There is a *HUGE* movement, now, against bullying — cyberbullying, bullying in our schools, bullying in the workplace, fat shaming, skinny shaming, gender shaming, whatever shaming. Most everything I’ve seen is about stopping the bullying in schools. Even our government has a website dedicated to STOP BULLYING. And their definition is limited:
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
The problem I see here is that they are focusing solely on the school aged children. Why should we limit it to school age children? Granted, stopping this as quick as possible would be ideal and we could have our children grow up with less trauma to their lives. However, it is my opinion that this goes back even further than that. It starts at home. No, scratch that. It starts within ourselves.
What I’m talking about is changing our internal dialogue. Changing our negative self-talk.
Last year I started this blog to openly admit the feelings I had as a caregiver, as a wife, as a person. Admit them. Own them. I needed to understand that these feelings are normal, that I am human. And it’s ok. After a while I realized that all the feelings I’ve kept bottled up inside me were negative.
I needed to get these feelings out because they were drowning me. I have been so negative towards myself my whole life that I thought I was such a horrid person.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- I’m a horrible friend.
- I’m a horrible wife.
- No matter what I do, it’s never going to work.
- I’m stupid.
- I’m not good enough.
- It’s always my fault.
- I always ruin everything.
- Why bother?
- I suck.
- If only I could…
- I’m ugly.
- I’m ashamed. I must be bad.
- How could anyone like me, let alone love me.
- Why does this always happen to me?
- What’s wrong with these people?
- That’s not fair!
- Anyone can do that.
- I’m *only* <insert whatever you are and then follow it with a comparison to someone else>
- If I were to lose my <job, spouse, keys, whatever>, my life would be over!
- I’ll never get a good job because I sucked in school.
- I’m such a loser because of my crummy childhood.
The list can go on an on, depending on the circumstances, but the negative self-talk gets us down. No one tells us that negative self-talk is actually BULLYING! We are bullying ourselves.
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)
: to act like a bully toward (someone)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force
: to treat abusively
: to affect by means of force or coercion
: to use browbeating language or behavior
Do you not think that when we say those negative things about ourselves that we are acting like a bully? Treating ourselves abusively? Using browbeating language?
THIS is where the anti-bullying campaign should start! Within ourselves. Because no one talks about negative self-talk as actual bullying, no one sees it as such. If we could stop bullying ourselves, maybe we would have less of the other types of bullying out there in the world. So, my anti-bullying campaign is to spread the love and open people’s eyes to the fact that they need to stop bullying themselves!
Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. Say things to yourself, give advice, as though you were giving it to your best friend.
As many of my friends know, three years ago I started on a positive path. FIND THE POSITIVES, IN EVERY SITUATION, NO MATTER HOW SMALL has become my mantra. Make a conscious effort to recognize the negative words and then replace them with more positive words.
Even the smallest negative word can cause a harmful effect on our psyche. For example: Instead of saying, “I’m selfish.” and you really are NOT being selfish, you can turn it around to say, “It’s OK to take care of me.” Because, in my situation and many other caregivers’ situations, if we am not healthy enough physically or mentally, how can we take care of our veterans? Right? So there’s how you turn the negative words around to be more positive.
Most negative self-talk can be categorized as such:
- All or Nothing Thinking
- Discounting the positives
- Focusing on the negatives
- Unfavorable comparisons
(You can read more about these here: http://eddinscounseling.com/negative-self-talk-anxietydepression/ and http://addictions.about.com/od/overcomingaddiction/tp/cognitive_distortions.htm)
To help us recognize our own bullying and change our perspective, we could write down our thoughts in a journal. Start by writing the first thing that comes into your head. Then try to counter it with what you would say to your best friend.
Here’s an example that might be in your journal, I know it’s in mine:
Negative Self-Talk: “If I only kept my mouth shut, he wouldn’t be so angry.”
Cognitive Distortion: Assuming
Questioning: Were my words really something that would make him angry? Was he already in a bad mood? How much pain is he in? Am I being totally objective?
Counter-statement: He’s in pain. The pain is causing him to be grumpy. Even if I had not said anything, he would have been grumpy at something else. I just need to step back, breathe, and say “I’m not the cause of his pain. He doesn’t mean to snap. It’s not my fault.”
Remember: Negativity kills. It kills the mind. It kills the heart. And it kills the soul.
Once I started the habit of spreading the positives, I just couldn’t stop. I knew I needed to find the positives in my situation as well. But for some reason, things were not working quite well. I started this blog and my “Writing to Heal” journey. It really has helped me, a lot. But I wasn’t quite there yet. Something was missing.
And that’s when I realized it was my self-respect. If we cannot respect ourselves, how can we respect anyone else?
All my life, my friends would tell me I’m smart, or I’m beautiful, or I’m a great person. I never believed it and just brushed it off to them being “nice.” I could never understand how my husband could think I’m so beautiful and how could he love me? If he’s so angry with me all the time why does he stay with me? I never once thought to look at myself through anyone else’s eyes but my own. And that’s what was holding me back. I started on a path to change my own perspective.
I want to share my love, my smiles, and my positives with everyone. In the process, this helps me change the way I see myself, change my negative self-talk. I am doing the best I can to find positive words, rather than focusing on “everything’s my fault” when TheHubs is in so much pain he looks and acts angry. I can not fix him, but I sure as heck can be here to support him and give him hope. If I can keep seeing the positives in everything, maybe that will help him get through each day. If I can share a smile with some one, a stranger or a friend, my heart will be happy.
We need more love in the world and this is my way of doing it. I WILL see myself in a more positive light. You can too. Will you join me?
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