Over the last two articles I have discussed the Transactional Analysis idea of driver behaviour and how our drivers can govern the way we live our lives. I have also talked about “allowers”; the antidote to our driver behaviours. For example, one of the drivers “Please Others” has an allower “Please Yourself” which could be useful to follow for someone who is spending an enormous amount of time and energy keeping everyone else happy at their own expense.
The question that many clients ask me when I deliver therapy in Manchester is how they can put that new allower behaviour into place. My belief is that the first step is developing an awareness of the problem. Once we are conscious to the fact that there is this driver behaviour that is running like a computer program in the background telling us to “Be Strong” or “Hurry Up” we can choose to ignore it. By ignoring it we are going against learnt behaviour that we put in place to keep ourselves safe as children and so there is a high chance that we will have an emotional response as a result.
The emotional response that many of us feel when denying our driver and following our allower is anxiety. It is important to realise though that this is a feeling and it will go away with time. Feelings are never permanent.
My “Hurry Up” driver used to show itself very badly when driving. I would exceed the speed limit as a matter of course and after a couple of speeding tickets I decided to change this behaviour. I slowed right down to the speed limit and allowed myself to sit with the anxiety this caused me. That little voice in my head was whispering “Come on Ian, what you waiting for? Floor it! Let’s get there you idiot” but I ignored it, put some music on and allowed myself to enjoy the journey. The result – I can now drive within the speed limit and feel no anxiety whatsoever. I often sit in the left hand lane of the motorway at 70 mph and remember what it was like being constantly in the right hand lane, driving too fast and always having someone trying to get past (no matter how fast I drove, there was always someone who wanted to drive faster). I have no desire to go back to that at all, it was bloody stressful! I am also saving money on petrol!
When we learn to go against driver behaviour we set up new neural pathways in our brain. The more we do it the easier it gets. Working with a good therapist or counsellor will also help you identify the behaviour and track down where the message came from. Some behaviours may be more of a challenge to change than others and you are an intelligent human being with limitless possibilities for change and growth. So here is my personal challenge to you. Identify one driver that you have and think about what behaviour you could benefit from changing. Follow that allower instead and come back here and tell me how it feels. What goes on for you? Were you successful? I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Buy the book: TA Today : A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis is a great guide to transactional analysis and the standard text for those learning about it. Click the link to buy it from amazon (affiliate link).