A blustering, browbeating person especially : one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable
To treat (someone) in a cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive fashion
Whether I say it or Merriam-Webster says it, bullies suck! We all can agree to that. But what if I suggested that YOU are your own biggest bully?
It’s true…you are.
Think about the last time you got really excited about doing something new. Chances are, you immediately found a bunch of reasons why you couldn’t do it. It may have sounded something like this, “I have no time, I have no money, I have no energy, I can’t do something like that, I’m no good at math, blah, blah, blah.”
Think about the last time you had to get up and speak in a meeting or in front of other people. Chances are, you did nothing but criticize yourself in your head the entire time. It may have sounded something like this, “I am so nervous, I am not prepared, I sound like an idiot, I am rambling, my voice is cracking and I sound like 12 year old little boy, they don’t think I know what I’m talking about, look at them, I’m going to lose this account, why did I wear this outfit today, blah, blah, blah.”
See? You are your biggest bully.
Of all the things you can say to yourself, you typically choose things that are negative. Of all the things you can say to yourself, you typically say things that criticize. Of all the things you say to yourself, you typically say things that are mean.
We all do! No judgement, just awareness.
Negative self-talk is the biggest flippin’ bully there is! What is mind-boggling is that WE create it all! WE are the authors of those horrible words that we use to beat ourselves up.
If you want to increase your confidence and lessen your nerves, you MUST change your self-talk!
Here are three ways to shift your self-talk immediately so you can go from criticizing a-hole to your biggest supporter:
1. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a friend. You would NEVER say things to a friend that you say to yourself. When a friend asks, “Do you think I can do this?” you most likely respond, “Hell, yeah! I think you’d be great at it! They would be crazy not to pick you.” Begin talking to yourself as a friend and you will immediately see how easy it is to be supportive and even motivating in the moment. By doing this, you can see the possibilities first; you can feel good about those possibilities first. When you self-talk in a way that immediately brings self-doubt and questioning in to the mix (“I don’t think I would be good at that…”), you will not only NOT see the possibilities, but you will find every roadblock there is — real or imagined!
2. Always, always, always look at both sides of what you are saying! If your mind was a meteorologist, it would always default to telling you “there is a 20% chance of rain.” If you do not make a point to say, “Yes, but that also means there is an 80% chance of sun,” you are being a bully to yourself. Choosing to only look at one side of your thinking is what creates the negativity that can quickly spiral into nerves, anxiety, and stress. You become a problem-maker. Your autopilot might be to go to the negative first (that is usually the case), but that does not mean that you need to stay there. By “flipping the switch,” you make yourself think in a more balanced way.
Every time you do that, you are able to quickly realize that you were about to bully yourself, but instead you quickly became a problem-solver. Less stress and anxiety happen simply because you did not create it!
3. Answer the question, “What if?” One of the best ways to create stress and anxiety in your life is to ask “what if” and NOT answer it! Why? Because our default self-talk setting is to find everything that could possibly go wrong. It sounds something like this, “What if this doesn’t work? Then what will I do? I won’t get the promotion and I may lose my job. I can’t lose my job! What if I do and can’t find another job? I don’t have much savings. What if I run out of savings?!? Then I have no money! If I have no money, how will I pay my bills?!? If I can’t pay my bills, I could lose my house!
What if I lose my house?!? I’ll be homeless and living on the streets!” MY, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY! Isn’t that what we do, though? Notice, “what if” created a lot of problems that were not even real. But if you had answered the first “what if,” none of the other ones would have happened. “What if this doesn’t work?” The answer could be, “then I go to plan B” or “then we try something else” or “we go ask the client what they would like to change to make it work.” When you stop asking questions without simply answering them, the negative spiral doesn’t have a chance to begin.
The best way to feel calm, confident, and (dare I say) in control is to get out of your head!
However, for the times you find yourself inside your head, make a point to be a proponent, not a bully.
The choice is all yours.
You need to pay attention to what you are saying to yourself and then decide if it is serving you or getting in your way. If you need to, change the script! You are the author of it all. That is empowering.
You don’t have to wait for anyone else to change…you have the power to manage the conversation in your head right now and get different results beginning immediately.
(Yes, you can.)