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You need to stop bullying yourself right now.
Have you ever heard the phrase “you’re your own worst enemy”? Then you are in good company. Life is hard, and in the day to day struggle to keep everybody around you happy, it is so easy to forget the most special person in your life: you. Worse still, we actually begin to engage in behaviours which we would never accept from anybody else. You need to be your own ally before you can cheerlead for anybody else, so it is time to cut yourself some slack. Here are some classic bullying behaviours that you might be doing to yourself, and how you can eventually stop being your own bully and become president of your own fanclub instead.
Physical harm doesn’t necessarily have to have been an intentional act. We hurt other people all of the time accidentally – a stray elbow when you’re crossing paths prompts an immediate apology and (if you’re polite!) an apologetic smile. But when we do things that we realise are harmful to ourselves, we never seem to take the time to say sorry. I have never apologised to myself for getting so stressed out that I give myself headaches and stomach pains. I never say “I’m so sorry – know that you are appreciated” to my aching muscles at the end of a tough day, let alone forgive myself for the pain. I’m not saying you need to declare your feelings for your body parts out loud, but just take a moment to acknowledge your own sacrifices and the toll they are taking on you.
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I don’t mean to be presumptuous but I am willing to assert that 100% of readers are guilty of this one. “I’m being stupid” and “I look terrible today” are two things that I know I have said before, and there are definitely heaps more on a regular basis. Let’s play a game: there is a lady who sits one desk over from you at work. You see each other every day. One day, you lose an entire afternoon of work because you didn’t click save. “Oh you absolute moron”, she berates you. “Try learning to do things properly”… That sting you would feel might stick with you all day, and could even be the beginning of an argument. That is 100% bullying. And yet when we say these things to ourselves we barely bat an eyelid, allowing those words to cut us to the core. Do not accept verbal abuse – not from a co-worker, a family member, a friend, a stranger, and absolutely not from yourself. If you catch yourself engaging in this harmful behaviour, take a moment to tell yourself off and then offer up your defense. “Hey, brain, quit bullying me! I’m not a moron. I’m actually a really intelligent person, but I am a human too and it’s easy for anybody to make a mistake”
Surrounding yourself with negativity
Bullies are notorious for putting their victims in uncomfortable situations, and it is something we do to ourselves over and over again for absolutely no good reason. If you are feeling anxiety about a situation and there is definitely no benefit to you going (such as the potential that you will actually have a nice time) then allow yourself not to do it. If you have that one friend whose social media feed makes you roll your eyes so far back you’re choking on eyeballs then allow yourself to mute them. If your family Christmas is full of not-so-subtle digs and dry turkey (nobody needs dry turkey), allow yourself not to go. Nobody has any right to make you feel pressured and obligated, and that most certainly includes you.
This is such a sneaky way to bully somebody, but it has happened to me again and again throughout my life. That feeling when you’ve worked on something for so long and then the rug is pulled from under you. When you are passed up for an opportunity because of things that somebody else has said behind your back. If somebody is doing anything hoping the end result is to your detriment, they are bullying you. The only thing worse is when you’ve set yourself up for that fall. Learning not to self-sabotage can be a real struggle for a lot of people, and it is something that can require work on a daily basis. It’s about catching yourself in those moments where you’re acting like a diva. It’s about doing extra work in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed and lose your grip later on. Ultimately, it’s about being your own team mate and using today to set up an awesome tomorrow.
In a way, non-verbal bullying can be worse than verbal. To be alienated and paranoid can be so damaging, and with a verbal attack at least you can respond; how do you prove that a non-verbal action was intended with malice? And yet we seem to punish ourselves in this very same way. We hide when we are suffering. Hold our tongues in moments of anxiety, because we are convinced that nobody would care to listen. Put up our barriers when we’re feeling vulnerable. It seems so alien to actually pick up your phone to call or text somebody and just say “Hey, I need some help” and yet when we receive no help we tell ourselves it’s because we aren’t worth the time. Here’s the thing: our friends aren’t psychic. If you hide yourself away you are only reinforcing your own paranoia. We all need to get much more accustomed with asking for help, because nobody can (or should) handle the pressure of an entire life on their own.
It seems so obvious, right? Of course we feel down when inside ourselves we are being abusive, and being abused. You can’t live a positive life with a negative mindset, and its time we all stand up to our biggest bullies and demand peace. Will you join me in raising a middle finger?!