UnREAL: Bullying Women And The Bully In Your Head

October 2015 is Bullying Prevention Month: Defeat The Inner Bully

Lifetime TV UnREAL’s Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) are the quintessential bullies. They use, torment, humiliate, tear down, and pit their reality show women contestants against each other for a chance at Everlasting love. Love is the key word here. Because it isn’t love that’s being offered. It’s a trick.

The women contestants have sold their souls to do everything and anything to be the one that wins over Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma), a rich British playboy. They want to believe everlasting love is possible. The bullies (Rachel and Quinn) don’t believe in love at all. UnREAL gives us an all too real view of what goes on in the minds of those who don’t, and why.

Fear of Love

Yet, it isn’t so simple that bullies like Rachel and Quinn just don’t believe in love. They’re actually terrified of it. Do they want love? Yes. But, the cynic in them says, “You’re going to be hurt. Best not to open up to it at all.”

What happens, then, when they let themselves slip for a moment, step out of their cynical shells and give into that desire? They find seemingly good reasons to go running right back in.

Quinn says it well after she allows herself to trust Chet (Craig Bierko) – and finds him cheating on her: “I actually started to believe the crap we sell here. Love. True love … that’s what I thought we had.” Crap, that’s what it becomes. No reason to want it, then.

Rachel is terrified of happiness. She isn’t used to it. Her mom demeaned her, made her submit to her “therapy”, and tried to bully her into submission. In fact, that’s why she can bully the women on Everlasting into revealing secrets as if she’s a friend. It was done to her.

When Rachel lets down her guard, agrees to run away with Adam who leaves her stranded, she says: “Yah … I fell for it. Adam said I won. Me. In the light of day, he changed his mind.” A self-hating voice tells her: “Of course, why would anyone love you?” She’s stopped in her tracks.

The Bully In Your Head

The bully in her mind takes over. A very loud internal voice sets both Rachel and Quinn straight: “Are you crazy? Remember what happens if you let anyone in? Don’t be such a fool. You’ll be hurt every time. Here’s the proof of it.”

What’s the purpose of that bully voice inside? It’s directed against vulnerability.  It’s directed against needing or wanting love. It makes itself out as your protector. It’s looking all the time for evidence – of rejection, of hurt, of being unwanted, of reasons never to trust love. It tries to convince you: “I know the truth and I’m your only friend.”

Don’t believe it for a minute. You’ll have no choice but tell yourself you don’t need anything or anyone. That it’s better to be alone. Or, to give your pain to someone else – exactly what Quinn and Rachel also do.

Making Others Feel The Hurt

They let the women on the show be the “stupid” ones. Rip them open, expose their most vulnerable secrets, and throw them to the wolves. Better than having the same thing happen to them. Let these women believe: “We’re only here to help.” Then, stab them in the back.

Quinn uses Rachel to do the dirty work. She’s an external form of the bully in Rachel’s mind, so Rachel can’t say no. And, Rachel gets something out of it, too. She can see their hurt.  She can make them the fools. But, she’s not as far gone or hardened up as Quinn – and the satisfaction isn’t so pure.

Yet, there’s such hatred of love, such disbelief in the real thing that they’ll screw anyone over if it serves them well.  And, it does.  It serves the purpose of making others feel the pain of wanting something they can’t have.  And, no one with a bully in her mind believes, when it comes right down to it, that she can have any kind of love.

Therapy To Defeat Inner Bullies

I see these inner bullies in my office all too often. They’re devastating.  They tear down self-esteem. They create hopelessness. They interfere with any chance at love.

These voices pose as friends. Worse, because they put themselves forward as voices of reason and truth, you believe them. They remind you of hurts from the past. They tell you the past predicts the future: “All relationships will turn out the same. You’re unlovable. You’re bad. You will never get what you want.”

I work with these voices everyday. They can be subtle. They can be convincing. They use tricky “logic” to tell you you’re wrong if you have any hope. They know best: “Stay in your shell, that familiar hiding place inside. Venture out and you will be hurt.”

The challenge of therapy with such voices is to unmask their nefarious purpose: to keep you away from love. To convince you beyond a doubt that love is dangerous and will never end well. In fact, will always end. “Listen to me,” the voice will tell you, “and you’ll never be hurt again.”

This way, they keep you hostage. Sure, you’ll never be hurt again – but you’ll never have anything either. Therapy must reveal them for what they are. Perhaps the best self-protection you had when you had no other kind of help. But, the isolation these inner bullies create is a very lonely place to be.

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