How Others Tamed Their Inner Brats

How have you coped with your own bratty feelings and behavior?

George from Florida writes: 

Dr. Wallin I will not even going begin to express what you and this work has done to my life, as there are no words to express the journey this book has started in my life and where it is now. In the interest of spreading the word I have a question about translated works. Has this book been translated to Spanish? If so can you please point me in the right direction. I have very beautiful people in my life who are literally begging to know how I have changed so drastically and they are all Spanish and of course I cannot do you words justice. Thank You sincerely.

Answer: Sorry George, the book has not yet been translated into Spanish. But it has been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean!

Emily from Quebec writes:  A friend forwarded your newsletter (july) to me because I am always asking Why? I didn’t realize that it was not a very useful question. Sign me up for your newsletter, please!

MLM from Washington writes:  I just read your article about the “small favor” and recognized this as what my Mother years ago advised us to try: Kill Them With Kindness! It was sometimes hard to do, but usually helped tight situations.

Linda from PA writes: 

My husband left me in November 1998 to move in with the young woman he was having an affair with. They got married in September 2001. My two children were 14 and 10 at the time he left. My son, who’s the oldest, was more accepting and laid back than his sister. I was dealing with a little girl who was angry and hurt by what happened, and the way she dealt with it was to hate her stepmother. Even though I was no huge fan of the stepmother either, I found myself in the awkward position of counseling my daughter to accept her. I remember telling her over and over that she cannot change what happened but she can change her attitude about it. I told her she doesn’t have to like what happened, but she has to accept what happened.

Two years ago I was in charge of the Mother/Daughter banquet at my church. One day I heard the words come out of my mouth that my daughter should invite her stepmom to the banquet. My daughter said no, she didn’t want to invite her. I gently explained that it would make the stepmom feel good, that she probably wouldn’t come anyway because of the awkwardness of it being at my church, but that she should still make the invitation. So she did–she told her, “My mom thinks I should invite you to our mother/daughter banquet.” Amazingly, the stepmom accepted the invitation! I was amazed that she’d want to be on “my” turf, where my ex and I had attended church for 10 years before he left. When she got there, she hugged me and thanked me for making my daughter invite her. After the banquet she came up and hugged me and thanked me again for inviting her and told me how much it meant to her. She even told me that my ex didn’t want her to come, but she insisted.

I realize this isn’t a tangible gift, but it’s still a gift…the gift of grace and forgiveness. Since then, my daughter’s relationship with her stepmom has improved by leaps and bounds. In fact, they are good friends, and to be perfectly honest sometimes I resent how close they’ve become. But in the end I realize this is the best way, that my daughter’s love for and relationship with her stepmom does not detract from our relationship. And the even more amazing part is that MY relationship with my ex’s wife has grown to the point where we are on very friendly terms.

A.T. from New Jersey writes:  I was in Barnes and Noble the other night trying to find a “self-help” book dealing with being on time. I came across your wonderful book, “Taming Your Inner Brat…..”. It’s great! I could never relate to all the reasons that are given for why some people are never on time. But there was always something in the back of my head that questioned where was the fine line between being appropriately self-concerned and being self-absorbed. Your book wasn’t an eye-opener, it was a JOLT! It affects so many other areas of my life as well. I am going to have to think of a lot of names for each of these brats!

E.G. writes:  I just read your newsletter. I am writing this on my break at work. I tried one of your tips for people I “can’t stand.” There’s this person here who really gets to me with his uppity talk. He’s always bragging about what he just bought or what he’s going to buy. Because he’s my supervisor I can’t just walk away and I usually just scream Shut Up! in my head. This time I decided I was going to do “nothing.” I just figured I could listen to anyone for a minute or two, so I would just tough it out. I don’t know how, but this really made a difference. When he was done, I wasn’t mad any more. Can’t wait to try it on my mother-in-law (just kidding.)

