So how are you getting on? Is everything working out for you? Is life meeting your expectations?
How you answer those questions will depend amongst other things on your self-regard; how you feel about yourself; your skill-sets and levels of self-confidence; in short, your self-esteem. If you feel that your self-esteem is on the low side read on because this article my be just what you are looking for and will definitely help you on the way to a more positive future.
How you think and feel about yourself affects every area of your life and importantly, impacts on your behaviour and your performance. If everything is working out well for you, then happy days! If on the other hand life isn’t going as well as you would like, you may want to assess your current life position and examine those conditioned elements that could be holding you back from the happiness, success and life you deserve.
Doctor Thomas A Harris was a practicing psychiatrist and author of the best-selling book, I’m OK – You’re OK, based upon the theory of Transactional Analysis, developed by Dr Eric Berne. In his book Harris identified four life positions and suggested that most people live out their lives in the, I’m not OK – You’re OK position, leading to dysfunctional responses to others and life circumstances.
I’m not going to trouble you with an in-depth analysis of the psychology, but I will introduce you to the four dominant life positions identified by Harris. This will help you to focus and consider your own life position; it will help you to plan a route to greater happiness and more success.
In his book, Harris identifies the ‘OK Corral’, in the form of s a grid that identifies the four life positions. I’ve set out the life positions below and identified the dominant characteristics and traits of each, which will enable you to make an assessment about your own situation. There is no right or wrong of each position; they are simply descriptive and reveal associated traits.
I’m not OK – You’re OK
Harris describes this as a submissive position associated with low self-esteem. People in this life position are often attracted to professions where they can surround themselves with others who have more problems than they do. They are likely to display ‘people-pleasing’ traits and are happy to receive recognition for this. Those in this position are likely to take the blame for the lack of success of others under their charge. They are likely to put the needs of others above their own and can be over-accommodating. Typically, they may not pay attention to their own personal development and avoid personal challenges.
I’m not OK – You’re not OK
This is a passive/aggressive position; it acknowledges the submissive element in the previous position and is associated with low self-esteem. It incorporates an air of negative judgement about others. Those holding this life position are likely to feel a sense of hopelessness about life generally and can be hypocritical in the face of others around them. It can be a position that is problematic for those who have management or supervisory roles, as they often hold negative views about work colleagues and their abilities to develop. They typically may use a negative tone when communicating with those who report to them. They may hold the view it is everybody else who has the problem and not them.
I’m OK – You’re not OK
Those who sit within this life position are typically judgemental and aggressive towards others. They may also display similar traits to those in the first two life positions. They are likely to avoid taking on new responsibilities and may be directive in their approach to others, particularly those who report to them in a workplace situation. They are likely to form negative opinions about their supervisors and bosses and may suffer from anxiety. They often lack confidence and can be pre-disposed towards depressive states.
I’m OK – You’re OK
This is desribed as the ideal position to be in. People holding this life position display high degrees of emotional intelligence. They are generally healthily assertive, confidant and comfortable in their own skin. They display high levels of self-awareness and have a high regard for themselves and others. They are most likely to be non-judgemental, accepting others for who they are.They display strong leadership traits and believe in the ability of others to succeed. It is an enlightened life position and the most likely to lead to greater personal happiness.
To reiterate, their is no right or wrong life position to hold, but referring to the OK Corral can be useful in assessing your own emotional circumstances and your levels of self-esteem. In reality you may not fit into any one life position, and may display some or all of the traits in a life position contextually. That said, you may find it easy to agree the I’m OK – You’re OK position appears to be the healthiest place to be and the one most likely to engender greater personal happiness.
What happens next is entirely a matter of personal choice – only you can decide to make the changes required to adopt a more powerful life position. You may hold the belief that change is not possible for you, but this is just a misguided, habitual pattern of thinking. Change is always possible and it is never too late – all it takes is a mindshift, like shifting to a higher gear when driving; when you know how to do it, it becomes easy. In the first instance I would recommend obtaining a copy of Harris’ book, which will generate a greater understanding of the principles discussed here.
To your success – the choice is yours…