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How to Dominate your Inner Drivers



You may still remember the blog posting where I introduced you to the five inner drivers defined by the transaction analyst Taibi Kahler as being typical for human self-control. Today the subject will deal with enabling you to put your personal inner drivers in their place when they tend to overdo driving you.

As a reminder an overview of all five drivers and their messages:

The First Driver: Be strong!

  • His message: Grit your teeth! Don’t show any emotions! Maintain your composure!
  • His objective: Security is only found in independence and therefore dependencies and vulnerabilities must be avoided.
  • His positive aspect: Vigorous!

The Second Driver: Be perfect!

  • His message: Don’t make any mistakes!
  • His objective: Only maximal control over people and things is sure to get you recognition, therefore mistakes are to be avoided.
  • His positive aspect: Sense of perfection!

The Third Driver: Please others!

  • His message: Always be amiable! Always accommodate!
  • His objective: One only receives affection by pleasing everybody; therefore never say “no”.
  • His positive aspect: Sensitive and mindful!

The Fourth Driver: Hurry up!

  • His message: Always look ahead! Keep going!
  • His objective: Hurry up so as not to miss something important!
  • His positive aspect: High activity- and performance disposition!

The Fifth Driver: Try hard!

  • His message: Do your utmost! Only the difficult is worth your while!
  • His objective: Only a maximum effort will secure success!
  • His positive aspect: Staying power and perseverance!
At this point it needs to me emphasized: Your inner drivers are important helpers – without any one of them you would probably be sitting listlessly in a corner incapable of getting anything straight in your head. They only represent a problem when they run your life “unchecked” and without thinking. In that case they can cause you lots of stress and make you very unhappy, as well. The issue is not at all to entirely ban the drivers from your life because that would be fatal! You are just supposed to keep them from taking over. Any one of these drivers can be (within reason) an excellent servant – but every driver is a lousy master!

After reading the first blog article on the subject you are probably already familiar with your personal “preferred driver” (if not you can always test it here). We are now going to deal with each of these characters individually and see how you can best rein them in. You see, each driver has something like an inner opposite number usually called a “facilitator” (one could also call him/her a caring observer or companion - go ahead and pick that which you like best). His/her voice also lives inside you just like that of the driver – only probably rather faintly and sometimes it even became quite inaudible because your driver has such a loud, overbearing voice totally drowning the poor facilitator out. It is now your mission to help your facilitator assert him/herself and at the same time deprive your driver of some of his/her overbearing stage presence.

To begin with a few questions you can ask yourself no matter who your preferred driver is:

  • What are the situations when your preferred driver is most active? Which are the sign stimuli guaranteed to activate him/her immediately?
  • Your driver(s) date back to your childhood. Dispassionately consider keeping them in perspective: To what extent and scale is he/ she still valid in your life?
  • What would happen if you were to take your hands off the wheel and let your inner driver completely run your life?
  • What would happen if you were to entirely expel your inner driver from of your life?
  • Have there been situations in the past when you managed to “correctly” dose your inner driver? How did you manage to do that? Could you do it again?
And now to your very personal preferred driver:

1. Driver: Be strong!

This driver carries the message that you must at all costs manage and accomplish everything on your own. In his/her eyes needing help creates dependency and it is imperative to avoid that at any price. He/she forces you to grit your teeth and so as not show any weakness keep your feelings under control at all times. His/her plus: He/she endows you with lots of strength and caution.

Sentences your inner facilitator could use in response to this driver:
  • I am permitted to be open.
  • I am permitted to trust.
  • I am permitted to share my wishes with others.
  • I am permitted to ask for help and accept it.
  • Showing one’s feelings is permitted and a sign of strength.
Some more important points with respect to this driver:
  • Observe yourself in every day life and consciously register how often you push feelings aside and forcibly suppress them. At least once in a while try to let some of these feelings get through to the outside.
  • Once a week ask someone for help with something you could just as easily accomplish yourself.
  • Several times a day briefly stop what you are doing and perform a quick “body scan”: In your mind run a check of all your muscle groups little by little from top to bottom. Which ones are tense? Where are your stiff, where relaxed in your posture?
  • Get yourself a CD with instructions for progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson and regularly practice the exercises.
  • Frequently smile without any obvious reason.
  • Take singing lessons, join a choir and every morning sing loudly at least at home in the shower.

2. Driver: Be perfect!

This driver demands constant perfection and continuously overreaching your objectives from you. He/she does not permit you to do things merely “well” or “satisfactorily” or just take a more relaxed view of things. Mistakes are a catastrophe and therefore must be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, he/she is also a good helper when it comes to completing tasks carefully and accurately.

Sentences your inner facilitator could use in response to this driver:
  • I am permitted to make mistakes and to learn from them.
  • Sometimes 90% is totally sufficient.
  • I am good enough as I am.
  • I give my best and that is sufficient.
  • I am endearing as I am.
Some more important points with respect to this driver:
  • In day-to-day life pay attention to how frequently you tend to justify yourself or to be on the safe side even anticipating potential criticism about that which you happen to be doing before anyone else even has the opportunity to say a word. Try to suppress this impulse once in a while. Observe yourself if you have the tendency to criticize others and once in a while try to suppress this impulse as well. How does this change your social relationships?
  • Once a week don’t do something as well as you actually could or discontinue a task shortly prior to its completion. Consciously deal with the feeling this triggers within you.
  • Several times a day briefly stop what you are doing and perform a quick “body scan”: In your mind run a check of all your muscle groups little by little from top to bottom. Which ones are tense? Where is your posture stiff, where is it relaxed?
  • Get yourself a CD with instructions for progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson and regularly practice the exercises.
  • Frequently smile without any obvious reason.

