What Games do you play?

In the fascinating world of Psychology there is a theory of behaviour called ‘Transactional Analysis’. Developed by Eric Bearne, this theory suggests that we each fall into various roles, in any ‘transaction’. A transaction in this sense is any form of interaction/communication between people. One of the paradigms used in this theory is that of ‘The Drama Triangle’, which suggests that we commonly adopt one of the roles of ‘Victim’, ‘Rescuer’ and ‘Persecutor’ in different situations and with different people. A hugely influential and extremely interesting book written by Eric Bearne based on this principle is ‘The Game People Play’.

But how does all of this help us in our day to day lives? How does this help us in understanding our negative behaviours?

It’s suggested that we all inadvertently fall into these roles out of habit. Over the years we become accustomed to them, they become an integral part of our relationships with others. On the whole, this can be very beneficial in building relationships. However, sometimes this can be very frustrating. We all know someone who makes us feel like a child, small and unimportant. How do you respond in that circumstance?

Such frustrating transactions can lead to high levels of stress, which in turn can lead to those negative behaviours that are used (ineffectively) to combat stress. For example, comfort eating, smoking, drinking…

We can’t change the way other people behave.

But we can change the way that we respond.

By changing how we respond to these people, we can also change the entire dynamic of the relationship.

Acknowledging the roles that we currently play can be both challenging and also kind of amusing. It’s a funny thing recognising those relationships that make you feel vulnerable, those relationships that make you feel strong. It can be worrying when you recognise those relationships in which you are the ‘persecutor’.

Keeping a check on this, and knowing that you have the power to change the dynamic of these relationships and interactions can be really empowering. It can also help to manage those stress levels, and strengthen those attempts at creating the most healthy and positive life for yourself.