Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Games people play

A: 'I hate my job. I'd rather be a hairdresser.'
B: 'So why don't you become one?'
A: 'I don't have qualifications.'
B: 'Why don't you enrol on a course?'
A: 'I don't have time. I've kids to look after.'
B: 'Can't your husband look after the kids twice a week?.'
A: 'No, he's too tired after work.'
B: 'Could your mother babysit while you're at college?'
A: 'Yes, but it's pointless asking her because...'

Do you recognise the pattern?

I'm sure many people have met someone who plays the game 'Why don't you - Yes but'.
Once upon a time I lived with a girl who played it. She was a nightmare to live with. One day the girl read Eric Berne 'Games people play' and recognised herself in this game, as well as in Kick Me, Look How Hard I've Tried, Ain't it Awful and... She felt very, very embarrassed and decided to change it.

Several months of therapy and years of much happier life I still keep coming back to this book. It provides good introduction to Transactional Analysis (TA), talking about our inner Child, Adult and Parent and how these interact with different ego states of other people. But most of all Berne provides interesting perspective on the nature of human relationships, showing why people engage in games, invest so much in such destructive patterns of interations and why they are sometimes willing to put even their own life at risk to win.

Games people play can be deep-seated, engrained, incredibly distructive, and suck other people in. Are you an active player? Have you ever been manipulated into any of these games?
Would you like to be able to recognise them, or even stop playing?

Berne's book is an eye-opening, life-enhancing read, which is entertaining at the same time. Shame that while providing so much insight Berne does not give advice how to stop those games. Ability to recognise a game is not always enough to stop playing it.

Read more reviews on Amazon and an interesting application of Berne's theory to online interactions by Adrian Chan here
More about Eric Berne and his works here.

My Rating:
Life changing factor: 5/ 5
Easy-to-read factor: 4.5/5
Help-me-fix-it factor
: 3.5/5
Total: 13/15 (changed my life in a major way)

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