Tell your inner two-year-old to shut it

There’s a reason they call it the “terrible twos.”

Tantrums. Stubbornness. Attitude. Diapers (probably). And every parent’s favorite word….


Don’t believe me?  Watch this. Then go hug a parent of a toddler. They deserve it.

It’s kind of cute to watch a little kid try to exert some control over their world by saying no to every suggestion. It’s not so cute when it’s an adult in the workplace.  You’ve seen them – heck, you’ve probably even been one.  Goodness knows I have.  The scenario may change, but the process is pretty consistent:

  • Step One: Person A elicits heavy sigh.
  • Step Two: Person B asks what’s wrong.
  • Step Three: Person A unleashes a barrage of complaints, usually including righteous indignation about events that happened years ago.
  • Step Four: Person B makes suggestions about how Person A might resolve their issues.
  • Step Five: Person A’s inner two-year-old says NO. Cycle repeats.

angrytoddlerThe reasons that Person A relinquishes control to the inner two-year-old can vary.  Maybe it’s fear of change. Maybe it’s love of the attention being a martyr gives them. Heck, maybe it’s a passive-aggressive attempt to exert control in a situation that feels like it’s spiraling OUT of control.

Whatever the reason, the more we listen to the voice of that inner two-year-old, the louder that voice becomes, and that can lead to bad things. It’s exhausting to deal with someone else’s refusal to listen to solutions. At some point, Person B will stop talking to Person A, and Person A might gain a reputation for being “difficult to work with.”

Critical inner speech can impact your ability to find positive resolutions and can cause you to spiral into a pile of negativity that makes you incapable of acknowledging that success is an option, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom. And in really bad cases, it can lead to life-threatening depression.

So do yourself a favor. The first time your inner two-year-old crosses his/her arms, pouts out the lip and says NO, you tell that kid to shut the hell up.  Then seek some positivity in your life – a coworker, a spouse/partner, a close friend, a sympathetic dog, wine. Whatever it is, help change the story you’re telling into something good.

Even two-year-olds grow out of their tantrums and laugh again. If they can do it, so can you.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.
– Elbert Hubbard

One thought on “Tell your inner two-year-old to shut it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s