Kate writes: Last year at this time I was a mess. I was overweight and unhappy. The holidays only made it worse. I recently came across your book at the DrLaura website, and it gave me a whole new outlook. I know now that I can control my inner brat even though it rears it’s ugly head on a regular basis. This Christmas I’m buying a bunch of copies for gifts. I know my sisters and my friends need it as much as I did. I only hope they read it!

Celeste writes:  I find myself puzzled. Reading your comments on the inner brat and how it gives situational excuses to self and labels to others, I’m confused. I tend to give the excuses to others and label myself. Not that I don’t have that inner brat which I think is in full swing with my having so much trouble with quitting smoking. Anyway, I just thought I’d bring this to your attention. Is my inner brat backwards do ya think:)

Celeste, your question is a good one. As you have pointed out, the inner brat concept does not explain everything about our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

If you are attributing situational factors to others and labeling yourself, then this is not an inner brat function. It is more likely due to how you perceive yourself. If you are too quick to label yourself in a negative way, then you are probably too harsh on yourself. In turn, this may sabotage your efforts to quit smoking.

In addition to recognizing your inner brat, it is also important to acknowledge your strengths. Just as everyone has an inner brat, everyone also has many strengths to overcome the inner brat.

Author Brian King writes:  I too am in the business of helping others weed out their self-defeating behaviors and I feel that what you’re doing will be of tremendous benefit to my customers.

–Brian King Author of: “Everybody Has A Tumor: Cures for the negative thoughts that are cancerous to our lives.” AND “Life Is Talking-Are You Listening?: A workbook for the school of life”

Janice P. from Florida writes:  I was driving home last night and heard you on the radio. I was immediately hit by the fact that you were TALKING ABOUT ME! Instead of going home I made a bee line to the Borders nearby. They didn’t have the book so I was able to go on-line to barnes and I’ve signed up for the newsletter and have already read 3 past issues. I would have NEVER thought of myself as a brat – but I see it so clearly now. Thanks for the apparently well past-due, wake up call.

James from New York writes:  Heard you on WOR last night. I tamed my inner brat last new years but I didn’t call it that. I decided I needed to lose weight because I got breathless just walking from the parking lot to my office. As for climbing stairs, isn’t that what elevators are for? (haha) Anyway I made up my mind to eat healthier and do 30 minutes of walking a day. I included walking up stairs. At first I could barely make it up one flight. I didn’t want to do it, but I made myself do it. I guess that was me controlling my inner brat. Soon I could make it up a whole flight and then another and then up to the 4th floor without an elevator. So a year later I’ve lost 32 lb. and feel much better. My inner brat still sometimes gets lazy but now that i know what it is, I can picture it in my mind and tell it to suck an egg.

J.M. from Portland writes:  Heard you on the radio this morning on my way to work. You got it right about there being so many brats on the road. I was trying to change lanes to turn left, but no one would let me in. Finally someone did, but he didn’t look too happy about it. Made me think about how many times I’ve cut people off. Thanks – I guess 🙂

Jane from Chicago writes:  I could’ve used your newsletter advice earlier today (“Get mad? Get even? Or . . .”) A friend and I went to the gym, and the free parking garage was full, so we looked for a spot on the street. I saw a girl walking to her car a few feet behind me, so I backed up and put my blinker on to get the spot when she left. As soon as she pulled out, some moron comes zipping up from behind me, and slips into the spot, head first. I couldn’t believe it! I was already there, with my blinker and reverse lights on. unbelievable! There was so much traffic around, that I wasn’t able to stick around to yell at the guy who took my spot, and probably for the better cause I was pissed. I went to the gym and worked it off on the EFX, but I was still pissed throughout the afternoon whenever the incident crossed my mind. Annoying!!!! Anyway, I guess I tamed my inner brat by not jumping out of the car and yelling at the person who took my spot.. but it took me awhile to fully let it go.

