Reasoning with Yourself is Not always an Easy Task!

Do you ever set goals for yourself, with a full intention of following through and find yourself distinctly unwilling to take the steps necessary in order to succeed, when it comes time to take those steps or doing things that undermine your goals? The problem is that the psyche is complicated, yet simple, and a bit contrary at times. If those terms don’t like they belong together in a sentence, then here are a few concepts and thoughts that might help to understand the situation:

Freudian Principle: The ID, the Ego, and the Super Ego

The ID: The childish whimsy of “I want”.

The Ego: The decision-maker.

The Super-Ego: The conscience, the nagger, or a person’s ability to tell right from wrong.


You might also think of these concepts as the head, the heart, and the gut.

The Heart: The ID. Still the whimsy of wants and needs, but also concern for friends and family.

The Head: The Ego. Again, the thinker and decision-maker.

The Gut: The Super-Ego. Instinct or knowledge of a situation beyond the immediately apparent.

The writer of an article I recently read thinks that the sense of “self” is the ID or the childish whimsy of “I want”, with the ID and Super-Ego hanging out mostly in the background. This mostly agrees with Freud’s theory, which further states that most of a person’s psyche is unconscious thought. While I agree that the psyche appears to work along Freud’s concept of ID, Ego, and Super-Ego, I disagree with the writer of the above article, in that the ID cannot be reasoned with. I also do not believe that the average person’s ID is their sense of self. Here is my thought on it.

While the average person thinks of the Ego as the “Self,” because it is the decision-maker. In reality the “self” consists of all three psychic parts. If you have a problem with carrying through on a goal that you set for yourself, then these parts of your ego are out of concert. Which means that you have not convinced yourself, on all levels, of the necessity to complete the steps in your goal. Additionally, it isn’t necessarily true that the ID childishly (as some people assert) does not want to take care of a problem. It may be either the ID or Super-Ego that is being contrary, but not necessarily disagreeing about the goal. The discord may simply be in how you plan to accomplish your goal.

How do you deal with it, when a part of your own consciousness has openly rejected something that you know you need to do? You do the same thing you do when your mind and body are silently rejecting your goals (often by undermining your efforts). You have to find a way to resolve the conflict. To do this, you first have to determine what the conflict is.

You cannot reach your goals, because (for some reason) you are distressed and your psyche (one or more parts) disagrees with you about how to resolve the problem. The heart of the matter though, is that distress means an unhappy stress and you need to find a way to resolve that unhappiness. This isn’t always readily possible, because the source of the problem is how you earn your income or someone in your family has a problem that you have no control over, or a whole host of other possible inconveniently irredeemable issues, which could be distressing you. The problem may also not be readily apparent. How do you deal with it, when resolving the actual problem is not immediately possible or beyond your control? At this point, it is time to have a serious, sit down talk with yourself. How you do this depends upon you. I like to take a walk, run, or do martial arts, while I consider the situation or write it out in an article like this one, where I hash out the pros and cons of every angle of the situation that I can think of. The bottom line here is that it is time to be honest with yourself about your situation.

First, you have to recognize and accept what you do not have control over. I can present evidence and my opinions to the people I care about or someone in a position authority over a situation, but in the final analysis, they are responsible for their own actions and behaviors and I am responsible only for my own and what I have direct control over. Then, take in a deep breath and let go of the stress related to the thing you cannot control, as you breath out. This takes a while to learn how to do (much meditation). Second, I determine what (within your realm of influence) you are responsible for and have control of.

Example: Why am I not losing weight, even when I exercise regularly or eating right? Why do some “diets” work, while others fail, even though they work for others? It could easily be that you are literally fighting yourself.

The human body happens to be a walking chemical lab, creating its own pharmaceuticals (drugs) as it feels it needs them. If that statement sounds like it comes out of nowhere, it really doesn’t. If exercise and dieting create unhappy stress (distress) for you, then this triggers your body to produce chemicals that hinder your body’s ability to lose weight. Current popular belief states that Cortisol is the culprit in weight gain, because it tells your body to store fat, and this may be so (perhaps time and further research will tell).  There are a lot of theories about how to reduce cortisol out there, *most of them telling you to buy their product. If what you are doing, in order to reduce weight, is not working, then you are likely doing something that is not reducing your stress. It might in fact be increasing your distress.

Then there are instances, when it is time to complete that task and I simply feel myself digging in and feeling that “I DON’T WANT TO” sensation, which means that my ID has stepped out of the shadows and loudly stated its rejection of my goal. The Super-Ego is “usually” a bit more quietly insistent in its wants and needs.

