How To Deal With Bullying When The Bully Is Your Own Inner Voice

Being bullied is never fun, especially when it’s someone who stalks you 24/7: yourself.

self-critical woman getty

Being bullied is never fun, especially when it’s someone who stalks you 24/7. Sounds serious? Most people don’t think so when the bully is actually an inner voice.

We can be so self-critical.

Anti-bullying is everywhere — schools, media, social programs, etc. But why don’t we see it just as clearly when we do it to ourselves?

If this were a kid from the playground or a stalker, we’d take it seriously. So why do we permit our inner critic to beat us down and abuse us so?


RELATED: 4 Types Of Self-Criticism That Damage Your Confidence And Sabotage Your Happiness

This phenomenon seems to be similar to a gap that existed at one time in family violence. Beating up a stranger on the street would land you in jail. But, doing the same to a member of your own household would be dismissed as a family issue.

In the same way, one person physically and emotionally bullying another gets a major response, while someone bullying themselves barely gets a glance.

If realizing that being self-critical can lead us to bully ourselves, would we continue to do it?

The voice from within...

We think of it as the inner voice or inner critic. For many, this voice sounds like their own, while for some, they actually hear the voice of a parent, caregiver, or abuser.


The bullying is a throwback to a time when we were defenseless and the words were drilled into our heads over and over and over again.

Whose words do you hear? A severely critical or abusive parent or caregiver? Someone who played an authoritative role in your life, like a teacher, principal, or protector? Perhaps, a person who you looked up to or idolized?

Self-critical bullying is more than just words.

Words can go a long way, but there's usually more involved in these scenarios for both a child and adult experiencing this type of abuse.

Manipulation, the threat of severe punishment, and the withholding of love are generally part of the trauma.


Also, the abused are made to feel like this is who they are and this type of treatment is the norm on this level.

The key is that the child — or adult — was traumatized to the point of adopting this voice as their own.

RELATED: How To Overcome Being Self-Critical With 6 Powerful 'Reframes'

Self-bullying can also originate from within the self.

And this can occur even in the most loving and caring families.

One source is misunderstandings. At times, when an older sibling is gifted or appreciated for a particular talent or quality, a younger sibling may mistakenly feel that they need to attain it in order to be fully loved.

They will then bully themselves into working relentlessly, even though it isn't a natural part of their personality.


Perfectionism is another type of bullying oneself. It comes from a fear of not being good enough, which will lead to not being loved.

This is why even the smallest critique can cause a complete meltdown in a child with this tendency.

So how can you break the cycle of self-bullying and self-criticism?

First, you need to realize that this is a form of bullying. And just as you wouldn’t put up with watching someone else get bullied, you shouldn’t stand by when you bully yourself either.

Second, you need to realize that this isn’t your voice, it’s the voice of others who drilled it into you, or it's a fear of not being accepted and loved.

But who are you, really?

Pretend you saw an eight-year-old pushing around and verbally abusing a five-year-old on a playground. What would you do? What would you say?


Pretend you saw a good friend berating herself severely over some little mishap. And you know that she'll continue until she becomes withdrawn and depressed. What would you tell her when you saw her starting down that path once again?

Remember a time when you were young and being severely berated and emotionally abused by a parent, teacher, sibling, boss, or some bully?

What would you do to break it up and stop the abuse? What would you tell the young you and how would you comfort them?


This is who you actually are. Not the bully, but the one with all of the kind words. How about applying them to yourself?

"Love your neighbor as yourself" means that you need to have self-love before you can truly come to love your neighbor. How about starting on this today?

Do you really want to continue the cycle of abuse and bullying? Or would you rather put an end to it, here and now?

RELATED: 5 Ways To Quiet The Mean Little Voice Inside Your Head

Malka Ahern is a Quantum Health & Healing practitioner. You can find ways to assist in shifting your life on her website.