I know: Sometimes you talk to yourself because you need expert advice, eh? And, of course, if you talk to yourself, you always get the answer you want. But what if you hear this: “You’re too fat, too old, a lousy parent, and just not good enough.” Uh, oh.

What does your inner dialogue sound like? You playin’ the Shame Game again? “I’ll never get this work done.” “I’ll never fall in love,” “No one is going to be friendly to me at the party.” Ugh. Those are some pretty critical private conversations you’re having with yourself. You do know that negative predictions have a way of turning into self-fulfilling prophecies, don’t you?

Think you’re the only one with an Inner Bully? It may surprise you to know just how many around you have harsh self-reflections, as well. It’s time to change those pessimistic thoughts into powerful, secure thoughts, sweet friends. When you hear yourself saying: “I never do this job well – ever,” change it to: “Sometimes I do things well at work, and sometimes I don’t.” That may actually be a tad more accurate and a whole lot more believable. Or, just tell that inner tyrant that he sounds a whole lot better with his mouth closed.

Why would you keep reminding yourself how “useless,” “inadequate,” or “no good” you are. Do not eat those lies, no matter how hungry you feel. Speaking of hunger, you know what they say: “The trouble with Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again,” Lol. But I digress…

The enemy within can do a heck of a lot more damage than any enemy without can. I bet you can admire everyone else’s achievements, but at times refuse to even acknowledge your own.

Step one, sweet friends, is listening closely for this inner critic. And yes, just like a shadow, we all have one. Sure, some folks’ voices are louder and more annoying than others. But don’t fret, my pet. We can only change things that we are aware of. Once you hear that self-doubting thought, ask yourself: Does thinking this way serve me well? If not, then say to it: “Thanks anyway, but I’m good.” And continue believing in yourself. If you don’t give credence to those thoughts, they have no power over you.

Having trouble spotting who your inner bully is? Here’s a handy-dandy hint: He won’t offer you any solutions to your problem. All she will do is help you doubt yourself and sabotage you. Sorry, but we cannot avoid judgment, rejection, or even shame in this lifetime. So always playing it safe to avoid getting hurt will not sustain you in the end. Believe it or not, making others feel better boosts your feelings about yourself, so toss some compliments around, please. Remember: A compliment is verbal sunshine. “I would give up everything for a chance to talk to you about nothing.” Awww. Or: “Our time together is like a nap; it just doesn’t last long enough.”

So your inner gremlin is rearing his imaginary head yet again. He’s going on and on about something you may have done wrong? You know he remembers every forgotten birthday, counts each pound gained, and notices every facial pimple. Egads. Remember, his sole job in life is to make you miserable. Poke some holes in his argument. Challenge what it says to you and look for hardcore evidence if it is actually fact or fiction. Tell him you’re multi-tasking: listening to him, ignoring him, and forgetting what he said all at the same time. And if you need an image, picture him sitting on your shoulder and just brush him right on off.

It’s high time to stop delivering those relentless blows to your own self-esteem. Don’t quite know how you torment yourself? Try listening to how many times you say to yourself: “I am…” “I am so disorganized.” “I am so ignorant.” Inner putdowns do not motivate us to improve. They actually crush whatever confidence we may have. Do not let them hijack your self-assurance.

So why do you let yourself get away with trash-talking “you” so much? I’m quite sure you wouldn’t let a friend talk to you that way. How about actually answering that inner bully? Tell him if he can’t cook, he has no business telling you that your food needs salt. When you hear her call you a name, try saying: “So what?” So what if that’s what “she thinks”? Where’s the evidence that there’s any truth to that criticism? If you try not to care about others’ judgments of yourself, why care about your own harsh ones?

You can’t eliminate fearful thoughts entirely. You will most likely always have occasional self-doubt. But you will get oh so much better at neutralizing it. If you find yourself replaying some mistake you made over and over again in your head, change the channel, please. Sometimes you simply need to get out of your own way.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.