Resolving the Conflict:

I find that for me to get behind a goal I need at least three good or strong reasons to do so. Conversely, if I am not accomplishing a goal, there may likewise be three good or strong reasons that are preventing me from completing that goal. If you do not think that there are so many reasons for you to do or not do something, this may be so or it may be that you just haven’t taken the time to think about it. So let’s have my little talk and see how it works.

Example of a Sit Down Talk:

The Problem: I’m overweight and having trouble with accomplishing my exercise goals and with losing weight.

The Obstacle or Sticking Point: I am coming up with pseudo important things to do or I am outright unwilling to exercise when it is time to exercise.

Example: I want to work out and lose weight. I have a plan. I set a date and time. I have a schedule, but I always seem to find something more urgent to do or something that needs done, which takes precedence over my goal to work out.

Influencing Factors (Good or Strong Con Reasons {inhibiting or against reasons}):

  1. Exercise is painful to me anymore, so it gives me little joy and therefore increases my distress.
  2. I have no one to work out with who can make the experience more enjoyable, encourage me, and maybe help me keep on track in spite of myself.
  3. I see little to no improvement, when I control my diet (trying to eat healthy, not all those fad diets) and or exercise.
  4. Exercising in front of people, especially in popular exercise outfits, is embarrassing and stressful, because being overweight does not look good. Okay, this one I have to recognize as a Pro and a Con.
  5. Some people, wittingly or unwittingly, provide me with opportunities to derail myself.

Influencing Factors (Good or Strong Pro Reasons {positive or for reasons}):

  1. Being overweight is unhealthy and the longer people are overweight, the more unhealthy they or I get. This includes hypertension, diabetes, and so on, which lead to even worse and potentially fatal health issues.
  2. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. Weight loss requires “Life Changes,” including how long you spend on sedentary tasks, how you exercise, how much you exercise, what and how much you eat, and joy or happiness in your weight loss activities and in your life. In other words, it takes effort over the long term along with a dedication to the idea of weight loss, which is a conscious determination and an unconscious willingness, in order to make progress.
  3. Being overweight feels bad, slows you down, makes it hard to move with grace or ease, and makes you look bad (to yourself and possibly to others).
  4. If being overweight is embarrassing, it is all the more reason to exercise, perhaps just not in large groups at first or come to the realization that the people working out with you are there for the same reason you are, because they are unhappy with their weight or realize that the only way to keep themselves in good shape and looking good is to exercise; therefore, if they are laughing about how you look and make you the source of their amusement, they are mean-hearted, vindictive, and spiteful individuals who are not worthy of your company.
  5. Temptations can be overcome:

Cookies, cakes, and such are tempting, along with overeating. Get the temptations out of the house, learn to say “No Thank You,” & mean it (recognize that it is a derailer, not a treat). Get some treats into the house that are healthy, perhaps some that might go bad quickly (perishable) but definitely other items that have a good shelf-life.

Examples: Ready-to-Eat nibblers, such as precut fruits and vegetables in the fridge along with fresh fruit and nuts on the table.

I recognize the preponderance of weight (value) for the pro versus con reasons.

Ok. I cannot simply kick my husband out, just because he offers me tasty treats that derail my goals. Quitting my job, which is often a point of stress for people, but is an overall stressor and are not directly related to this issue and might provide a temporary satisfaction but would create even more problems if I did not already have another job lined up. So, since I have decided against doing something rash and not helpful in the long run, I need to look at resolving the conflicts that I have a little more control over and have a little more relation to the issue. Since I obviously want to lose weight, what is the crux of the problem? While facing each item on the Con list items is often necessary, sometimes just one of those items will make each or some of the other items harder to deal with. So, what can I take away (remove) from the Con list that improves my chances for meeting my goals? Looking over my itemized list, “Pain in Exercise” pops out rather glaringly. So now I know. Now that I know, what I do with that knowledge? I know that I have to cut out the exercises that cause me more pain than enjoyment or do them in a less intense way than I might want, such as walking instead of running. I know that the more I exercise the more likely I will be to lose weight, but if I work out too intensely or for too long, it leads back to pain, adding a dose of boredom, which takes away any enjoyment I might gain from the activity and take me right back to the stress that is unhelpful in losing weight. Keep in mind that the more weight I lose, the less pain I might feel when exercising and conversely the more weight I gain, the more it will likely hurt to exercise. Just one more of those cause and consequence loops that makes life so interesting.

Now, when coming up with your Pro list, you really should come up with a Pro item that counteracts or contradicts each of the items on the Con list. It really helps in convincing each facet of the psyche (back to the ID, Ego, and Super-Ego).

