Hate speech laws in the United Kingdom are found in several statutes. Expressions of hatred toward someone on account of that person’s colour, race, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation is forbidden. Any communication which is threatening, abusive or insulting, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both. [emphasis mine]
I work with people who give themselves a hard time. They often have harsh internal voices that tell them
- “You are useless!”
- “How could you be so stupid!”
- “You should have …”
- “You messed up again!”
- “No one is going to want you!”
- “It’s all your fault”
- “Nobody likes you!”
If someone were to say these kinds of things to you in this way in the street they would probably be considered threatening, abusive and insulting. You might even be able to call the police and have them arrested. But these thoughts are all going on inside your head, who are you going arrest?
Worse than that, if you have been hearing this stuff for most of your life then you might believe what you are being told. As far as you are concerned your inner critic is only telling the truth and you probably deserve that kind of treatment anyway.
Even if the inner critic feels like it has always been there it hasn’t.
You weren’t born bullying yourself.
You have to learn how to do that from your family, friends and school, the important people in your young and vulnerable life who, directly or indirectly, tell you who you are and how you should feel.
If you were lucky you may have grown up in an environment that promoted your well-being and you learned a healthy opinion of yourself.
If you were not so fortunate you may have learned an unrealistically bad opinion of yourself, which your inner critic is only too happy to remind you of.
A sad part of this process of being trained to be self critical is that your parents, friends, teachers and others were probably not doing it deliberately but merely playing out their own programming, passing on their own critical training to you.
Whatever the reason you may now have an inner critic, bully or tyrant who is only too happy to continue threatening, abusing or insulting you. There appears to be no escape because this inner critic is with you day and night, where ever you go.
They make these messages that there is something wrong with you very compelling and believable. Even when you know they are not true you still cannot argue against them.
In my opinion the answer is not to contest the messages but to learn how to disconnect from them and to begin to treat yourself with compassionate acceptance.
Things you can do:
- Learn to disconnect from the negative thoughts – see Stepping Back From Negative Thoughts
- Learn to practice self compassion see Kirsten Neff’s excellent book Self Compassion for ways to do this
- Read Cheri Huber’s book There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate, A Compassionate Process for Learning to Accept Yourself Exactly as You Are for a mindfulness based approach to letting go of what she calls self-hate.
- Get professional help to dismantle those learnings and patterns.
Your inner critic, bully or tyrant can’t be fined or imprisoned but they can be retired, retrained or released.Image courtesy of sylvar