When You’re Your Own Bully

By: Lindsey Peters, IATG Contributor March 14, 2016


I AM THAT GIRL is all about girls supporting girls, and you’re reading this website because you love that idea and want to cheer on female friends and strangers alike. Once we get into the groove of supporting other girls, rather than being competitive or jealous, it becomes easier. But what’s not always as easy is supporting yourself.


When we’re unsupportive of ourselves, we engage in negative self-talk, which is basically talking to yourself like a bully would. I think we often live in fear of being called out – being criticized  for not being cool, wearing a not so trendy outfit, liking weird music, or sitting on the bench more than we’re on the court.


Most of the time (if not all of the time) no one ever calls us out on this stuff – probably because no one is really thinking it – but the damage has already been done, because we’ve said it to ourselves. We’ve been our own bully.


But what’s so sucky about negative self-talk is that it doesn’t only affect us. You would think it would, right? My judgmental thoughts about myself – “You’re sooo awkward,” or “Your makeup looks horrible today” – should just be between me, myself, and I.


But they aren’t. When we bully ourselves, it leaks into conversations with our friends. It’s happened more that I want to admit. I’ve been told by a friend, “That dress looks so great!” and instead of responding with, “Thanks so much!” I’ll say, “Ugh, but my stomach’s sticking out.” This is an example of me being a bully to myself, but it also has a big affect on my friend, who then is likely to respond with something like, “What? No way! It’s my arms that are the problem.”


Voicing the critical thoughts we have about ourselves only encourages our friends to do the same. Remember that Mean Girls scene, where Regina, Gretchen, and Karen all look in a mirror together, judging their own looks? “My hairline is so weird,” “My pores are huge,” “My nail beds suck.” It’s a funny scene, but there’s truth to it! We pick the weirdest things to criticize, things that are so not a big deal, and we join together in bullying ourselves. Regina, Gretchen, and Karen all turn away from the mirror and look at Cady, waiting for her to share something that she doesn’t like about herself. For them, like many of us, self-bullying has become an expectation.


Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. As an I AM THAT GIRL fan, you’re probably pretty darn good at supporting other girls. So try this: next time you think something critical about yourself, respond how you would if you heard your best friend say that same mean thing about herself. You’d tell her how that thought is so not true, how she shouldn’t worry about that, and that you love her so much. You’re a good friend. Be that good friend to yourself, too.


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Are you guilty of bullying yourself? It’s time to be kind to YOU! Grab a sticky note, write something you LOVE about yourself, and post it on your mirror! Remind yourself every day just how FABULOUS you are.


About Lindsey

Lindsey Peters is a Chicago-born girl living in sunny Los Angeles. She has a Masters degree in Social Work and is passionate about mental health advocacy, personal growth, self-care, and getting as much sleep as is humanly possible. Check out her blog dedicated to mental and emotional health at morningwellness.com.


Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.

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