5 Ways to Beat Your Bully Brain and Stop Bullying Yourself
Sarah Mae (SMae) |
When all the contestants of Season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK were sitting around talking about how ALL their insecurities stem from being bullied in school. I was sitting there thinking RIGHT!?!?! Ages 10-16 were the hardest for me. Kids can just be SO MEAN!
I have been working really hard to shed the baggage that I’ve carried all these years from those bullies. So when I recently attended a workshop on Compassion Fatigue with the amazing Dr. Gabor Maté, expert in Childhood Development and Trauma, and he talked about how brain scans of children reveal that their brains are most similar to an adult’s brain that is under hypnosis, my adult mind was blown! 🤯
Hypnosis is most associated with the theta brain wave state, which is prevalent in children between 7 and 10 years old. Meaning that at this age, you were in an extremely suggestive state of being ALL the time.
When you were a child you literally NEEDED people to like you and pay attention to you in order to SURVIVE.
This NEED was so strong that, under your suggestive hypnotic state, it became ingrained in who you are. Which means that every time a person or a situation made you feel like you were not accepted, worthy, or loved, you TRUSTED their judgement over your own.
In older children and adults, theta does not appear all the time, but it is associated with meditative and drowsy states. Based on my experience as a high school teacher, teenagers spend most of their time feeling sleepy! So not only are teenage brains still not fully developed, but they are also in a highly suggestive state a lot of the time! Therefore, even in high school, every time someone bullied you, you ingrained that nonsense into your own beliefs about who you are.
Cue your Bully Brain:
They do not like me, I am not worthy, I am not enough, I am not …
As an adult, you know on an intellectual level that this is all non-sense. Of course you are enough! However, your Bully Brain is still echoing all your past bullies. Worse, it has tricked you into thinking that these are YOUR beliefs. They are not. You are freaking MAGNIFICENT. The sheer impossibility of your existence alone is enough for you to know that this is true.
How do you send your Bully Brain packing?
I got you covered with my five best strategies:
1) COLD SHOWERS
Stay with me here… Finishing every shower with 10 deep belly breaths under freezing cold water really shows your Bully Brain who is BOSS. I do this every morning. When your Bully Brain tells you not to and you are crazy, DO IT ANYWAY.
It takes a strong mind to endure the cold for extended periods of time. By incorporating cold showers into your daily routine you’re strengthening your willpower and lessening the control that your Bully Brain has over you.
With this strategy I WIN every morning, and you can too!
Watching your mind wander, noticing, and labelling what comes up will help you get to know your mind better. The best way to practice (because it is a skill, just like dribbling a basketball) is through mindfulness meditation. Set a timer for 1-10min to start and choose a point of focus such as the awareness of your breath. When your mind wanders, which it will, just notice what is happening and give it a label such as “Thinking”, “Feeling”, or “Judging”, then come back to your chosen point of focus.
Each time you do this, you’re disengaging from your Bully Brain that is running automatic past scripts, and creating space for new, intentional true thoughts. You’re literally re-wiring your brain, yay neuroscience!
3) TRUST YOUR BODY
You have been led to believe your whole life that your intelligence lies in your brain (thanks Descartes). However, new science (and some common sense) is revealing that most of our intelligence actually lies in our bodies. From now on, when your Bully Brain is talking rubbish to you, drop into your heart and ask what it KNOWS to be true.
It’s time to start trusting your gut and your heart because they really do hold SO MUCH wisdom. The easiest way to access this wisdom is by getting out of your head and into your body through movement. Dance, sing, play the drums, practice asanas, and run are just some ideas. Whatever drops you down out of your Bully Brain and into your beautiful body.
4) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LIFT YOU UP
If your Bully Brain has led you to find yourself surrounded by people who sap your energy and bring you down, it is time to find new people who will raise you up. YOU DESERVE to be loved, appreciated, and safe. Let NO ONE tell you otherwise.
Sure this can sound daunting with the current state of the world and if your Bully Brain is already telling you that you can’t do this, tell it to shove it. You could reconnect with old friends, join online communities, or turn some acquaintances into friendships. YOU ARE LIKEABLE.
Write them everywhere you can. The traditional post-it notes and writing on your mirror with erasable markers (or lipstick!) are great, with one caveat… When you read “I AM ENOUGH” and then go on to stare at yourself in the mirror listening to your Bully Brain tell you all the reasons why you are not, stop and tell it to take a hike.
I have “I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH” written on my mirror. For years I would walk past this note, read it, then my Bully Brain would tell me all the things about my body that I would like to change. One day I decided that every time I pass a mirror, I will say to myself “I LOVE MY BODY”. A month later and I had rewritten that script. My point here is, it works.
When you stop for a second to think about how incredibly, mind-blowingly, inconceivable it is that you are here. The universe had to exist, Earth had to have a slight tilt, there had to be the perfect balance of chemicals and minerals, trees had to evolve, humans had to evolve, your ancestors had to not get sick or eaten, all the right people had to meet a the right time, your parents had to get together, and all the crazy struggles and successes that have brought you to this exact moment reading this.
YOU ARE INCREDIBLE.
It is time to stop listening to bullies.