Build confidence and improve relationships with TA counselling

Transactional Analysis (TA) counselling for confidence and relationship problems

Life-script

Each of us, in childhood, writes our own life-story. This story has a beginning, a middle and an end. We write the basic plot before we are even able to talk and then add more details to the story later in childhood. Most of the story is complete by the age of 7.

As grown-ups, we are usually no longer aware of our life-story. Yet, unconsciously, we follow it meticulously. We set up our lives in a way so we can move towards the final scene we decided upon as infants.

This life-story is known in TA as our Life-script.

When we are doing script-analysis, we use the concept of the life-script to understand how people may unawarely set up problems for themselves and how we could go about solving these problems.

For example: Kevin might come to therapy, complaining about relationship problems. We will then set up to explore a possible life-script that Kevin might have written for himself. If we find out that Kevin has decided very early on in life that he was unlovable and stupid, and in what circumstances this decision was made, we will then be able to work together with Kevin on changing these early decisions.

Discounting

The child makes up a life-script because it is a best survival strategy at the time. In our Child Ego-state, we believe that any threat to our infant picture of the world is a threat to the satisfaction of our needs or even to our survival. In order to avoid that, we tend to distort reality to fit our script. When we do so, we are redefining.

To make sure that reality fits our script, we often ignore the information available to us. We unconsciously “don’t notice” the aspects of reality that contradict our script. This process is called discounting.

People discount at different levels: existence of the problem, significance of the problem, change possibilities, personal abilities.

For example: Kevin’s friend comes to see him and says:”Kevin, why don’t you have a girlfriend?” To which Kevin replies: “What girlfriend? What do you mean?” Here, Kevin would be discounting the existence of a problem.

Kevin could also have said: “Yes, I know, but I don’t really care!” Then he would be discounting the significance of a problem.

If, instead, he would reply: “Yes, I am not happy about it myself. But it is hard to find a nice girl nowadays.” Here, Kevin would be discounting the possible solutions of a problem.

Or, if Kevin would have responded: “Yes, I would like to meet someone. But I am just not the type that girls like.” Then Kevin would be discounting his own abilities to solve a problem.

Symbiosis

As a part of maintaining our Script, we might sometimes replay our early relationships in the here and now. We do that in order to resolve very early conflicts and dilemmas that we encountered in life. But, more often than not, instead of resolving the conflict, we just repeat our familiar patterns and experience familiar feelings.

When we do that, we are said to be engaging in a Symbiotic relationship. We do this without being aware of it. One of the partners in a relationship plays the part of Parent and Adult, whilst another one is being a Child. Between them, they function as though they have only three instead of six Ego-states available.

It is quite normal for a mother and a baby to be in a Symbiosis, but not so for two grown up individuals.

For example: Kevin is in a Symbiotic relationship with his mum.

Kevin’s mum earns a living, looks after the house, decides where Kevin is going on holiday and which girlfriend he should go out with. Kevin usually complies with his mum’s decisions, although sometimes he sulks or rebels against his mum, just like a 3-4 year old would do. Kevin is discounting his abilities to take his own decisions. Kevin’s mum sometimes complains about her son’s attitude and wishes he would “grow up”, but does nothing to change the situation. She discounts her own needs to be looked after and to have fun.

Autonomy

So, is there a life after Script? What is the ultimate goal of Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy?

To realize our full potential as grown-ups, we need to update the strategies for dealing with life which we decided upon as infants. If these strategies are no longer working for us, we should replace them with the new ones that work. Our aim is to move out of Script and into Autonomy.

Autonomy implies the ability to solve problems using our full resources as a grown-ups.

Autonomy comprises Awareness, Spontaneity and Intimacy.

Awareness is the capacity to see, hear, feel, taste and smell things as they really are, without filtering or interpreting them. It means being in contact with our own body and its sensations as well as with external stimuli.

For example: Kevin is at work. He is feeling unwell and suspects he might have a flu. His body tells him to stop and go home but the Parent in his head urges him to continue working and ignore his illness. In his Child, Kevin is scared that his boss will not be pleased if he takes a day off but Kevin makes his choice, gets up and goes home. Here Kevin has displayed his capacity for Awareness.

Spontaneity means the capacity to choose from a full range of options and respond directly to the world, without discounting, interpreting or re-defining reality.

For example: Kevin is at the bar. A nice looking girl comes up to him and smiles. Kevin would like to offer to buy her a drink, but the Parent in his head immediately reminds him that girls don’t fancy him. Kevin’s Child is scared of a rejection. But Kevin decides to take situation as it is and buys girl a drink. Here Kevin has chosen to act spontaneously.

Intimacy means an open sharing of feelings and wants between you and another person. The feelings expressed are authentic, so Intimacy excludes the possibility of racketeering or game-playing.

For example: Kevin would like to tell his new girlfriend that he loves her. Usually he would play the game of being cool and indifferent, waiting for a girl to make a first step. It was a safe strategy, where now he is risking of being rejected. But Kevin decides to be brave and expresses his feelings to Helena. To his surprise, Helena tells him she loves him too. Intimacy means taking a greater risk, but it also brings the greatest rewards.

So how can we benefit from Transactional Analysis Counselling? Learning about our Script will allow us to better understand the nature of our problems. TA theory is a great tool, that gives you choices and makes you a master of your own destiny.

It will help you become a confident, assertive and happy person, who makes a free informed choice every day, instead of following a pre-programmed “life plan”.

With Transactional Analysis Counselling you will become a new person, that “Real You” that you were always aspiring to be.

Anna Storey Counsellor Life CoachAbout The Author

Anna Storey is a Transactional Analysis Counsellor working from Thame and drawing clients from surrounding counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

For more information and contact details visit Anna’s therapy page here


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