In the language of Transactional Analysis, a psychological theory developed by Dr. Eric Berne, we have “drivers” — messages in our heads. These messages come from the families we grew up in — statements with the original intent to help us live life successfully — or to “drive us” in directions seen as appropriate for us by the adults in our lives. Sometimes, some of us experience the messages as strongly as we did as children — and they shape thoughts, feelings, decisions, and behaviors. Consequently, it can help to examine the childhood messages, especially at those times when we find ourselves questioning a decision and sometimes even wondering how we “got to that end point.”
According to Berne, there are Five Drivers. A useful way to examine them — and you’ll see they are quite obvious — because Berne’s goal was to make theory as “user friendly” as possible — is simply to read them and rank order them. What’s the number ONE message you carry around with you? Then, 2, 3, 4, 5. If that sounds pretty easy, prepare for the reality that it’s likely a tiny bit more challenging than you thought.
Let me use myself as an example. I have three out of the five that are so strong, I have trouble ranking them. Meaning? I have to examine what I’m doing, thinking, feeling, deciding a great deal of the time to determine my OWN best direction — vs very old parental messages about what and how and when to DO — and to do the right thing.
After you rank order them, write a few sentences that pop into your head as you reflect on the message. Do you remember who in the family delivered the message — either verbally or through behavior? HURRY UP is a big message in my family and I learned it by being expected and more powerfully, modeled, by my mother to be EARLY for every thing — to rush — to feel the pressure of “getting wherever” and doing so even before I needed to be there! Exhausting! And stressful! So what you’re examining is the how and the when the message still impacts your daily life.
Once you get a handle on the message, you can consciously begin to reflect on how to either change it or calm it down. For example, one of the reasons I learned to meditate so many years ago, was “driven” by my recognition of the intensity of my driver to HURRY UP. It has helped! Actually that’s an under statement! So you are looking for how the driver plays out and what might help to correct it, calm it, change it.
If the theory helps you, google Dr. Eric Berne for multiple theories, ideas, and books. And if anything here is reminding you of my blogs on thought distortions, you might be interested in my book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH!
And as always….if something triggers thoughts and feelings you might need to talk about, always find someone you can talk to about whatever is going on….it helps! And you deserve to feel good.
Listen to Mike Manco and Linda Moore discuss this content, on Mike’s podcast, at SteveAndMikeRadio.com.