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Monday, February 4,2013

Ask Dr. Happy

By Dr. Bob Nozik, MD  

Dear Dr. Happy

 Why do I always think I’m such a bad person? I am a 15-year-old high school girl and all I think about is how fat I am, how ugly, how dumb, or what a bad daughter I am. My boyfriend says I look fine and my grades are OK; I have girlfriends and my parents love me. But, Dr. Happy, none of that seems to matter. All I can think about is what a loser I am.

How can I stop?

Dear How,

First of all, be reassured, you are not the only one bullied by a harsh Inner Critic living inside your head. It sounds like you do recognize it is excessive in both its tone and its evaluations. Still, I’d like to have you use a little of what psychologists call Cognitive Therapy. When the voice in your head says: “You’re stupid,” question it. Is it true? What is the evidence? Your grades are fine, so it’s not the case. Then, rephrase

“You’re stupid” to what is true, maybe: “I have to work hard to do well in math, but I easily handle science and history.” Do this for your appearance, your popularity, and any other areas where your inner voice puts you down. The trick here is to do this rephrasing-to-reality each time; don’t allow your severe Inner Critic to bully and abuse you ever again. I think you’ll find you can teach it to be on your side instead of being the overly critical, nasty voice it is now.


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