One day, almost 20 years ago, I was standing on a corner waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street.
I was spaced out, not thinking about much of anything, when I suddenly heard a faint voice inside my head.
It wasn’t so much a voice as a feeling. But it had a definite message.
Out of nowhere, it said to me, “You suck.”
Short, but not sweet.
This was how I learned I had low self-esteem; I heard a bully talking to me, from right inside my own head!
After the bully showed herself like that, I knew something had to change.
Over time, I grew less self-critical to the point where my inner bully was replaced by an inner bystander, then an inner friend, and now I even have a part-time inner gladiator who defends against bullies, inside or out.
(But only part-time. It’s hard to get good help.)
Mostly it was being in therapy that helped me make headway.
As a therapist myself these days, I meet many people who are very much aware that they have a bully living inside their heads.
That’s the first step to overcoming self-criticism; you have to notice it to deal with it.
Some people enter therapy just to figure out how they can shut that inner bully up.
It’s easier said than done.
In this article that I wrote for GoodTherapy.org, I focus on the hidden downsides of ditching the inner bully. If you don’t address the reasons for the bully’s presence, you can’t fully commit to getting rid of it.
Here’s the post:
What do you think? Do you have a bully inside your head? If so, what’s worked for you in overcoming self-criticism?