What kind of things do you say to yourself? Are you nice to yourself? Or are you mean? Would you be friends with someone who spoke to you like you speak to you?
In our first blog Basic Transactional Analysis we discussed the basics of the Parent, Adult, Child Ego State model created by Eric Berne. We now invite you to look within and observe what ego state are you in. One of the ways you can do this is note the type of things that you say to yourself when you are alone? Do you have dialogue? When we live alone or at least have some time alone, we may notice that we say things to ourselves out loud.
A lot of people can talk to themselves sternly and they have high expectations of themselves so when they don’t achieve or they make a mistake they may call themselves an ‘idiot’ or ‘pathetic’. Some people have observed after receiving a criticism like this that they can go on to pull a face at themselves. What is that all about?
Lets summarise ego states:
- If I am thinking, behaving or feeling in response to what is going on around me in the present day or the here and now, I am probably in my adult ego state.
- If I think, talk or act in a way that one of my parents or influential adults in my life did, then I am probably in my parent ego state.
- If I return to ways I used to act, talk or think in my childhood, then I am probably in my child ego state.
If you talk to yourself sternly or even insult yourself, chances are you are mimicking something which was directed at you when you were a child from a parent or influential adult. The voice of the critical parent. You have continued to speak to yourself in your adulthood in your critical parent ego state. If you catch yourself pulling a face after a criticism then it is possible as a child you pulled a face behind the back of a critical parent after a telling off. Often as children we are not allowed to express our anger, so it can get suppressed and comes out in other ways such as sulking or rebellion. So in this example, your adapted child decided to pull a face in response to your critical parent calling you an idiot.
It is helpful to look at which influential people you were around the majority of the time when you were growing up. Did you like them? Were they always telling you off? Was it a good relationship? Were they strict? Soft? Have high expectations of you? Were they quiet? Loud? What were you like when you where a child? Did you prefer your own company? Or like to be with others? Creative? Enjoy school? Get into trouble at school? How many friends did you have? This can all help to piece together where your internal conversations come from, namely externally from childhood.
Without self awareness, a lot of the conversations we can have within our own minds are between our parent and child ego state, and they can be quite negative. With increased awareness you can start to change how you speak to yourself. Remember your parent-child transactions don’t always have to be a negative experience. A healthy nurturing parent may create space to make sure you have a good meal or a hot bath in your busy day or the healthy free child may create space to allow you to have some fun.
Next blog we will look at ways in which we communicate when we are in the ‘drama triangle’.