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  • Writer's pictureSimone Ellin

When You Bully Yourself



I've been traveling -- first to Sicily with my father and sister -- and then to San Francisco with my partner, so it's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Since returning home, it's been hard to get back to my usual routine. Today, I woke up late, didn't feel like working or exercising and even took a nap. And... I started bullying myself. I'm lazy, ungrateful, fat, old, untalented... You get the picture. Self-bullying takes the joy out of life. Why can't I give myself a break?

When I turned to the internet to look for advice, I discovered that writer, filmmaker, Vanity Fair contributing editor (and the former White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton) Monica Lewinsky -- who knows something about being bullied -- recently created a campaign called "Stand up to Yourself." According to the website, Women's Agenda, the campaign included a two-minute video in which "pairs of people [read] cruel and hurtful comments off a card."

The comments include messages such as, “You’re a loser”, “No one likes you very much", “You’re needy”, “What’s your excuse for being fat?” and “You have failed your daughter.” 

At first, viewers are led to believe that the comments are ones that the reader has made to someone else. Then we learn that the comments are actually ones that the reader has directed toward herself. The film concludes with this message: “Self-bullying is still bullying. This anti-bullying month — stand up to yourself."

I watched the video, and I was surprised at how effective it was. It was painful watching the pairs of people beating themselves up with their cruel messages and deep self-loathing.

So how do we stop the malicious voices in our heads?

Lewinsky's website "Standuptoyourself.com" provides some tips. They're not new; I've tried them all before. But as I read them I realized that I haven't practiced them in quite some time. I thought, maybe it's time I dragged my cynical ass back to the drawing board to try again. In case you'd like to do the same thing, here's what Monica suggests: (I've rephrased her suggestions below).

  1. Be aware of the negative thought when it comes and interrupt it using some sort of visual (a stop sign for instance).

  2. Acknowledge and label your pain or discomfort without judging it.

  3. Practice soothing self-talk. For example, consider what you might say to a friend who expressed a negative thought about herself. Treat yourself like that friend.

  4. Be logical. Is what you're telling yourself really true? Even if you screwed up, remind yourself that everyone fails sometimes. If you can't get past a screwup, reach out to a friend for a reality check.

  5. Practice gratitude to remind yourself about what's good in your life and put matters into perspective.

  6. Talk to your younger self in a comforting way.

  7. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional help if you need it.

I'm going to try these. If you try them too, let me know how it goes. And remember: "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!"

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