I’ve been doing a week long mini course in my private membership club, Living Life Being Human. The topic this week, has been exploring behaviour, one of the things that I learned quite early on in my psychotherapy training was about ‘Driver Behaviours’.
I keep coming back to this over and over again, it’s one of the main building blocks of transactional analysis, ‘that we all have certain behaviours that we can display more when we are stressed or overwhelmed’.
Transactional analysis is all about analysing transactions between ourselves and the ‘other’, whether that is a child or a partner or a work colleague, anybody that we come into contact with. We create energy between the two of us and that energy can be positive or negative depending on our state of mind, depending on how we are feeling at the time, depending on how that person appears to us at the time.
It’s a minefield when you start to look at how we communicate. My thoughts and feelings can be ‘triggered’ when communicating with someone if they remind me of somebody from my past. That might be the way that they look, it might be the way that they hold themselves, it might be their mannerisms or the words that come out of their mouth. I can be instantly ‘rubber banded’ back to an earlier time to where my thoughts and feelings were similar.
So there’s lots of psychological mumbo jumbo that goes on when we’re having an innocent conversation with somebody, which I find really, really interesting. Clients often talk about ‘being stuck’ in a certain behaviour pattern, so that is what encouraged me to do a little mini course around the ‘driver behaviours’.
We all have access to five different Driver Behaviours:
When we’re stressed, overwhelmed or over worked these behaviours become more prevalent, they become stronger in us. Although we have access to all five of these ‘Driver Behaviours’, we tend to ‘prefer’ some more than others. We do this because as children we got recognition and validation when we displayed these behaviours .
So how does all this link in to procrastination and overthinking.
The ‘Be Perfect’ driver behaviour is strongly connected to procrastinating and overthinking. If we are in our ‘Be Perfect’ driver, it’s really important to us that everything is perfect, everything has to be just so, there’s lots of planning, there’s lots of preparation, there’s lots of working out the scenarios, there’s lots of doing all the ‘what if’s’.
The downfall to being in our ‘Be Perfect’ driver, is that it’s impossible to be perfect. We can’t cover every eventuality, we can’t foresee the future, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
Our ‘Be Perfect’ driver can keep us stuck, we procrastinate and overthink, the more I plan, the more I prepare and go through all the ‘what if’s’, I’m procrastinating. I’m stopping myself from just doing the ‘thing’ I want to do.
I just wanted to explore that a little bit with you, and you might find that there are some things you are reading that resonate with you.
Are you somebody that has to plan everything?
Are you somebody that keeps reminders everywhere?
Are you somebody who’s appearance is very important?
Is it important to you how others perceive you?
Do you compare yourself to others?
If you do any of the above it’s possible that you are in your ‘Be Perfect’ driver behaviour.
Our driver behaviour comes from messages that we picked up on early in childhood. It’s not that our parents or our caregivers told us, “You need to be perfect, you need to get this just right or there’s no point in you doing it at all”.
They might have said that but it’s highly unlikely, it’s more about how we understand the messages given. If we got lots of praise and recognition for doing a good job, if we got lots of praise and recognition for coming first in a race or getting top marks in reading when we were at school, then we can start to think, “Oh, if I do a really good job, I get lots of praise”, which encourages us to do another really good job, and to strive for something better, more perfect, more acceptable.
I’m a parent and I know that I have praised my children for exactly those sorts of things. I have said similar things to my children with the best of intentions, so this is not about judging how we praise our children, in fact, we have no control how our messages are received and understood by our children.
So what can we do?
If we’re procrastinating, or if we’re overthinking the best thing we can do is to be compassionate with ourselves. Understand that it may be because we’re worried about being criticised or we’re worried about being vulnerable, or we’re concerned that people might think negatively of us.
If we can be more compassionate with ourselves, then we can look a little bit deeper about why our behaviour is the way that it is. Once we become more aware of what we’re doing, and possibly why we’re doing it, we have a choice to change it.