Parent - Ego Structure II

The language of the Parent Ego structure is often expressed in critical opinions, or prejudicial and negative attitudes. However, when the Nurturing Parent is being expressed from the Parent Ego structure, the language and vocabulary may be positive, supporting, and encouraging.

One critical category of attitudes learned at a formative stage from the Parent Ego structure may be commonly referred to as, "Dos and Don'ts", or more technically in the language of Transactional Analysis, injunctions and drivers.

Some injunctions that children commonly absorb from parents are:

1) don't succeed, or don't "make it" in life, 2) don't be important, or don't be "somebody", 3) don't be the real you, or don't be yourself, 4) don't indulge in emotions, don't be "weak", or don't feel, 5) don't get too close, or don't be vulnerable, and 6) don't think.

Claude Steiner also adds these learned "don'ts" from the "Stroke Economy"; 1) don't give strokes, or positive and encouraging feedback, when we have them to give, which belies a certain caution and reserve which is both unhealthy and a hindrance to true intimacy in relationships, 2) don't ask for strokes when we need them, which expresses and unhealthy refusal to be vulnerable and intimate, 3) don't accept strokes when we want them, which expresses the same avoidance of intimacy as number two, 4) don't reject strokes when we don't want them, which is inauthentic and breeds an unhealthy form of dependence, and 5) don't give ourselves strokes, which is probably a guaranteed way to drive ourselves mad or into emotional exhaustion.

The angry voice we hear from someone else today may be the tape playing from the angry Parent Ego we heard yesterday. The criticism we give ourselves today may be the tape of the Critical Parent Ego we heard yesterday.

Why does a broken copier have such a traumatic effect on a thirty year-old business woman or man today? Perhaps it is because dirty jeans had such a traumatic effect on a three year-old yesterday.

(continued from part I)

Wenn alles getan ist, ist ein Menschenleben am größten, am besten - aber wie ein trotzig Kind, mit dem man spielen muß und ein wenig zur Beruhigung unterhalten werden will, bis es einschläft, und dann ist die Pflege vorbei.

William Temple

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