A Martial Artist Fights Her Inner Bully

TIMEJanuary 31, 2020

When Theresa Byrne saw “The Karate Kid” as a child, she viewed Mr. Miyagi as an icon to be emulated. She appreciated that he had the ability to fight, but carried himself with a quiet confidence.

As a child, she found herself as the kid who would confront the bully who was abusing a younger or smaller kid.

Byrne became a fourth degree black belt, and practiced taekwondo, krav maga, hapkido, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and Muay Thai. She also practiced three different weapon arts.

Byrne had been practicing for 23 years, until one day she found herself half way through a brick wall.

The Crash

On July 22, 2014, Byrne was running errands when she was rear ended, which broke one of the axles of her car. She tried to hit the brakes, but lost control.

The first thing she thought was that she hoped she wouldn’t hit anyone else. The second thought she had was whether or not she had done everything in life she had been put on earth to do. Then her car slammed through the brick wall.

Something or someone told her that it was not her time yet, and she had more work to do. Byrne woke up in her car, and climbed out. The driver that had hit her was already gone.

Byrne fighting
Theresa Byrne was in a severe car crash. (Courtesy of Paul Minne Photography)

“My first thought was I got to go get the guy,” Byrne told The Epoch Times.

Byrne went to urgent care instead of the hospital because she wasn’t bleeding and she had no broken bones. Doctors told her she didn’t have a concussion, and that she would be sore for a few days.

However, a few days later she realized something was off. She couldn’t figure out how to use her microwave, she couldn’t remember passwords, and she couldn’t tie her martial arts belt. Then she began suffering severe migraines.

“It was like a searing stake through my head,” Byrne recalled.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A month later, she went back to the doctor. They told her she had post concussive syndrome, and that she had to take a week off. Immediately, she felt like she had lost her sense of purpose. She had a 6,000 square foot martial arts studio and 15 employees.

“I had a lot of dark nights of the soul, questioning my own value. ‘What am I good for? What can I do, if I can’t do what I’ve always done, what can I do?'” Byrne recalled thinking.

Byrne fighting
Theresa Byrne felt herself questioning her own value during her recovery. (Courtesy of Paul Minne Photography)

Then she heard the words that told her: “You have value just because you are.”

One week of low stimulus concussion protocol became three weeks, then a month, three months, and so on. She didn’t know if it would ever end, and the doctors were unsure of her prognosis.

Byrne was subsequently diagnosed with ADHD, neuroendocrine disorder, PTSD, and insomnia. Every time she returned to the doctor, there was another diagnosis.

The Inner Bully

Byrne engaged in cognitive retraining, which helped her work with her brain to improve her cognitive functions. She made a meditation recording of herself telling her that she was healing and would listen to it. Over time, she learned that she had more power than she had previously known.

She also noticed other senses were heightened, and discovered she had emotional amnesia. She was unable to remember the emotions from past experiences.

Byrne also started participating in neurofeedback therapy, and her brain started functioning at higher and higher frequency levels. Furthermore, she underwent neuro-laser therapy that helped her regrow brain tissue.

Byrne with a weapon
Theresa Byrne participated in in a variety of treatments during her recovery. (Courtesy of Paul Minne Photography)

During this process, Byrne experienced what she calls her “inner bully.” This inner bully told her she was broken and that she would never be the same. Unfortunately, she lost her martial arts business and her inner bully kept surfacing.

Byrne combated her inner bully initially by trying to fight it, which took too much energy. She overcame her inner bully by sharing her story, and told herself that even though she was different, she wasn’t worse.

She discovered what she calls her “inner warrior,” which was the part of her that fought for her right to survive and thrive.

“Once you tap into that, there’s a power,” Byrne explained.

Physical and Psychological Self

Byrne is the founder of InPower and is a speaker, author, and holds workshops on how to overcome the inner bully within us all. She also teaches boxing and kickboxing.

The first step is to feel the presence of one’s inner bully, and recognize what it’s making one feel. Then one needs to create an empowering mantra to contend with the inner bully. For example, one can tell themselves that they have been through tougher situations to quash the bully. Furthermore, one needs to declare that they’re capable of achievement.

There are also physical ways to help combat the inner bully. The first step is to stand at attention with good posture so one is physically aligned.

A headshot photo of Byrne
Theresa Byrne developed physical methods to combat the inner bully. (Courtesy of Wendy Jade Photography)

After taking a strong stance, the second step is to take three second inhales because our brains need oxygen. When one is scared, nervous, or mad, the limbic system is over-activated, and dumps chemicals into the body. When one counts, one is able to control one’s breath and hinder the adrenaline overflow.

At this point the brain is in flux, and saying a positive mantra out loud puts something positive back into the mind. These three exercises can be immensely powerful in fighting the inner bully.

“Anybody can start changing their thinking, but you have to be conscious of it, and you have to create this ritual,” Byrne said.