Do you like my artwork?
Well, do you?
My husband loves it. I mean, it’s purposeful, it gets my point across, by it probably won’t be featuring in any London art galleries anytime soon!
Something that I’ve become increasingly aware of is how many people that I speak to suffer with an inner bully, a critical self, something or someone that tells them they aren’t good enough or aren’t worthy. That pains me, that, really, really fucking pains me, because each and every one of you is enough. You are, we all are, and you can read my piece on being enough here, for good measure.
When I first started out on my ventures with mental health, I had a really big, bad critical voice. A critical voice that would say things like:-
- You’re fat
- You’re ugly
- You’re weird
- Nobody will ever like you
- Nobody will ever love you
Now, the really hard and difficult part is that I know that a lot of these messages were sort of interpretations of things my mother used to say to me while I was growing up, but she meant well, she cared and she tried, and I’m not going to condemn her for that. Her intention was good, it was just her mode of delivery that was a little bit rough around the edges.
When we have these thoughts, it can be oh so simple to fall into a trap of believing them. We can start looking for things that aren’t really there. For example, when I believed that I was weird, I started to look at all the things that made me weird, and instead of focusing on being me, I focused on stopping me being me. I drove myself insane, trying to capture my little idiosyncrasies and make me more not me, purely for the sake of fitting in.
Well, not anymore.
I want to introduce you to the exercise that somehow made Aragog become part of my life. Yeah, I know, the big, hairy tarantula from Harry Potter. He was the first thing I thought of when doing this exercise, okay? Hear me out.
I want you to read the following 5 sentences two or three times:
- You are fat and ugly
- You are stupid
- Nobody likes you
- Nobody loves you
- You’re a freak
Done that? Now I want you to close your eyes and imagine someone or something saying these things to you. it doesn’t matter if they are:
- Male, female (or anything in between)
- Old or young
- Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Martian (or any other race, for that matter)
- Real or imaginary (though, I’d like to think that aliens are friendly!)
Done that? Great! You’re halfway there.
Now I want you to give them a name. Done that? Fantastic!
This is your inner bully. This is the person (or thing) that bullies you. This is what your inner bully looks like and what it is called, and now that you know this, you can start imagining having an argument with them when they say some of these hurtful things and you can begin to start fighting back.
Maybe you want to go one step further. Maybe you don’t feel strong or capable enough win the fight and you need an extra superpower or an outfit to help you. Maybe you need to stand in the power pose for 5 minutes and imagine your cape flowing behind you (see above) – that’s fine! For these few moments, we’ll allow it.
Going back to my Aragog example, I imagine Aragog, with his black, beady eyes, his big fangs and his huge, hairy body. I imagine him in his cave, haunting me, taunting me and harassing me, but I don’t have to listen to him, and you don’t need to listen to your bully, either.
So when Aragog starts telling me things, things like “you’re weird” or “you’re worthless”, I can argue back to him and, with a sharp, silent “shut up, Aragog”, I can usually start to feel a little more in control.
It takes time, it takes practice and it takes determination. Don’t be afraid to silently say whatever you want to say to your inner bully, after all, it’s your inner bully, and only you have that incredibly toxic relationship with them.
Even if this exercise feels silly, because in some ways it is. that could just be your inner critic resisting change. Push past it anyway. Name your inner bully, fight your inner bully and remind yourself why you are doing this all important exercise
Good luck out there, and great, big hugs to you, my brave soldier 🙂
Now, go get ’em!
Bonus Tip: Are you a bit more artistically gifted than me? Why not draw your bully and write around them some of the things that they might say, then stick it somewhere that it will remind you each day and help you cope? If it works, it works!
Stay well, friends!