"You've been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens."
Looking back on all of your years going through school, you can probably remember a bully (or maybe several).
You know the type…they seemed to go out of their way to make others miserable. They seemed to take some sort of perverse satisfaction in ruining someone’s day or bringing them down. They always had a rude, insulting, hurtful comment or a bunch of choice nasty words.
The bully in school likely had deep hurts of their own that caused them to act out that way, and that’s worth acknowledging.
But that still doesn’t excuse that they acted like a total a—hole.
Well what about the “bully” in your head–the loud, obnoxious voice in your mind that harangues you about how much you suck, how you’re going to fail, how nothing you do is ever good enough and no one likes you; how you should’ve done this or shouldn’t have done that, how much more you could and should be doing, and on and on…
So if we can all agree what a jerk that bully in school was, why do any of us put up with the ruthless, relentless bully in our heads? Why are we often so much harder on ourselves than we would ever dream of being to anyone else?
The self-critical inner voice that so many of us struggle with might be one of the most prevalent challenges I see in my work as a therapist. Almost every client I work with has some form of this mental bully to contend with.
I remember the voice of my own inner bully all too well. I used to suffer his cruel taunts.
I also realized that the put-downs were simply not true.
This helped me see that I was actually the one in control. I could choose whether or not to listen. I could choose whether or not to believe. I could also start fighting back with self-talk that encouraged, strengthened and built me up, rather than tearing me down.
There are many roots to this negative mental pattern of self-abuse, and the roots run deep. But the costs are even more profound in many ways.
The low self-worth that results from all the negative self-talk not only contributes to depression, anxiety, and general unhappiness, it’s a big source of all the stressing and striving that comes from thinking (and feeling like) you’re “not good enough.”
Over this 3-part series, you’ll learn numerous ways to build the authentic, genuine self-worth that comes from knowing deeply the truth that you are good enough and have inherent beauty and value in who you are as a human being.
One important thing to understand about all this is that most of our thoughts are repetitive and habitual.
Learning to eventually break free from the bully is similar to breaking a bad habit–it can take some practice, some time, and some effort.
And like any habit, it’s always up to you. You get to choose how you treat yourself. No one can do it for you.
At the end of this blog are some effective ways to start building a new habit of talking back to the bully. As with breaking any bad, entrenched habit, it can be hard at first. But man, is it worth it.
Learning to build yourself up rather than
Some form of self-criticism plagues almost everyone but most people never do anything about it.
You, on the other hand, are going to be way ahead of the pack.
The confidence and peace of mind you’ll gain from building the habit of loving and respecting yourself will make an enormous difference in your quality of life–guaranteed.
So make it a priority.
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