To the editor:
Here is a letter that may help you understand yourself and others. This has virtually nothing to do with race, gender, sex, nationality or religion; it involves all of us on this planet, equally. I am referring to what is known as Transactional Analysis (TA). I use it while counseling with others and I use it every day to try and keep myself in the proper state of mind. I don't always succeed in either arena.
TA proposes that we have three conscious levels of mind-sets: a) the adult; b) the authority figure; or, c) the child. TA offers no exceptions. When we communicate with others our presentation is formulated from one of these mind-sets and that is how we "come across to others."
According to TA the "adult" mind-set represents what is sensible, honest, fair, consistent, and flexible. The adult could be anyone of any age and status.
The authority mind-set is usually associated with parents, policemen, judges, teachers, and so on. Ideally, this group should also be an adult but, as we all know, such is not the case.
The child mind-set is basically one that has not matured, has little or no life experiences, is only somewhat educated and deals with matters almost exclusively by emotion. This group has no rules and doesn't want any rules. But, this mind-set also has an insidious propensity to pass itself off as being from one of the other mind-sets.
If each of us would stop and analyze ourselves at each step of our communications with others and realize how each of us are presenting ourselves we could alleviate a lot of headaches. But we don't. We all stray and vacillate between the mind-sets and that is where things go hay-wire.
Briefly: Problems arise when two people approach each other, one as an "adult" and the other as a "child" (i.e. adult says, "good morning" and child says "you look fat.").
If adult doesn't recognize that child may be having a bad day and adult doesn't stay adult, watch out! Too often what happens is adult, not to be out done, changes, becomes a child and responds as a child. Then the original child, not to be out done, becomes an even younger child and before you know it we have two people who are both in their 50s battling it out like 4-year-olds.
There is obviously much more to this. The variables are nearly infinite in numbers and are hilarious. It is a way to check your-self and learn to be honest with your-self. It is another way to "look in the mirror." Have fun experimenting.