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Welcome to a practical pastoral counseling site of Dr. Harold L. White

 Every pastor can be a valued and competent counselor.

Parent Shrinkers

Keeping some people is difficult if their primary source of communication is the P ego state.

Our purpose must not be to shrink people, but to shrink the P in people in order to get on
with transactions involving the A and the C, where listening, cooperation, and novelty are possible.

People constantly in the P most often have chosen this mode of behavior for a defensive reason.

Why are people in a constant P? (That is, they have a P - contaminated A.)
P-dominated people were rewarded in childhood, for perfect conformity, compliance,
and unquestioning obedience.

How We Hook Parent Ego States

If we are continually confronted by someone's P, it is useful to ask what our contribution
to the situation is.
Do we bring P wrath on ourselves?

What hooks the P?
If we are always whiny, cranky, obstinate, sloppy, late, and unreasonable, we invite someone's P.

The Critical Parent Ego State

A person constantly in his CP is experienced as prejudiced, intimidating, controlling.
He frequently demands yes or no answers.

Some of the threats we feel coming from a P-dominated person are diminished
when we recognize that underneath, he is afraid.

Steinbeck said: "The person who is scaring me is capable of being scared."

The same P that beats outwardly at you also beats inwardly at him.
One way for him to escape a C beating himself is to turn the wrath outward.
When he does so, he feels powerful in the same way he did when ...
It is better to feel powerful than afraid.

It is not only fear that floods the C of the P-dominated person, but it is also a mistrust
of his own thinking, or A, which, as a child, he was not encouraged to use.
He does not trust others or himself.
Instead, he cites authorities.

Is P Ego State Shrinking OK?

Three observations underline P shrinking.

First, the P does not think.
It is a recording.

A person in the P is not operating in his A, and therefore, he is neither thinking nor listening.
We usually recognize a P ego state when we run into one, mostly because of the oppression
and that we feel threatened and intimidated

Here are some other clues.

Frowning, pursed lips, the pointing index finger, head wagging, the "horrified look,"
foot tapping, impatient pencil tapping, hands on hips, arms folded across chest (closing you out),
wringing hands, tongue clucking, sighing, patting another on the head.

Verbal: "I'm going to put a stop to this once and for all."
      "I can't for the life of me…"
      "Now always remember…"
      "How many times have I told you…"

Always and never are usually P words.

Second, when a originated transaction is crossed by an Adult ego response, communication cannot
continue in the same vein.
This may or may not be desirable. 
It is one option.

The P is aiming at your C, so if your response is C (fear, confusion, anger, compliance),
the transaction is complementary and encourages the P to keep coming back at you.

Two choices are open.
1. Come back with your P in an attempt to hook the other's C.
2. The other option is to come on with A, with statements of fact relevant to the situation.
3. The third observation is that coming on P is the way many people protect their C.

In shrinking P's we're not giving up on the "I'm Ok-You're OK" position, but are seeking to
make it possible in transactions.

Another P shrinker is to escape the attack of an abusive P is to run.

There are other options.

Decommissioning is perhaps a more accurate word than shrinking, for the content
of the P is a permanent recording.

The purpose of P shrinkers is to get the other person out of his P and into his A or C ego state,
so that here-and-now communication can proceed.
They differ from P-stoppers which are used to turn off our own P when it is beating us internally.
P shrinkers are used to turn off someone else's P when it is beating on us externally.

P shrinkers must be used with, and by the A, for there is a fine line between protecting your C
and manipulating people.

One way not to shrink the P is to tell a person straight out that his P is talking.
This will only add fuel to the fire.

Another way not to shrink the P is to put the person down.

Here are some appropriate shrinkers:

1. Cross the transaction.
Some A responses to a P put down:
"I can see you feel strongly about that.”

Would you care to tell me how you arrived at that conclusion?”

I appreciate your willingness to let me know your thinking."

That is one way -- but it does raise problems -- think it over and ..."

Each of the above statements is a single response which would then await the next statement
by the P person.

Generally about three such A statements will force a person into his A.
But this does not guarantee that it will.

2. Agree

Variations of agreement are "You're right!"

"You have have a good point there."

"I can see what you mean."
This is only useful if he really is right.

3. Go off on a tangent.

This one is a little risky but may work in getting the other person out of his P.

4. Cheers

When a P has made an impassioned statement about some issue, draw him out.
"That's marvelous! You have put a lot of thought into that… 
I wish you would develop your ideas even more

5. Silence

Most people can't handle silence.
Chances are they will modify what they just said.
If they call you on your silence, you can say, "That really deserves some further thought."
(This is not a lie. Everything deserves further thought.

6. Move in

P types get very uncomfortable if you invade their space.
Remove barriers.
Move from behind your desk.
They will back away.
They will actually retreat, or be forced to think (A), "What's going on here?"

7. Change your mind.
If you mean it… Tell him you appreciate his sensitivity to the broader picture.
Then ask him for his approach.
The P is often critical of someone else's idea.
It takes the A to come up with a better one.

8. Could you please state that another way?

Since his P proclamation is a recording, he'll have to rewind the tape and play it back,
and that takes some time and some thinking, and may engage his A.
His second delivery will not have the impact of the first.

9. Ricochet

If there is a third party present, your response can be to that third party
but may be heard by the P person.
"This guy is really something! Did you know that he... (an achievement)?"

10. Write it down.

When someone is reporting the dirt on someone else, make it a big-to-do about,
"What was that name again? Hold on a minute. How do you spell...?"

11. Find his Child ego and feed it.

This is the most commendable P shrinker.
Everyone has a hungry C even if it is buried under tons of P.

If someone is forever criticizing what is going on in your church, PTO, business office,
family, he might be led into a discussion of his own deep need by questions such as:
"I'm not asking you to, understand, but if you had the opportunity to plan the… 
In a way that would really make you feel good, what would you change

Is he hurting, lonely, afraid? Did he lose…?
What are his hobbies, etc.?
Kindness, coming from your knowledge that he needs love also, sometimes melts the hostility.

12. Be OK

A healthy self-esteem is the requirement to make any of the foregoing effective.
This requires that we daily replenish our inner resources.
Being OK does not mean a constant display of euphoria, and wearing a perpetual grin.
Rather, it is a calm self-esteem.

P types like to move in whenever there is a sign of perturbation.
If it isn't with criticism, it may be with nurturing.
Some people are like ambulance chasers, eager to be in on the excitement, help out,
give advice, take charge, even when it's morbid.

Sharing your problems with disaster addicts will not make you feel better.
Sharing your problems with thinking and feeling people will.

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