Jen from California writes:  Dr. Wallin, Thank you for that newsletter on frustration. I knew I was taking out my anger on my son, but I didn’t realize that it was caused by frustration — I never thought about it that way. Next time I get upset with him I’m going to think about what might have frustrated me, and I’ll try some of those tips you gave.

L.M. from Pennsylvania writes:  Some time ago I stared at a not so flattering reflection of myself. Noticing that, it’s true, the physical evidence is in…I’m getting older. I then experienced a cold sensation with the thought of “but I still behave like a spoiled child”. This has had me obsessing and questioning about all my behaviors. The biggest question of all being…”so what are you gonna do about IT?”. This book is exactly what I needed to do about “IT”. I can’t tell you the last time I absorbed a book so fast and intensly. I know people that may benefit from this book but, hey, they’ll have to get their own! Dr. Wallin,Thank You for your book and Thank You for your humor and truths.

“A teenager” from Canada writes:  My mom left your book on my night table. At first the title threw me. I thought it was about taming bratty kids, and she was trying to give me a message that I was a brat, which I didn’t appreciate very much. I didn’t pick it up for quite a while, but the other night I was bored so I started reading it. I had to laugh. The book is sort of about me, but it’s also about my mom. I told her this when she was yelling at me yesterday and you’ll never guess what happened: we both started laughing!!! I guess we’re more alike in terms of our inner brats than I figured!!!

Jesse from Nebraska writes:  Growing up in a religious home, I was always warned about satan. He is very similar to your inner brat. If you’re not careful his evil will win.


Jesse, The inner brat is not evil. It’s just immature. It has no long-range plans. All it wants is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. I don’t know enough about religion to get into a discussion here, but it seems that if the inner brat was the devil, it would be nearly impossible to manage. That doesn’t fit with the fact that many, many people HAVE tamed their inner brats just by paying attention and learning a few simple skills. –Pauline Wallin, Ph.D.

Tara from New York writes:  I was at my friend’s apartment and noticed your book on her shelf. I picked it up and couldn’t stop reading it. It fit me to a t! I was going to borrow it from her but she said to buy my own. She said it’s one of those books that she wants to keep around just in case. I agree. Thanks for introducing me to my inner brat. I used to think there was no hope for me but I already stopped my inner brat twice this week.

Tara ps. your newsletter about pms was very helpful.

Margaret from the UK writes:  Dr. Wallin, thanks for your tips on handling rude people, especially the one that says it’s only a temporary inconvenience. Here in the UK people used to be much more polite and considerate. Now they are so much more demanding. I hope it’s not the American influence. In any case, now when someone is abrupt with me I try to tell myself that once they’re gone the rudeness will be too.

Mark from New Jersey writes:  Your newsletter on rudeness was right on. I work in customer service for a computer related business. I have to follow a certain procedure and ask questions in order, which takes some time. Then the customer sometimes gets downright rude. LIke when I ask their name and phone number and they mumble, and then I have to ask them to repeat it, and they yell at me accusing me of not listening. I used to go home with a headache from the stress. Now I try to imagine a little brat on the other end of the line, and I just laugh. It really helps!

An anonymous reader from Pennsylvania writes:  I so enjoyed your book. Thank you for waking me up to solve so many problems in a fun and easy way. Since I completed your book, I have not been bratty to my husband, my self or my kids. Well, not for long, anyway. I soon WAKE UP and listen to that brat then breathe if I need to, then shut up or laugh.

Michelle writes:  Since reading your book, I have begun to recognize all the different ways I am bratty. Though I still struggle on a daily basis to keep my brat under control, I managed to nip it in the bud at a family holiday gathering. My husband and I married in October, and I am still nervous around his side of the family. This uneasiness had my brat on edge. We were wrapping a Christmas present for a friend when my mother-in-law came over and took over the wrapping job, insisting that the best way to wrap it was different from what we were doing. My first reaction was anger. I am quite capable of wrapping a gift, and I was doing it the RIGHT way. Then I realized my inner brat was telling me MY way was not only the RIGHT way, it was the ONLY way. I sat back, took a deep breath and let her finish. The result was a perfectly wrapped gift, just as nice as if I had done it myself. It felt great to put my brat in her place! Instead of being angry, I ended up laughing at the situation.

