The Inner Bully

The Inner Bully By Diane Lang
I have never been a bully growing up. I have been bullied and know how bad it can feel. How much stress and fear it can produce. Yet I find myself being a bully. The difference is the only person I bully is myself. It’s a constant battle. I bully myself with such lines as:
How can you eat that, you’re so fat.
What is wrong with you?
You keep making the same mistakes over and over again. You know better, you do this for a living.
Everyone has a different inner critic and insecurities so it might sound different for you.

This constant bullying can go on for hours or days. The bullying doesn’t help me to change or to problem solve, it just keeps me stuck in the negativity loop. I have been doing this since I was a child.
I did it when I wasn’t doing well in school, I thought it must be because I wasn’t smart enough.
When friendships ended I assumed it was because I wasn’t good enough.
I constantly criticized, judged and bullied myself.
How long does this recording have to play in my head before I change. That was the ultimate form of bullying. When did your inner critic start? What were the constant negative thoughts you kept hearing?

Ways to stop the self bullying:
When we bully ourselves, we end up saying irrational things about ourselves. Things that we would never say to a friend. Things that are not based on complete truth.
When we berate ourselves, we get stuck in the vicious cycle of beating ourselves up then feeling guilty for doing it and the cycle continues.
You can choose to change the download that’s on repeat in your head. It’s a conscious choice.
If you’re not sure how many times you beat yourself up; try the “snap to awareness technique “Wear a rubber band on your wrist. Every time you say something negative about yourself, whether it’s in your head or out loud, snap the rubber band .You will become aware of how many times your inner voice betrays you. The awareness can be a wake up call to change the dialogue you have with yourself.

After you become aware, you need to challenge that voice.
Is what your inner voice saying based on truth? Fact? Is it based on a little bit of truth that you turned into a full explosion of insults and judgments?
If you know the inner voice is just repeating the harsh words or judgments from others such as parents, past relationships, teachers, etc. Challenge it. Is what they were saying to you really about them? Were they unhappy people who projected onto you? Is the negative self talk based on past situations that are no longer true?
Talk back to the negative inner voice by reframing
Example: I can’t do_______!   Change to – I haven’t done it yet. I’m always making mistakes!  Change to – how can I learn from this situation? What is the lesson? Use it as a teachable/learnable moment.

Stop trying to be perfect- there is no such thing as perfect and if you continue to aim for perfection, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim to be better than you were yesterday.

Acknowledge your self worth- write a list of all your accomplishments, add in all your skills/abilities/talents. Spend some time writing this list. Put it somewhere you can easily see it and look at it daily to remind yourself of how far you have come and all the great things you have done.

If your negative inner voice is coming from past wounds and pain, do the healing work.
Don’t ignore the feelings instead listen to them with compassion and empathy.

About Finding your happiness

Diane Lang, practicing therapist, national speaker, educator, and certified positive psychology coach, has her master’s degree in counseling and is an adjunct in psychology at Montclair State University. She has written three books, and has been featured in various publications, and on TV and Internet shows. Diane speaks on various mental and emotional health topics including Happiness, Resiliency, Stress management, Parenting Positive Aging, Anxiety, and Depression in both teens and adults. Diane also specializes in Positive Psychology Positive Education and Positive Parenting. Thousands of individuals have benefited from Diane’s motivational and educational speaking, trainings, and coaching. Her Hands-on approach along with her background, education and experience has proven to be beneficial to all who attend her presentation. To learn more on how you could bring Diane to your organization please email
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