Psychologist Richard Lipman: ways to fight your inner negative voice

Most people have an inner “bully,” or internalized negative voice, that they have to contend with. It can be subtle some days or seem very loud and distracting at other times.

As scary as it can be, according to Richard Lipman, a Montreal-based psychologist, it’s important to pay attention to this negative voice and learn how to combat it. It’s especially critical to figure out how to replace those negative thoughts with more positive affirmations.


The saying goes that the first step to understanding a problem is to recognize it. In the same vein, it’s important to recognize this inner “bully,” before anything can be done about it. Most of us aren’t consciously tuned into the actual content of our negative self-talk but rather we are aware of feeling anxious and diminished. We can use those feelings to remind us to listen to what we are saying to ourselves. Or, to identify what the “bully” is telling us.


This inner “bully” doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from a place of fear, not reality and reason. The purpose of your “bully” is not simply to make you feel bad. Its intention is to inhibit you from taking risks. In a misguided form of overprotection, it tries to prevent you from growing as a person. It doesn’t want you to take chances and to open yourself up to new experiences so it works hard to undermine your self-confidence. Once this is understood, it’s easier to identify how this voice can try to influence you to expect the worst and to just give up.


The next step is to confront this negative internalized voice, and to challenge what it is trying to say. The key is to recognize that it is unreasonable, and to not give in to this type of negative thinking. When you hear what the bully is actually saying, chances are that you will recognize how harsh and unfair it is. This will help you to challenge it.

These negative thoughts from an inner “bully” aren’t reality, and it’s crucial to comprehend that. By using reason and logic, as well as compassion and fairness, you can successfully challenge this inner voice that’s holding you back.

In the end, Richard Lipman says, “It’s important to be kind to yourself, and to understand where negative thoughts come from. Once you understand the catalyst behind negative thoughts, you can be more proactive about challenging and overcoming them.”


Once you’ve understood and challenged your inner “bully”, the next step is to remind yourself of your accomplishments and of the positive things in your life, and to foster feelings of affirmation rather than fear and negativity.

It is vital to remind yourself of your accomplishments and of the obstacles that you’ve overcome. This will help to drown out that negative voice. “It may sound trite,” psychologist Richard Lipman says, “but it really is important to have positive affirmations at the ready.”


No one is perfect. But the truth is, no one needs to be. Being human means being imperfect but our flaws don’t diminish all the good things we have in our lives. When we manage the bully – using reason, fairness and compassion – it becomes so much easier to accept our imperfections. Once this place of acceptance has been reached, that inner voice that’s looking to undermine our confidence suddenly has less power, and power is all it really needs to flourish.

Acceptance is an ongoing aspect of this process, and isn’t something that can be done once to defeat an inner “bully” forever. Some people have to fight their inner negative voice every day, or at least fairly often. But with these tools, and this advice from Lipman, the challenge will seem a whole lot less daunting.