Meryl Streep’s words at the Golden Globes struck a note. They made me think not only about people who bully other people, but also about bullying voices that occupy some people’s minds. Especially in persistent depression. In her speech, Streep said: “This instinct to humiliate…gives permission for other people to do the same. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Streep may have been talking about President Trump’s imitation of a disabled reporter. Yet, whatever your personal politics are, there is a deeper significance in her words. We all lose when a tone of bullying exists anywhere. Because it comes with the presumption that some are better than others. To be seen as less, or not as good, can be devastating to self-confidence and morale.
We must all join the movement of awareness against bullying. The effects on vulnerable young people who are subjected to humiliation have become clearer. When you don’t have the confidence to stand up to a bully, especially those ones in your head, you can easily end up believing the bully’s words.
A Bully Voice In Your Head
I see many people in my office with mocking voices in their minds. These bully voices are vicious and demeaning: “You’re overrated. There’s nothing good about you. No one wants you. You’re a loser. Look at what a failure you are. You’re ugly. Fat. Unlovable.” Don’t believe the propaganda. I know it seems all too real. And, if you have a bully in your head, you likely expect judgment or shame wherever you go.
Combating the bully voice takes a lot of work (and often help in therapy). Yet, you have to know this bully is not your ally. That may sound strange, but these bully voices try to make you think they’re on your side: “I’m keeping you safe. Build up a wall against anyone who might hurt you. Stay in your cocoon. Don’t be so stupid to let anyone in. No one will love you, they’ll only leave you; opening up is not worth the risk.”
Maybe you’ve already been hurt. Well, these words sound “logical.” But, they’re not. The bully voice uses the past as predictive of the future. When everyone has failed you, won’t you be be failed again? So, count on me, the bully says, only I can help. “I’ll fix it,” it tells you. Don’t trust anyone else.” But, really? You can’t trust the bully voice at all.
So then. Don’t take what it says as the gospel truth. Stand up to the bully voice and fight. And, if you can’t, get some help to stop all that self-criticism. Self-love trumps self-hate every time.