Even when survivors distance themselves from a toxic person, we often still hear their voice in our heads, drowning out our own inner-voice and reaffirming the doubt that was planted a long time ago. In effect, we have a bully in our head.
Seeds of Self-Doubt
Victims are trained carefully. Every day an Emotional Bully will plant another seed of self-doubt, or reaffirm another “failure”. “I am actually amazed at how I perceived myself before I broke away from the influence of my abuser. I was convinced I was lazy and had no self-discipline. I was absolutely sure that I was unable to look after my home, and felt unworthy of love and appreciation” says H.
Victims are often torn because they have been made to believe these horrible things about themselves Once the influence of the bully wanes, or more positive reaffirming voices appear in their life, the victim may start to realize they are not a failure at all. Still, to undo years of programming is hard work and takes time. Sometimes the victim will still speak the party line they learned to believe.
Learning a New Way of Thinking
“Sometimes I don’t even realize I am putting myself down. The bully in my head has been there so long, I can quite easily mistake her voice for my own. Luckily my partner is very good at spotting her. Once I am aware I am hearing her, it becomes easier to turn my thoughts around” explains H.
Turning your thoughts around often means translating an irrational thought into a rational thought. Doing that consciously first, will help you reprogram and hear the difference between the bully and your own inner-voice. Here are some examples of how you can make that translation:
Your Inner-Voice Needs an Amplifier
After thorough lessons in doubting your instincts and inner-guidance, it can be very tricky to evict the bully from your head. Simply stating: ‘stop listening to those voices’ is unlikely to do the trick. When you are not even aware of the patterns you follow, you need your inner-voice to have an amplifier.
The best amplifier in the world is the combined inner-voices of many survivors. By reflecting on situations and sparring with others how to deal with an issue, a survivor can receive gentle feedback on the patterns that they may be following and slowly but surely can start digging out their true inner-voice. They can learn new ways of dealing with situations and relationships. They will have a support network that will not judge them, but rather will celebrate their healing journey with them.