5 Ways to Deal with a Bullying Neighbor
Professor Tanya Byron of The Times offers advice.
Having a bad neighbor can be a literal nightmare, especially if they are abusive. In a new letter written to Professor Tanya Byron of The Times, a desperate reader reveals that they have been suffering abuse at the hands of a bully neighbor who has been viciously "harassing" the couple for years, even after they won a restraining order against him. As part of her advice on how to deal with the situation, Byron offers 5 tips on how to deal with a bullying neighbor that can come in handy for anyone.
Her first piece of advice: "You do not want to play into this man's hands," she says. "Your suffering puts you at risk. First, it is possible that the cumulative effect of the hypervigilant stress and your heightened response to the swearing, staring into your windows etc may reach a tipping point where you react, causing you to be seen as the bully. Bullies bully not only to discharge whatever pathology sits behind their actions (such as insecurity, rage and resentment about their lives) but to create a narrative built around them being the victim (of life)."
Byron maintains that "you risk developing more entrenched mental health difficulties as the stress-causing heightened vigilance takes it toll. You are right to be thinking about psychological strategies to soothe your SNS, such as mindfulness," she says. "Mindfulness meditation can help to enable you to achieve this."
"You may like to consider seeking legal advice, if you have not already," she says. "Log everything he does (as long as this doesn't trigger a greater outpouring of bullying against you) in case at some point you need to take legal action."
Byron also maintains that attempting to understand why the neighbor is a bully in the first place can help prevent him from doing psychological damange onto you. "Understanding is not condoning the behaviour of others, and his behaviour is antisocial and always will be. However, thinking about why he behaves this way could help you to view him differently, as a vulnerable man who projects these vulnerabilities (whatever drives them) onto others as a way of coping. Vulnerability can cause antisocial behaviour. It's his problem, not yours, and clearly his belief systems do not align with yours. You cannot change that, but instead empower yourself by choosing to not let it affect you. You are not his emotional punchbag," she says.
Finally, "Don't allow his bitterness to become yours," she advises. "If you are able to succeed in this you will find that you can gain acceptance of the unwanted emotions he triggers in you and find greater emotional equilibrium."