Peak 131: I am surrounded by talented allies (and everything’s ActuallyOK)

It’s been 10 days since I was last here. I’ve been furiously busy with work, but also ‘gentling’ myself along the way. I’ve also been enjoying setting up my new Trackers, which was a goal I set myself with my 12 Week Year goal setting in early Oct. I like how my Trackers (tick charts, checklists, self-scorings, noting stats on my self-care habits and productivity) are a good way of grounding me and gentling myself. I am using my beautiful aspie brain to its ultimate advantage.

More arose for me over the last few days in terms of what gentling means and looks like. I asked my friend who is a trainee Transactional Analysis psychotherapist how the training was changing her everyday conversations. She said:

“I shut up and just listen a lot more. And I take other people’s behaviours less personally now. I realise most people are just constantly managing their affect [psychology term for mood, emotions, feelings].”

In the PAC (Parent, Adult, Child) model of Transactional Analysis (TA), Dr Eric Berne describes three ego states in which we might ‘transact’ (interact) via ‘strokes’ (verbal, or not) with others:

Parent – taught concept
Child – felt concept
Adult – learned concept

TA leads us to being more in the Adult ego state, through learning about realities for ourselves: And through that learning we have access to increased emotional regulation, unlike the Parent or Child state which might be more propelled by Fear, which for me is a driver of dis-regulation. Maybe I think that maturity (reaching adulthood, or the Adult ego state) is simply: knowing that everything is actually ok (AOK) – and living like that.

{Reality check: Think ten years ago, to be frank it actually wasn’t ok. And now it is. So I can live like that, not as if I was living in the situation of ten years ago, when I was bereaved, divorcing, unemployed, a kinship carer, and mentally unwell.}

[Just discovered: ‘I’m Ok, You’re Ok’ is a TA book!]

But how do I get my body to buy into the notion that everything is actually ok (AOK)? Well, shortly after thinking about the AOK notion, a colleague of mine, a medical consultant, triggered my interest with the words: “in breathing deeply you stretch your vagus nerve”.  Say what? We actually stretch it? I didn’t realise we could kinda get physical with it, somehow.  I went on to ponder on a notion of ‘vagal entrainment’. Is that a thing? Googled… Yes. Vagal toning, they call it. Look at this. I know it’s ‘just breathing’ – but I’ve never understood the biophysics of it. This helps:

The vagus nerve is essentially the queen of the parasympathetic nervous system — a.k.a. the “rest and digest,” or the “chill out” one — so the more we do things that “stimulate” or activate it, like deep breathing, the more we banish the effects of the sympathetic nervous system — a.k.a. the “fight or flight,” or the “do something!” stress-releasing adrenaline/cortisol one.”

Put another way, “Your body senses your breathing and adapts its heart rate in response,” Norcliffe-Kaufmann told me. When we breathe in, she explained, the sensory nodes on our lungs (“lung stretch receptors”) send information up through the vagus nerve and into the brain, and when we breathe out, the brain sends information back down through the vagus nerve to slow down or speed up the heart. So when we breathe slowly, the heart slows, and we relax. Conversely, when we breathe quickly, our heart speeds up, and we feel amped, or anxious.

I was surprised by the idea that it’s specifically the exhale that triggers the relaxation response, but Norcliffe-Kaufmann confirmed: “Vagal activity is highest, and heart rate lowest, when you’re exhaling.” She mentioned that the ideal, most calming way to breathe is six times a minute: five seconds in, five seconds out.

(The Cut:

Breathing out slowly is a profound way of ‘gentling’, friends! 

Let’s read. Feels like it’s been ages.

-68- A skilled warrior does not rush ahead of others. A skilled fighter does not make a show of anger. A skilled victor does not seek revenge. A skilled employer does not act superior. This is known as the virtue of not competing. This is known as making use of the abilities of others. This is known as being united with heaven as it was in ancient times. (The Tao Te Ching 68)

‘Making use of the abilities of others’ sounds like a sensible way of gentling, if it’s really about collaborating instead of competing and it’s not on the exploitative side. I could ask myself: ‘Are there ways in which I could better make use of the abilities/capacities/talents of others, without ‘leaning’ on them, but rather by bringing their light to bear on the world?’

We all love to have our talents used (and seen)!

You could do an inventory of your loved ones and their talents. You would find yourself astounded at the wealth of skill you have in your network of souls. 

It feels like potentially the very opposite of the scenarios in the great book by the founder of Transactional Analysis, Eric Berne – Games People Play – in which he looks at all the way we screw each other over, consciously or subconsciously, driven by our fearful or rigid Parent or Child ego states.

What if you sat for a good long while in your Adult state (which has learnt that all is ActuallyOK, despite earlier being taught life was not ok (Parent), and feeling that life was not OK (Child)) , and from that perspective saw everyone around you in their Adult state, whether they are acting from it or not? 

Well, that would be powerful. I would feel surrounded by ALLIES and FRIENDS. There would be no need to fear ‘the other’. I could certainly point to others’ gifts and talents without:

  • a) fearing I would get lost/dismissed/ignored, or
  • b) worrying they would ‘overtake’ me

What if my future marketing purely involved ‘pointing to the gifts, talents, capacities and competencies of others’???

How would that make you feel?

Flipping liberated. No more humble-bragging, jazz-handing, showing-off, attention-seeking!

Sounds like a relief. And how would it make you feel to ‘point to the gifts, talents, capacities and competencies of others’?

Honest. True. Modest. Grateful. Appreciative… My goodness, it’s the magical state we talk about. The receptive state of allowing and knowing what you appreciate and seeing it and setting your attention to, and saying, ‘Hey universe, THIS is cool’ and then finding (magically) more of it.

This really is big-time ‘I’m Ok, You’re Ok’. But how can I step away from my addiction to praise-seeking?

Maybe by genuine, quiet, appreciative praise-giving. Not like a pantomime dame throwing sweeties sartorially at the hapless audience. But in a way that leaves you invisible and them feeling seen, appreciated, noted

Ok. I can do that, I think. I can appreciate others rather than seek to be appreciated by others.


It’s really a new and subtle skill. [Ha! As I wrote that, I sensed a little voice in me saying, ‘yeah but I’m actually quite good at it’!] Ok. Let’s see about that. How easy is it really? How much are you thanking in order to be thanked? Or as G put it when discussing another concept, how much are you adoring others in order to receive adoration?

Let’s be gentle with ourselves, and take a playful approach. The word ‘invisible’ is helpful. Can you be the spotlight handler standing in the darkness behind the light, rather than the polished TV show host thrusting the mic at your ‘chosen’ interviewee?

I hear you. Let me work on this. Appreciating others without becoming the main attraction. Hm… Poco a poco.

I am appreciating others (rather than seeking to be appreciated by others)

NB: “I am surrounded by talented allies”

Ah… that’s it! Ty! In terms of the TA Adult learning accurate concepts and unlearning old dud concepts, this is a good summary of WHAT I HAVE LEARNT IN LIFE SO FAR:

I am surrounded by talented allies (and everything’s ActuallyOK)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *