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Solving the problem

From Volume 11, Issue 4:Here’s Mr. Oil and Mr. Water staring at each other across the desk. Both are replaying a video of themselves in their youth in the same emotional situation. One’s getting harassed for underperforming, and the other’s on the offense, because that was (and is today) his role and makes his world work the way he wants it to.

Allowed to play out, the dialog that develops between these two (and husbands and wives and parents and kids) will most likely follow the same pattern it’s followed for years. One individual, locked in their Knower/Judger response patterns, will elicit the same response from the other individual locked in their K/J response patterns. There’s virtually no hope that anything different will happen than has happened in the past. It’s a downward spiral and actually, with repeated experiences, becomes easier and easier to reach the level of dysfunctional faster.

The nature of anger

From Volume 11, Issue 3:What makes you angry? Politics? Bad manners? Erratic driving? Poor service?

And why, when so triggered, do you express the emotion anger?

Psychologist Gail Brenner, whom I’ve been reading lately, has dived deeply into this emotion, and it ties in with the nomenclature I’ve been using to describe reactive behaviors in this newsletter. Anger exists in the Knower/Judger. It’s learned.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry

From Volume 11, Issue 3:Have you ever thought of the various uses of “I’m sorry”?

There are people who perpetually apologize for things that don’t warrant an apology—sometimes they’re just prefacing a simple sentence, like “I’m sorry, can we have a conversation about your time card for last week?”

Or they say “I’m sorry” every time they pass someone closely in a hallway. For these people, it’s a trained reaction. My experience has been that these folks learned this at an early age and frequently beat themselves up about not executing their lives to perfection.

Developing power in a conversation

From Volume 11, Issue 2:You’re in a conversation with your co-worker. Your opinions on the subject at hand are clearly disparate. And you both absolutely and truly believe you are right. How does that conversation go?

“Are too!” “Are not!” “Are too!” “Are not!” (ad nauseum)

A happy discontent

From Volume 11, Issue 2:We’ve been down this discussion road before. The older I get the clearer I get when distinguishing between satisfaction and happiness.

Perhaps it’s just my definitions that help me feel clearer about the distinction, and that helps me make decisions day-to-day, minute-to-minute on what’s important—a version of interactive triage.

For those who’ve followed this line of thought in the past, you will recognize that I perceive satisfaction as the degree to which I’ve accomplished some goal I set out to accomplish.

Prepare the Child

From Volume 11, Issue 1:Prepare the Child for the Road, not the Road for the Child. —Native American proverb

This article is basically an op. ed. piece. And it’s “parent-y.” It’s totally my opinion, and I’ll take any heat and commentary on it as productive.

It’s been my (and most transactional analysis psychologists’) premise that the experiences of our youth, from about two years old through about six, form our Knower/Judger persona. It is thought that through that age period we make decisions about how the world works and how we fit in it. We create our concepts of right and wrong, persuasion, self-worth, and thousands of things that we’ll compare ourselves against for the rest of our lives. We may even have a concept of the type of spouse we’ll marry, and, if we grow up in certain environments, even how often we should beat him or her.

Change and the New Year’s Resolution

From Volume 11, Issue 1:By the time you read this, you may have already blown your New Year’s Eve Resolution(s).

Why do we even bother to make them? Over the years I’ll bet I’m zero for fifty. I’ve discovered several possibilities as to why they don’t work, at least for me.

Letting yourself learn

From Volume 10, Issue 12:Remember American History class? Blah, blah, blah, Lincoln, blah, blah blah, Gettysburg, blah, blah, blah….

Unless you’ve suddenly decided American history is now interesting, your retention of this material is probably minimal or limited to being proficient at Googling such topics.

The value of maybe

From Volume 10, Issue 12:There are tons of situations in which “maybe” is a non-productive response. Salespeople know “maybe” as a time-waster, indefinite, kick-the-can-down-the-road answer. Very non-committal. And salespeople live and die by commitments.

“Maybe” can be infuriating. I use it when I simply want to keep my options open no matter how badly the other person wants or needs a commitment from me.

Wanting

From Volume 10, Issue 11:Can you define something that you feel you want that isn’t tied directly to your Knower/Judger? That wouldn’t be satisfying some ego need? It’s tough, isn’t it? Money? Car? House? Relationship?