The Mind Bully or Monster (of Anxiety or Depression etc) seems very strong and big. It says very upsetting things and tries to pull us into the great pit of fear and despair, so we automatically pull harder on the rope to stop us being dragged into the pit. This tug-of-war is constant and exhausting. The harder we pull, the harder the monster pulls.


We feed the monster, and make it even bigger and stronger, by pulling harder on the rope.  By listening and paying attention to the monster, by believing the monster, and by reacting to the monster - by how we feel and what we do.

If we could let go of the rope, what would happen?

The monster would still be there, saying what it says, but it would have no power to pull us towards the great pit. As we stop feeding the bully, gradually he will get weaker, smaller and quieter.

Let go the rope:

  • Notice and acknowledge the mind bully
  • Don't believe everything you think!
  • Shift focus of attention
  • Do something else - mindfully (attentively)

The Mind Bully is based on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

Adapted from Harris 2009

The Mind Bully - version 2

Let's think about an imaginary playground bully in a school. This particular bully isn't violent, but he taunts, teases, laughs and criticises. Cruel words. Imagine this bully picks on 3 victims this playtime. He approaches each victim with the same taunts: "Hey you! You're so stupid - give me your lunch money NOW or else I'll tell everyone how stupid you are!" How does each victim react?



Victim number 1 believes the bully, becomes upset and hands over the money.

Victim number 2 challenges back - "I'm not stupid, I got 8/10 in my spelling test this morning, you only got 4. Get lost!"

Victim number 3 hardly reacts at all. He looks at the bully to acknowledge him, then turns around to go and play football with his friends.

How does the bully react to each? He's probably going to come back to victim 1 most days. He might have another go at victim 2, but he'll soon give up. The bully's probably not going to bother victim 3 much.

Our own mind bully is just like that playground bully, and instead of reacting like victim number 1, believing the bully and doing as he says, we can choose to react like victim number 2. We can learn to:

Challenge our mind bully

Simply acknowledge the bully, then let the thought go and shift our focus of attention by doing something else.


Fake News!

Defusing Metaphors

Automatic Thoughts

Different Perspectives

Fact or Opinion?


More about Acceptance & Commitment Therapy



(for dealing with intrusive / distressing thoughts)

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