An anonymous reader writes:  My husband is a person who thinks he knows everything. How to do, change,what this or that person should do or not do, and all the other answers in the world. He is a person who doesn’t need others in his life to get along in this world, I on the other hand am a people person, I do need other people in my life, I have a great need to interact with others. I have a great time when I can go with a group of either mixed company or girls of my or varing age. He doesn’t like it when I take an office in an organization, it will take my time away from him, I guess. I really have to get breaks away from him as he makes me very stressed when I cannot get time away. I have been unable to take time away from him and home lately because of health reasons but the future is looking much more promising for me. I am really looking forward to this coming time. I tell him like it is but it doesn’t faze him. He is still all knowing and also all telling everyone who he can get to listen, I have learned to turn a deaf ear in his direction. I have to, otherwise, I would be taxing myself with anger and outbrusts at him. I know it will never do any good to blow up or put him down. He knows he is “so great and powerful”. The kids don’t come around as much anymore because of this trait of his, he is fine with this, I get very lonely for the kids to come for visits. They just live about 3/4 hour from us so it isn’t distance for them either. I try to make things work as best they can. It gets hard sometimes.

Melanie from New York writes:  I may be a brat, but my husband is a bigger one. He blames me for everything – like when I used his car one day and the transmission blew. Somehow that was my fault even though I hardly ever drive that car. Or when one of the kids is sick or tired I’m supposed to stop them from crying so he can watch the game. I’m trying to control my inner brat, but what should I do about his?

Well, Melanie, I can’t give you any specific advice about your marriage, but try not to react defensively to his accusations. Don’t explain, and don’t defend yourself. It hardly ever convinces the other person that you are not to blame. Instead, find a way to emotionally detach yourself from the rants of his inner brat. —Dr. Wallin

An anonymous reader from Minnesota writes:  Heard you on the radio in Mpls the other day. Interesting concept. I think my resolution to quit smoking might just work this time. Since the show I have cut down on cigarettes just to see if I could do it. It’s not like last time when all I thought about was my next smoke. This time I imagine a little brat in my head whining for a cigarette. I just tell him he’ll just have to wait, and then I turn my mind to other things. The big test will be Jan. 7, when I have my last cigarette. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous writes: Note: This is a message from a former client. I have deleted her name and other identifying information.

Dr. Wallin, I saw you professionally in 19xx. I was going through some rough times at the time with my divorce and other family problems. One thing that you said around Christmas time was that Christmas day is only 24 hours. That helped me get through my first holiday alone, and I had to remind myself of that a couple of times since then. Only getting to see the kids for half the holiday is hard…my inner brat says it shouldn’t have to be that way. He’s the one who left, so he should pay the price of not seeing his kids on xmas. But then my rational self remembers what you said a few years ago. So even though I only get to see the kids for a few hours on xmas, I do have them more of the time the rest of the year, which is more important in the long run. So inner brat – take a flying leap. You’re not going to mess up what little time I do have with the kids.

Nancy from Wisconsin writes:  Yesterday I baked 4 batches of cookies for the holiday. I admit that I did eat some of the dough as I went along. When the cookies came out of the oven, my inner brat tried to convince me to eat all the broken or misshapen ones, but I didn’t need to do that. Instead I gave the brat one perfect cookie from each batch, and put the broken ones in the freezer out of sight. My inner brat keeps reminding me they are there, but I’m trying to keep busy to distract it. Not sure if this qualifies as “controlling” my brat, but I feel a bit stronger each time I don’t let it control me.

