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Your Inner Bully Needs a Hug

Posted Mar 10 2009 3:14pm

This is Karl of  Work Happy Now  guest posting for Alex while he is snowboarding in Whistler. We are going to have a blast so stay tuned for some really cool ideas.

Many of you probably already know I’m a big advocate of personal development in the work place. The more we can reflect on our lives and do more of what we know makes us happy, the easier it is to create the habits that support our goals.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how hard people are on themselves. It’s this inner bully that can wreck much of our happiness if we don’t learn to tame the beast. This article will give insight into loving your inner bully.

You expect to make more money, be a better parent or get better grades. Very few of us can actually exceed our own expectations because as soon as we meet them we want a little more. This is common, but can be very detrimental to our growth.


I understand that you have high expectations of yourself, but you can’t be good at everything. It’s best to pick a couple of skills, master them, then move on to improving new talents. This advice is easy for me to say, but actually hard for me to live.

My Inner Bully Can Be A Tyrant

I’ve put in many 8 hour days on a Saturday and Sunday to improve Work Happy Now, and at times I still feel disappointed in my accomplishments. I still get angry at myself, although not as often, because of my lack of productivity. I’m tough on myself because I expect great things.

A few months ago, I realized that my inner bully was too harsh. I had put in another 16 hour weekend of work and I couldn’t fall asleep because I was thinking about what I didn’t get accomplished.

I tried to just ignore him, but that didn’t work. It only made him angrier. I tried reasoning with him, nope, didn’t work. I tried many methods that all failed. The technique I should have tried which (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and every other major religion encourages) is compassion.

I needed to give my inner bully a big ol’ hug and thank him for all his caring, but also let him know that he needed to tone down his harsh ways. I wasn’t sure how to actually do this. I’m a progressive guy, but I feel weird about wrapping my arms around myself and giving a big hug while saying, “I understand your pain and I know why you push me so hard, but you need to take it easy. I can’t conquer the online world in a few months. These things take time.”

I decided to create a little visualization that has helped me bring more compassion and happiness to my life. I call it the “ Bullies Need Hugs Too.”

Before you try this visualization, you must find a comfortable chair, sit in it and close your eyes.

Bullies Need Hugs Too - Visualization

Now imagine that you are sitting in a tranquil room all by yourself. You are feeling relaxed…Now in comes your inner bully. That mean bloke who is never satisfied. The only difference between the two of you is s/he has on a red shirt that says, “I’m sorry” in bright white letters with a sad face underneath. How can you stay mad?

First, you must thank him/her for all their hard work. You’ve cultivated this inner bully to get stuff done. Believe me, if you didn’t have this inner bully you probably wouldn’t have kept going into work. S/he does good work, but sometimes s/he gets out of control.

Second, admit that you are at fault. You allowed this inner bully to get more and more power because you thought it was helping you.

Third, explain that you are trying to cultivate a more encouraging attitude. You understand that s/he meant well, but you are able to do good work without your inner bully being a big tyrant. Let him/her know that you don’t want him/her to disappear.

When you’ve only been able to sleep 4 hours and you have an important meeting, you want your inner bully to kick his/her big bulliness into high gear. In cases such as when you work your butt off and things don’t all go according to plan - you need the inner bully to sit in the corner and cheer you on. Try to imagine your inner bully just smiling and giving you amazing compliments that make you smile too.

Fourth, Stand up (in your imagination) and give your inner bully a hug. Tell him/her that you both have a lot of work to do to realize your dreams, so s/he better be ready for even more encouragement and tough love, depending on the situation.

When we meet our inner bully half way, we can create a relationship that won’t wreck our confidence or our love of productive work. If your inner bully is strong, I would suggest using your break at work (10 minutes) sitting by yourself and practicing this visualization for 7 days in a row. After 7 days you’ll see a big improvement in your attitude. You’ll enjoy taking on new challenges and you’ll find it easier to appreciate your accomplishments.

I’ve been able to enjoy my hard work without worrying about what didn’t go quite right. It has taken many years, but I’ve finally formed a friendship with my inner bully. We are now partners in blogging crime. :)

Do you have a technique to calm your inner bully that you would like to share with us in the comments? I’ll see you there.

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy at his own blog:  Work Happy Now!  If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles,  Your Company Should Do Annual Career Counseling.

Image courtesy of Eddie~S

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