You could learn to stop playing the same old roles
I was training my hypnotherapy students last weekend (I originally wrote this post in 2016) and the topic in question was Transactional Analysis. Transactional Analysis was designed in the 1960s by Dr Eric Berne and is quite simply brilliant. When it works there is nothing which works better to explain why people get themselves into difficulties with others. I’ve used this way of explaining things in Reading, London, Oxford, Thame and Wallingford. It works superbly.
It’s based upon the parent, adult, child model you can see in the diagram. They’re subdivisions of our personalities. We all have elements of all three and all of them come forwards at different times. The trick is to know what role you’re currently playing in and, more importantly, to be able to choose!
So, you sit and play lego with your nephew. Your child state comes out and you allow yourself to play. He steps on a piece of lego and hurts his foot, your parent state emerges and you soothe his pain. After he has wandered out to play in the garden you sit down and discuss him with your sister – that’s your adult self coming to the fore. The adult is simply that mature person which we all strive to become.
There’s nothing wrong with being in any of these ego states. They’re all a part of us. It’s only ever a problem if they come out in the wrong circumstances and in an inappropriate manner.
In my work as a child and adolescent psychotherapist I have to bring out my child state, supervised by my adult state, in order to connect with the client before me. Sometimes I feel paternal (I’m old enough to even feel paternal to adult clients at times too) and I have to decide whether that parent state is an appropriate response to the situation at hand. To be aware is to be able to choose!
If you get that, we’re ready for the next stage
OK, the parent and child roles aren’t quite as simple as they first appear. Each is divided into two.
The nurturing parent is just that. It’s the part of us which is able to tend, soothe and placate . It enables us, where we can access this state, to be a great parent, the best teacher, the effective coach. When the controlling parent comes out to play things can be different. This part of our mind can be mean, judgemental and dominating.
The free child is creative. It causes us to play without caring who sees us. It enables us to enjoy things with abandon. We all recognise this in children when we see it. The adapted child, however, is that part which cowers, which fears and which adapts its behaviours and outlook to the difficult world in which it lives.
When we understand the theory we can begin to reflect upon our own behaviours and how they match up to the theory. Combined with hypnotherapy and other approaches we can then begin to move towards making changes.
If you’d like to make changes in how you relate to others and to yourself then hypnotherapy and TA together could help you.
Which of these ego states is dominant in your own personality?
As I said above, we all have all of these aspects to our personalities. Some of us, however, have more than one than another. Some of us bring more of the controlling parent and some of us bring more of the free child. Have a think over the next few days and notice when the different parts of your own personality come out to play. None of these things are intrinsically bad, it’s more a matter of striking a healthy balance and having the capacity to make a choice.
Right, here comes the really magical bit
A therapist using this approach will be interested in helping the client to analyse his transactions with others. Every time we interact with someone we have a ‘transaction’.
It’s the analysis of these transactions which gives this therapy its name and which renders it so effective. We can look at how we interact with others and we can use the knowledge gained to change things.
So, the sender in this diagram is acting as a parent. Whoever he’s talking to is responding as child. If this is an adult talking to a child then this is what you’d expect.
If the receiver is an adult and responds with a joke then this may be a healthy ‘free child’ response.
If the adult is a boss and the employee responds with a tantrum and a pout then this is a less healthy response. This is the adapted child talking and that person is going to end up being fired.
Perhaps the boss was a little bit too abrupt, bringing out a bit of his ‘controlling parent’. Perhaps this reminded the employee of the way his dad used to talk to him. Without thinking he went back into adapted child mode and pouted.
Wouldn’t it have been better if the boss had approached the employee as adult, leaving the employee to respond as an adult in turn? Well, that kind of thing can require a little bit of self-knowledge and the ability to act upon that self-knowledge.
Hypnotherapy can help you to change your responses
We generally learn our ways of relating to others as children. A controlling parent or an overly weak one can leave us with ways of seeing ourselves and others which taint our relationships into the future. We may respond to situations in the present in the same way we learned as children.
Harsh bosses can seem like harsh mothers and we may rebel against them in unconstructive ways. Unkind partners can remind us of unkind fathers. We might try to please them just as we worked so hard to win the approval of the parent. We are probably completely unaware of the connection.
We may need to unlearn old and ingrained ways of responding to others. Transactional Analysis can do this and hypnotherapy can help to embed its findings into the unconscious brain.
If you find yourself repeating the same mistakes with different relationships, be they professional, romantic or social, then please consider getting in touch. I’ll be glad to explain how hypnotherapy could help you. You could stop feeling the need to be in charge, to be liked by everybody, to be the victim, the winner or the helpless person. You could stop allowing others to trigger your own adapted child. You could choose your responses and be an adult. You could simply allow yourself to be yourself. Wouldn’t that be worth it?!
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