Adult ADHD and Internal Bullying

December 17, 2013 Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC

Do you have a bully inside your own head? Many adults with ADHD do. You know what I mean, those negative thoughts that keep putting you down and killing your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Making sure not to minimize the bullying that goes on between people, I have to wonder, where is the program for the internal bullying that goes on in our own heads?

Head Bullies: Bullies in Your ADHD Mind

Many with adult ADHD have a head bully, a bully inside their ADHD mind that tells them they are a failure. Learn why that is and how to cope with it.I haven’t worked with a person with ADHD yet, myself included, that doesn’t have a mean kid (aka "Head Bully") in their head telling them some version of “You are just going to fail!” "You're worthless?" or " You're so weird, you're never going to fit in." Or, maybe your Head Bully isn’t so direct. Maybe your Head Bully tells you things like, “That is a terrible idea." Or “Just give it up, someone else will do it better.” Either way, it’s your own Head Bully keeping you down, preventing you from even trying to reach your goals or trying new ways of living well with your ADHD. (read: How Negative Thinking Kills Your Self-Confidence)

Dealing with Internal Putdowns

Aren’t you tired of being kept down, especially if it is by yourself? Of being stuck and at the mercy of your head bully or bullies, because unfortunately bullies tend to run in packs? Along with preventing social bullying, isn't it time to launch your own anti-head bullying campaign! In order to begin to live a life free of intimidation, by others or yourself, put into action this three-step Bully Be Gone (BBG) program:

Step One: Call Out Your Head Bully

The first step to putting a stop to your head bullies is to call them out. Let them know you are aware of their bullying behavior. Tell them "You are a Head Bully and I do not appreciate your bullying behavior. I will not put up with your intimidation anymore." At first, your Head Bullies may seem to be gathering around and might even start yelling louder with even new superlatives and threats you had never imagined. (Get A Grip on Negative Thoughts With Distraction Skills) Remember, this is common Head Bully behavior. Keep your cool and don't engage or argue with their nonsense. Instead, listen with curiosity to what they are saying. You might even write down some of their more common phrases. This will help remind you what sort of hogwash your particular Head Bullies use so you can recognize it earlier next time.

Step Two: Stand Your Ground

There’s nothing a bully hates more than being stood up to. They thrive on being able to intimidate you and when you don't react or acquiesce, they lose their power and their interest. There is no fun for head bullies if they can't make you feel bad about yourself. In fact, bullies are pretty much scaredy cats and will run away with their tail between their legs if you say "scat!" So, remember that this is just a Head Bully. Remember that what they are saying is not true, definitely not all of the time true. Don't let your negative thoughts control you. Begin to replace those Head Bully putdowns with the positive truths in your life. Imagine shining a bright light on those Head Bullies so that they can't help but start to recede back into the shadows from where they came.

Step Three: Change the Rules

Soon you will notice that the Head Bully’s yell has been squelched. Sometimes the intimidation and put downs will go away altogether. At the very least, you will notice a definite quieting of their bothersome pestering. Once this happens, there is room for the real truth. You will have to listen more carefully because The Truth often has a quieter, yet more powerful voice. The truth is that you are virtually unlimited in your ability to succeed. Yes, you have ADHD. Yes, you sometimes make mistakes. Yes, you are one-of-a-kind, brilliant, creative, full of ideas and amazing! You are worthy of all the good that can come with these strengths. Now you get to tell that to your Head Bully. Once it knows that you hold yourself to this truth, they will realize they can’t push you around anymore.

Unfortunately, Head Bullies may not go away out of your world completely. However, by empowering yourself with these new tools of dealing with your negative thoughts, you can now live more freely.

What's possible without being intimidated anymore by your Head Bullies? I'd love to know.

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APA Reference
Dupar, L. (2013, December 17). Adult ADHD and Internal Bullying, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC

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