My name’s Brain Bully and you most probably don’t know me and that’s a problem for you. Why? Because I am a major player in how you might feel about yourself, others and the world in general. The extreme negative emotions you may experience are always accompanied by an action or actions, which contrive against you. Yes I’m Brain Bully and I really can ‘do your head in!’
You might ask yourself at times ‘why did I do that? Or ‘why do I feel so angry when things don’t go my way?’ These questions largely go unanswered because you don’t know about me and you won’t know unless you find out. Some find out by reading and talking to others about how they might feel about things and an attentive ear may pick up on little snippets of tell-tale signs that I am somewhere lurking deep within you. This insight can be the beginning of a self-help journey that may in time purge your mind of me, an alien menace that resides in your deep and dark subconscious self. But it isn’t exactly accurate to suggest that I am something separate from you. Rather than to describe me as a parasitic alien thing, it would be more apt to say that I am you! Wasn’t it Rene Descartes who said: ‘I think therefore I am!’
I am you in this sense because I am the thinking that undermines your ability to achieve your goals and meet your wants and desires; to acquire happiness and success. So I am you and you are me and we work together to make your life a misery unless you do something about it of course.
I am you
You are me
We work together
To make your life
You have constructed me over time. You have observed your world and listened to others around you to work out how this game of life is played; what are the rules, how do you get what you want, how do you relate to others and what you think about yourself. Voila!
We do not see things as they are
We see things as we are.
You think you are dumb and hopeless; you believe this to be true about you and you say to yourself often, ‘what’s the point in trying I can’t do this. I’ll never be any good.’ This is your self-talk, how you talk to yourself and this is played on a loop in your head ad nauseum. This inner chat reinforces your belief that you are what you say you are. How you feel and act is attached to this self-talk. But where is this self-talk coming from? I am the self-talk generator buzzing away within you and until you find me you are stymied! I will get stronger and stronger if you don’t locate me and end my tenancy in your head.
I am linked to the feelings you experience and the actions you take which are symptoms of something that’s not quite right for you. I am dangerous because you are not happy with your lot and you think this is the way it will always be! And that’s the way it will be if you allow me to continue on my merry way. Henry Ford once said: ‘If think you can or you think you can’t you’re right!’
What thinking rules have you constructed, your habits of thinking that lay deep down within you? If you can find out what they are you are then in a position to do something about it. Remember you have constructed these rules and you can deconstruct them and relearn new, healthy habits of thinking. You made me and you can unmake me but you don’t know that yet.
‘It’s all my fault’ you declare ‘that my life is a misery and I feel so down and aimless.’ You are right up to a point but don’t flog yourself for this because to this point you did so in ignorance. You are now becoming more aware of the idea that the beliefs you have constructed are linked to the emotions you experience and the actions you take. I am the unhelpful beliefs which underlie your feelings of unworthiness but where do they come from? It’s all to do with your story, the distance you have travelled to now. You made me remember?
As a young person you were told what to do. If you did what you were supposed to you were a ‘good girl.’ If you did badly, or made a mistake, you were chastised so you believed you were a ‘bad’ or ‘naughty girl.’ You were exposed to this kind of interaction from an early age and because you were a smart kid you deduced that if you did OK you were good and if you made a mistake you were bad. This led you on a path to seek and to need the approval of others. You would try so hard yet often you couldn’t please significant others enough which you always construed as meaning ‘you are a bad girl!’ I was born when you decided you were only worthwhile if other people gave you permission to be. Mission accomplished!
I was doing OK until some smart teacher you had in year 4 told you how you created me, and what you could do about it. This was my undoing, the beginning of my end but I didn’t go away easily. I put up a fight but to your credit you worked hard to get rid of me.
Your teacher said to you ‘your thinking is a bit crooked. You believe that you are worthwhile only if other people think you are. You have learned to believe this and it makes you sad a lot and it stops you from trying because you are too concerned about how others might judge you. This kind of thinking is called Brain Bully thinking and it is unhelpful and we are going to get rid of it before it does any more damage!’
It took a while of solid work but you were determined and though I tried hard not to, I began to lose my grip on you. Something had infected my robust irrational self and you no longer tolerated me. I was like a flickering light bulb nearing the end of its life. I was no longer you and you were no longer me and in time you let go of your misery. You had worked me out, found where I lived and gave me my notice to vacate.
I am no longer you
You are no longer me
You have let go
Of your misery!
It wasn’t long before the vacancy sign had gone and you had a new tenant. You began to feel better and others noticed how you would set yourselves achievable goals and work hard to realise them. You were more adventurous in trying new things and it wasn’t such a catastrophe when things didn’t go your way. You were less reliant on how others viewed you because your approval of you was more important than others approval of you. You began to feel more comfortable around others as people began to seek out your friendship. Bugs Bunny would approve!
I am who I am
Your approval isn’t needed
What had happened? How did this transformation come about? Well that’s another story. Stay tuned!
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