What if instead of looking the other way, you stepped in to help the underdog?
Standing up for the underdog by confronting a bully isn’t easy.
I know what it’s like to be an underdog.
Being an underdog, you’re the last picked, and the first picked on. People have confidence in you. They’re confident that you’ll be the worst member of the team and guaranteed to screw things up. In a crowded room, you’re invisible.
You’re called names like strange, nerd, freak, and loser.
In hallways, people walk into you. They shove you. And they act like they’re going to punch you in the face just to watch you flinch.
Girls shun you. And guys laugh at you.
You know no one believes in you because you don’t believe in yourself.
Here is why standing up for the underdog by confronting a bully will transform your life.
“Sometimes having the strength to show loving support for unacknowledged others turns the tides of our own lives.” — Alexandra Katehakis
1. We have all been underdogs
There are top dogs, and there are underdogs. Live long enough, and you’ll experience them both.
Being a top dog is wonderful. Everything goes your way. People want to be around you. They want to hear what you say. They tell their friends the two of you are the best buds. They brag that they have your private phone number and you hang out together on weekends.
But being an underdog is painful. No one brags about knowing you. When they see you coming, they walk away. And when someone mentions your name, no one claims you as a friend.
Think about your life. Remember when you were the underdog. How did it feel? When you needed help, who did you turn to?
When defending an underdog by confronting a bully, you become more powerful and confident in yourself. At the same time, you strengthen the underdog’s self-esteem and confidence.
2. Don’t underestimate an underdog
Thomas was a sickly child. He couldn’t hear very well, and he wasn’t good at school. Fellow students and his teachers thought he was “slow” and made fun of him.
One day, Thomas came home from school with a note. It explained that the school administration expelled him because of his slowness and inability to keep up academically.
His mother stood up for him. Her son’s school expelled him, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get an education. She homeschooled Thomas and encouraged him to not accept other people’s judgment of him. Under her care, he began learning. And he started inventing things.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb and phonograph, was an underdog. His mother, standing up for him and believing in him, set the course of his life to be one of the world’s great inventors.
Schools are a breeding ground for bullies. From fellow students to teachers to school administrators, someone who they think is different gets bullied. By defending an underdog from bullies, you give the underdog a chance to show their unique abilities and maybe even genius.
3. Standing up for an underdog restores a sense of fairness
Underdogs are at a disadvantage when compared to a top dog. They aren’t as good at sports or as competitive in business. Maybe they wear thick glasses or dress differently. They might be awkward and uncoordinated.
When you are standing up for underdogs against bullies, you make things a little fairer.
In sports, it’s common to have the top dogs automatically become the team leaders. They then pick their friends and most talented people to be on their team. By the end of the selection, the team leaders and betters players argue over the underdogs they don’t want on their team. From the outset of the team selection, everyone knows who will be picked first, and who will be selected last.
Instead of having everyone line up and the top dogs selecting who will be on their team, suggest changing it up. Have the underdogs become the team leaders and allow them to select who they want on their team.
You aren’t lowering the standard or making it easier for anyone. You are rearranging the process so the game isn’t so rigged against the underdog.
By confronting a bully, you make things fairer for everyone.
4. Developing empathy for underdogs helps you and them
Even though everyone experiences being an underdog, the memory of being unpopular fades when they achieve top-dog status. Being the last picked for a game or eliminated from a career advancement is painful. As soon as people gain a better position, they put the awful experience behind them. They don’t want to think about it.
When you see someone struggling to get ahead, think about your past when you struggled. Remind yourself of where you were when compared to where you are today.
By empathizing with someone struggling, we grow into better people. And it gives us an opportunity to help someone do better.
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.” — Gautama Buddha
5. Stepping in to help an underdog will give you purpose
Achieving anything is important. A promotion that doubles your income will provide for your children’s education, a new home, or a new car. Becoming a best-selling author will bring you fame. Running a 20k marathon and finishing it will give you personal satisfaction, even if you don’t win.
Underdogs have the same aspirations as you. They want a promotion. They want to see their novel published. And they want to run a marathon.
When you see people struggling, step in, and help. If they don’t get the promotion that they worked hard to get, encourage them to keep trying. If the novel they’ve submitted keeps getting rejected, offer to read it and give suggestions. If they want to run a marathon but aren’t ready, run with them until they are ready.
“Create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.” — Big Brothers Big Sisters mission statement
Big Brothers Big Sisters members have positively affected millions of young lives. Adults take valuable time from their lives to nurture and mentor children. They do it because children are worth it. And it gives the adults a purpose.
Underdogs have tremendous potential, too. And like the youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, they need a mentor who will help them.
Thomas Edison’s mother didn’t accept her son’s expulsion. She confronting a bully school administration that expelled her son unjustly. Instead of giving up on him, she supported him, one-on-one, to “ignite the power and promise” she knew was within him.
And in standing up for her “underdog” she found purpose in her life.
Find and help an underdog by confronting a bully, and you’ll find a purpose for your life, too.
Have you ever confronted a bully?
Is there ever a time to stay in a caustic relationship?
Have you struggled to find your purpose in life?