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As I sit and stare at the blank screen I am aware of all the emails I need to respond to, of the projects which need my urgent attention, of the domestic chores which need doing and of my desire to have the day off and enjoy the pleasures of the day. It’s autumn. Mushroom time, a time I love, it won’t last forever – I need to catch the moment while it is here! While I do this, I am, of course, not actually writing my blog.
If I stop for a moment and breathe, if I stop all that chatter in my head – what do I feel….? Tension, my stomach is clenched, I am sitting forward, awkwardly. I hadn’t realised until now. My fingers are stiff. How come I hadn’t noticed?
One the central aspects of TA is the concept of Ego States. This is the about different ways of’ being’ that each of us have. You may notice that you, and people around you, are not consistent; they have different ways of reacting, responding, communicating. A way of understanding this inconsistency is to think in terms of differing Ego States.
In this model we have three Ego States; they are called Parent, Adult and Child. This is not about being parents, adults and children but just the names of these three distinct ways of ‘being’.
Our Parent Ego state is when we are being as others were in the past, it’s like we have swallowed some significant figures from our past whole and now almost become them sometimes. We might think, feel and behaviour like those people. I am having two conflicting responses from my Parent Ego State, about writing. My father was an author so when I think, feel and behave like him, I am confident, relaxed and want to share my knowledge.
Our Adult Ego state is about current reality. This is when we think, feel and behave appropriate to the current situation. If we were standing on a cliff edge then the appropriate feeling would be fear and the appropriate behaviour would be to step back. In terms of writing this blog, my Adult bit can reality check: I can do this; I don’t need to make it difficult for myself, I can just get on with it. I can feel excited about this new project, I can enjoy the process and I am also aware of some sadness about my dad not being here. I am empowered in this place, I can think things through, and make clear a decision for myself.
When we engage our Child Ego State we are triggering back to previous experiences. We will all have significant experiences in our lives which will be the main ones that we trigger back to. This is the area that is causing me some discomfort as I write. In my Child Ego State I am scared, tense, and overwhelmed – almost paralysed. I am thinking, feeling and behaving as I was when I was much younger. I am triggering back to several bad experiences in my past around writing. My dyslexia not being picked up at school and the shame of being labelled a ‘dunce’. My mother laughing at my attempts to write poetry, my father’s exacerbation at my inability (or unwillingness) to understand grammar and punctuation. Putting my heart and soul into an essay which I then failed. When we are in this Ego State we are not thinking, feeling and behaving appropriate to current reality. We often react out of proportion to what’s going on in the here and now. My feeling of paralysis is about my past experiences – not about my ability to write this blog now. Sometimes we let this unhelpful part of us rule our lives, make decisions and determine our future.
We can learn to engage the ego state that serves us well (generally Adult) and to quieten the others that lead us away from our true selves.
In this instance, I took care of my Child feeling by acknowledging and being compassionate towards that part, I tuned down the unhelpful Parent voice and grounded myself in the here and now, breathing, engaging and being in the moment. And look at this… here is my blog!!
by Leilani Mitchell
These are my random ramblings today; tomorrow I might change my mind.
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