Handling a Bully in Five Steps

This past week a lot went on in the media. Sure, it’s right before the elections so of course a lot of mud slinging is going on. But one thing in particular caught my eye; the words that Ann Coulter tweeted about President Barack Obama.

Did you catch that? She said “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

Max at preschool looking in at the class
© Catherine Just

As a mother who has a son named Max who happens to have Down syndrome, this was especially tough to read.

I’m very aware when the r-word gets used to cut down someone else, or to describe themselves when they feel that they’ve been worthy of ridicule.  I used to use the r-word myself and have since replaced it with the word ridiculous as it makes more sense. To use the r-word as an insult is hurtful to those who have intellectual disabilities. When Ann Coulter called Barack Obama a retard, a lot of people lashed back. People tweeted back in anger saying that SHE was the retard. All I saw was the same insult being slung back and forth with no awareness of how hurtful the word is. No one addressed it as eloquently as John Franklin Stephens, who has Down syndrome, is an advocate for Down syndrome and a Global Messenger of the Special Olympics. You can read his incredibly moving response here.

What is remarkable about his response is the eloquence with which he spoke, and the stance of being a friend that she has not met yet. He didn’t attack back. He made clear what it means to have an intellectual disability, and how his life is affected because he has had to deal with a culture who doesn’t really believe that he, and others like him are worthy of the same things in life that others can have easily. He doesn’t agree with what she said, but dealt with it by showing up fully with love instead of with hate. He clearly respects himself and does not allow her words to pull him down.

So what does all of this have to do with being an entrepreneur? I think it has everything to do with everything. Honestly, when I read what was going on I was thinking to myself, this stuff is happening all the time between people in business. But even more so, I see it happening within the constructs of our own thoughts toward ourselves.

How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you are stupid, you’ll never make it, or that the success that you see in others will never be yours? How about the thoughts around not being good enough or fears that no one will ever sign up for your eCourse, coaching program or your big offer. How many times have you heard the thought in your own mind “ I’m such an_______________” (Fill in the blank.) I’m certain you’ve heard many a bully in your own mind.

Of course there are those people in business that throw verbal darts at us, just as she did.

I wonder what it would be like if we all changed the usual reactions we have and started to reply in a similar way to how John Franklin Stephens did. By taking the road of love, respect and friendship.

I think we could all be happier more productive entrepreneurs if we infuse what I’m calling the J.F.S. effect into our daily business practice. Every time I compare my business success to someone else’s and beat myself up about it, I am harming myself, not giving myself credit for what success I have achieved, and belittling myself based on looking outward in judgment rather than inward with truth and love. We have to start with ourselves and then radiate this love, respect and friendship outward. So what would it look like and feel like if our inner bully attacks us and we come back with only love and friendship?

road by moyan brenn

Here are 5 steps on how to handle the bully:

  1. Listen to what your thoughts are saying, and take a breath. This moment, or gap, between the thought and your reaction to that thought will help you to increase awareness of what is happening and you will have more choices about how to respond. That, my friends, is called a miracle. When you can stop, and shift your perception, you have become the one in charge rather than your thoughts.
  2. Take a look at what the inner bully is saying. Ask yourself “ is this REALLY true? “ And “ Am I taking this thought personally “ Just because it sounds true, doesn’t mean it IS true. Just because it FEELS true, doesn’t mean it IS true. I know for me, that my own negative thoughts are like old toxic friends that have a certain feel to them that can be familiar. I often embody what the thought is and believe it to the core. I waste time feeling bad about myself all because I have believed a lie. I took it personally. I forgot that it is really just a thought. I don’t have to take it personally. And if I do, I don’t have to judge myself for it, just notice and make a new choice.
  3. Create a new habit in its place. When the old thought comes up “ I’m not smart “, “I’m never going to make it happen “, “ Something is wrong with me” “ Look at her, she is amazingly successful, I’ll never get there “  I can say, “ Thank you, but I don’t believe you “ and replace it with a new thought “ I’m incredibly smart “, “ I’m already making it happen” “ I’m perfect with my imperfections “, “ I’m on my own path and there is nothing to compare! “ etc.
  4. Start a daily gratitude practice. Write down 5 things you are grateful for about YOURSELF. What you were able to accomplish today, what you like about yourself, what you enjoyed doing today. Whatever you focus on grows. When you focus on the inner bully, that voice becomes even stronger. When you focus on gratitude and love, guess what happens!
  5. Make friends with that inner bully. Instead of letting it rule your mind and how you think and feel about yourself and your business, shift your perception. You don’t need to be a victim of the thoughts. Ask it what it needs? “I hear you are hurting, what is it that you need? “ wait for an answer. It will come to you. Sometimes it’s just a break from reading other people’s blogs, websites and success stories. Sometimes it’s a walk in nature with your camera to take your mind off of the inner race to get to some finish line that feels incredibly out of reach. It might be that you need to go distract yourself with a movie, a good book, or a quick road trip.

This is a practice, it’s not something that happens once and you are finished. The inner bully wants attention and needs it to thrive. When you start to give attention to loving that place inside that is afraid and feels less than, it might get louder for a while until it settles down and realizes you mean business. The same is true with the bully’s around us. When we don’t retaliate or engage, they don’t have anywhere to go but to go away.

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