Do you find yourself struggling to get out of bed and go to work every morning because of that coworker or boss who seems to find fault with everything you do? Or maybe it’s the opposite, and you find yourself relishing the hours you spend in the office because the atmosphere between you and your romantic partner has become one of fear instead of love. Bullying can have long-lasting harmful effects on almost every aspect of your life, from your mental state to your physical health, and with the omnipresence of social media and the Internet, it can even follow you into supposedly safe spaces. In this article, we’ll be talking about some of the main problems you may face, as well as ways to protect yourself.

If you are dealing with a toxic environment in your work, home, or any other place you visit frequently, you might be struggling with the common problem of feeling trapped. You may feel as though it’s impossible to make the torment stop, but we’re here to tell you that, in most cases, there are many steps you can take to keep the damage from going too far.

In some cases, your bully may be unaware that their words are hurtful, so a gentle reality check could be all they need. Because of this possibility, we recommend trying to handle it quietly at first. Talk with the person—whether it’s a coworker, romantic partner, or even a boss—and let them know how their battering is making you feel. If you are uncomfortable confronting them alone, then ask a friend or two to be there as moral support. This conversation might be enough to put the conflict to rest, but if the trouble continues, you may need to use more drastic measures

Remember that your own health and wellbeing should be your top priority. If you talk to your partner about the situation and they still refuse to let up, it may be a good idea to let that relationship go. In a working environment, if, after discussing your misgivings with your bully, they continue to harass you, start leaning on employees you trust for support and report the situation to HR. In a case where, after all of that, you are still being put down constantly and it seems like reconciliation is unlikely to happen, it’s time to switch jobs. This may seem like you are giving up, but in reality, you are putting yourself first. Life is constantly changing, and we are able to choose our path. You may love your job, but chances are, you can find another one doing nearly or exactly the same work in a place that is healthier for your mental state and self-esteem.

However, there may be situations where, because of circumstances outside of your control, you are unable to get out of that environment. Or, maybe you can, but it will take a while and you need something to help you cope until you have the chance. In this situation, it’s easy to let yourself fall deep into depression and lose the ability to focus on your work. You might be jumpy, worried that you might be attacked at any moment. When you’re consistently belittled in a certain place or by the same individual, it’s normal to become paranoid each time you are in that location or near that person. Just like how kids try to get out of going to school or start doing poorly in their classes, if the torment is at work, you may find yourself unable to pay attention to the task at hand because your mind is overrun with worries. You may even call in sick when you feel perfectly healthy, just because you want to avoid the toxicity at work. If the issue is at home, you may find any excuse to be out of the house, whether that’s doing overtime at work or driving aimlessly around town, just so you can have as little contact as possible with that person.

When you start to lose focus because of a negative message’s power over you, take a step back. Remind yourself that you are better than this, and that, by letting your fear cloud your mind, you are giving your harasser exactly what they want. A common misconception is that if you are being mocked, it’s because there is something wrong with you. That’s untrue. Bullies do what they do because they are insecure and they see you as a threat. If you’re their target, it’s most likely because you are more skilled than they are at something—maybe you’re smarter, have a better work ethic, or are more talented—and their jealousy is pushing them to punish you for it. But you are doing just fine. When others’ naysaying is getting to you, remember this fact. Practice positive self-talk and self-care to keep you motivated and avoid letting yourself react to any bait. If you stop acting like a victim, most people will eventually give up and just leave you alone. Then you can go on being the amazing person you are.

The effects of receiving constant self-destroying messages can be hard to overcome, but now you have some tools to assist you in recognizing adult bullying when it happens and putting it to a stop. If you would like more tips on how to stay sure of yourself despite mockery, you can listen to inspirational guest Sarah Stump talk about her experience overcoming this issue by going to livingfullout.com/radio-show/ and clicking on the episode titled, “Learn How You Can Manage Being Bullied and Find Your Inner Strength as You Live Full Out.” We believe you can conquer any obstacle that falls in your path, learn to defeat the negativity, and live full out.

Contributing Author: Ariel Zinkan