Have you ever been frustrated by a friend or a colleague who was limited in life by the things they heard when they were young? Or you know someone who thinks they can do no wrong no matter what they do?
Both of those mindsets can be caused by transactional analysis. Transactional analysis is the psychological processing in our subconscious that drives our thoughts and actions.
It creates the subconscious tapes that play in our heads and inform our gut reactions.
People react to these tapes in all kinds of ways, though. The three parts of transactional analysis are the parent, child, and adult tapes. But the parent and child tapes are the ones that can trip us up most easily.
Here's how the parent and child tapes can affect people well into adulthood’
The parent tape is associated with judgements—judgements on what's acceptable and what isn't, what's a normal way to interact with others, and what life goals are worth working toward.
One of my clients, for example, remembers his dad working two full-time jobs for most of his childhood. Because of that, his dad often told him to never work for someone else, but to do his own thing. Years later, this client started his own business.
The parent tape is based on what your parents said, did, and valued when you were a child. It doesn't have to be explicitly based on what they said, although it was for my client.
People react to their parents' behaviors in all kinds of ways. The child tape is where that emotional assessment of their parents' behavior is made and becomes engrained.
A different client has shared with me that her dad was always hard on sales people. He outsmarted them at every turn and was pretty merciless about it. This client, in a rebellious stage, refused to even negotiate with sales people but paid them in full because she felt bad of them. She didn't want to fight with them because she saw her dad do that too often.
Your parent and child tapes affect the way you react to situations and how you instinctively judge circumstances and people. You may not even be conscious of it!
But once you are aware of transactional analysis, you might be able to see how your parent and child tapes play into your day-to-day life. Once you do, you can decide what part of your tapes is helpful, and what part you want to ignore.