Overcoming Bullies

This post has been a long time coming. This is about a subject that I’m extremely passionate about, something that I hope helps kids out there today who are being bullied on a daily basis. Hopefully by the end you will understand what I went through, how I dealt with it, and how you can overcome the bullies in your life. Here’s my story.

For some reason when I was young I was the kid that the other kids liked to pick on. I have no idea why, I never did anything that caused me to deserve to get picked on, but regardless, it happened, and happened a lot. Maybe it was because I was different in the sense that I didn’t want to do bad things, but rather went to church weekly and wanted to live my life with integrity and ethics. That’s always been who I am, but apparently other kids didn’t like it. Or maybe it was because I didn’t have the best of clothes and wore the same things quite often. My family was never “rich” and never could afford the really nice clothes that everyone else was wearing. However, don’t get me wrong, we were never poor and my parents always created a comfortable living for us, but we were never that wealthy family who could afford and do anything they wanted. I was OK with that, though, and didn’t mind wearing clothes from stores like Wal-Mart. It didn’t bother me one bit. For whatever reason, though, there were a group of kids that felt the need to pick on me daily.

It wasn’t bad until I got to 5th grade. The young kids started growing up and started wanting to try “adult things,” and I just wasn’t into that. I saw separation begin to happen between students and certain cliques formed. There was the “popular group,” the “nerds,”  “the jocks,” and then everyone else who didn’t “fit in” according to them, and I was in that group. I was the kid who had a small group of friends that I hung out with all the time and we were the ones who just sort of did our own thing. The “popular group” always felt the need to pick on us though. I remember one day I went into the restroom and a couple of the bullies decided to follow me in. Of course they are going to talk their crap around me because it was always 3 of them and then just me. I was always outnumbered. Now, understand too, that my confidence was never the best at that age and I never really stood up for myself. I just sort of laughed it off like it was funny, but of course it never was. Anyways, in the restroom that day, I was doing my thing and then one of them decided to start picking on me and push me hard into the urinal. I ended up urinating all over my sweatshirt and they thought it was the funniest thing in the entire world. It wasn’t. I had to wear that pee-ridden sweatshirt for the remainder of the day, and the bullies thought that everyone in the class should know about it. Talk about embarrassing, that tops the list.

Each year the bullying got worse and worse. It got to the point where I barely had any friends left and started feeling sorry for myself. The bullies would say crap to me in the halls and do everything that they could to make themselves look “cool” to the others. I remember another incident in 7th grade where I was “going out” with this girl (which just involved talking on the phone) and one day while we were sitting together at intramurals right after lunch, one of the bullies came up to me and her and literally asked her if she wanted to “go out” with one of the popular guys, which was one of his friends. Shocked that he even did that, I was even more shocked when she got up and left me to go sit by the other kid. Then the “popular kids” all pointed at me and laughed and then yelled out that I was crying about it. All alone, I felt like the smallest person in the world. Crushed, embarrassed, hurt, I wasn’t sure what to do. All I could do was what I normally did, and when I got home I went and sat in the woods. I had a certain spot that I went to, one that was peaceful where I could just let it all out and think about everything. Nobody around, just me. It was my escape from everything that was going on.

High school is when it got much worse. My Freshman year was the year from hell. The upper class guys decided to join in on the fun and bully me as well, so now there were multiple groups of people who picked on me. Things began to change for me personally that year, though. I started becoming very strong from lifting, my confidence began increasing, and I had made the Varsity Baseball team when nobody else in my class did. Of course they hated that. I still sat at lunch quite often by myself, and I still didn’t have many friends. I remember 2 incidences my Freshman year that were not particularly good memories. One day I was playing intramural basketball after lunch. With our intramurals, there were all grades, so all the upper class bullies were in there as well. I was playing basketball and the next thing I feel is this incredible pain in my head and I just about fall over. One of the upper class bullies got within about 10 feet of me and threw a basketball as hard as he could at my head and it connected. Everyone was watching, and it was so incredibly embarrassing. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I was pissed off. I actually stood up for myself somewhat at that point, but not enough to make them stop picking on me.

