Comment: In order to make effective changes, data is needed. This task from Transactional Analysis is one of the more effective ways of obtaining data concerning patterns of behavior.
MacQuarrie Email Program #10 — The John James Game Plan
The John James Game Plan is a set of questions that can be applied to any emotional issue. Such questions provide the data necessary to allow further change, so that the patterns can be identified and alternative actions chosen. (It is named after one of the lead therapists in the field of Transactional Analysis (TA). TA was very popular in 60s to 80s; it was the first therapy where I was introduced to the concept of Sailors On A Ship.)
Be aware that the possibility of change requires specific details to be described (when, where, what, how, et cetera). When generalities are explored (he/she always …), you might be able to explain the issue, but there is much less opportunity for change; you are much less likely to get a different outcome. Change exists in the details.
Your task for this session is to apply the questions below to at least three examples, and explore your responses. What are the consistent features that allow you to predict the outcome (even though you do not like the outcome)?
For each example (#1, #2, #3) —
- What was the difficulty?
- Give the difficulty a name. This allows you to come back to it. Especially if you give the same name to a variety of examples, there will be consistent predictable features.
- What happened first?
- What was the first clue that the difficulty was about to occur? When I took up downhill skiing 40 years ago, the instructor said “Put your energy into the first turn, and then enjoy the rest of the run.” The first turn determined the rest of the run!
- What happened next?
- What was the second clue (especially the response of the other person, or yourself if they initiated the first turn)?
- What happened next?
- By this time, the final outcome is usually predictable.
- How did it end?
- Details again — this is the most obvious predictability, but there will be others.
- How did you feel at the end?
- What emotion, what sensations? Where in your body?
- Where was the focus of your emotion?
- How do you know? Where in your body according to The Pointing Finger!
- How was the emotion (or feeling) familiar?
- What is the earliest memory you have of this specific emotion (i.e., these sensations, not just the general emotion)?
- What did you do with this emotional energy?
- How long did you hold on to the energy? How did you discharge it?
- What was the positive intention of your emotional energy?
- If you want to change this situation, it is usually essential that you find replacement ways to maintain the same positive intention.
I suggest that you do this exercise with at least three examples, especially three examples that already seem similar. You are seeking the predictable features where you can initiate change, so as to get a different outcome for yourself and the other.
If you are keeping a journal, I suggest you set up a section in which you continue to explore issues over an extended period of time. If you do so, you are guaranteed to encounter predictable features, and you maximize the possibility of bringing change to your life.
As you encounter predictable features, consider what else you could do so as to have a different outcome. Especially consider question #10 of the pattern — it is essential that you acknowledge and maintain the positive intention of the pattern you wish to change.
(Although the outcome you obtained with this difficulty may not have been desirable, all human behavior is always done with a positive intention. For example, if one person physically hits another person, the first person is usually afraid, and is attempting to shift from feeling powerless to feeling powerful. The action of hitting another person is almost never appropriate, nor is the intention to have power over another person appropriate — but the desire to feel powerful is positive. In this example, the means of achieving power is inappropriate.)
Imagine yourself in the situation provided by the example. How else might you be able to feel powerful? It might surprise you to know, as one possibility, that being able to admit that one is afraid and feels powerless can be a stance of great personal power.
Now step back into your own difficulty, and imagine doing new actions, behaviors that would still preserve your positive intention. How would the ending be different?
Plan at least three different actions that would give different (and desired) outcomes. recreate the difficulty in your imagination, and act out the process with the new behaviors. Feel the difference in your body as you achieve better results, albeit in our imagination.
Write these new actions and outcomes down on separate pieces of paper, and keep them in your back pocket. When you encounter the difficulty again, pause and take at least one of the pieces of paper out of your pocket, and review it.
Because you are attempting to bring conscious choice to other-than-conscious patterns, do not get stuck thinking that this activity will work all the time. It may, but it takes considerable practice to change other-than-conscious patterns.
The next email will give further suggestions for changing outcomes.
Coming next: Gathering more data — the Checkbox of Change.