"I'm not OK; You're not OK"--this is the most futile and helpless
position of all. There is no way to turn for help; others won't help and
you can't. Nothing seems worthwhile. At the least, this is an unhappy
state of affairs and in the extreme, such a person's only recourse may
be to withdraw into the utter hopelessness of depression or insanity.
You can see the crucial role that interpersonal relations play in
determining what we are like, personality-wise. In Transactional
Analysis, your life position is related to the "Life Script" you follow
throughout life and the "Games" you play constantly with others.
Scripts will be discussed next, games when we discuss interpersonal
A "life script" is the unconscious plan or expectation one has for
his/her life. It reflects the kind of relationships we have had and
expect to have with other people. Our life script is developed or, at
least, started by the time we are 5 or 6, before the "adult" and
"parent" are fully developed, according to Transactional Analysis
(Berne, 1973). Our "child," probably the "adaptive child," makes these
judgments (the life position) and plans (script) based largely on
messages sent by our parents' inner "child."
The messages from our parents (or whoever raised us) get inside
our heads and become part of our life position and life script. Included
in the myriad of messages are instructions, called injunctions, about
what not to do. In response to these injunctions we give ourselves
instructions, some of these self-messages are helpful in counteracting
the injunctions, called allowers, and some are harmful, called drivers.
Examples are given below. Consider the first example: the message
from the threatened parent's "child" is, "Don't do so well that you feel
adequate." To cope with feelings of inadequacy, the child's "child" may
try to give a helpful self-instruction, such as "Be perfect!" This
message "drives" us but, because it is unrealistic, assures that we will
fail and feel inadequate (as commanded by the parent's "child"). We
could, of course, learn to give ourselves a more realistically helpful
message, an allower, such as "It's OK to be yourself and less than
perfect." Kahler (1974) describes several common injunctions, drivers
(not OK messages) and allowers (OK messages):
Don't feel adequate.
It's OK to be human &
Don't be fast and
It's OK to take your time.