Not too long afterwards I was at a track meet with my girlfriend at the time and we were sitting about 10 rows in front of a large group of bullies. Even the school quarterback (who I thought was a great guy, but of course was wrong) was with them. He never picked on me and I never had a problem with him up until that point. Anyways, while sitting there all the bullies were talking crap about me and her. I kept ignoring them but then she felt something hit her in the head, and it was gum that one of the bullies threw at her. It was stuck in her hair and I got extremely angry and decided to stand up to all of them. I got up, turned around, and asked them which one of them did it. I was livid at this point, but they were still laughing about it and nobody confessed. The quarterback was sitting with them laughing as well, and even though I don’t think he was the one who did it, he never stood up for me and what was right. He was a coward and didn’t want to ruin his reputation. We left and ended up having to cut the gum out of her hair.

It got to the point where I literally had just had enough and started lifting more, startedJosh Spencer reading personal development books, and started learning jujitsu from my father. I was now strong and confident in myself and knew that I could defend myself in a fight. The incident that I’m going to talk about next is the last one that I’ve ever had with the bullies. After that, there was nothing, and there’s a reason for that. I was at my locker one day after my baseball practice and a group of 3 bullies came up to me and started talking their crap. One of them got in my face and put his finger on my chest. Normally I would just walk away, but not today, enough was enough. Instead, I didn’t move, I was confident, and told him that if he ever put a finger on me again he would seriously regret it. I then just stared at him in the eyes, never backing down. What happened next is what I knew would happen, and the bully backed down and then talked more crap as he walked away. I never had an issue with them again, and surprisingly enough, years later we could actually tolerate one another.

After my Sophomore year I decided to transfer to another school. It wasn’t because I was getting bullied, because I wasn’t anymore, but rather because I wanted to play baseball for a school that would get me noticed by college scouts. It worked and I ended up getting a scholarship to play baseball in college. My college years were amazing, I had a lot of friends, I got along with people, and never once did I get bullied. It was because I was so confident in myself at that point, was helping others, and reading personal development books daily.

After years and years of studying bullies, reading personal development books, I began to understand why bullies do the things they do, why they have to tear others down. Why you ask? They do it to make themselves feel better. Crazy enough, even though they might be “popular,” they are extremely empty inside and feel like they have to prove something to others, and sometimes that just involves showing “dominance” and “power” by picking on smaller, less popular kids. Chances are the home life of these bullies is complete hell, and being “popular” and picking on others is an escape for them. They feel good about themselves when they tear down others.

The Magic of Thinking BigSo how do you deal with them? There are a few ways to do so. For one, ignore them. Let all their crap talking go in one ear and out the other. Words will never hurt you, or at least you shouldn’t let them hurt you. Never ever take anything a bully says to you to heart. Ignore them and move on with your life. Once they understand that you aren’t letting it get to you, usually they will stop. They only continue picking on those who they know they can get to. Second, focus on improving yourself and your own confidence. The way to do so is what I mentioned above, and that’s read a personal development book every single day. The one that I started with and highly recommend is “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. The book changed my life, literally. Once you read that book, read another, and then another and another. I’m 28 and have been reading personal development books just about every day since I was 15. Third, learn self defense. Sometimes there are bullies who love to get physical, but the moment you have enough confidence to stand up to them is the moment they will stop bothering you. By learning self defense, you know how to defend yourself and win a fight if a bully starts one. Understand, though, that you should never start a fight! Self defense is just for that, self defense. Don’t abuse it. Fourth, if you see someone getting bullied, stand up for them. Don’t be that person who sits back and just accepts that bullying is going to happen. If you have the power to stop it, then do it. If I see someone picking on someone else, you better believe that I am the first one to stand up for that person. And last, surround yourself with positive people. Find a group of friends that will accept you for who you are!

