Inner-toddlers, an expert, and my three brains

I know someone who knows brains and thoughts and sleepless nights. Given I have been having the most unhelpful thoughts that sometimes prevent me from sleeping, I gave him a call.

“Abby, do you know you have three brains?” I did not know this.

He continues:

“You have a brain you think of as ‘you’ – your decision-maker.”

I am pretty sure it is this decision-making brain that is talking to you as I write this post.

“Then you have a thought generating brain, spewing out thoughts that can be nonsense, banal or now and again blog-worthy. Why do you think those thoughts pop into your head at odd times?” he asks.

“I’ve no idea”

“Neither do I”.


“You also have a more infantile brain. It is your inner-child.”


“Listen. You have an inner child. Call it ‘F’.”


“Because all it really thinks about is the big “F’s: the fleeing; the fighting; the feeding; and the fornication.”

“Are you sure inner children should be thinking about the fornication?”

“You are being obtuse. The point I am trying to make is that the F brain thinks about all of these basic instincts in a particularly childlike way. It decides whether or not it wants to run away or fight or binge or fast or, well, fornicate, in any given situation. Woe betide anything that tries to stop it acting on its impulses.”

And there’s the rub. Because me, decision-maker me, the brain talking to you right now, cannot always run away from a situation. Or hit someone in the face. Or binge or, no matter what the ‘inner-child’ is begging me to do.

“So what then?”, I ask, “What if me and my three brains are unable to escape the situations that upset this inner-child?”

“If decisions you make upset your inner-child, then it might have a tantrum. Like with any toddler tantrum, the physical symptoms are self-evident: raised heartbeat, flushed cheeks, sometimes seeing red, sometimes wanting to weep, sometimes mute, sometimes irrational. When under stress, your thought generator will become muddled and ‘you’, won’t be able to hear yourself think. Let alone be able to sleep.

“Can I get chocolates and sweets fast-tracked to this third brain?” Chocolate and sweets always help in a tantrum situation.

The expert exudes an annoyed silence. Then asks:

“How sweet are you to your inner child?”

“If I spoke to my children like I speak to myself about the things I have failed to do or messed up or upset me, then they would be in care.”

“So speak nicer”


“I’m just telling you to speak to yourself like you would speak to your children. Celebrate success. Be supportive in failure. Don’t judge harshly and by ridiculous standards. Be kind.”

He may have a point.

It’s perhaps time to serve up a more thoughtful plate of thought food, and feed it gently to the baby-brain. I’ll serve up huge portions of love, and hugs, and praise and support.

“Won’t this just make my inner child, and therefore me, a smug, spoiled, pain?

“I don’ think so. At the very least, you’ll have done your utmost to care for it. To care for you. Once you’ve managed that, who knows, those unhelpful thoughts may find it a little harder to make themselves heard in the middle of the night.”

“Perhaps all three of us will sleep a little easier!”

“Like babies even?”

“Two hours at a time, to awake starving hungry and covered in poo?”

“Kind thoughts Abby. Kind thoughts”.





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