According to a recent study and my own observations, the long-term emotional effects of bullying during childhood can last for years. Many people who walk into my office still carry the scars from childhood bullying and sometimes my work with them includes understanding and changing how they cope. The old saying "sticks and stones" really was a silly one because I think most of us would take a physical injury over a broken heart any day. So here are some tips to heal those old wounds and rid yourself of those bullying messages that you may have gotten as a child or even as an adult:
1. Ask yourself what message you adopted about yourself from the bully's comments. Do you now still consider yourself to be ugly, dorky, fat, unlovable, stupid, bad at math, etc.? When I was in grade school we played a math game in which we broke into two teams and did relay style math problems on the board. Every time I went to the board I froze and was unable to complete the math problem and often lost the game for my team. I was teased unmercifully and for years I believed that I was bad at math. That message almost kept me from pursuing my graduate degree and doing the work that I now love.
What messages are you still carrying with you?
2. Find a way to change that message by changing your belief system. Is it really true that you are bad at math or too ugly to be loved? I can answer that without even knowing you and the answer is no. Create a new paradigm for yourself, get help if you need it but change your thinking because that will lead to new feelings and behaviors.
Think of the possibilities for your life when you let those old messages go and start to adopt new, healthier ones. Remember who gave you those first messages; insecure, unhappy bullies. Why would you actually believe them and when is it time to stop bullying yourself? You can't change the hurt from your past but you can decide not to hold onto it any longer. Keep reading ...
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