Recognizing aggression is the the first step
Being bullied, facing aggression from others in human pup play scenes is not pleasant. It is not ok. It is not acceptable. While this article will help you understand how aggression works, so you have a better understanding of what is actually happening, do not mistake the purpose of the article. It does not condone aggression. This article is to help you articulate why it is wrong when you see it, experience it, and to help find strategies to avoid aggression from others for your own safety and care.
Aggression and competition
As a pup, you may have some familiarity with aggression and dominance. Aggression is getting others to submit to you. Also, aggression often occurs when there is competition involved. When you are being aggressive, you feel that it’s important to win, regardless of the cost to other people. the challenge a competing pup faces is to channel aggression into a productive rather than destructive energy, and compete better because of the aggression.
Human pup play does not seem to involve competition very often, unless a pack owner foolishly makes the pups compete for his or her affection. Any situation where you are expecting humans to behave like animals and then you force them to compete is very likely to lead to violence and hurt. Anyone in pup play encouraging this brutal competition for care and affection is demonstrating a serious lack of wisdom and a recklessness for a pups wellbeing. You should reject any encounter instantly, don’t be made to compete in a brutal fashion for love and care.
There is another purpose to aggression, which is to not just compete against another, but to subdue them. That aggression aims to control the behavior of others through intimidation usually. It can often be a “master” or even another pup who deems what you think and feel, your opinions, boundaries and wishes as just stupid. Your requests and desires are meaningless to them, being just obstacles which the aggressor deems a needed to be overcome. These “masters” or pups seem to see themselves as dominant wolves seeking to bend you to their will.
Ironically, a lot of aggressive people don’t actually feel dominant and powerful when being aggressive. Often a person being aggressive feels threatened, and to them, getting angry and hostile at you pup seems reasonable and fair to them. What they interpret as an unreasonable demand or a threat to their personal power and prestige, can unleash aggression at you.
How did the person become aggressive?
At the heart of bullying behavior, of intimidation and abuse directed at you pup, is aggression. Using aggression to hurt others is not usually condoned in healthy social environments. It usually takes conditioning and practice to become a bully. If you someone has an aggressive parent, it’s easy to learn from them how to hurt others. In fact, being hurt by your parents aggression can lead you to believe all kinds of negative and unhelpful things – that you deserve to be hurt, that you are weak and powerless, even that you had best hurt others before they hurt you.
Aggression can also be taught by a person not learning to the negative consequences of aggression. Parents who indulge their young children and fail to discipline can sometimes raise a person who doesn’t learn that anger doesn’t always get you what you want.
Indeed, aggression can also become a persons way of dealing with others simply because their beginning experiences with aggression give them what they want. The power to abuse and harm others results in some rewards for them, so they fall into the belief that being aggressive is a workable way to live and do things.
Lastly, there is a surprising way that people can develop aggression as a way of interacting. Sometimes low self esteem can make a person lash out aggressively, even over what seems trivial. Depressed and irrational people can feel threatened and overwhelmed even by minor problems or setbacks, and they then respond with aggression.
Why be aggressive?
A person hurting inside may feel that being aggressive allows them to blow off steam, to release the pressure they feel internally. An emotionally overwrought person might see aggression as a reasonable for getting even for past wrongs done to them, and if other people become afraid then they are less likely to make demands on the emotionally overwrought person. But sometimes aggression is just plainly used to make the aggressor feel more powerful. Bullying and intimidation can get the aggressive person the things they want in the short term. No matter what the aggressive person uses as their justification, it’s still about trying to force you to submit to them, to give in and feel weaker than them. It is almost always a clear attempt at power and dominance.
The exception to the clear is the almost invisible form of power play and dominance a bully will use, called passive aggression. This is when a person hides and disguises their aggression so they can avoid taking responsibility for it. The aggressive person takes shelter behind the idea that there are no consequences of their behavior. Passive aggression can be hard to notice, often being insidious and manipulative, but it is obvious when you look for it. The key to help unlock the signs of passive aggression is that the aggressor is in denial of ever being aggressive. In fact, they often claim to be the victim. It’s not their fault they have to criticize you, they don’t want to, it’s just that you keep doing things wrong all the time. It’s not their fault they hurt your feelings and made you feel awful, they were just speaking the truth. It’s all your fault they will say, not theirs.
Like classic saboteurs, a passive aggressive says bad stuff about you behind your back, will not be on time or able to to help you when you need it, and avoids situations that don’t allow them to get their own way. Although a passive aggressive person can seem to be supportive of you to your face, they bitch and undermine you behind your back and can be just as harmful as an openly aggressive bully. The worst element is when the passive aggressive tells you it’s your fault pup; when you are hurt and suffering, they will delude themselves they are being kind by explaining that if you had done things their way you would have been better off.
You’ve recognized aggression, now what?
Either passive or directly aggressive behavior shouldn’t happen to you. No pup deserves to be bullied, hurt, undermined, or intimidated. Your most important first step is to recognize that aggression is the behaviour of the other person, and not your choice, not your fault, and it is not the best or reasonable way to behave. You must recognize this to take your first step in protecting yourself from bullying and intimidation.
The person who has treated you badly will probably try and justify their bad behaviour. They can say what they like, but three things remain true
- Firstly, the moment after their aggression, the situation you are both in is worse than it was before as you are now hurt. Making you feel pain doesn’t make the situation any better.
- Secondly, you are not going to like or love or care for the person abusing you more after suffering from their aggression. In fact, it’s likely to make you care less for them.
- Thirdly, you will resent being bullied and being hurt, because you don’t deserve it.
All in all, being a bully and aggressor may have given them a short term victory and feeling of power, but they lose in the long run.
A pups love is not gained by aggression but will certainly be lost by it.