This weekend, I watched my 4-year-old nephew call my seven-year-old nephew a bully because he wouldn’t share his bouncy ball with him. He called him a bully as though it were the world’s worst insult – a bad word. The seven year old looked at him as though he had just called him an SOB. It was definitely an insult to be sure.
I don’t think I had such an awareness of bullying at their age. I was kind of pleased to see that to them, bullying was an insult. By the looks on both of their faces, it was obvious that being called a Bully was something you NEVER want to be called. I can get with that, you know?
These days, you can’t open a magazine or get on social media without hearing about bullying. It’s definitely become a buzzword in today’s culture. In my opinion, I think its great that people are being made more aware of how children are treating one another. Anyone who has ever been picked on in the schoolyard knows that to be bullied by a peer is its own special kind of pain. Less of that can only be a good thing.
Anyway, so obviously, I’m a fan of the new zero tolerance approach most schools are taking on bullying. Zero tolerance – as in – it’s just not in any way acceptable. Period. It’s not complicated. I don’t think it should be.
And yet, while it is so clear-cut, and so obvious when it comes to childhood bullying, I find that when it comes to self bullying, people are often a lot less cut and dry. What is self-bullying? It is what you are doing every time you are judging yourself, your body, and your life. It is what is happening when the inner critic has the internal microphone.
Self-bullying is just as bad as schoolyard bullying, and yet so many of us seem to just “turn a blind eye”. In other words, we do it day in and day our without ever standing up for ourselves and protecting ourselves from our own inner criticism. That inner critic is the worst kind of bully.
So – here is my challenge to you. What would it take to impose a zero tolerance policy on self-bullying?
I invite you to think deeply about this one.
o Are you snarky and critical of yourself?
o Do you ooze with sarcasm and never allow yourself to accept genuine compliments?
o Do you compare yourself with others?
o Do you force yourself into competition with others to prove your worth?
o Do you judge yourself and your body harshly?
o Do you say mean or hurtful things to yourself?
If you are answering yes to some of these questions, then you are identifying your own personal “bully”. She lives in your mind, following you around everywhere you go, criticizing, judging and essentially making fun of you.
This is a hard one to come to terms with. Nobody wants to see herself in a negative light, but for the sake of healing what is at the root of this, I encourage you to keep an open mind.
Why do we do this? Why do we bully ourselves?
Life most childhood bullies, I believe when we are cruel, we are really afraid. When we judge ourselves, we are ourselves insecure. We are taught that we aren’t good enough, and so we are reaching outside of ourselves to make sure that we aren’t alone in our perceived inadequacy.
Bullies are striving to feel powerful, and they do so by knocking someone else down so they can temporarily feel bigger, better, or somehow superior to the person in question. The sad irony in this scenario is that our power is diminished every time we judge and compare.
If we allow our inner critic, the inner bully, to run the show, then we are continuing in a pattern of abuse and harm. Would we allow this to go on without intervention is we saw it on the playground? No way!
We can choose to act from a higher self, a more authentic self, and no longer allow the Inner Critic, the bully, to call the shots. We can choose to heal that part of ourselves, and lean into the journey of self-love and respect. We can be free of the tyranny of comparison and competition, but it must start with the relationship you have with yourself, and it comes down to awareness.
Awareness of our inner dialogue and self-talk gives us insight into WHO is running the show. If you become aware of your inner bully, you can choose to reframe and redirect your self-talk. You can create the wise, authentic woman who chooses to be kind, loving and compassionate to her self. In awareness, we are given the amazing gift or recognizing that we have a choice. We can impose a Zero Tolerance approach, and instead, we can:
o Choose to no longer criticize yourself.
o Choose to no longer compete.
o Choose to no longer compare.
o Choose to embrace and rejoice in the your unique qualities
o Choose to be kind, compassionate, and accepting of yourself as you continue your work in progress, otherwise known as life.
Is it really that simple? Just choose? Just apply a zero tolerance approach?
I believe it is. Why don’t you try it, just for one week, and see how it goes. I promise, your effort will be worth it.