“Change happens the way a plant grows: slowly, without force, and with the essential nutrients of love and patience and a willingness to remain constant through periods of stasis.
If change is what you want, you need to find a gentler way of dealing with yourself and others.”
Geneen Roth, “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating”
One of the things people with eating disorders have in common is low self-esteem.
The reason we struggle with low self-esteem is because we have an almost constant negative narrative in our heads, courtesy of our Inner Bully. Like a faulty tap, our Inner Bully drips poison in our ear relentlessly about how shameful we are, what a failure we are, how worthless we are.
And we buy into our Inner Bully’s version of us – hook, line and sinker.
That’s why we can spend 20, 30 or even 40 years attempting to change ourselves with dieting, only to find ourselves suffering serious repercussions: binge eating, food obsession, weight gain.
Our Inner Bully is simply our own negative judgements of ourselves. Calling it a name like The Bully, The Judge, The Punisher or The Torturer is just a useful device for us to notice our negative thoughts and understand the impact they have on us.
They make us feel awful, they make us want to withdraw and they make us want to binge.
That’s why the single most important thing you can do is reject your Inner Bully. Turn off the tap of your own negative thoughts and instead offer yourself words of comfort and encouragement.
If you’re struggling to find those words then perhaps imagine what I’d say to you. I wouldn’t say “For crying out loud! Just get your shit together!” (how would that help you?). I’d say:
You are worthy.
You have every right to care for yourself.
You deserve comfort, reassurance and love.
I hope that, on some level, you know this to be true. Because it is true. Your Inner Bully is never correct and is never helpful. I’ve met enough of them to know what I’m talking about.
Lasting change is a gentle process.
So to achieve the authentic change you long for and absolutely deserve, you have to be willing, as Geneen Roth advises, to find a gentler way of dealing with yourself.
©️ Julie de Rohan 2020.
Roth, G. (2004) “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating”. London: Penguin.