Updated: Oct 4, 2019
I used to live with the worst bully in the world. She was a really nasty piece of work with a tongue on her as sharp as a knife.
My bully told me I was stupid and that it was only a matter of time before everyone would realize the depth of my incompetence. She’d say I was fat and unattractive and it was amazing that I’d found love. She’d often tell me that there was no way I could ever be successful, that I should be content with my lot in life, and that I did not deserve ‘great’ or ‘extraordinary’ - you get the picture.
Being a highly-skilled corporate litigation lawyer, you’d expect I should have known what to do with a bully like that, right?
‘Assert yourself, Michelle!’
‘Start drawing up those eviction papers ASAP!’
‘Get a protection order against her!’
Those remedies may well have worked with most bullies but this was not to be in this instance. You see, my bully was me. Just me, no one else. And that means my bully was around me 24/7. She had my ear all day and all night and there was nothing I could do to escape her.
Or so I thought.
‘Before you can empower the reality of being fulfilled and complete, you have to stop empowering the reality that you’re not…’ Anonymous
Let the above sink in. I mean, let it really sink in. What this wise, anonymous sage is telling us is that whilst we have empowering beliefs that enable us, encourage us, support us to achieve what we seek to achieve, we similarly have disempowering beliefs that do the exact opposite. In order to destroy and replace those limiting beliefs so that we can instead champion ourselves towards success, we have to stop giving those limiting beliefs life in the first place.
So how do we do that? In my view, there are two steps we can take in the right direction.
Step 1: I see you, bully.
The beginning of my journey toward silencing my inner bully was to actively recognize that she was just that – a bully. She sought to put negative, untrue, destructive thoughts in my head that once repeated to me often enough, soon became disempowering. She used self-limiting beliefs and words that led to destructive action or inaction. Her sole purpose was to be harmful.
Actively recognizing the destructive nature of your bully’s intentions will help you to realize and acknowledge that you shouldn’t be paying attention to anything that is simply meant to cause you harm. Your bully is nothing without an audience.
Step 2: Find and replace, and change that record!
Your beliefs are fueled by many things – your culture, your religion, your experiences and so forth. Your beliefs fuel your thoughts, your thoughts fuel your words which in turn influence your behavior – good or bad. In order to achieve what you want to achieve; you need to believe you can achieve what you want to achieve in the first place.
When my bully whispered to me that I was incompetent, I would actively replace those words in my mind with a list of my most recent achievements. When she said I was not worthy of love, I thought of all the people I know love me (including myself).
Actively replacing destructive thoughts with positive thoughts will create a more positive, happy and content mindset which will in turn lead to healthier words and behavior.
It is important to consciously acknowledge the bullying thoughts and to always take a minute to actively replace them with positive ones. A good way to get into the habit of this is to put a rubber band or a hair band your wrist and snap it each time your bully takes your ear. This will remind you to change that record immediately.
The bonus round: The truth will set you free (really, it’s true)
Once you’ve developed your self-confidence and a more positive reality through practicing steps one and two above, then you should have the resilience you may need to perform the bonus round.
As a lawyer, the best way I know to counter an argument is to fight back with fact. So, I did just that with my bully. When she told me that I wasn’t competent to be a lawyer, I deftly pointed out to her that I held three degrees in law, had practiced for a significant number of years, and worked at some of the best law firms in the country. I couldn’t have been all that bad in practice. When she body-shamed me and deemed me unworthy of love, I shot back that I am healthy, I’m loved by my husband, my family and friends and of course, by myself.
Dispel your bully’s mistruths with fact and with truth, but don’t miss the kernels of truth in your bully’s meanness. These create an opportunity for personal growth.
Countering the bully’s argument with fact does not mean you should be in denial and make up your own ‘facts’- after all, self-awareness is key to reaching your potential. Countering your inner bully’s argument with fact does not need to be an outright exercise in denial of your uncomfortable truths.
For example, I have always been that fuller-figured kind of woman and honestly, I think I’ve had a year at best where I’ve chosen to wear a bikini.
So, in my instance, I accept that my bully is quite correct that I am overweight (acceptance) and I’ve decided to work on that (my opportunity for personal growth), but I don’t accept that my overweightness makes me unworthy of love (perspective).
When you are able to consciously sort the wheat from the chaff, the kernels of truth from the outright cruelty, you will have created an opportunity to determine areas for your own personal growth and will be able to start coming up with your strategy to achieve your goal.
A final word
Overcoming your inner bully can be tough-going, but with conscious perseverance it is possible. Remember, you are not only the sum of who you once were and who you are at present, but also of who you have the potential and drive to become.
With nothing short of Love, Joy and Peace,
Michelle Please get in touch should you require coaching to handle your own inner bully or any other issues limiting you from reaching your maximum potential.