Games We Play

Eric Berne, in his 1964 Games People Play, showed us a side of ourselves we perhaps had not seen.  His list of ‘games’ touched such a chord that thereafter and even now we can hear someone label an attitude of another as a game of ‘Ain’t it Awful’ or ‘Blemish.’

Berne showed how impossible it is to stop someone’s game, no matter how many approaches we take.  And even labeling others’ games may also be a projection of our own.

It is unfortunate that we seem to spend so much time playing personality games that either no one can win or  in order for one to win someone has to lose.  What we all really want are satisfactory relationships with each other.  What we really want is not another episode of ‘Mine’s Better Than Yours’ or ‘Yes, But…’ but rather a game-free environment where we can laugh and joke and exchange creative ideas.  Or at least that’s what something deep inside us wants.

Sometimes I find if I exaggerate the awfulness or suggest a preposterous solution or switch to the awfulness of something that is really quite delightful, I can change the direction of a conversation.  Often it is not easy.  I think perhaps we’ve forgotten how to give each other pleasure and meaning in conversation.  And perhaps this comes from our inability to give ourselves authentic pleasure.

Berne talks about our deep desire for intimacy in relationships, not in sexual terms but rather in terms of our deepest self–the self that wants to be whole, that wants to embrace all of life in order to extract the most meaning, that wants to ponder and explore.  I am convinced that the energy of the universe is concentrated on that win-win desire for everyone.

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