Transactional Analysis works on the basis that our personality consists of 3 ‘ego states’. It can be very useful to get into the practice of identifying which ego state we are in at any given moment because we can then make sense of why a situation keeps happening; understand why we are not getting our needs met at those times and improve our wellbeing and relationships with others, by learning to switch to another ego state at that time.
The 3 Ego States are known as the Parent, Adult and Child Ego States and you…
…are in your Parent Ego State if you behave, think or feel in a way copied from your parents or other parent-figures. The Parent Ego State is the ‘Taught Version of Life’. We often find ourselves thinking ‘Oh that’s just what my mum used to say or do’ and these are times when we have been in our Parent Ego State. Also an easy way to recognise when we are in our Parent Ego State is when we hear ourselves saying or thinking ’I/you should, must, ought…’.
…are in your Adult Ego State if you find yourself responding directly to what is happening around you in a way that is spontaneous and solves the problem. This is known as the ‘Thought Version of Life’ where we act independently of childhood or parenting preconceptions.
…are in your Child Ego State if you act, think or feel as you did when you were a child. This is known as the ‘Felt Version of Life’ and contains all your experiences, desires, needs, feelings and behavioural patterns from your childhood.
It can often come as a suprise to clients how often, as adults, we go into our Child and Parent Ego States at times of emotional distress. Once you recognise when this is happening you can start to learn how and when to switch back to the problem solving Adult Ego State.