Compulsive Thoughts and Parenting Yourself
You are driving down the road after a long day at work, and you mentally know where every fast food stop is. You are gritting your teeth, trying not to turn off the highway and head to a drive-through. All you can think about is how you are hungry, it was a long day, you didn’t eat that much for lunch, you could eat it in the car - your partner doesn’t even have to know you stopped for this cheat meal.
You are walking through the grocery store and stop in front of the Oreos. You spend over five minutes looking at the flavors, your inner monologue wearing away at your resolve that THIS TIME you can bring home a pack and not eat the whole thing.
Your dirty laundry is piling up on the bedroom floor. Every night you see it, you stress out and can feel the anxiety in your gut - but you excuse it away because you are too tired. Someone else can do it. You have something to wear tomorrow, so it doesn’t really matter.
You set a goal to go back to the gym this week, but each day you talk yourself out of it. You’re tired. The drive is too long. You didn’t pack your pre-workout. You only have time for 30 minutes, which is basically nothing - so why bother.
These excuses that chip away at you can be described as compulsive thoughts. For many of us, they can be like a battering ram in your brain, slowly wearing you down over time to give in to your more base desires.
One of the most well-known psychologists of our time, Sigmond Freud, developed the idea that our personalities are made up of three parts - the id, ego, and superego.
I won’t get into a full psychology lesson for you, but to break it down roughly - your id is your subconscious impulses. It relates to infancy, where if we want something, this part of your personality has been developed to get it.
Your ego refers to the part of your brain that reasons your id. It is the logic and reason, helping guide your base desires to have what it wants in a less destructive way. So if you are tired, your id may say to throw a scene and stomp off. Your ego is aware that your family or the general public will probably respond negatively to that, and will encourage you to excuse yourself to go
take a nap.
Your superego? That’s your ideal person. It’s the morals, the part of us that wants to be better and do better. Are you someone who is motivated to not feel guilty, or strives to feel pride? You probably rely on your superego more.
When we have these compulsive thoughts, that is our id trying to take over that logic and reason to get what it wants. When you are someone trying to overcome issues with food, shopping, alcohol - whatever your vice may be - we can feel powerless to that constant push to our resolve.
I work with a lot of bariatric patients in my 1:1 coaching program, and these thought patterns are something a lot of us struggle with - so we began working on learning to parent ourselves.
For you watching or reading this blog - you may have kids or have taken care of a child before. If you have, you know it is a lot easier to be the rational one in the room, because you know that they are not rational.
Your id, your compulsive thoughts, are the same.
So when you are in the car, driving down the highway, planning every exit you could take to stop at any of your favorite fast food stops - I want you to imagine those compulsive thoughts as the screaming toddler in the back seat.
Trust me - I know how wearing that can be. You are tempted to pull over just to get them to be quiet for a moment.
But you know better - if you pull over, you know it won’t teach your toddler anything in the long run. It will only reinforce the behavior that if it pushes you enough, it will get what it wants.
At the dinner table with a kid, we put vegetables and fruits on their plate and expect them to eat it because it is good for them - but we don’t naturally do the same courtesy for ourselves. It’s a learned habit. So, I challenge you - use this cheat code. Envision your kid when your brain wants something that goes against your goals. Encourage it to grow up, and get with the program.
As a last remark on this, also remember - occasionally, you will get the kid ice cream when you would have rather gone home. This isn’t a failure. This is life. Like any good parent, there is a certain balance we all need to find between being a good example and letting loose. Just remember - just because you went out for ice cream, doesn’t mean you can go off the deep end. It’s all about getting back on track at the end of the day.
If this type of lesson or belief resonated with you and what you may be struggling with - I do have spots open in my 1:1 bariatric life coaching program, as well as a new 1-month intensive for pre-op patients who want help understanding the basics of life after surgery, and have someone to help them make sense of their particular program. If you are interested in having a conversation about either of these programs, you can check out the applications here:
Thank you so much for continuing to support me and this blog!