pets and it can become a therapeutic learning outcome. Journal writing is also beneficial for teens and adults as it focuses attention on what you love about your pets, your interactions and diverts your attention from the stressors in your life. The more that you appreciate the pets in your life and the more you interact and share with them, the more positive interactions you will manifest from people. The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (O’Haire, 2013) and it would appear to have that effect on bullying victims.
Dr. Bria Bliss is a best-selling author and has been an educator for over 20 years using Mindfulness in her teaching and coaching. She has a Ph.D in Philosophy Education and her book Breaking Free of Bullying is an interactive book written for children, teenagers, and adults who feel they are being bullied in some way or another. It can be purchased at Amazon.com
Patti Martin, Ph.D has been a feature writer for Splash Magazines World Wide for over 10 years. She was an elementary school teacher for 21 years and is currently working with Dr. Bliss in ME training and strategies for the community. Her shared website www.BreakingFreeofBullying.com offers various types of services including personalized readings, mindfulness, and educational services. She is presently taking donations to offer free classes for bullying victims.