I’m OK You’re OK

You could use this book to either improve yourself or your writing!

Transactional analysis is a model to understand human behaviour, identify patterns that are parent-like, child-like or adult-like and use this to solve emotional issues and stabilise the way in which the individual interacts with others.

What little I knew of TA was through screenwriting classes on how to design and build relationships between characters and I was curious to learn more. The book is really dated (first published in 1967) and rife with casual sexism but still has solid explainers. It outlines various types of interactions with detailed examples that shed light on our own patterns. It firmly believes that we can change and it gives the reader a lot of agency.

TA offers up four core life positions: we start out as children in the I’m not OK, You’re OK position where we need security, guidance and care and our parents or caregivers are the ones who know better, who provide what we need. From there, we start to form our own understanding of the world and can shift to I’m OK, You’re Not OK (think of rebellious teenagers). The book defines the positions of I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK and I’m OK, You’re  Not OK as resulting from childhood experiences where one has not been socialised with healthy interactions or has suffered an abusive upbringing.

Getting to the position of I’m OK, You’re OK is the goal of transactional analysis. The first three are unconscious positions adopted in early life while this one is achieved through thought, decision and action.

TA is another tool in the kit alongside schools of practice like cognitive behavioural theory and psychoanalysis – all of which are different angles from which to look at the big picture. This book is definitely to be treated like a textbook rather than reading for pleasure but it’s worth it if one is interested in self-discovery and growth.

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