We’ve all witnessed or experienced the affects of bullying in children, but adults are not immune to bullying characteristics. An adult bully will attempt to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. The customer who refuses to play by the rules, always pushing the checkout clerk to the limits, or the guy in bumper to bumper traffic who beeps incessantly are good examples of an adult bully. Hopefully, you don’t experience this behavior in others too often and surely you do not treat others in this way – but how do you treat yourself? And, as a result, how do you treat your business?
Self-bullying is one of the most negative, destructive behaviors that we can engage in, yet it’s not all that uncommon in the uncertain entrepreneur. Do you demand perfection from yourself? Do you shoulder the burden of responsibility when things don’t work out quite as you’d planned? Do you sometimes call yourself names and entertain the voice within that constantly tells you that you “should have done this and could have done that”? Perhaps you negate your achievements and criticize yourself for not doing more, noticing the slightest imperfection in nearly everything you do. If any of these behaviors ring true, it’s time to have a chat with your inner-bully.
The inner-bully has probably been a part of you for a long, long time and if you are ready to achieve your ultimate success – you must tame the bully within! Her destructive behavior may prevent you from taking risk, presenting yourself with confidence, believing that you are capable of achieving and living your dream and more.
Think about the occasions when you verbally beat yourself up over something that “should have” turned out differently. Now think about an opportunity or project that you rejected or talked yourself out of, even though it could have helped your business. Surely, the two are related. Does that inner-bully come to the surface to bully you into believing that you are not capable? Does that nagging voice convince you that it will never change and that you are just too “this” and too “that” to succeed in something that really challenges you? If the bully within is determined enough, you have probably held yourself back quite a number of times.
Whether Mr. or Ms. Bully keeps you from the big wins or from taking on a challenge or change in your life and business, acknowledging this negative self-talk is your first step to freedom. Remember that there are varying levels of this behavior and it is wise to consider outside help in form of a therapist or life coach if it is rooted deeply in childhood experiences that still have a hold over you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to begin to curb that bullying voice within. When your inner-bully speaks out, evaluate the emotion that is connected to it and try to put those feelings in perspective. If you are afraid of failing, for instance, ask yourself if you can you really fail? What if you do fail; will it be truly catastrophic? What is the worst possible outcome? Will you feel better if you don’t move forward and play it safe, or if you try your hand at this and allow a bit of imperfection in your life?
You might also explore if are you afraid of letting someone else down? What do you think that person would say about that?
After asking yourself these questions and spending some time facing the facts you may be ready to identify and initiate one small step that will challenge the bully and take you toward achieving something that you can feel proud of.
If you continue to return to this routine, each time the bully within you speaks up, you will change the thought patterns associated with risk-taking and trying new things. Go ahead, step out and believe in YOU! Your business will thank you!
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka