Transactional Analysis, where have you been all my life?! If like me, you’ve spent years working on personal development and countless hours and dollars on therapy, then I guarantee that you’ll find the book, ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ by Thomas A. Harris to be one of the most life-changing books you’ll ever read.
Despite being first published back in the late 60s, ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ has stood the test of time. Its core theory of transactional analysis is invaluable in dealing with others and the conflict we have within ourselves.
This isn’t just another self-help book (believe me, I’ve read enough to know!) I have to say that the perspective gained from considering this approach is honestly dramatic.
What is transactional analysis theory?
Before we look further at the book, I’ll give you a quick overview of what transactional analysis is based on the information outlined in ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’.
If you’re someone who is an auditory or visual learner, you might find this beginner’s guide to transactional analysis video on YouTube useful:
Transactional analysis identifies three ego-states (Parent, Child and Adult) that form the basis of our personality and from these we draw the ‘content and quality’ of our interpersonal communication.
According to this theory, regardless of whether or not we consider ourselves to have had a happy childhood, the majority of us are living and communicating from the position of the ‘Not OK’ feelings of a child.
At a very early stage in childhood (as young as three years of age), we adopt a position or view of ourselves and others that then determines how we feel and interact with ourselves and others.
For a lot of us that have suffered through life with high levels of anxiety, stress, depression, issues with boundary-setting, conflict and relationships, our formation of a negative life view has contaminated our rational Adult capabilities, and left us at the whim of the inappropriate, emotional reactions of our Child, and the learned and unquestioned programming of our Parent.
Engaging transactional analysis theory in conjunction with today’s popular movement towards mindfulness, enables an individual to achieve greater self-awareness, an understanding of what motivated their prior behavior and that of others, and discover their own ability to make radical improvements to how they live their life.
Here’s why I thoroughly recommend ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’
Although Thomas A. Harris didn’t invent the theory of transactional analysis, his thorough understanding of how it works and how it can be applied for transformation in any individual makes his explanations in ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ clear, concise and easily understandable.
There are diagrams and case study examples given throughout the book and it was amazing how I was able to relate my own experiences and recognize my own Child and Parent reactions in so many of them.
This material, coupled with the simplicity of transactional analysis theory has helped me understand many other spiritual principles such as ‘liberating ourselves from our ego’ and understanding Eckhart Tolle’s identification of the ‘pain body’.
The simple breakdown of the ego-parts by transactional analysis makes it so much easier to identify and have control over our ego and make choices that are in alignment with our Adult or higher selves.
What’s more, I feel that the understanding gained from reading this book has enabled me to create change instantly. It gets right to the root cause of human suffering and at the same time hands us the method to relieve that suffering.
I honestly can’t understand why transactional analysis isn’t more widely known and why it isn’t taught in schools.
The only things that I should perhaps mention are that if you read one of the first editions of this book, there are some outdated references and language used in behavioral examples that are not politically correct in today’s society.
There is however, a revised version which I believe was released in 2012 and hopefully these references have been updated.
I was lent a copy from the 60s of ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ by my therapist and I read it in two sittings. I’ve ordered my own copy and will be teaching my daughter all about transactional analysis!
If you want to get your own copy, it’s available on Amazon.
You can also listen to an audiobook version via YouTube (it’s read by a computer, but it’s free if you want to just get a feel for the content: