Does Your Inner Two-Year-Old Need a Habit Change?
When your inner toddler resists positive change, find a parent.
Posted Apr 14, 2010
The other day while I was stopped at a stop sign, I witnessed a very young child suddenly throw a temper tantrum just as he and his mother had reached the middle of the street. Oblivious to the danger around him, he thrashed wildly about, trying to pull out of his mother's grip, until she calmly picked him up and carried him safely to the sidewalk, patting his back and talking to him.
What a great parent! She embraced him, reassured him, and took him to a place of safety, all within moments. My fellow humans, isn't it amazing that so many of our young actually manage to reach adulthood without suffering fatal mishaps? It takes a while for our toddlers to develop a survival IQ.
Then my thoughts turned to a former client. Carla had tried for years to lose weight and knew more about the merits and minuses of every diet program than most nutrition experts. She also had tried every fad diet on the market. She always lost weight but could never keep it off for good. At this point she felt so discouraged that she wasn't sure she even wanted to try again.
"What seems to happen?" I asked.
"Well, eventually I rebel," she said. "I've got a two-year-old inside me that wants what it wants when it wants it. It just won't cooperate."
Carla realized that she needed to set limits on her "two-year-old within," but the internal struggle usually ended in a victory for her inner toddler. She finally decided to return to the one support group that had worked best for her--TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). TOPS became the responsible parent that could keep her inner toddler from risking her health and life through over-eating. With the support of the group, Carla slowly began to lose weight again. Research indicates that group treatments for weight loss tend to be more effective than "do-it-yourself" programs, and Carla knew from experience that she could not succeed on her own.
Many of us may also have an "inner two-year-old" that jumps impulsively into traffic--or ice cream or cigarettes or beer--despite threats to life, limb, and happiness. When this happens, you could get yourself back in control with a responsible program to back you up--and watch your back.
Huff, C. "Teaming Up to Drop Pounds," see http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan04/teaming.aspx
I am the author of Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success (Routledge, 2009). For updates, insights, and tidbits on habit change and motivation, please "like" me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter.