Welcome to Part 2 of our article on Transactional Analysis Training. In the last article we discussed about Life Positions. Let’s talk about Drivers and Ego States in this one.


Drivers also play a big role in helping you feel OK or not OK. They are parental messages given to us by our parents or other parental figures in our lives like older relatives, teachers, etc. As the name suggests, they literally start driving us!

Some common drivers are “Please others,” “Try hard,” “Be Strong,” “Be perfect,” “Hurry Up,” “Try Hard,” “Boys never cry.” Sound familiar don’t they?

Now each driver has its positives and negatives, it’s really in the way you perceive it! For example, the positive of “please others” is that you can establish relationships really fast by pleasing others. The negative on the other hand is that you end up trying to always make others happy and tend to make yourself miserable in the bargain!

So where does the difference lie in the perception of the driver? It’s in the life position that you see it from. So if you operate from an (I+U+) position, you will be able to connect with people really fast using this driver. However if you operate from (I-U+), you will land up pleasing others at your own expense. This in turn will take a hit on your self-esteem and you will get stuck in a vicious cycle because you will then try to please others as a means to make yourself  feel good and bring up your self esteem! In this way the driver will really have you  stuck and going around in circles.

“Try hard” is another driver where you keep trying hard all the time forgetting that there are smart ways of doing things and that everything does not need to be done the hard way. It also means letting go if something is not working for a long time.

The flip side of “Try hard” is that it makes you try again and again until you succeed.

Thus identifying one’s drivers and the life positions through which you see them from is of utmost importance.  This then enables us to you use the positives of these drivers and diminish their negatives. However it’s important to remember that it’s a gradual process and takes time as you are trying to change something that you have been following for a major portion of your life. So don’t be harsh on yourself or you will land up pushing yourself to an I am not OK position!

Ego States

As per Eric Berne and Claude Steiner, the 3 ego states are formed over a period of time and we actually operate from either of them in every transaction.

E.g. the Parent Ego state is about what has been told to us by our parents. What we have acquired from our parental figures – the values, beliefs and other things that we swallowed without questioning.

The Adult Ego state is about questioning, inquiring and understanding the reality; keeping in mind the thinking, feeling and behaving. This state depicts a balance. Its the rational or logical thinking state and is an objective state.

The child state is the feeling state. It’s about your own childhood experiences of thinking, feeling and behaving. It feels in the body mainly and is an intuitive thinking state.

Ego states are the building blocks of the personality. Even children have all the 3 ego states in them, however the child ego state is the one that is dominant in children.

The most important thing to understand after you learn about the PAC (Parent – Adult – Child) states is that each state has its positives and negatives and it is up to you to see how you can create a balance between the two.

The further sub divisions of the parent and child state are:

  • Controlling Parent
  • Nurturing parent
  • Free Child
  • Adapted Child

Each of these sub divisions too have a negative and a positive side.

E.g. Let’s look at the Nurturing Parent. A negative nurturing parent is over pampering and behaves as a very soft ego state which can actually lead to the people around the person taking undue advantage of the person’s empathy and over sensitivity.

However a positive nurturing parent will always support the people around appropriately. He / She will create an environment conducive to others growth and will also know when to keep a stand as per the situation on hand.

It therefore greatly helps if one can reduce the dominance of negatives of each ego state by increasing the positive side so that one operates from a healthy ego gram. The best part about an ego gram is that it always looks at creating a healthy balance of each state. So you don’t need to diminish the negative ego state, just enhance the positive side of the same to balance them out.

So a Controlling Parent needs to ensure that he doesn’t keep controlling all those around them all the time, a Free Child needs to also take responsibility some time and an Adapted Child needs to ensure that he does also do what he feels like sometimes!

Ego States in Transactional Analysis Training

Transactional Analysis is thus a beautiful tool to help one with enhancing communication with the self and eventually communication skills with others. It is a tool for enhancing self awareness which in turn helps produce change.

If you feel Transactional Analysis Training can help you in improving your relationship with yourself as well as those around you, do join our Transactional Analysis Workshops.  You can also visit The Yellow Spot website to learn more about the other programs we offer.

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