Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bullying... Yourself

I've posted quite a bit here about people who bully others, or who are bullied by others.

I don't think I've posted as much (if anything) about people who bully themselves.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I witnessed my 17-year-old daughter berating herself because she doesn't have a body like that of a dancer she saw on TV. My daughter complained about her potbelly and muffin top, then went on to rant at herself for being a "couch potato" and not working out like her friend--who's a professional model--does.

Now, my daughter does have a couple points. If she didn't wear ultra-low jeans that are a size or two too small, she probably wouldn't have the muffin top... and she could actually get up off the couch if she wanted to.

But she wasn't seeing those things as minor, easily-solved issues. She was seeing them as *personal* failings. As something that was so wrong with her, she wasn't even worth trying to fix it.

Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers are that hard on themselves. I know I was. I was bullied and emotionally and verbally abused, and I not only internalized it, I learned to lash out against myself before anyone else could. Over twenty years out of my teens, I still struggle not to put myself down and treat myself like crap because "I don't deserve any better."

My daughter and I talked after I heard her saying that. I pointed out that the dancer she was so down on herself for not being, probably practices more hours per day than my daughter goes to school. The dancer works her body hard, and that's why she looks the way she does. And I encouraged my daughter to go for walks or ask me to take her to the gym (that she begged for a membership at, then only used it once) if she's concerned about her body or her physical health. But I also reminded her that she is beautiful and that she is not her body. Hopefully it got through.

The next time you start to bully yourself, stop and think about what you're saying. Would you say that to someone else? If not, is it acceptable to say it to yourself?

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