—Yes, Nancy, we have a way of convincing ourselves that “broken” cookies have fewer calories. It’s the way our inner brat rationalizes our scarfing them down. Keep it up with the distraction. There’s plenty to do at this time of year. And yes, each time you keep the inner brat at bay, you do get stronger.

Elizabeth from the UK writes:  We don’t have your Thanksgiving holiday over here in the UK, but your description of family issues in your November newsletter sounded hauntingly familiar. How did you know about my mother!? My sister’s 30th birthday is coming up soon, and we’re all gathering at Mum’s to celebrate. Having read your newsletter, I’m prepared now.

An anonymous reader from Philadelphia writes:  Got your last (October) Inner Brat newsletter. Your little “quiz” at the beginning sure opened my eyes. I am guilty of at least 3 of the 6 questions. But so are several of my friends at work. I think we need to start an “inner brats anonymous.”

Jen from “the west coast” writes:  Ever since 9/11 I’ve been thinking about my inner brat and how I should be grateful that no one in my family was hurt. But still, things irritate me. I wish I could say my inner brat is not so bad since the bombings, but it still is. I’m writing this hoping you can give me some advice as to how to keep from blowing up at my boyfriend, I don’t think he’s going to be my boyfriend much longer if this keeps up.

Jen, what you’re going through is not uncommon. In stressful times it’s harder to control impulses. We’re just more sensitive and alert to anything that feels threatening. This includes feeling criticized or controlled by someone. My advice to you is to make it a priority to keep yourself calm no matter what. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish when you are determined to succeed. When you’re calmer to begin with, things don’t bother you as much.

–Dr. Wallin

Doug from Pennsylvania writes:  My inner brat has gotten better in terms of not overreacting to little things, but it seems to be getting worse with drinking. All the news on TV about the terrorist attack is very upsetting. It seems my inner brat cries out for booze and I don’t have the energy to stop it. 🙁

An anonymous reader from New Jersey writes:  The WTC attack has had a profound effect on my inner brat. Somehow, everything else seems trivial compared to what some had to go through. I also think of people in other countries who never had it as good as we do. We have a lot to be thankful for. I’m going to remind my inner brat of that every time it gets upset over nothing.

Heidi from Texas writes:  Most of my life I had a bad temper. I always got in trouble at school and I1ve lost a couple of jobs because of it. Before reading about the inner brat I already was thinking about my anger as something that I wasn1t going to let get the better of me. I practiced counting to 10 and leaving the room when I felt like yelling. But I still couldn1t get rid of the anger. It really helps to imagine a mad little brat in my head. When I do that, sometimes but not always I don’t stay mad as long as I used to. It1s going to be a while till I get the brat under control but I1m working on it!

An anonymous reader writes:  Religion, to have the most value has to move from the service out – in the Catholic mass there is a time when everyone is asked to offer each other a sign of peace. It is based on Jesus telling that “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” from John 14:27. People shake hands or hug or whatever depending on how well they may know those around them. At Matt’s wedding he and Chris each went to their parents. It can be very touching or very annoying depending on the situation.

All of that to say, one way I control the brat, when I am at calm and can remember, is to offer an annoying someone a silent “Peace be with you” rather than letting angers roll. It helps sometimes and I prevent getting stuck in anger and rumination. I read recently – Don1t make a problem out of life and don1t be ensnared in doubt and procrastination. Go in there and do it – then let go immediately so as not to get stuck anywhere. It makes sense to deny the brat that opportunity to raise hell then hold on to it for dear life. I have used it most recently over work issues. It is already very frustrating to deal first with one boss and then the other and get two different answers – they can1t agree on my job description and responsiblities for this year. I can1t just be angry or it will get away from me, they won1t deal with any emotion. The brat must be quiet, so I make her offer a silent – Peace be with you – so that I can figure out what I am willing to do and then let them know calmly and professionally. When I can stop first and remember – it works.

How have you coped with your own bratty feelings and behavior? Share your success. Your response will be displayed anonymously.