Years ago there was a book by Eric Berne entitled the ‘Games People Play.’ It was a popular read that was steeped in a deeper analysis of human motivation somewhat based on Freud. Berne explained the deeper concepts using three different approaches that we could relate to in our lives. His premise was that people typically use one of these approaches to avoid real intimacy or at least to get what they want out of life. Being honest with ourselves we all use methods of manipulation in our lives. Like everything else in life it is to the degree that we use them that either helps or impedes our growth. Berne labeled these three different approaches as the Child, Parent, and Adult perspectives. It is worth examining our typical responses as well as those around us to understand how these perspectives apply. We choose one of these perspectives to seek attention, recognition and ‘strokes’ from others. Early in life we discovered that one of them seemed to work better for us and over time it may have become a behavioral mode of interacting with others to help us control our circumstances. With everything in life the more we do something the better we become at it.
To begin, let’s look at the Child orientation. Think of a young child and frequently a smile will come to your face as they entertain us, and make us laugh at their behavior. We watch them as they are naturally spontaneous, curious and display a confidence to try new things. They just want to have fun right? But they can also be difficult if they don’t get their own way, or receive an immediate response to their demands. They can throw tantrums and exhibit a stubbornness and catastrophic view of events that are out of their control. Rather than ‘go with the flow’ they expect to control the flow because they just know people want to make them happy. After all, who doesn’t just love a child?
The next perspective, labeled the Parent approach, can involve problem solving, wise counsel and a feeling of safety and security. However, it can also result in telling, directing, demanding and judging. This can be the person who seems to think they have all the right answers – not just for themselves but for us as well. After all, many of us looked to one or both of our parents to give us an answer or an okay about something we wanted to do in our life. We looked for their approval. What type of message did you receive from your parent(s) about work, relationships, achievement and security. Are you modeling the same behavior you watched as a child?
The last approach, labeled the ADULT is one which uses a rational objectivity, acceptance of truth – without judgment or demands. An example would be that when listening to you explain a challenge or roadblock in your life asks you how you feel about it. They want you to process your feelings and grow from your inner discovery. They are cautious about giving advice because they realize that we are all on our own unique path and that the answer for one person may not be the right answer for another when dealing with human interactions. In spiritualism this approach would be compared to functioning in our higher self. Realizing that events happen for a purpose, a lesson and that we are basically actors on the stage of life living the parts of the script that we have written.
The beauty in examining our own behavior is that it can help us to determine areas or edges that we might choose to smooth out or areas in which we would like to expand our repertoire of responses. The more we examine ourselves the more confident and at peace we can become
Have a great few days!