Tuesday, February 10, 2009

games people play.....

Been stroked lately? We all crave them you know....the good, the bad and the lovely strokes. If we feel depleted of the nourishment we receive from being stroked, we will seek them out voraciously. It doesn't matter if they are loving or hurtful, our needs will override our logic. Hunger for love and affirmation is universally craved.....it is the key to what we all have in common. We all need to be stroked. Our thirsts need quenching.


Emotionally touched by others


Stroked through our interactions.

Recently, I've spent some time re-acquainting myself with the need for global open heart surgery......an offshoot from my more academic readings while considering the approach I want to take for a counselling course I will be teaching next fall. Consequently, I've been spending some time with Eric Berne's concepts behind Transactual Analysis. (Parent/Adult/Child, Ego States, Strokes, Scripts, Interactions, Games People Play.....I'm Ok, You're Ok). In order to take my own learning to a deeper level....to the place where I am in my life right now, I have been evaluating it through my own life lens.....through the experiences I am involved in, which includes the counselling work I do, the stories and the issues I am privy to, but also the experience of my own life and interactions. It is what makes learning so compelling. It has to make sense through our own life lens. If it can't be applied, it ain't worth learning.....this is the number one rule in Adult learning. :)

So, where am I? Oh.....Games People Play.....stroking.

"However good or bad you feel about your relationship, the person you are with at this moment is the "right" person, because he or she is a mirror of who you are inside." This Deepak Chropra quote was sent to me from a friend who asked me to explain it.... Hey beautiful friend??? How am I doing here? Have I confused you even more, or does it make sense??(oh, that was a stroke request wasn't it?) Ok....let's continue inside my confusion shall we?? :)

Our relationships reflect to us what we need.....? It seems to me that we are all trying to survive as stroke depleted victims and in so doing we continue to reach out for any kind of affirmation even if it is harmful or emotionally destructive. I will even say that our way of giving and receiving strokes has been impacted severely by the fact that we seem to have an unquenchable thirst.......or perhaps our cups have holes in them from past hurts and neglectful/harmful past and present relationships and the golden nectar we collect constantly seeps out. The types of relationships we try to form often reflect the need inside of ourselves.....if we haven't dealt with our own "holes" our own "wounds" ..... if we don't recognize them, name them, heal them then we will seek out relationships for the salve we so desperately crave.

Its a vicious cycle we are in as we continue to seek out strokes....by any means, unaware of the fact that our vessels have big weepy holes in them. How do we plug up the holes? How do we heal the wounds left from the games and roles we played in the past in order to learn how to give and receive healthy strokes? The first step is to recognize this in ourselves. We've got to wake up and SEE the holes! You can't fix something broken if you don't know what it is! Then, you can focus your attention on it...... It's like understanding the goal behind the behaviour. There's nothing worse than realizing you have been used as a pawn in a game you weren't given the rules for. And the only thing you can do is to change the script....to recognize that you yourself got into the relationship to fulfill your own needs too.

There's ALWAYS a reason behind why we act the way we do. Our actions are not solo flying....they are TIED to our emotional and cognitive stirrings! Our actions may be the kite seen in the air doing tricks, but it can only do so because it has a tail AND it has a string attached to someone standing on the ground! AND it's sharing the sky with a bunch of other kites with their own strings, and their own multi-coloured tails.
We need to ask......

Why does someone act that way?

Why does a child misbehave?

What is the goal behind the action???? It's all in the need to be recognized, seen, heard, loved.....are these not the goals behind the majority of our actions?

Maslow postulated that we have three basic survival needs we have to fufill in order to survive...we all need food, water and air to breath. We need to recognize one more fundamental need and that is love. We will go to any lengths to satisfy that need. We'll even try to fly a dozen kites at the same time if it means that we will eventually receive the strokes we so sorely need.

This to me seems to be the key to helping someone (and ourselves) recognize the feelings which manifest the motivation for the transactions we seek out. We gotta know the dance steps..........and we may have to alter them in order to alter the interaction with another. If we are caught in a script.....you know one where how we act and what is expected of us detrimentally plays on over and over and over again, only to try to fulfill our desire and need to be stroked, how do we learn to recognize the fact that this may in fact BE the reason for some of the holes in our cups.

It all gets ravelled up doesnt it? We are complicated beings when it comes to relationships aren't we? Man, the games we play just to get a few strokes!! We form friendships which on the surface the interactions appear to be healthy and positive only to find out there is an underlying motive, an underlying script playing out. It is a frustrating and sometimes heart wrenching story.......we've all been there. We've all experienced a friendship which has very different motives than what we were open to see and feel. WHY does this happen? Because we are trying to fulfill our own needs which sometimes can blind us from what is really happening. Its like looking through a fogged up mirror.

We are all in need of open heart surgery. WE could all benefit from a course in emotional literacy.....to learn to READ our own emotions as well as others as part of understanding the script in the drama we call life. Maybe life is the ulimate course... maybe its the only way to learn how to read emotions....ours and others. It really isn't something you can glean from a textbook is it? Learning about love in all its colour must be experienced, not read about. But HOLY, sometimes its a rough ride isn't it? Life is a rough and tumble ride.....

I think I'll be revisiting this again...... I'm OK.....I think......are you OK?


Tim Scammell, Professional Technologist said...

