Tag Archives: Eric Berne

The Work it is to Lead an Intentional Life

Flow of information in biological systems

The cellular melody that plays out inside of us repeats a common harmonious theme. At the same time our organs reveal that slight complementary differences within that framework powerfully contribute to the overall community of relationships that make us what we are, a biological symphony. Like the various instruments within an orchestra contribute their individual tasks, the unified whole is the result. Our biology has a need for nourishing relationships that are defined by this same principle, different tasks interacting within the community, but a unified and shared nourishing expressive purpose by all. Should the measures and verse that define us have expressions of discord, we experience this biologically as disease. Each part within needs to serve in the context of what best serves the whole symphonic community of expression.

These same biological principles are mimicked in our social relationships. To understand this in more pragmatic terms; those of us who were exposed to relationships that flowed in cycles of discordant payoffs tend to repeat these patterns on our adult social stage. In the late 1950’s Dr. Eric Berne developed a lens to look at the behavioral symphony of human social dynamics and how these patterns shaped our experience of life. He called this lens “Transactional Analysis”. He called the toxic social patterns “games” such as “now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch”, which are actually power plays we do on each other’s life typically because we learned them growing up.

Dr. Berne created a simple lens through which we can more accurately see that the relationship environment we grew up in has powerful implications on how we live our lives over all. He called this overarching theme that drives our behaviors and relationships a “Life Script”. A life script is a life plan that is sometimes unspoken and sometimes unbeknownst to the person executing it. This plan can run on toxic games that are directed toward a specific reward which is sometimes negative. He called the end result of these social dealings “payoffs”. We learn to cultivate these payoffs by be being attracted to, or repulsed by certain characteristics on our social landscape, and in our relationship dealings with ourselves, so that ultimately the symphony turns out the way it is scripted. The idea Dr. Berne had was to create a framework by which we could begin directing our lives more intentionally.

The thematic communication represented through our biology tells us a lot about who we are. It should come as no surprise that the social relationship environment we’re exposed to as we grow up strikes a chord that echoes on our adult social landscape the same way the development of our cells and organs defines how well or poorly our biology operates. If the relationship currents in our developmental environment were nourishing we can ride the currents, if not, we either work to swim against the current or flow down the drain.