Expert Insight: A Gentler Way of Dealing with Yourself

Several pink heart-shaped flowers on a branch.

“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.

25 thoughts on “Expert Insight: A Gentler Way of Dealing with Yourself

      1. We’re good! Just trying our best to stay away from others and stay healthy. It’s pretty scary yet I want to stay optimistic. Let’s hope this too shall pass without taking more lives.🙏

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  1. Julie, I’ve got the perfect antidote to binge eating, overeating and eating just because it’s there! Have a few meals in a nursing home!! Glory hallelujah, but that will help you lose your appetite in a hurry!

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    1. The difficulty is having that shift in perspective from a critical stance to a compassionate one, isn’t it? But that’s what makes all the difference in recovery. Many thanks for your comment.

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  2. The kindness in those words warms my heart, thank you. I’m getting better at noticing my inner bully and laughing off the negative messages, but still need to work on replacing them with compassionate ones. Be well.

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    1. It makes me happy that they warm your heart, thank you for letting me know. Yes, I always think it’s useful to replace unwarranted self-criticism with self-compassion – it feels so much better! Hope you’re OK, Karen. These are strange and scary times.

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  3. On a side note, Geneen Roth’s book was one that made a huge, unbelievable really, difference for me many years ago during a difficult time with bulimia. Fantastic post, Julie, and I do think that inner bully (I’ll go with The Punisher as I’m a marvel fan  😉) can be our own worst enemy but we can work to respond differently and reduce that impact, changing the dialogue very gradually.xx

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    1. Geneen Roth’s words made a big impact on me when I was struggling with BED – she writes so well. I still return to her books now just to remind me I’m on the right track! Thanks for sharing your experience, Caz. I hope you’re OK – this must be an especially worrying time for you and others dealing with invisible illness.

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  4. I’ve heard it referred to as “the internal committee,” which I kind of like. But yes, we need to learn to identify those negative thoughts for the poison that they are, and stop listening to it. We have other, more positive, voices in our heads that we can listen to instead.

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  5. Thank you for sharing!.. To quote Roy T Bennett “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” 🙂

    Hope all is well with you and your family, friends, etc, each and every day is filled with love and happiness and life is all that you wish for it to be!.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

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