It’s OK to Allow yourself to – it really is!

Ever wished you could react more effectively in certain pressure or uncomfortable situations? This post really could be the key to you achieving that.

Within my last post on indecision, I mentioned the Transactional Analysis (TA) concept of ‘Drivers’ – and in particular the “Be perfect” Driver.  This has generated a couple of emails and a discussion with a  colleague – which has prompted me to write a little more about these things called Drivers.

I am surprised that so little is spoken or written about these Drivers as they can have such an impact on a person’s life. Perhaps one or more is having an unhelpful impact on yours?

The theory was developed by Taibi Kahler in the 1970s and there are 5 accepted Drivers – (1) Please Others, (2) Be Perfect, (3) Be Strong, (4) Try Hard, and (5) Hurry Up. They are the same whatever your sex, culture or race.  There is possibly a sixth – Be Careful – although this is in dispute.

As I explained in the previous post, we can be programmed with these Drivers in our early childhood, and then when we come to adult life they can be quite a hindrance.  It is not known exactly how we take them on, although it is accepted that it is in early childhood, as with many aspects of TA.  One of the suggestions or theories is that they are part of the ‘Script’ we write for ourselves in order to survive in our early months and years, and another is that they are the words we hear from our parents when toilet training.

Kahler detailed specific words, phrases, tones and body language that are associated with each of the Drivers.  It is a real skill to be able to identify when others are affected by one of the Drivers as they can occur for only a second or two – and not generally for longer than 20 seconds or so at a time. It is a little easier to identify your own Drivers through studying the behaviour associated with each and reflecting on how you have behaved in certain situations.

We use them to response to perceived threats where we probably feel threatened. And when we feel threatened – as you may well have experienced in all sorts of situations at work or away from work – we generally think, feel, react and behave in a particular way. This is because we know, somehow, that this series of thoughts, feelings and behaviours have assisted and protected us – and therefore enabled us to survive – on many previous occasions. Unfortunately, these previous occasions were a long, long time ago and since then we have developed a far greater understanding of the world and far more coping mechanisms which are probably of more use in the present day.  We can be trapped by our Drivers.

Does that make sense? Can you think of times recently when you may have used one or more of the Drivers? And if so, how useful were they?

But I have good news for you! For each of the Drivers there is an ‘Allower’.

Driver – Allower

  • Please Others  - It’s OK to consider, respect and please yourself
  • Be Perfect  - It’s okay to be yourself – you’re good enough as you are
  • Be Strong  - It’s OK to be open and express your wants or needs
  • Try Hard  - It’s OK to do it
  • Hurry Up  - It’s OK to take your time

Try an Allower for yourself – they are there for all of us to use. The next time you tell yourself to Hurry Up in a pressurised situation, tell yourself you can take your time. When you feel yourself telling yourself to Be Perfect, accept that you’re good enough and you don’t need to be perfect. It will possibly be uncomfortable – after all, you’ve been living with these Drivers for how many years? So take your time – give yourself time. Because you’re worth it!

If you want to read more about each of the Drivers (and the words, feelings, actions, etc., associated with each), Allowers, Scripts and other TA theories, I would recommend a great book by Ian Stewart and Vann Joines – TA Today.


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