We all have one – that inner voice that talks us through difficult situations or cheers us up during a bad time. Well, some of us have a good inner voice and some of us have an inner bully.
I call my inner voice “The Critic.” She never has a kind word for me. She’s always tearing me down and telling me I’m not good enough. I’ve written about her before.
She’s been especially loud lately, and I’ve been working especially hard at shutting her up. Mantras haven’t been doing the trick. I’ve had to work at recognizing the critical thoughts, acknowledging them, and replacing them with positive thoughts. It’s exhausting, but it’s working.
Battling your inner bully takes as much courage and steadfastness as it would take to face a regular bully – maybe more. Your inner bully knows exactly what to say to make you feel like shit.
No one knows better how to tear you down than you. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to another human being, but for some reason because it’s “just us” it’s okay.
I’m here to tell you it’s not okay to treat yourself that way. It’s not okay to talk to yourself that way. It’s time to start treating yourself with the kindness and love and basic respect that you show others.
Challenge your inner bully!
It’s time to step up and fight for yourself. You don’t deserve to be talked down to, criticized, and made fun of. Every time your inner critic lights you up, question the thoughts. Ask yourself, “Should I take you seriously?” The answer, of course, is NO.
Once you stop taking your bully’s thoughts so seriously, they’ll become less powerful. They’ll shrink.
Take a break from your inner bully
Sometimes the negative thoughts are so intrusive it’s impossible to function around them. Whether you’re dwelling on something you said or did that you can’t let go or it’s a critical thought about yourself that you’re just so used to thinking you don’t know how to stop – go ahead and let yourself think about it for five minutes. Set a timer. Now really think about it. Chew on it. Dig into it.
But when the timer goes off, you’re done. You’re on vacation! It’s time to think about the beach or the mountains. Google beautiful pictures of stars. Do whatever you need to do to break away from that thought because you’ve had your time with it and now you’re done with it.
Distorted thinking is negative thinking
Many of us who struggle with inner bullies also struggle with negative thinking patterns. Watch out for the following:
- Black/white thinking — Things are or are not, there is no in between. There is very little room for gray in my world. Everything either is or isn’t. I am either perfect or I am an abject failure.
- Personalizing — This involves making the assumption that you are to blame for anything that goes wrong. For example, my husband now and again will wake up in a grumpy mood. I assume this is somehow my fault.
- Filter thinking — Filtering out all the positive so that you see only the negative.
- Catastrophizing — Assuming the worst possible scenario is going to happen.
- The Shoulds — I always love a good “should” on myself. “I should clean more… I should go to the gym more often… I should eat less… I should eat more healthy food… I should be a better wife… I should… I should… I should…” All this gets me is guilt and resentment.
If you find yourself falling into one of these patterns, gently stop yourself and guide your thoughts back into a positive frame of mind.
Stop judging and practice forgiveness
I love to judge myself for having an inner critic. I judge myself for the horrible things I say to myself. I judge myself for all the things I do “wrong” or “not well enough” and all the things I “could have done better.”
I am happy to let others be human – perfectly imperfect. Why do I not afford myself the same courtesy?
I am quick to forgive others their mistakes. Why must I spend hours berating myself for mine?
Be gentle with yourself. Be a good friend to yourself. And if you don’t know how or where to start, leave your negative thought in the comments, and I’ll help you turn it around.
Remember – you control your thoughts
Thoughts are not wild, winged creatures beyond your control. Believe it or not, you can tame them. You can bring them to heel. You do have authority over what you think and feel!
Self talk is a powerful tool – one edge, the negative edge, can cut you to ribbons. The other edge, the positive edge, can strengthen and define you. Or, another way to look at it, is who are you going to let control the tool? Are you going to let your inner bully control it? Wreaking havoc on your interior design?
Or are you going to take control?