Of all schools of psychology, only Transactional Analysis provides a very clear and adaptable framework that is helpful in guiding peoples’ behavioral choices at micro and macro level. What is even more interesting is that any person can learn to apply it in his/her daily choices in life. In fact you will be amused to quickly find out that even wars are often caused by failure to make right choices at the right time and of course communication gone wrong because of power games.
Transactional Analysis (TA) was developed by a Canadian-born psychiatrist Dr. Eric Berne (1910 – 1970), as a way of explaining human behaviour. Unlike Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach, Berne simply observed what was communicated (words, body language, facial expressions) in a concrete social situation. So instead of directly asking the patient questions, Berne would frequently observe the patient in a group setting noting all of the transactions that occurred between the patient and other individuals.
Now, without going into dizzy details, I will simply introduce the four positions that Dr. Berne says affects how we operate our lives depending on what we have learned in earlier life. I would go as far as asserting that these positions can actually be learned or unlearned at any stage in life as long as there is a will to change one’s attitude in life:
1. I’m OK and you are OK. This is the healthiest position about life because it means that I feel good about others and myself and I see and treat everyone as an equal. (This position breeds the spirit of humanitarianism)
2. I’m OK and you are not OK. In this position I feel good about myself but I see others as inferior to myself. This is unhealthy position because I will not treat them as my equals. (Racists can be grouped in this category)
3. I’m not OK and you are OK. In this position I see myself as inferior or undeserving in relation to others. I believe that others are definitely better than myself. (This position is extremely disempowering and erodes self-esteem)
4. I’m not OK and you are not OK. This is the worst position to be in because it means that I believe that I am completely useless and the rest of the world is as bad. Hope is dead in other words. (It is said that very few people belong in this category)
With mindfulness, everyone can adopt the I am OK you are OK position and be compassionate during integration with others i:e listening respectfully and treating others with dignity. In other words, as if they were oneself.