Do you still feel tired after the holidays and you have the feeling that you need a vacation again as soon as possible?
Or do you know someone who, after their holidays, doesn’t feel completely rested and relaxed?
During the work year we often feel tired. Without saying so, we find that normal. We work hard, do what’s expected of us, hurry, try to do as much as possible and too often strive for perfection. Because we want to do this, or because we think we should do that.
Of course we get tired.
We long for a holiday for ages in advance and imagine how wonderful it will be.
Time to rest, time to get everything “right”, time to breath, finally time to catch up with our loved ones, our friends and family. Regain control over the situation, over our feelings, over our bodies.
And we expect that we can go back to work after the holidays refreshed and glowing.
And guess what …
The holiday is over and you wonder how it is that you’re still tired?
You’ve just been on vacation? On a sunny beach or somewhere nearer?
You’ve been relaxing?
The script model from Transactional Analysis can provide a good explanation here:
In all of our lives we’ve all developed a survival mechanism. We call this the Script: some way to survive within the family in which we grew up. To succeed, we’ve had to develop some survival styles.
BE STRONG and WORK HARD
In some families, you have to be strong and work hard in order to be OK. Parents say to their children: “If you work hard, you will get there.”
In a family like that, you’ll feel fine if you have worked hard. You get compliments and people enjoy it when “everything is fine”.
If you work hard, life feels safe, predictable and structured. Life is just easier.
In this family it’s not well received if you proclaim on a Saturday morning that you have ’the whole weekend with nothing is going to do. ”
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with working hard.
However, there is a problem if we become dependent on the hard work and can’t do anything else apart from hard work. If we are willing to subordinate our need for peace to in order to achieve our work target, there’s a problem. Because then it becomes really very difficult to do anything during your vacation. It is difficult to really rest and recover from the hard work.
For example: You want to enjoy the garden and you take your sacred time off for once doing nothing at all for a day and reading a good book. You read for five minutes and then see that the plants need watering. OK, you’re going to give the plants some water. After fifteen minutes you plunge in to your rest mode again. And after ten minutes (or earlier) you decide that you’re ‘just’ going to answer an email. And there goes a ‘rest day’ in which you’re active again and get everything done. Because this is just easier than doing nothing.
Meanwhile, however, our nervous system has insufficient or no rest. If we continue like this during our vacation … we continue … yes .. to be tired.
In some other families, it’s important not to disappoint other people and to give them as much pleasure as possible. When a child helps his parents with something, he gets the appropriate compliments. When others are happy, then life seems easier, more predictable, more secure.
Doing something for yourself is not so well received. You’ll be called selfish and discouraged to do something nice for yourself … especially if it would be at the expense of someone else. The needs of others weigh heavier than your own needs.
During the holiday you go to all the parties to which you are invited, even though you do not really want to. After all, you don’t want to disappoint anyone. You help someone with a move, because you do not like saying “no” and you’re on holiday. At the end of the vacation you’ve done all sorts of things that other people find very nice, but you never made that long beach walk, that you were really looking forward to. So …. you’re a little tired and disappointed at the end of the holiday, because it was much busier than you actually wanted.
We can go on: There are also families where it’s very important to do things perfectly: under the motto ‘if it’s worth doing something, it’s worth doing it well, ” it’s all about striving for perfection. Everything had to be done perfectly. Children learn to do everything perfectly, get compliments for it and learn only to stop when the result … yes … is perfect. Doing something quickly-quickly and thereby achieving an average result is not really an option in this family.
During the holidays you do some fun things, such as a picnic with friends. But you’ll prepare the perfect picnic. The day before you’ll be frying fish pasties and picking out the perfect picnic basket. The car must be completely clean. You want to find the perfect location and you calculate a … yes, perfect timing. That’s all fine, but once the picnic is over, you’re just … yes … very tired.
HURRY ! HURRY UP!
There are also families where everything always has to happen very quickly. Children receive compliments because they are ‘fast’ doing something … can quickly tidy their room, eat quickly, and so on. Children learn that if they are ‘fast’, then life’s easier, more predictable and safer.
This pattern becomes their own, so later as adults they unconsciously continue to belive that doing things quickly is better. A barbecue has to happen “soon” … a visit to a city needs to happen quickly.
Wanting to do everything quickly during the holidays, you’ll obviously get a lot done. But what you don’t do, it is take time to rest. Our nervous system and our hormonal system stay in an active mode. We don’t really relax and not really recover from the busy working year.
