Most of us have witnessed or experienced the affects of bullying or being bullied in children; it can be devastating. But the bully experience is not limited to children; adults are bullied too. It happens in the workplace as well as in personal relationships.
An adult bully will attempt to gain power over another person to make himself the dominant adult. The bully may come to you in form of the customer who refuses to play by the rules, always pushing the limits by demanding more and paying late. Or he may be the guy in bumper to bumper traffic who beeps at you incessantly even though you can’t possibly get out of his way. Hopefully, you don’t experience this behavior in others and surely you do not treat others in this way – but how do you treat yourself? Is it possible that the bully in your life is – you?
Self-bullying is one of the most negative, destructive behaviors to engage in, yet it’s not all that uncommon in the uncertain entrepreneur. Do you demand perfection from yourself? Do you shoulder the burden of responsibility when things don’t work out quite as you’d planned? Do you sometimes call yourself names and entertain the voice within that constantly tells you that you “should have done this and could have done that”? Perhaps you negate your achievements and criticize yourself for not doing more, noticing the slightest imperfection in nearly everything you do. If any of these behaviors ring true, it’s time to have a chat with your inner-bully.
But first let’s take a look at one of the reasons that this bully within you exists. Consider this: if you criticize your efforts, tell yourself that you “can’t” do something, and put yourself down on a regular basis, how likely are you to try new things or take further risks? For the self-bullying personality progress can be slow, if at all. But your subconscious mind doesn’t see that as a bad thing because it’s there to protect you from your worse fears. If your worse fear is failure, then your well-meaning subconscious mind will send messages to your brain to talk you out of taking risks; it will bully you into submission. It means well, but at a conscious level it seems counter-productive, doesn’t it?
But your subconscious mind is only doing its job. It is protecting you from being let down and experiencing the failure that you fear so much. And to some degree that feels just fine because as long as you don’t take the risks associated with success, you still have hope – and hope is something we all want to hold on to.
With that in mind, you have a new goal: to teach your subconscious mind and your brain that the inner-bully is no longer needed and that hope is yours to keep, no matter what. Here are some tips to curb that bullying voice within.
When the inner-bully gives you negative feedback or creates worrisome thoughts ask if it is real. For instance, if the inner-voice is telling you that you will only fail if you do x,y, and z, ask yourself if that’s true? How do you know it’s true? Can you state without a doubt that you will fail? Probably not. But if you are convinced that you will fail, move forward with this next question.
What will happen if it happens? Then what?
Usually when we ask this question, we can come up with logical and reasonable solutions for the next step. It helps us to see that this “bad thing,” like failing, isn’t the end of the world. We can move on to the next empowering step.
Lastly, identify and initiate one small step to challenge the inner-bully and achieve something that you can feel proud of. What is that next step? How will it feel to take a step toward your goal? Even if this step feels small and relatively insignificant, that’s okay. Each little step will give you more and more momentum and will get you to your vision much faster than doing nothing at all!