Is Your Inner Child Making You Fat?
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Two decision makers: your Parent, your Child
If you step back a moment and think about the dialogue you have with yourself when you’re in situations such as the hypothetical Baskin Robbins scenario above, you might notice something interesting. Doesn’t it sound just like an argument between a dominating parent and an irrational child?
In fact, according to Canadian-born psychiatrist Eric Berne’s theory of personality, that’s exactly what’s going on. Berne’s theory, commonly known as Transactional Analysis (TA), sees personality as made up of a Parent, a Child, and an Adult, each having control of a person’s feelings, thoughts, and actions in response to different situations.
For example, in a situation where a food decision has to be made, people who have trouble controlling their weight will often let their Parent or Child make the decision for them, instead of allowing their Adult to be in control.
Tantrums and traumas
Your inner Child won't say "no"
Your Child state is essentially a return to your childhood. The thoughts and feelings that you experience in this state are often playful, imaginative, and spontaneous. But they can also be immature, resistant, and willful. Decisions in this state are usually driven by feelings rather than thoughts, and by wants rather than consequences.
When you're presented with a choice between a huge ice cream or none at all, and you let your inner Child make the decision, she or he will almost always opt for the ice cream.
Of course, your inner Parent will often argue back and say “you can’t have it, it’s bad for you.” But when your inner Child has dismissed this parental “you can’t, you shouldn’t” (which is easy to do when you don’t have a real parent controlling you any more) the result is often a 1000 calorie mega-ice cream cone, or something similar. And although the Child may have won the battle and had the ice cream, childlike feelings of guilt and remorse often follow.
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