Finally, there are also families where it is important to really try to do your best. Whether or not this leads to results is of secondary importance. It is not so important that everything is brought to a successful conclusion, but it is important that new things are often being tried where you can show that you are really doing your best.
Children receive compliments because they do their best and this leads to putting too much on their plates. They’re always taking on new things, so it is impossible to complete anything.
Really take the time to finish something and handling things “one at a time ” really doesn’t count in this family.
The holiday is all fully planned: In the early morning of the first day of the holiday, we leave for the Pyrenees. We’re going hiking and rafting. After 7 days we are home. Barely a day later, the children go to a sports camp. The oldest has to miss one day of the sports camp because he is enrolled in a camp with the chiropractor.
Meanwhile … the holiday flies by without any real time for rest, to stand still. So you start the new work year tired.
Transactional Analysis provides a very nice model to understand this mechanism: The Miniscript
We could look at the above behaviours as recurring patterns. Patterns that we get into again and again, and we are not aware of. We take those constant fatigue as a fact, against which for now nothing can be done’.
This is not right.
By understanding the pattern, you can influence it. After all, knowledge equals power.
The theory of the ‘mini-script’ helps us to understand these patterns.
How does this pattern fit together?
Let us consider this pattern split into four steps.
First step: We are our own (Slave)–Drivers because we set ourselves certain conditions. To find ourselves OK, we find that we and/or have to work hard, we must do so quickly, the result must be perfect, everyone should be happy with us and we must still find new challenges for which we must do our best.
We are used to receiving the compliments that we need. We work hard, give others fun, pursue perfection, speed and/or always want to try new things. These are our DRIVERS, that we find important. We could see it as our internal slave driver.
Second step: Stop feeling what we really need. To do all of this, and to be satisfied with ourselves to gain the praise of others, we must give up something important: namely, there’s hardly any time left to really rest. Even though we need that too after a hard year of work.
We stop recharging our batteries: we do not sleep enough, we make too little time for intimacy. Sometimes we do not even feel any more what we really need.
Third step: Payoff or a known bad feeling
Because our basic needs are not satisfied, of course we often feel tired. We don’t feel entirely happy. We feel tired, burnout, depression, etc.
We should also call this our favorite bad feeling: the rotten feeling that we most often have.
In between step: DESTRUCTIVE PART: it is somebody else’s fault.
Often we do not recognize this process and we don’t see our own share in it.
We feel powerless and don’t really understand our own part. We get angry at the other, and we blame him or her for our bad feeling. This is our destructive part: we will take revenge on the other because it does not make us happy …. Your partner does not really understand where the anger suddenly comes from, and also feel tired, disappointed, angry or misunderstood.
“I didn’t see this coming” says the other …
And then the (vicious) circle, either because we feel tired and disappointed on our own. Or we are all tired and disappointed.
What is the solution:
- It is important to be aware what your internal “slave driver” is.
- Think about what needs you have put aside in order to live this way.
- Go and deliberately try to meet these needs.
- Learn how to deal with the feelings that emerge whenever you do something that goes against your patterns.
Let’s look at a concrete example, Katja …
Katja home learned that hard work and being strong, is very important. She feels great if she works hard. Her inner conviction is that she is “OK” if she works hard.
During her vacation she finds it difficult to do “nothing.” She feels better if she is ‘busy’, so she doesn’t get the rest she needs.
- For Katja it is important to understand that she has learned from home to work hard. Her life as a child was just easier and more predictable when she worked hard.
The fact that she sometimes works “as if her life depends on it” is an echo from a distant past where it really was very important to work hard.
- Katja can start thinking about the needs she has and has put aside, in order to work so hard. Perhaps her need for sleep? To rest? To pause?
- In a next step, Katja decides to meet one of these needs by deciding that from today she will sleep at least sleep at least eight hours a day. So she will go to sleep even when there is still work to do. To do this, she has to go against the internal voice within herself, the voice of her parents. The voice says: “You’re only OK if you always work hard.” So in the beginning it is quite possible that Katja will feel very guilty when she goes to bed on time, even though there is still work, there are unanswered emails, etc.
- The real change comes when Katya learns to deal with this guilt. She can go to sleep and not be woken up by the feelings of guilt.
Transactional Analysis provides tools to become aware of your own patterns and to change them.
You use the model either for yourself or in guiding others.
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