5 Ways To Quiet Your Inner Bully And Develop Self-Love

Sometimes, our worst criticism comes from ourselves: “You look fat in that shirt.” “You’re going to fail this project.” “You’re not good enough.” And yet, if we spoke like that to others like that, it would be considered bullying.

Patterns of negative self-talk occur when judgements and criticisms are embed in your brain over and over again, often beginning at a young age. Your inner bully thus becomes well-versed in shaming and blaming and you start believing those words as truth.

When you consistently put yourself down like that, you limit your own potential, growth and happiness. It can trap you in unsatisfying jobs and dead-end relationships because you believe you’re not good enough to receive better. Obsessive and harmful self-talk can also lead to a spiral of depression, anxiety and burnout.

It’s time to silence the inner bully, stop putting yourself down and show yourself love, kindness and compassion, just as you would for others. Here are 5 ways how:

  1. Identify the inner bully. One of the first and most important steps is separating your inner critic from the truth. This can be tricky to do as we are conditioned to automatically believe what it says without questioning it. Use mindfulness to observe when the negative self-talk is happening and neutrally acknowledge its presence. You can even give the inner bully a name or an appearance to help you create space between you and the judgements.
  2. Thank it for what it has to say. Sometimes, our inner critic has positive intentions. It wants to keep us safe from perceived harm, disappointment or rejection. Like a paranoid but well-meaning grandma, it resists unfamiliar or unpredictable situations like the plague, but is only doing so to keep you “safe” and protect you from potential failure. The best thing to do in this case is to say to your inner bully, “Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate that you’re trying to keep me safe. I can take it from here.”
  3. Replace it with a positive affirmation. Changing your language—particularly when your inner bully has been alive and kicking for a long time—is not easy, but it can be done. Replace the self-criticism of “I can’t do anything right” to “I’m growing and learning everyday” or the negative thought of “I’m a failure” to “I’m not good at this… yet!” Be mindful of the language you use with yourself with and dismantle them one by one with positive or neutral affirmations instead; what you think about yourself, you will become.
  4. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Our inner bully tends to be the loudest when we do or say something that is considered “imperfect.” But the truth is, no one alive on this planet is, and that is the beauty of being human—you are making mistakes and learning and growing everyday. So, embrace your imperfections. Give yourself permission to try and to fail. Tell your inner critic “I’m only human.” Mistakes are allowed and expected.
  5. Seek support when you need it. If you are having trouble breaking the cycle of negative self-talk, remember that you are not alone and that it deserves attention and support. Speaking to a trusted friend can help, and even asking those close to you what they love about you can help boost your self-confidence. A licensed therapist can also make a huge difference in the way you speak to yourself. BetterHelp.com provides affordable, confidential and easily accessible counselling services with professionals who can readily support you to a healthier, happier you.

While your inner bully may not entirely go away, the good news is that it can be regulated and controlled using the steps above. Remember that you do not have to believe what it says and that often it is only trying to protect you in its own irrational way. You have the power to take back control of your own life and focus on loving, positive thoughts about yourself instead.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.