****Disclaimer: Names, characters, businesses,places, events, and incidents mentioned in this post are either the products of my imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.******
This article is the second one under our four-part series on the Four basic life positions. These posts are based on my understanding of the classic theory and therapy of Transactional Analysis (TA) which was created by the late Eric Berne a Canadian-born psychiatrist.
Let us understand the position of I’M NOT OK – YOU’RE OK through Ana’s story.
Ana is a 36-year old lawyer working with A& M Associates for the past 2 years. Until her 7th grade, she was quite brilliant and was amongst the TOP 3 students in her school. Her parents had high expectations from her. They wanted her to excel in school debates, sign up for piano lessons and also play volleyball.Ana, being shy and nervous, had a tremendous fear of public speaking so stayed away from school debates. She loved cricket, but her parents mocked her decision. She was never into music so did not sign up for piano lessons. Her friends bullied and ridiculed her. Ana, being soft-spoken could barely fight for herself. Her parents never acknowledged her feelings and frequently compared her to others. As a result, Ana started losing her confidence, she had a lot of anger towards her parents and friends but chose to remain silent as she felt there was probably something wrong with her. Thus, in the 7th grade she made a decision that she was NOT OK and others around her were OK! She started depending on her parents for all decisions and got into Law school against her wishes!
Why do you think this happened?
When a child is born, he is OK, but we start having all kinds of expectations from that child and when the expectations aren’t met we start considering him to be NOT OK! Of course, the child too makes certain decisions by the age of three if certain strokes aren’t given on time. But as we grow, we determine our position in life based on our interactions with the people around us.
This is what happened in Ana’s case. No one asked her what she wanted to do. She was never acknowledged for what she was nor was she praised for being a bright student. Her friends bullied her because that’s what people do when you give them the permission to bully you! Now, she is in a field where she has to deal with many people and also fight for her clients. She may be unsuccessful at doing that because she never believed in herself! By getting into this profession she proved her point of not being OK!
Traits and symptoms of a NOT OK person
– Submissive: such a person will not go against any decision and would rarely share his/her views.
– Indecisive: he/she will never be able to make any decisions, due to the low self-confidence. They would want others to make decisions for him/her so that they can please others and blame themselves for being weak!
– Nervous and Anxious: will often suffer from performance anxiety and would be lost in their own world.
– Social gatherings: a few of them will never be a part of any social gatherings and even if they are, they will stay away from the crowd and sit in one corner of the party hall. A few others may attend all social gatherings as that would give them the opportunity to please others.
– Temperamental: sometimes they may experience intense bouts of anger mainly due to anxiety. They may become hysterical and would often feel guilty the next day!
– Self-critical: they will be self-critical and will also criticize others behind their back. They are not capable of having direct face to face conversations as they fear it may break all their relations.
– Health issues: they may suffer from minor ailments like a migraine, sinus, acidity, etc.
– Obesity: there may be a few people suffering from obesity. Do not misunderstand them or mock at them. They need protection and thus, they put on weight to protect themselves from everyone. This is nothing but emotional fat – they do not need any diet regime or yoga. The only diet they need is to stay away from negative thoughts by being aware of their feelings, thoughts and behaviours! They need a platform to release their emotions.
How can Ana counter this script and get out of this position?
Anyone coming from this position will have to really work hard on countering this script. It is the result of years of conditioning of the mind so expecting rapid changes is difficult.
Following are some tips that Ana could use for countering her script.
Mental wellness expert: Ana needs to seek help from a mental wellness expert like a Counselor or a Therapist. A counselor or a therapist will first get Ana to talk about her pain, fears, anxieties and slowly begin the healing process through self-awareness.
Self-awareness: Ana needs to go deeper into her psyche to remember all traumatic events of her life and document it in a journal without any judgement. This will help her throughout the healing process. Therapist/Counselor will help her throughout the healing journey.
Affirmation: she needs to write her own affirmations, or she could use this one -“The only emotion I know is LOVE.I accept myself and the people around me as they are. I am confident and capable of achieving anything that I believe in and put my mind into it!”
Ana needs to be consistent in her sessions with the counselor/therapist. It is only therapy that will heal Ana and get her to come to her natural position of being OK and considering others to be OK as well!
Message for new or would-be parents: accept your children just as they are. Do not push your expectations on your child. He has come into this world with his own purpose. Do not divert his attention from his purpose. Give him the strokes and necessary attention he needs from you.Correct him when wrong but first let him make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. He is OK so let him feel he is OK.
If you know someone like Ana or have been in her position, then please post your comments below. Feel free to get in touch with me to discuss your pain and challenges.
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