This blog sounds like a conversation that I had with someone recently.
Some of us need stroking much more than others. It also depends on circumstances though doesn't it?
I am one of those people who doesn't quite see my holes properly to try and heal them. I see that something is (not) there but don't quite get what it is without the help of friends.
I also tend to be one of the naive ones that has difficulty seeing underlying motives when they exist. Too much faith do you think?
Is there such a thing as too much faith?
Maybe those of us who end up in heart wrenching circumstances are intended to do so?
You know how I feel about reincarnation and life after death but if I did hold those beliefs I would say that us who sometimes suffer may have done something quite nasty in a past life.

Awareness said...

Tim...GREAT comments! thanks...it's made me think....loveit!

I totally agree...there are some who need many more strokes than others do....for as many reasons as there are unique people.
Like you, I tend to trust quickly and deeply. There are times when I've been burned.....more recently for some reason and like you am trying to figure it out. The faith in people? I hope yours never tarnishes. I hope mine doesn't either, but there are times when one has to protect oneself for a bit in order to figure out why we react in one way or another....or even to simply get over a recent hurt.

Reincarnation? Maybe it's not that we did something nasty...maybe its just that we ran out of time to learn a few lessons or two, eh? hahaha!

murf said...

This piece really resonated with me on several points. I liked the idea of our emotional cup containing holes. Sometimes I need more stroking than at other times and it is at these times that the holes in my cup absolutely gape. I don't even realize that I am being stroked and just keep barging ahead in a self-defeating manner. It is also at these times that I can't analyze why I feel the way I do, or act the way I do. I seem to be on emotional autopilot. Fortunately, my partner seems to be able to read me like a book. He says that I am transparent, even when I feel completely muddled. Maybe that's why I keep him around. He's sort of my emotional Immodium. Is that a bad mental image?

much2ponder said...

Another very good post Dana...I will come back to digest further in the coming days. This is interesting to me. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

Awareness said...

Murf...I believe we all need a good colon blow partner, you're just one of the lucky ones! Bad mental image?? NAH! I just never thought of him in that role...I do consider him a miracle man though since he was able to teach me how to do the front crawl well enough to pass my Bronze.

There is a great exercise I used with a co-worker last summer when we were working with a group of teen girls. It was about how life's experiences fill our cups etc...but that life's experiences also puncture holes in the side....we gave them their own cup and brainstormed events etc to illustrate it....then we poured the water in the cups and talked about what we can do to plug up the holes etc. it was very effective.

Have you used T.A. stuff with your teens?

m2p....I thought of you when I was writing it and wondered if you used some of the Berne's Transactual Analysis tools. The Ego States (parent, adult child) is a good tool to demonstrate healthy interactions and why etc. I use it often during counselling sessions and in my facilitating work with staff.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Every time you said we need strokes and it doezn't matter whether they are GOOD or BAD....That just didn't and doesn't feel right to me, at all. I don't believe people actually look for abuse, And'Or, they rather have that than nothing. No, That just doesn't sound right to me, at all. That people are IN abusive relationships is true, of course, but why they are in those relationships I think it so very much more complicated than 'looking for strokes' of any kind.
The experience of our earliest kind in regards to "feelings"--on a deep emotional level----is part of what leads us where we go. It is familiar. There is a comfort in familiar, and if you know nothing else..THAT is what you are attracted to.... But, to actively LOOK for these things that are going to make you feel bad about yourself??...I don't think so. It seems to me it is so much more subtle and complicated than that to my way of understanding through my own heart and feelings.
Indeed, we all need strokes...But, the strokes we need are not the OLD Messages of 'You Are Shit'....'You Stink'....what we need and what I believe we ACTIVELY look for are positive loving strokes. We just don't always know the right places to find these positive strokes all the time, and in that sense, we msy end up absolutely in the same old, same old....you know?
The solution to all this? Well, I don't know that I have the answer to that----I just know that one must make friends with our/my/ your "flaudness" because as it says in the Serenity Prayer, which is ALL about change and knowing what you can and cannot change....
".....The Wisdom To Know The Difference..."

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

"FLAWEDNESS"...Lord, my spelling is just horrible....lol!

A very provocative post, my dear...As always....Your Search is amazing and so very admirable.

Awareness said...

Naomi...thank you for pointing this out. It wasn't my intention to express that people go looking for abusive strokes...

We are deprived of the positive ones. Many lonely souls don't receive any form of positive affirmation. Because we need them in order to survive, we seek them out. When you consider a young adolescent pregnant with a babe (a babe having a babe) more times than not its was the result of two people in need of stroking...in need of love and recognition which brought them together. I often meet with young moms who tell me point blank that all they wanted was a baby to love unconditionally because they never received that themselves.

We prefer the no strings attached, "you are beautiful" strokes that's for sure....but if we are deprived, our inherent drives kick in and consequently lead to seeking them out in all the wrong places.

does that make sense?

I should write more on this topic later. There's much to say and I tried to just bite off a little bit of where my thoughts are while prepping for a course. I'm in the process of deciding which direction and which textbooks to order....this is why I'm looking at things so early.

Marja said...

Great post. On one of the courses for the childrens home they opened with a poem from a girl who had been in care. She put the same insight in a poem and said that her pockets were filled often but there was a hole in it. Can't find it now but it was great.
I had a huge hole myself because of several reasons It was healed nearly completely by one person. I was lucky

I did a transactional analyses paper for a basic counseling course. Loved it.