So where am I now? I have had a ton of success in my life. I am married to my BEAUTIFUL Our Familywife Melinda with a 4 year old daughter, and another daughter on the way. My wife and I both own our own fitness businesses and work from home every day. I have been tremendously successful in the business, being inducted into the Millionaires Club and winning Top Beachbody Coach 2010 out of over 50,000 Coaches here in the U.S. My responsibility as a coach is to help people every single day with both the fitness side of things and the business side of it, and I’m completely passionate about what I do. I have created both financial and time freedom for my family and I. I have a ton of friends, people who love me for me, and that’s because for the past 5 years of my life I have committed myself to helping others change their life. Serve others and you will create a friends list so much bigger than you can imagine. I love life.

As you have read, I have been through some seriously rough times. Times of low self confidence, times of struggle, times of being lonely. Middle school and high school were hell for me, but I made it though it just fine. If you’re being bullied, I sincerely hope that you found this post helpful. Remember, bullies tear down others because it makes them feel better about themselves and whatever is lacking in their own lives. Be strong, be confident, ignore them, and keep focusing on improving yourself and moving towards your goals and dreams daily. I believe in you and am here for you! If you need to talk or even want me to come talk to your school, email me at coachspence8@yahoo.com. I have a goal of ending bullying in schools and will do everything in my power to make it happen.



  • I didn’t notice things were that bad for you before you went to our school. I hope things were better for ya at our high school, although I really didn’t consider our class very close or got along the greatest. You were always a pleasure to be around…quiet, kept to yourself, yet very approachable. A bit better than what was around us sometimes. Good to see you got yourself so motivated and accomplished things! Great read. Take it easy, brother. Ever think of talking to high schools by the way?

    • You guys were so accepting of me brother, and it’s something I have always appreciated. Things were great for me at Central. I actually have thought about going around and talking at high schools and middle schools. It’s a goal of mine and something I’m going to be starting here very soon.

  • Great post, Josh. I too, was bullied in high school and when I tell people about it, they find it hard to believe. Why? Because I have changed and I am more confident. It is refreshing to read your story because it is similar to mine.

  • Hey Josh, I know we only met briefly at summit but I want to thank you for taking the time to write this. I’m a teacher at the high school and there are some students who I’d really like to share this with. I know this will inspire them and encourage them.

  • Josh—
    I’m friends with Weston Lovelette and came across this article. I connected with your story and could relate to similar experiences. I think as we get older we still come across those same people, either through work, communities, neighborhoods, so forth.

    However, your right we must stay strong and keep our confidence built up, so if we are in situations again we have the ability to overcome what we thought was really hard to do. I would like permission to share your story. I believe a lot of kids, especially here on our reservation, would benefit from this. If not, I understand completely.

    Again, thanks for a great read!

    John D

  • I originally wrote this comment on FB but wanted to share it here too – This is great, Josh! I don’t know exactly who you were talking about in your post, but I have a feeling I was probably bullied by some of the same folks. I was the nerdy overweight girl who didn’t come from a rich family, so I was an easy target. However, I finally started standing up for myself around the time I started taekwondo (6th grade) – I became more outgoing and confident, and realized that other people’s opinions were not the deciding factor in my love for myself. I, too, had a small group of friends who I hung out with and never really fit into any of the “cliques.” Funny thing is, TV’s 10 year reunion was this past Saturday and very little has changed. There was a group of people who didn’t talk to anyone else but the other members of the group, and it was the same group that acted that way from elementary school till graduation, and made lots of people’s lives hell during that time. 10 years after graduation, and I’m doing very well – I’m a pediatrician, I own my own home, I’m financially stable, I’m married to the man I’ve been with for almost 10 years, and I’m still best friends with Melissa (she and I have been friends since 1st grade). I overcame bullying, but as you know, there’s no way to say that it didn’t affect me. However, like you, I chose to allow it to affect me in a good way – by being successful, confident, proud of myself, and by being a good role model. I applaud you for writing this. You are a great man and role model. If it’s OK with you, I am going to share this with my patients who are both targets of bullying, and the bullies themselves.

    • Yes please share with anyone who you think it will help! 🙂

  • Great post, Josh……thank you for sharing.

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