Side-by-Side Comparative Analysis: (The Short List)

Con Pro
1. Pain in exercise. Find Workarounds. Example: low impact exercise and low impact sports. Use ice, massage, and heat as indicated. Keep in mind that losing weight makes exercise and movement less painful and thus makes it easier to work out.
2. Lack of Improvement There is no magic wand for weight loss. It takes effort over the long term, along with a dedication to the idea of weight loss, which is the conscious determination and unconscious willingness, in order to make progress.
3. Lack of Support Find a support group or do something along with exercise to make it enjoyable. Example: listen to music or take classes, such as dance or martial arts.
4. Distractions and Derailers Get the temptations out of the house, learn to say “No Thank You,” & mean it, and keep healthy snacks in the house. Examples: Ready-to-Eat nibblers, such as precut fruits and vegetables in the fridge along with fresh fruit and nuts on the table.
5. Increased Stress & Lack of Enjoyment in exercise See Items 1-4 & 6
6. Embarrassment in Exercise Find a workout outfit, which you look and feel comfortable in. Recognize that the people who would ridicule you for attempting to improve yourself, are not worthy of worrying about, in what they think of you.

So I think I have covered just about everything pretty thoroughly except for acceptable workout outfits. That means acceptable to me, when talking about myself or acceptable to you, when you think about this in relation to yourself. For me, an acceptable workout outfit would be either a leotard and shorts or skirt. Alternatively, a light pair of workout pants and a T-shirt that closely resemble sweats, but thin. Not so thin that you end up being able to see dark underwear through them, but not so thick that they could cause overheating in a gym or in the summer. Sweats are best in cool to cold weather, because if you heat up too quickly you will overheat and there went your plan to get in a goodly bout of exercise. Bearing this in mind, please remember to stay hydrated, when you exercise.

One last look at happiness and joy. You will notice that I mentioned them several times in this article. The lack of these in your life leads to increased stress and distress. If you have a preponderance of stress and distress over happiness and joy in your life as a whole, all the happy exercise in the world might not help you. I highly recommend you make the same chart that I made above, regarding your life’s happinesses and stresses, then try to identify methods and activities you can do to remediate or resolve the problem.

Now, if sitting down and talking to yourself does not help you, because admit it, sometimes we just refuse to listen to ourselves or the people closest to us (such as parents, siblings, and spouses, and our children {if we have them}), it is time to find someone to talk to who you trust and admire, who will give you advice that you will listen to. I may end up being the same advice you gave yourself, but sometimes we just need that affirmation.

I hope this finds you well and inspires you to take a fresh look at the goals you might have been having trouble with. Please share this article with others if you think it might prove useful to them or other people they know. If you want to let me know you like this article and want more in the future, please go to my website and Like it there.

Good Luck in your honest endeavors and Good Day to you all.

Remediate: A solution that does not actually solve a problem, but does reduce its chances of occurring or its impact if it does occur.

Smidgen: small or tiny amount.

On Freud

I do not recommend every concept attributed to Freud. I have not yet found direct articles written by Freud, only articles written by others, which tend to contradict each other. Many of which lead me to believe that he had a few fixations of his own and was married to the concept that all psychic issues stemmed from a childhood trauma (at least at one time), completely disregarding the possibility that a person might have a perfectly decent childhood and have a traumatic incident in adulthood. Yet other articles contradict some of those notions or imply that he later changed his stance. Here are two articles that portray differing opinions on Freud; one and two. Please remember that it is always best to go to the source, when making judgements about a person or their character.

Though I do grant that having a traumatic childhood or a traumatic childhood event can, without guidance from peers, parents, or counselors, cause a person to be less able to deal with life’s later demands, they can also make a person much more capable of dealing with life’s demands. It all depends upon the individual and how they sort and process a situation within their own mind.

I believe that Freud came up with a lot of important and relevant notions related to psychology, but I also believe he came up with a lot of quackery or someone took some of his theories and turned them into quackeries. I would probably have to review all of his original works to have a smidgen of a clue.

On People with an Agenda

Be wary of people who tell you something, when they have an agenda, such as the acquisition of money or power. It does not mean they are lying about everything or even lying at all, but it may mean that they may twist the facts to suit their purposes. Though not everyone who is trying to sell you something is trying to do so purely for their own benefit. Be aware and wary, but please try to keep an open mind. For example: In this article I am trying to sell you and on the idea that you can be the master of your own fate by taking a closer look at your situation. Not a bad goal I trust and I hope you will agree.