The bully’s ego is artifice. His arrogance is a hollow confidence. His condescension is a need to belittle. His rage is a need to control. This ego for him is a fragile thing, driven by fear and narcissism, not by power, nor by the power he wishes so desperately to possess. In fact, the bully is actually quite powerless, for he is only as powerful as the power we give him. He feeds on our fear, but his hunger is driven solely by his own.
The key for the bullied is to recognize that the bully’s bullying is not about us — it’s about him, and his weakness. It’s about his sense of being threatened, and his horror at being found out as an imposter or a poser. He is afraid — quite afraid – and all the time. With this recognition that it’s not about us, we can then stand firm, or even push back; thusly not get lost in the self-doubt and self-victimization that potentially perpetuates for us the abusive and socially sadomasochistic relationships in which we might find ourselves by accident, by choice or by default.
The bully is always the weakest kid on the playground. Push back, and watch with compassion as he collapses into a pale reflection of whom he pretends to be.