3. Driver: Please others!

This driver persuades you that others are always more important than you are. More than that: He/she whispers that you are responsible for the wellbeing of all others. He/she forbids you to adequately deal with your own needs and wishes. In a positive sense, he/she helps you maintain good relationships with others and to care for them.

Sentences your inner facilitator could use in response to this driver:
  • I am permitted to take my needs and opinion seriously.
  • I am permitted to expect things of myself.
  • I am ok, even if someone is dissatisfied with me. That is not the end of the world.
  • I am permitted to do things that please me for myself
Some more important points with respect to this driver:
  • In the course of your every day life observe yourself while you are conversing with others. How often do you nod, agree with a smile and make other gestures acknowledging your counterpart? Could you occasionally suppress these impulses?
  • Concentrate on the manner in which you express yourself. How frequently do you use interrogative clauses when it was your intention to suggest something or express your opinion? Like for instance: “Shouldn’t we visit the café at the market today!”? How often do you still mitigate that which you are saying in the same sentence by using phrases like “it is quite far and so . . .” or, “I may be wrong, but I think . . .”. Try and occasionally say directly what you mean or want.
  • During the next group situation when the leader throws a question into the room creating an uncomfortable silence keep still. Wait until someone else raises his/her hand.
  • Once a week decline someone’s request although you could grant it if you wanted.
  • Three times a day stop what you are doing and ask yourself: “If it were now only up to me - would I continue doing what I am doing?“

4. The Driver: Hurry up!

This driver forces you to do everything you do quickly. He/she does not only forbid you to be slow and do things slowly, but also to linger in the present. With that he prevents you from truly immersing yourself in anything and in a manner of speaking get truly close to others. The good news: He/she is also the basis for decisiveness and efficiency in your life.

Sentences your inner facilitator could use in response to this driver:
  • My time belongs to me.
  • I am permitted to take the time I need.
  • I am permitted to take breaks.
  • Sometimes it is also ok if things take longer.
  • I am permitted to make allowances for my rhythm and form on the day.
Some more important points with respect to this driver:
  • Observe yourself in every-day-life or record yourself on tape or video when you talk to others or give a talk. Do you speak quickly, clipped and without interruption? Consciously try to moderate your speech tempo. How frequently do you use verbalisms expressing haste and tempo – “just quickly”, “as quickly as possible”, “right away”, etc.? How often do you interrupt others when they are talking? Can you suppress these impulses?
  • Take a look at the recent weeks and months on your calendar. Are there also free times, periods without entries? Are there leisure and recreation phases? Or do you jump from one activity to the next without taking a break? Take note of the changes when you consciously insert periods of idleness in your day!
  • The next time when you feel under the weather and would normally go to work anyway, spend a day at home. Enjoy a leisurely day in bed. For two or three weeks check your blood pressure several times a day. Too high? Have a conversation with your primary care physician!

5. Driver: Try hard!

This driver talks you into believing that only something that has been achieved with lots of effort and sweat is worthwhile and deserving recognition. He/she encourages you to never relax in your efforts or to quit prematurely. Under his/her influence you are not permitted to let yourself go or enjoy the fruits of your labor. His/her positive aspect: He/she is the source of your extraordinary perseverance and endurance.

Sentences your inner facilitator could use in response to this driver:
  • My vigor belongs to me.
  • I am permitted to accept help.
  • I am permitted to enjoy and complete that which I am doing at my leisure.
  • That which is accomplished without effort is also fun and worthwhile.
  • I am permitted to take a break and enjoy my accomplishments.
Some more important points with respect to this driver:
  • In day-to-day-life occasionally listen to yourself. How often do you use expressions like: “If I try hard . . .”, “I could try . . .”, “that is going to be difficult, but . . .”, and the like? Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with your counterpart and whether you could just do without them.
  • Examine your objectives according to the SMART-method (you’ll find directions here). The aspect “realistic” is particularly important for you.
  • Twice a week ask a person of your choice to help you with a task, you could actually complete on your own.
  • Close your eyes and think of the concepts “ease” and “playfulness”. Is there an association that immediately comes to your mind? A picture, an animal, a piece of music, a certain memory or something totally different? Find an object vividly symbolizing this association for you and put it on your desk or any other place where you see it several times daily. It is supposed to remind you of your new mantra namely that something easy also has value!
  • For two or three weeks check your blood pressure several times a day. Too high? Have a conversation with your primary care physician!
  • Stop what you are doing three, four times a day and concentrate on your throat,- neck,- and shoulder muscles. Are they tense and hard? Take a massage and ask the masseur, to also loosen the muscles around your sternum in addition to those mentioned (any bet that those are tense as well),
  • Get yourself a CD with instructions for progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson and regularly practice the exercises.

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