STEVON LEWIS
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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Relationships Deciphered

The purpose of this blog is to bring some clarity to the enigmatic nature of relationships through the in-depth examination of common relational impasses with the goal of increasing insight into our behavior and thought processes*.

In addition, this blog will discuss relevant topics in the field of psychotherapy in an attempt to educate and reduce stigma around mental health and psychotherapy in general.

*This blog is NOT focused solely on romantic relationships.

Inner Bully: Stop beating yourself up!

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The inner bully is that inner voice we all have that makes us question our abilities and self-worth. Listening to it often leads us to feel more negatively about ourselves, our futures and our present circumstances. Allowing our inner bullies to go unchecked can cause negative feelings to develop into full blown depression, prevent us from having quality relationships with others, or prevent us from living a life that we enjoy. Our inner bullies utilize a variety of techniques that allow it to beat us up. Just like a real bully its number one goal is to make us feel less than and to be in emotional or psychological pain. The reason our inner bullies are so successful is because the negativity comes from within. We rationalize it by telling ourselves that because we feel bad inside it must be true. The thing is that if it were a real person feeding us the same information the inner bully does we'd tell that person to get the f*** out of our face. Most times we're unaware our inner bully exists, and operate off of the negative feelings we have inside causing us to accept everything it tells us as true without question.

For example, in a relationship an inner bully might prey on our thoughts of feeling as though we don't deserve our significant other. Often times this will cause us to act in ways that prevent intimacy and connection. Instead we become increasingly angry, clingy, jealous, defensive, or easily offended. Our inner bullies lie to us to get us to take a negative interpretation of benign information. If our partners are less talkative on a particular day, our inner bullies get us to believe they are mad at us for something we did. We will blindly believe our inner bully instead of checking in to see if our significant other may not feel good or if there is some other rational explanation for their silence. It's important for us to stand up to, or "challenge", our inner bullies.

One good way to challenge our inner bully is to force it to provide evidence that supports what it's telling us. In the above example, the inner bully should be able to provide some concrete evidence that supports that our significant other is indeed angry at us for something we did. That is, we should be able to identify a specific incident that caused our significant other to be mad and have some confirmation from our significant other that this incident is in fact the cause of their silence. If we don't have those two elements then we can't accept what the inner bully says as fact and therefore have to dismiss it. 

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