Dr. Marcia Sirota – There’s a lot of bullying going on these days. We find it in schools, in the workplace and online.
There’s one form of bullying that rarely gets talked about though, and it’s creating a lot of misery. I’m talking about self-bullying.
When we grow up, we take in everything we hear from our parents, family members and authority figures around us. In fact, it becomes a big part of our inner monologue.
When the messages we take in are positive, we develop confidence and good self-worth; when we hear a lot of critical or rejecting messages, we develop what I call the “Inner Bully.”
The Inner Bully is the voice in our head that tells us that we’re not smart, capable, attractive or lovable; it tells us not to bother trying something because we’re just going to fail; it tells us that we don’t deserve to be treated with love or respect.
The Inner Bully says things like, “Who do you think you are?” when we dare to feel good about ourselves for something we’ve accomplished. It tells us, “Don’t get a swelled head!”
This bully fills our mind with negative self-talk; it burdens us with guilt, shame and obligation, and always blames us for anything that goes wrong, even when it had nothing to do with us.
It tells us that any success we achieve is an accident, so we won’t be able to recreate it, or that we must have cheated to get the good result.
The Inner Bully oppresses us and makes it hard to create happiness and success.
Depending on how powerful it is in our psyche — which relates directly to how we were treated in childhood- this bully can really mess things up for us.
Ramona (not her real name) is a smart, capable and caring young woman who has struggled all her life to find success. Her Inner Bully was so strong that she had no faith in her abilities.
Even when she accomplished good things, the Inner Bully would never allow her to take credit for them, so she had to see them as “a fluke,” or “no big deal.” Her confidence could never develop.
When she received praise or a promotion because of her hard work, she panicked and became confused, as any measure of success contradicted what the Inner Bully was telling her about herself.
Ramona was trapped in this self-defeating belief system and was never going to be free.
Fortunately, she decided to get help. She did some important work on herself and was able to see the Inner Bully for the liar and saboteur it really is.
Ramona was able to let go of the negative self-talk. She could finally put her abilities to good use and create a better life for herself.
Part of the inner work that Ramona did was learning to #BeKind. She learned that we need to have compassion for ourselves, and not allow the negative messages to win.
Self-compassion means being understanding, accepting, patient, and forgiving with ourselves. To #BeKind is to see ourselves as imperfect but lovable; flawed yet capable of great things.
When Ramona chose to reject her Inner Bully and #BeKind to herself, her life really changed for the better. She’s so much happier today than she ever was.
We all have some degree of Inner Bully living within us.
Living in a hypercritical society, it’s impossible to escape from all the judgments we face about our appearance, character, abilities or potential.
We all need to take Ramona’s cue and learn to #BeKind. We all need to recognize when the Inner bully is picking on us and say to it: “No! I’m not going to let you ruin my life. I’m not listening to you.”
Unlike the outer bullies who have real power and can do physical damage to us, the Inner Bully is just a disembodied voice in our head. We can see it for what it is and refuse to allow it to interfere with our pursuit of happiness and success.
Let’s #BeKind to each-other, when it comes to the problem of bullying in the world, and let’s #BeKind to ourselves when it comes to the lesser-known problem of self-bullying.
We can be stronger than the Inner Bully; we can stop it from having any power over us, but not by getting angry at it.
The way to overcome the Inner Bully is through self-compassion; it’s by choosing to #BeKind to ourselves.