MUSTerbating again? How to control the bully in your head

Are you busy? Perhaps you've become known as the ‘Queen of Multitasking’ and wear that badge with the kind of worn out pride?

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Your mornings are spent juggling the needs of others; ferrying the kids to school, off to do some early morning shopping for the elderly parents then in to work where you’re considered indispensable (of course). Then you pick up the kids, take them to their after-school activities before rushing home to prepare a home-made meal. Evenings are spent drawing up your things to do list for the following day.

And all the time, your phone is attached to you like an umbilical cord. Texts and e-mails bleep and ping and you have to answer them immediately. You have to be superwoman, right?



Claire came to see me twelve months after her partner died unexpectedly. Everyone told her she was doing really well.

‘You mustn't give in Claire’ her mum told her. ‘Your daughter is relying on you. We all are. You just have to get on with things.’

If Claire felt down or tearful, she felt guilty she was letting the side down. So she worked harder and got more done. She was always running but she couldn't work out what she was running from, or what would happen if she stopped.

Then one day, she was brought up short when her daughter said ‘Mummy why don't you ever look at me when I talk to you anymore?’ Claire had a light bulb moment and realised she become imprisoned by a straitjacket of her own making.

The endless tasks, overwork, people and projects were all to do with her thinking she should be doing well. She should just get on with things. She shouldn't be sad or cry because it might upset other people.

She must be the perfect mother, the perfect daughter the perfect cook, the perfect homemaker, the perfect employee. She must not show her feelings because people would think she was weak.

The tyranny of the shoulds

If your brain is full of shoulds and musts then you have probably got yourself an internal bully. It's a recognised ‘thinking error’, or what psychologists call a ‘cognitive distortion.’

Back in the 1930s Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis came up with the idea of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). They said, if you feel bad it's because you're thinking is all wrong and it needs fixing.

Catastrophising, mind-reading and fortune-telling all appeared in their long list of thinking errors.

So did MUSTerbation.

Many of us are actually living our lives according to an internalised rulebook we picked up in childhood. Those rules may have helped us survive in the family and environment in which we found ourselves back then, but are likely to be either out of date, or just not helpful to us in our adult lives.

Here's what to do

  • Take some time out to stop and listen to the contents of ‘the rule book’
  • Make a note of the things you feel compelled to do, or not do
  • What are the thoughts around those things?
  • Ask yourself ‘who would I be without those thoughts?
  • Filter out what doesn't work for you any more
  • Give yourself permission to tear up the rulebook and be your authentic self.
Once you realise you don't have to be perfect to be a worthy human being, the world feels like a kinder, gentler place to live.

Now, repeat after me:

‘I may not be perfect, but I'm good enough…… just the way I am.’

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....