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Tag Archives: transactional analysis

Games People Play (apologies to Eric Berne)

Several decades ago Eric Berne wrote a book called, Games People Play. Ii this book he describes how we all find ways unconsciously to reinforce our early Script decisions in life, by playing Games. Games with an Upper case G, rather than games, as in cards, and Scrabble etc.

I came across this concept in the late 1990’s whilst I was training in Transactional Analysis (TA). At that time I also learnt about Karpman’s Drama Triangle

In Games People Play we come across various Games with titles such as;
‘See What You Made Me Do’ ; ‘Ain’t It Awful’; and ‘I’m Only Trying To Help You’ and ‘Let’s you and him fight’. There are many more, and I think I have probably played them all many times in my life. It was quite a struggle to understand that I was playing Games, when I found myself slap bang in the middle of one, as I hadn’t “consciously” intended to be in one. In fact, I was horrified to find myself playing, and always wanted to blame the other person for making me play. It’s important to understand that it takes two to play. I think it was only as I moved on in my own therapy and over time that I managed more and more to spot the Game and either extract myself more quickly or even avoid getting in there in the first place.

I have learned also that now I have moved away from my training establishment, my therapy, my supervision and work environments, I am more Stroke hungry, so more vulnerable to Game playing. Currently, I believe I am in a good place, and can know this as I extracted myself from a Game earlier in the week and near the beginning too. It was the “Let’s You and Him Fight’ I think, or it could have been, ‘Now I’ve Got You Son of a Bitch’. NIGYSOB for short.

The Game started when my husband and I were bantering and playing on Facebook (Facebook is an interesting place for things going tits up). So, we were playing (even though we were only metres apart in different rooms) because playing in a relationship is good and we do play on Faceache and in reality. Along came someone from Persecutor on the Drama triangle to tell us not to play, and in fact later emailed us to slap us for playing! Of course the words being used weren’t as clear as that, but the unconscious intention was loud and clear. The email was even clearer. In fact I was told not to answer on my husbands behalf! I think this person would have been happy if we were fighting, but didn’t want to see us playing.

Since this person is hardly a friend of mine, I didn’t have a problem sending them away to Persecute elsewhere. Husband also more gently kicked them into touch. But this didn’t work. Several emails later this time from a mixture of Persecutor and Victim, husband received a copy of the email I’d sent as if in an attempt to really get us fighting. Said person obviously didn’t realise that along with playing, we share, and share everything, so husband had had a copy of the email as I’d sent it. I was and am astonished that someone can come in from nowhere and attempt to divide us and destabilise us and whilst I understand the Game theory, can’t work out how we’d arrived there. I am pretty positive we didn’t start a Game. I am sure if I were still in therapy or supervision, I would be able to unpick this with my therapist/supervisor. I know I manage to extract myself quickly as I didn’t get the payoff.

So along with the Connard stuff yesterday and this a couple of days before, it’s been an interesting (in the Chinese sense) week.

Keeping the gate closed doesn’t seem to be protecting against Incoming, I guess because the gate is not completely closed due to Facebook.

Tomorrow is Friday, and we’re going to have lunch out with my daughter and her boyfriend (after a visit to the gendarmerie) to celebrate the good stuff that has happened this week.

Bon weekend tout le monde.

As a special treat (;-) ) here’s a photo of our snowy garden, 6 days after it had snowed, no thaw in sight!
Snowy garden


shoulds and oughts

I have become aware that I seem to have gone back to a shoulds and oughts problem in my brain. Having become aware, I realise this has been around for some time, and I am wondering what it is that has shifted for me.

I know that it is quite likely to be me in a scripty position. So, me performing from a familiar, and “comfortable” yet inauthentic place. My Script position was one I designed in childhood, it helped me feel safe in the world, and was how I made sense of the world. Why on earth am I in it again?

This has crept up on me over the last few months, and quite likely since Dad died in March. I suspect I will have retreated to this type of being, to help protect me through the early part of the bereavement process. I also know that 2 months into this, another grieving process was taking place in my husband’s life which left me with less support for my own. So, it’s possible I started using my old driver behaviour of Please others. Stopped taking care of my own needs (as they are less important) and start taking care of the others needs, as his needs are greater (according to my Child and in my Script). As I continued to meet the needs of another, I took less care of me, and retreated into being driven to please others whilst resenting the pressure to do that.

This took its toll on my physical health, culminating in July with terrible neck pain. Looking back, I hadn’t been able to use my hands and arms properly for months, due to the inflammation in my neck. I put it down to the arthritis diagnosed the year before, and carried on doing as best I could. I stopped using the phone, as I couldn’t hold it for long without getting pins and needles in my hand and arm, I am still having problems with that. As promised telephone calls built up, I realised that I stopped wanting to call people and wondered whether the hand stuff was just a rationalisation for the reluctance to call.

So, after 10 sessions of very good physio (kinésithérapeute), I have all the strength and power back in my arms and hands. I can hold heavy things, shift heavy things and use my strength. I help shift some of our winter wood yesterday, it felt good to be using my arms again. I have 4 more sessions of physio and have learned some exercises for my neck. However, I am still feeling pressure to please others and make phone calls that I don’t feel like doing.

Last night I called my younger sister. One of the sisters I had been estranged from for 10 years. The phone call didn’t feel comfortable, and in retrospect I think she feels uncomfortable so talks loads to fill the space, and not take a risk with me speaking. I have decided I will go back to just email contact and the odd encounter when we visit the UK….10 years is a long time, and we are now so different. This felt like a duty call, as does the call I need to make to my mother and to other elderly relatives. There was a time when I didn’t get hooked by the duty thing, and somehow since Dad became ill in early 2010 and then his death, I am caught up in it again.

So, I know the answer to all this, I know I need to meet my needs and to only call if I want to, and not out of duty. I need to allow myself to be me and not a people pleaser. I used to do this reasonably well….and now I will need to work hard to shift it back. The thing is, it’s all in my head, yes of course some stuff has shifted out there, but it’s mostly here in my head. The problem is, what if people notice I am no longer pleasing them? Will I survive?

Kathy the sane, hiding behind the gate and avoiding as much reality as possible.