Life is really no more than a certain
limited amount of time and energy.
We make choices – every second –
about how we spend that time and energy.
To have a better life
we must make better choices
about how we use our time and energy.
We get our energy from taking care of our bodies “well enough.”
For the purposes of this topic,
we will be assuming that you are physically healthy
and that you take good enough care of your body
so that you have plenty of energy.
[See “Guidelines for Emotional Health,” another topic in this series,
if you need to learn about physical needs.]
LOVE AND ATTENTION
– OUR NATURAL PRIORITY
Once we have plenty of physical energy,
our next natural priority in life
is to get enough love and attention.
Love and attention are often referred to as “strokes.”
We’ve all heard that risk is related to reward.
If we don’t risk in poker, or in our careers, or in sports,
we know we can’t possibly win.
The same is true emotionally and socially.
Here’s how it works….
4) Psychological Games.
DEFINITIONS AND EXAMPLES
WITHDRAWING is not interacting at all.
“Staring off in space” at a party,
with no awareness of the other people there.
WORKING is simply doing things,
with the only interaction being about the task at hand.
Assembly line workers who don’t socialize
but do discuss who should grab the next item on the line.
A PROCEDURE is a totally predictable way of interacting with others.
“How are you?”
“Did you see that game yesterday.”
“Yeah. Great, huh?”
PSYCHOLOGICAL GAMES are far less predictable
and more personal ways of interacting.
Examples of statements that can signal the start of a psychological game:
1) “Isn’t this a lousy place to work?”
2) “You don’t love me anymore….”
3) “Why do you always _______”
In all psychological games
the response will be strong agreement or strong disagreement,
and will be taken personally.
Each person will feel that something important is at stake,
but they will avoid feeling connected or intimate with each other
(which they feared from the beginning would be “too risky”).
INTIMACY is direct and intense contact with people.
Neither person thinks they know what’s going to happen next,
although they both deeply want it to be good
and deeply fear that it will be bad.
When attempts at intimacy go poorly, we feel horrible.
When attempts at intimacy go well,
we feel so good
that the only thing we can say about it is something like:
“WOW! That was great!”
Looking deeply into the other person’s eyes
as they look into yours.
Sharing your darkest secrets with a friend,
and hoping to be totally accepted.
RISK VS. REWARD
It is, of course, impossible to put some number on a thing like “strokes”
or even on this kind of risk.
But please understand that the amount that you risk
does determine the amount of your reward!
Have you every wondered why people play so many “psychological games”?
They play them because
they are afraid to take the risks of real intimacy
but they still want to get the attention or “strokes.”
As nasty as psychological games can be,
and as unfulfilling as they usually are,
people keep trying them because
there IS a major payoff
compared to everything else except intimacy.
And only the healthiest among us
are willing to risk true intimacy.
Unless you already feel overburdened with too much attention
do these things:
1) Decrease the amount of time you spend in withdrawal, work, and procedures.
2) Avoid psychological games because they will backfire.
3) Increase the time you spend in true intimacy.
When you feel afraid to risk more, ask yourself:
Is it your current, real world that’s so risky?
Or is it that you are only too afraid
because of past disappointments and rejections?
If it’s the past that’s bothering you so much, ask yourself:
“Have I learned enough from the past to risk again?”
(If not, get professional help to evaluate your past experiences.)
the attention and affection you want!