Last Saturday and Sunday on 11th & 12th Jan, I was with 15 others attending a training programme. This one, titled TA 101, is the official introduction to Transactional Analysis. It was conducted by Dr.Susan George, in a small room at her residence near Santhome. About six of them were college students doing psychology and the rest of us, from diverse backgrounds – mainly with a bent on training.
Though I do not see myself in the training arena in the immediate future, I feel charged about learning new things. Such sessions transform me in small and big ways. So, when Pramod, my friend from the Train The Trainer programme told me about the training, I did not lose much time to enrol my name.
Dr.Susan has a calm, unruffled demeanor and her depth seems phenomenal. She studied at IIT Madras and taught Chemistry (if I remember correctly) at Women’s Christian College for about 35 years. Her interest and expertise in TA developed over the past 17 years. From what I could see, her days are packed – in her roles as counsellor, trainer and psychotherapist. Her doctorate sits very lightly on her and she seems hardly enamoured of such outward trappings. So, it is in the fitness of things that I honour her by calling her just Susan.
About 4 months back, one ‘heavy weight’ refused to acknowledge me after I called him by his first name and I felt hurt. I reckon the pragmatic thing to do is to be sensitive to the need of people for recognition rather than be weighed down by my predispositions.
Do I hear someone say – “Babu Vincent, why are you playing games and blaming others for staying chained to your child ego state? Relax and be an adult. By the way, don’t deprecate yourself. You are OK. Absolutely OK”. Yes, the truth is, I tend to confer parent status on people all too easily.
I had read Eric Berne’s Games People Play long, long time ago though its contents are a distant memory now. During the two days, Susan took us through concepts such as Ego States, Psychological Games, Life Scripts and so many other related topics which form the basis of the book.
I do not want to forget some of the gems I picked up during the two days with Susan. Here are a few of them.
My thoughts lead to what I decide. My decisions form the basis of my actions. If I am watchful in awareness about my governing thoughts, I can control my decisions and therefore the actions that arise out of them. I alone am responsible for the consequence of my actions.
I make conclusions about the things I encounter to prove my assumptions and beliefs. What this means is that I interpret people and events in my life to suit my convenient world view. I see the world not as it is, but as I am. I therefore decide and create my destiny.
The type of people and situations that enter my life are determined by my nature and quality of thoughts.
I am a product of my childhood experiences which start in the womb. The impact of happy or unhappy experiences as a child lie dormant in the subconscious and will rear its head at later points in life.
The redeeming aspect is, I can re-script my life consciously. I need not be a prisoner of my upbringing and conditioning.
I can change and grow out of my limiting scripts in life by changing my beliefs, behaviour, memory and feelings.
Games I play lead to living with masks. Living without masks involves stopping the games I play consciously and unconsciously. To do that I can:
- Give responses along unexpected lines, breaking the cycle of games.
- Give positive strokes at non-stress times.
- Stop discounting. Meaning, stop the tendency to make things too small or too big.
- Step out of drama triangle. Get real.
- Do not collect pay-offs.
- Structure more time with activities, fun and intimacy.
Stroke economy involves giving strokes, asking for strokes, accepting strokes, not rejecting strokes and stroking oneself.
Being an Autonomous person involves living with Awareness, Spontaneity and Intimacy.
Live in the ‘I am OK, You are OK’ awareness zone.
The sessions were packed with experiential learning. The participants opened up with their life stories. That integrated the learning all the more. Susan has a way of putting people at ease and gently prodding them to be authentic and open.
She corrected everyone then and there when they tended to speak about their experiences in general terms using ‘we’. She suggested that the best way to accept responsibility is to use the word “I” in the first person singular. She taught us that even jokes on others carry certain messages about the people making them.
At the start, Susan did not have any pretensions about TA 101 transforming the participants during the 2 days. Yet, I could see the impact of her searching questions on the face of the participants. Most of them were seen intensely silent now and then, looking inward into themselves. I myself made many discoveries and am bent on continuing the journey I began with Susan.
What floored me is her depth and honesty in her answers to even awkward personal questions. She is in essence a very autonomous person, living in awareness with capacity to engage with participants spontaneously, without any hint of pretensions or masks.
Her clean, small, spartan room where we sat packed together matched her simplicity. And, it is not too often that a trainer would make and serve tea for her participants. The setting and Susan’s personal bearing carried the message loud and clear that relationships are based on very ordinary simple acts performed without frills and pomp, with a lot of care and love.
I wish we had enough time to discuss with her about how the plants in the verandah responds to her conversation with them. It reminded me about the book, ‘Celestine Prophesy’.
Susan does not advertise her training programmes. She is very much like the hermit on a mountain. People seek her out and go to her. This happens to those who provide value much in excess of what they get. Besides, as I have said elsewhere, people are interested in who we are, rather than what we do.
I feel very grateful for the two days which marked the beginning of a significant exploration into the realm of the mind and relationships.
Finally, all trainings and learning emphasise the importance of awareness. Only in quiet awareness can I delve into myself to discover the predominant thoughts at the conscious and sub-conscious levels, so I get to the root of those forces causing my decisions and actions.