Emerge Therapy

You Make this Important Relationship Choice Every Day Without Knowing It

General

To move towards or to move away? This is the simple choice we are being asked by our partner in almost every transaction we make. What message does your response currently say? Are you being supportive, dismissive or ambivalent?

One of our basic human requirements is to be recognized, especially by those we love. When we are not recognized this brings feelings of pain, isolation and perhaps rejection or abandonment. Our need for recognition and our unconscious asking for it is encoded in even the simplest transactions we make every day. In Transactional Analysis (TA) we understand this using a simple concept we call “Strokes”


In TA we define Stokes as a unit of recognition. This recognition could be words, it could be physical touch like a hug or a handshake, or it could be a simple gesture like a smile or nod of the head. We use the term strokes because the subtle gestures of recognition and acceptance are used by adults to replace the physical strokes and touch we hopefully received as a child.


Think about some of the common transactions we may have each day with our partner. Let’s take a very simple example; your partner gets home from work and says


“Thank goodness that day is over! Work has been a nightmare”.


On first glance, you may see this phrase is simply information giving. But at a deeper level, I expect your partner wants a response that recognizes their bad experience. At this point, you have a choice to meet their need for recognition or ignore it. In simple terms, you can either turn towards your partner or turn away from them.


How would you normally respond to this? Do you turn towards your partner? Perhaps give them a hug or make them a brew? Both would be an example of a positive stroke. Your partner feels heard and valued. Perhaps you have had a bad day too. Perhaps you respond with something like:


“You think you had a bad day? Mine was a complete disaster from beginning to end”


How do you think your partner feels now? Not only has their experience not been validated it has been minimized in comparison to your own experience.


Think about all those small transactions during the day when you have the chance to turn towards your partner. How often do you take that opportunity? How often does the opportunity go missed?


Think about how it would affect your relationship if this bids for recognition were mostly met with positive strokes? Conversely, what if the response was mostly negative and dismissive.


By allowing yourself to become aware of these subtle attempts to gain recognition and the effect your response may have, you have an opportunity to transform your interactions with your partner leading to greater acceptance, understanding, and intimacy.


To see ho you can use the concepts of Strokes to improve your relationship further read my blog on the Stroke Challenge https://emergetherapy.co.uk/blog/the-stroke-bank-challenge.


If you want to develop greater understanding and intimacy in your relationship contact me to arrange an initial assessment here

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To move towards or to move away? This is the simple choice we are being asked by our partner in almost every transaction we make. What message does your response currently say? Are you being supportive, dismissive or ambivalent?

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