Battling the Bully Inside Your Head

by | May 12, 2022

Battling the Bully Inside Your Head

Maybe you remember him from the 3rd grade. The older, snot-nosed kid on the playground who pulled your underwear over your head, called you a sissy and tortured you while everyone laughed. His size advantage stopped you from defending yourself, and every recess after that you tried to make yourself even smaller. Smaller so as to draw as little attention to yourself as possible and not be singled out again.

Or perhaps you recall her from your first waitressing job back when you were 20. The domineering girl with the frizzy hair and the tight miniskirts who would ridicule you because she had ‘seniority’ at the restaurant and sucked up to the boss. You didn’t stand up to her, either, because you knew that to do so would send your ass straight to the back of the unemployment line. 

Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to deal with bullies like that anymore?

Only you do. One particularly bully, in fact. Probably even on a daily basis. And do you know who that bully is? You

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Because no matter how old or successful you are, there will always be a little voice inside your head ready to tell you (sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream) that you’re less-than, that you’re ill-equipped for life, and that you’ll never be “good enough.”

The bully in your head will tell you (with plenty of supporting data, mind you) things like how hopeless you are, why you shouldn’t start going to the gym, go looking for a better-paying job, or even bother getting out of your sweatpants today. 

The bully in your head is just like the bully that used to pick on you back in grade school–only bigger, older, and more of a dick. And while you may have kicked the memories of that childhood bully out of your head, this one has managed to camp inside of your brain, like a squatter laying claim to your house. He doesn’t pay rent, he doesn’t buy groceries, and he definitely doesn’t clean up after himself. He is a literal nightmare of a roommate. 

Battling the Bully Inside Your Head

This bully will belittle you to the point of zero self-confidence, berate you to the point of self-doubt, and disparage you into believing that you can’t, you shouldn’t, or you don’t deserve anything that might improve your life or circumstances. 

It’s awful—yet somehow fascinating—to realize just how abusively we can speak to ourselves in our own heads. We accept the lies we tell ourselves as truth. The venom with which we say them as deserved. We use words and tones that we wouldn’t dream of using on our friends and loved ones. In fact, if we talked to any of them the way we speak to ourselves, they’d probably stop taking our calls, leave our texts unanswered, and eventually ghost us altogether because they wouldn’t (and really shouldn’t) tolerate that kind of treatment from us.

 

Yet, we tolerate that kind of bullshit from ourselves all the time. And we’re so used to it that it often barely even registers on our radar. For instance, you may have had every intention of taking that online business class you signed up for last night, but instead watched 2 hours of The Bachelorette. Or maybe you had planned to start eating healthy but ended up getting the supersized combo again from the burger joint, instead.

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You returned to your comfortable and familiar dead-end routines because that damn roommate made up some valid-sounding point to talk you out of taking control of your life again. How? By using the exact words or phrases that push your buttons and deliver the most convincing –or crushing–blows. (No fists necessary!) And we’re back in the third grade, making ourselves smaller and smaller once again.

So what exactly do we even get out of bullying ourselves, anyway? The answer may surprise you: bragging rights. Once we’ve reduced ourselves to a pulp, the bully in us feels a kind of thrill of victory. He or she can point to us and say, “See? I WAS RIGHT. You ARE good for nothing.” Oh, how we all love to be “right.” We will do the worst things to ourselves (and others) while chasing that feeling. Like an addict who sells priceless family heirlooms for a few ounces of cocaine.  It’s the worst kind of victory, ever. 

But in a battle with oneself, one side has to win. So how do we make sure the right side does? The way the pros win THEIR battles: by preparation, stockpiling arms, and stirring words of encouragement. 

Does this sound like a lot? It actually isn’t. You can accomplish all of these things with very few steps, and I’ll tell you how.

Take an hour out from binging on Netflix (or whatever comfortable routine you prefer to disappear into) to concentrate on yourself instead. In that time reflect back on those things you’ve wanted to do in the past that you (and other bullies) have talked you out of. Write them down. After each one, write the rebuttal you should have used to refute them. Affirmations about how cool, how talented, and how smart you actually are. Commit them to memory. Say them out loud every night before going to bed or write them on Post-Its and stick them on every surface and every room of your home if you have to. Whatever works.

This way, the next time that little voice tells you that you aren’t smart enough or good enough to accomplish something you are interested in, you’re prepared and armed and ready to clap back that you sure as Hell are smart enough! Shit, you studied at community college. You are by all means good looking enough, too. Hell, you won second prize in that beauty pageant back in high school. And you’ve got way more than it takes to be ready, willing, and able to accept the challenge of trying something new. You’re the bomb.

Speaking of which–use your affirmations as your weapons. Let them be the truth-grenades that you throw back in face of your bully’s lies.

And try this for 30 days. A month is a good length of time to remember because in many ways bullying ourselves is like an addiction. A bad, unhealthy habit that we give our power to, time and time again. And it’s commonly known that you need at least 28 days straight to rid yourself of an addiction and replace it with new, healthier, learned behaviors. So, serve that bully of yours with a 30-day eviction notice, mark your calendar, and get ready.

Because you’ll have to fight back every moment of those 30 days that your bully decides to attack, and you’ll want to win as many skirmishes as you can. Picture yourself meeting every barrage of bullying with an even greater barrage of bolstering-yourself-up. Remember, unlike the third grade, this bully ISN’T bigger than you are.

Cuz payback’s a bitch, and revenge is a dish best served cold.

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