Last week I wrote a blog “still tired after your vacation?”. Apparently a very recognizable subject. I’d like hereby to thank everyone for all the responses. It’s nice to know that my blog is read and that some of the articles are thought-provoking.
Below are some of the comments on my blog.
“Yes, yes, I know I should really slow down, but if I stop all the fuss, or if I stop working so hard, I feel guilty. So it’s easier for me to just finish ‘everything’ rather than go home on time.
How do I get it together to really change this?
This is just the way I am … “
Because I found this such a pertinent question, I’d like to discuss it here a little deeper.
Indeed, it’s not obvious. For years we do things according to a known pattern: hard work, being busy, caring for others and/or making absolutely no mistakes.
I’m sure a lot of carers and executives recognize this.
And yet … at certain moments in our lives, there are compelling reasons to take it easy.
- A relationship that threatens to end up on the rocks or is broken.
- Your rotten, depressed or lonely feelings.
- Being tired or overwhelmed.
- Becoming socially isolated, as if your friends have disappeared from the face of the earth…
You promise yourself to do things differently from now on.
You say a brave and determined ‘no’ to a request from a colleague to ‘just’ do something and instead you’re driving home. On the way home you feel anxious and insecure. And you begin to doubt whether it was a good idea to say ‘no’. You notice when you get home that you still do not feel good. And so … you mail her to let you know what you’ve been thinking, and tell her that on closer examination, you do want to do what she asked from you. You work for an hour so that it’s ‘finished’. You feel better and reassured.
Recognizable – right?
The guilty or uneasy feelings when you make changes to your patterns.
TA provides a practical model to understand how this works and how you can change this. The model of ‘Impasses’ teaches us how to understand our inner conflicts and resolve them. It teaches us to understand that the resolution of an internal conflict may lead to internal conflict at a deeper level, which we experience even harder and deeper.
What is an Impasse?
An Impasse is when two ego states both seem to stretch you into two directions.
In plain language: you actually want two things simultaneously.
You want to care for your employees and at the same time you want more rest for yourself.
Impasses play on three levels, which means that there are different phases in freeing yourself from old patterns. These three phases become clear because we experience three different types of conflicts.
Level I: External conflict between what you want and the expectations of others.
You realize that you very often put the interests of others first and that your own needs are ignored. You realize that in your upbringing you have learned to rate the pleasures of others more highly than your own.
Thinking like this as an Adult, in a grown up manner, is making a conscious choice.
Today, you’ll do things differently, and say no to your colleague. You drive home with the firm intention to make it a cozy and quiet evening. But … this quiet evening isn’t so cozy because a (vague) sense of guilt gnaws at you. You’ll only find inner peace if you … yes … fulfill the expectations of your colleague.
Level II: Internal conflict: on the one hand you want to take better care of yourself, and on the other, you feel guilty about it.
Let’s look at this guilt:
As children we learn to live according to our parents’ rules. Because we live by these rules, life becomes predictable and safer. Because … if mum and dad are happy with us, they are going to continue to care for us and so we feel safe.
A child feels guilty if Mum and Dad aren’t satisfied, and this guilt will help the child to fulfill mum and dad’s desires.
When we as adults want to break the old patterns, we behave – unconsciously – sometimes as if we still depend on the approval of our parents or the approval of others.
We behave as if we still hear the well-meaning advice of our parents – unconsciously – and repeat that advice in our heads.
“It’s important to first think of others and not be selfish.”
“It’s important to work hard and not be lazy.”
So if we again say “no”, or want to do it differently, we feel guilty because we aren’t following parental advice. We behave like children who are still dependent on the approval of others.
The next step in the process of change is learning to deal with those guilty feelings. We learn that we really should rest well, and that we are allowed to think of ourselves.
And sometimes we will feel guilty. To solve this, we have to give ourselves permission to be happy, to live healthily and to take our need for peace seriously.
Level III: Internal conflict at the level of our identity: Yes, but that’s how I am! That’s how I operate.
Sometimes people say to me:
“But that’s how I am”
“I like to work hard and I like to do help others”
“And if I have to sit still, I’ll be going against my own nature”
However, if someone is really working hard, rushing, putting others before themselves, this is going to be at their own expense, and believing that “that’s just how I am” is going to end with a deadlock at an even deeper level.
It seems like two pieces of ourselves are fighting each other.
First, the part of us that likes to work and enjoys helping others. And also the part of us that wants peace and intimacy, and good health.
We call this an Impasse on the third level, at the level of identity.
After all, I believe very much that people get pleasure from working hard and helping others.
I do myself.
And I would even assume that it can be in one’s nature from birth, to like working hard and to like making others happy.
But I’m sure that no single child has been born, who naturally ignores their own needs so that others are helped or in order to work hard.
The trick here is to find a balance between what we learned as a young child and what is good for us. The trick is to keep both of those two parts in us. You of course like yourself when you work hard and help others. AND … you also like yourself just as much when you need rest, when you need help or intimacy.
If you would you like to understand yourself better and / or lead others in a process of change, then Transactional Analysis offers a wealth of models and entry points.
If you want to learn more about TA, you can still register for the course that starts on 1 October. There is still one place left, so this one is for a quick decision maker.
If your answer is “YES, SIGN ME UP”, mail quickly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Not sure yet? Come to our information evening on Monday 26 September
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