Transactional Analysis Training comes from a wonderful school of psychotherapy which deals with self development, communication with the self and interpersonal skills. It was created by Eric Berne and gained momentum across the globe in the later years of his life as well as after his death. Many of his students like Father George Kandathil (ICTA Kochi), Thomas Harris, Albert Mehrabian, Ian Stewart and Vann Joines (their book ‘TA Today’ is widely regarded as a definitive modern interpretation), John Dusay, Aaron and Jacqui Schiff, Robert and Mary Goulding, Pat Crossman, Taibi Kahler, Abe Wagner, Ken Mellor and Eric Sigmund, Richard Erskine and Marityn Zalcman, Muriel James, Pam Levin, Anita Mountain and Julie Hay (specialists in organizational applications), Susannah Temple, Claude Steiner, Franklin Ernst, S Woollams and M Brown, Fanita English, P Clarkson, M M Holloway, Stephen Karpman and others have been instrumental in popularising this school of thought and spreading it across the globe.

As some of you may be aware, TA theories focus on Life Positions, Ego States, Drivers, Scripts, Transactions etc. We will be discussing the first one in this article and some of the remaining ones in articles to come.

Life Positions

Life positions are one’s basic beliefs about one’s self and others, based on which we behave.

The four life positions that we tend to operate from are:

  • I am OK; you are OK (I+U+)
  • I am OK; you are not OK (I+U-)
  • I am not OK; you are OK (I-U+)
  • I am not OK; you are not OK (I-U-)
Transactional Analysis Training Life Positions

The Four Life Positions


(I+U+) depicts equality, balance, positive self esteem, consideration for others, win-win, world is a great place to live, we all are equal and life is progressive, I am willing to consider myself as well as listen to the other.

(I+U-) depicts resistance to others ideas, aggressive, win-loose, get rid of other’s ideas, one up and homicide.

(I-U+) depicts inferiority complex, others are better than me, passivity, feel victimized, poor fellow, get away from it.

(I-U-) depicts despair, suicidal, frustration with everyone and everything around, nothing is worth it and all is vain.

Pretty self explanatory isn’t it!

The beauty of these life positions is that they form in early childhood and most of us practically spend the rest of our lives operating through them unconsciously!

As per the Transactional Analysis philosophy, the best position to operate from is the I am OK you are OK position and this thought process actually has a profound impact on one’s inner landscape. It gives a deep sense of accepting oneself and others and the universe the way they are, with love and awareness.

In fact it really helped me as a Consultant too. I can now see that an Individual, Team or Organization for whom an intervention is being held is typically operating from a position other than the I am OK you are OK position. This creates disharmony, both for themselves internally as well as for those around them. As a Consultant, it is up to me to bring them to an I am OK you are OK position so that they, their teams and in turn their Organisations can benefit.

The first shift that is to happen is to move to an I am OK position. This comes from accepting ones self just the way we are. With this deep acceptance, the you are OK follows automatically. Most of us operate strongly from an I am not OK space or you are not OK space and to look at oneself as OK and others as also OK the way they are itself is a huge shift in one’s consciousness.

We also need to realize that we all have a preferred life position. There may be momentary variations in this position depending upon the situations we face, however we tend to steer back to our preferred life position.

So is there some way to change these life positions or are we stuck with our preferred life position for the rest of our lives?

The good news is that we can change them. How? With awareness , the most powerful tool. When we get aware of the life position we are playing out of at that moment of time, we get the power to change it and can with practice gradually move towards the I am OK you are OK position.

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"Transactional Analysis Training, the way forward" - By The Yellow Spot - - 4 Comments



  1. Being in the Sales Training Business it is good to see an article written by someone who has a real grasp of the subject matter!

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