I think I’m a bully.


Which is really painful for me to admit. But it’s the truth.

This has been one of the hardest few months for me in recent memory. It doesn’t really matter why — and truthfully it’s a little bit from every aspect of life possible — but I’ve been in a lot of pain emotionally.

So I took it out on the person nearest to hand.

I’ve been cruel, unkind, unforgiving, intolerant and unfair. I’ve made accusations, generalizations, said mean things and made vast generalizations that are inaccurate at best, and horribly judgmental at worst.

I’ve thrown around names like stupid, fat, ridiculous, worthless.

I’ve pointed fingers and always seemed to find flaw in every choice, every decision, every word and every action. I see fault and failure almost exclusively where there is more likely a balance of humanity that’s not so unusual.

In most cases, it would be perfectly reasonable for this person that I’ve mistreated so badly to never speak to me again, or worse.

But that’s not so easy when she’s staring me in the mirror. 

I’m not much for airy-fairy talk about self-love and being your authentic self and all that stuff that you can find in a good few self-help books. But I have to do better than this. And soon.

One of the signatures of people with deep self-esteem issues is this kind of cruel, unforgiving self talk. We say things to ourselves that we would never tolerate someone saying to the people we love and care about.

But we consider ourselves unworthy of our own kindness. As though being gentle with ourselves is the same as making excuses for our behavior or mistakes, or being weak, or not being accountable (or at least it’s like that for me). And as much as I would like to think I don’t allow other people to treat me as poorly as I treat myself, the truth is that I have a pattern and a history of doing exactly that.

All that combined means a stirring depth of anger, resentment, hurt, and fear that never really goes away, and that cascades through life and work and relationships and leaves a wake of damage behind.

It’s a bit early for resolutions, I suppose, but for this one I would venture that sooner is better than later. And I don’t want to hide this anymore, pretending it isn’t an issue.

I have to commit to treating myself better. To learn that self-confidence and self-esteem are not the same as arrogance. I need to find room in my own heart to be compassionate with my own soul and feelings.

And to give myself the same grace that I would hope to give someone I love.

  • Laura Fitton

    this is big brave and deeply true. hang in there until you can see all the shining light pouring out of amber that the rest of us see.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Thanks, Laura. I appreciate that very much. I’m learning. X

  • Carolyn Stephens

    Amber is a very special person who is very dear to me. You’d better quit being mean to her or you’ll have to answer to a lot of folks who think like I do. Turn away from the mirror and look at your reflection in the eyes of your friends. We can’t all be wrong.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Ha, And I wouldn’t want to be on your bad side! :) In all sincerity, thanks, Carolyn. You’ve always been so kind and supportive and warm, and know that I’ve always noticed and appreciated it so much.

  • christammiller

    Amber, I too have had a rough month with a similar outcome. Keeping you in my thoughts as we both move toward love and acceptance for ourselves.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      So sorry to hear about your month, Christa. But we’ll get there. I know it.

  • http://www.rockandrollmama.com rockandrollmama

    Thank you for making me think about this. I’ve been stuck in a rut for about six months, and you just helped me realize that beating oneself up is not the same as getting unstuck. It is, in fact, counter to that. I don’t exactly know how the opposite plays out in my everyday life, but mos def will start contemplating it. cheers.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      So sorry to hear about the rut. That SUCKS, and I sympathize so, so much. But you got it. Now knowing that intellectually and accepting and operating from that basis emotionally…that’s entirely another matter, and very difficult. But I hope things get better for you soon, and that you find strength and peace right alongside me. I’d love the company.

      • http://www.rockandrollmama.com rockandrollmama

        Thank you! That actually makes me feel better than I can explain. Often, on the innerwebs, it seems that everyone is so bright and shiny and ^%^^ kicking, and I’m happy to see so many people doing awesome things.Truly, I am. But when I don’t quite know what to do with me, it’s a bit daunting to share at all. So the stuckness feels like an echo chamber. It’s really nice to hear another voice talk about taking action. What you said about not hiding it is so precisely the crux of the matter. I guess it comes down to my fave word, chiaroscuro- the contrast between light and shadow. We can’t all be sunlight and roses all of the time, or conquer the world 24/7. Thank you so much for sharing this, and yourkind reply- holla anytime, I’d love the company, too. LM

  • Ian

    Great post, Amber. I’m right with you. I so struggle with this too. And don’t you find it hard to receive positive feedback? It kinda just bounces off.

    I recently came across some self-compassion work by Dr Kristen Neff that you might find useful. I’ve appreciated her work (research-based) on self-kindness, common humanity & mindfulness.

    I love that quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” -

    “There is a crack in everything.
    That’s how the light gets in.”

    Amber, you bring so much light to so many. I hope and pray that in the months ahead you will have the revelation of how special you are and it’s okay to have some cracks.

    Grace and peace.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Aw, Ian. That made me tear up. Thank you. And funnily enough, I just picked up Dr. Neff’s book this past week. Looking forward to reading it.

      And yes, I do find it incredibly hard not really to receive the positive feedback, but to accept it and believe it. It’s like when someone says something nice or complimentary, I think they must be pitying me.

      Then I learned from my therapist how unfair and disrespectful it is to the people *giving* that positive feedback, because it makes lousy assumptions about their intent and their ability to sniff out good from bad. So I’m really working on that. But I’ll admit it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do.

      • Ian

        Amber, I listened to Dr Neff’s TedTalk. I hope in a future post you might review her book to see if it’s been beneficial for you. That way I can assess whether to buy it or not.


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