Rackets and Time Structure


Rackets are the term we use for substituted feelings – we hide the true feeling while feeling the coded or permitted feeling,  and we do this when we feel our true feelings are invalid or not permitted.  We develop racket feelings due to childhood scripts and carry them into adult behaviour.  The racket emotions are familiar because we learned them during childhood in order to adapt to circumstances that demanded we not feel the genuine feeling,  but instead allow pressure from others to install a more acceptable set of feelings.  An example of this is the child who is attacked by other children and who feels much fear of the situation,  however the parent rejects the child’s fear and pain along with all genuine feelings in favour of permitted responses and feelings in which the child now feels anger instead of fear.  The approved of feelings becoming the racket,  feelings which now feel justified.

“Examples of racket and racket feelings: “Why do I meet good guys who turn out to be so hurtful”,  or “He always takes advantage of my goodwill”.  The racket is then a set of behaviours and chosen strategies learned and practised in childhood which in fact help to cause these feelings to be experienced.  Typically this happens despite their own surface protestations and hurt feelings,  out of awareness and in a way that is perceived as someone else’s fault.  One covert pay-off for this racket and its feelings,  might be to gain in a guilt free way,  continued evidence and reinforcement for a childhood script belief that “People will always let you down”.”

In effect,  a person creates a false persona in order to manipulate circumstances and respond to them in the currency of the false persona,  rather than allow their genuine experience of circumstances which risk the real, and now illegitimate feelings,  to be exercised.

Structuring Time

When working with people I will suggest strategies to help clients achieve their goals.  Not every strategy suits everyone,  I accept this and am happy for the challenge to find other means.  The one thing I do not accept is the plea:  “I don’t have time”.  Nobody has time,  time is in short supply,  however,  each and every one of us will make enough time for the things that matter to us.  So I do not accept “I will try”,  we negotiate on “I’m not sure”,  and I’m absolutely clear that if we have not got time,  then we haven’t made time.  If we haven’t made time,  it doesn’t seem so important to us.  Not everyone is good with time however,  so I offer this:

There are six ways of structuring time by giving and receiving strokes:
This is sorted in accordance to stroke strength,  Intimacy and Games allow for the most intensive strokes,  in general:

Withdrawal – Time alone means no strokes are being exchanged

Rituals. – A ritual is a series of transactions that are reciprocal,  stereotyped and based on social programming.  Rituals usually comprise a series of strokes exchanged between two parties.  For instance,  two people may have a daily two stroke ritual,  where, the first time they meet each day,  each one greets the other with a “Hi”.  Others may have a four stroke ritual,  such as:
A: Hi!
B: Hi!  How do you do?
A: Getting along.  What about you?
B: Fine.  See you around.
The next time they meet in the day, they may not exchange any strokes at all,  or may just acknowledge each other’s presence with a curt nod.
Some phenomena associated with daily rituals:
If a person exchanges fewer strokes than expected,  the other person may feel that he is either preoccupied  or acting high and mighty.
If a person exchanges more strokes than expected,  the other person might wonder whether he is trying to butter him up or get on good terms for some vested interests.
If two people do not meet for a long time,  a backlog of strokes gets built up,  so that the next time they meet,  they may exchange a large number of strokes to catch up.

Pastimes. – A pastime is a series of transactions that is complementary (reciprocal),  semi-ritualistic,  and is mainly intended as a time-structuring activity.  Pastimes have no covert purpose and can usually be carried out only between people on the same wavelength.  They are usually shallow and harmless.  Pastimes are a type of smalltalk.  Individuals often partake in similar pastimes throughout their entire life,  as pastimes are generally very much linked to one’s life script and the games that one often plays.  Some pastimes can even be understood as a reward for playing a certain game.  For example,  Eric Berne in Games People Play discusses how those who play the “alcoholic” game (which Berne differentiated from alcoholism and alcoholics)  often enjoy the “Morning After” pastime in which participants share their most amusing or harrowing hangover stories.

Activities (work).  – Activities in this context mean the individuals work together for a common goal.  This may be work, sports or something similar.  In contrast to Pastimes,  there is a meaningful purpose guiding the interactions,  while Pastimes are just about exchanging strokes.  Strokes can then be given in the context of the cooperation.  Thus the strokes are generally not personal,  but related to the activity.

Games. – We have looked at some games,  we will be looking at more another time.

Intimacy. – Intimacy as a way of structuring time allows one to exchange the strongest strokes without playing a Game.  Intimacy differs from Games as there is no covert purpose,  and differs from Activities as there is no other process going on which defines a context of cooperation.  Strokes are personal,  relating to the other person,  and often unconditional.

The Philosophy of transactional analysis.

People are OK;  thus each person has validity,  importance,  equality of respect.
Everyone (with only few exceptions) has full adult capability to think.
People decide their story and destiny,  and this is a decision that can be changed.
Freedom from historical maladaptations embedded in the childhood script is required in order to become free of inappropriate,  inauthentic and displaced emotion which are not a fair and honest reflection of here-and-now life (such as echoes of childhood suffering,  pity-me and other mind games,  compulsive behaviour,  and repetitive dysfunctional life patterns).
The aims of change under TA are autonomy (freedom from childhood script),  spontaneity,  intimacy,  problem solving as opposed to avoidance or passivity,  cure as an ideal rather than merely ‘making progress’,  learning new choices. “



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2 responses to “Rackets and Time Structure

  1. Taz

    As usual you have written some gems, Gina you are a star, how lucky are we. We love you xx xx

  2. Tiggy

    Just as you expected, I love this blog!! 🙂

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