Where the Sea Meets the Sky: The Five Drivers

Georgina said, ‘Sometimes it isn’t so good to power through things. Sometimes it can have the opposite effect, setting up a conditioned response – so that every time you go diving now, you feel worried about it.’

I nodded. ‘It’s true. I thought that the more I dived, the easier it would get. I couldn’t understand then why it actually got harder.’

Georgina sat up. ‘Remember the behavioural theory we spoke about – transactional analysis?’

I nodded. ‘The parent, adult and child modes.’

Georgina smiled. ‘Yes. And do you remember about the sayings, “I’m ok and you’re ok”?’

Oh yeah. I remembered. As a kid, a copy of I’m Ok, You’re OK sat in my house for years. I read it around the same time as I read Priscilla Presley’s, Elvis and Me. I liked both books but the truth is that Elvis and Me had a much longer-lasting effect. Then, at university a friend spoke reverentially about I’m Ok, You’re OK at the same time I got together with Jack. I mentioned the book title to Jack and it became one of our first jokes, evolving into something long-standing, complete with impressions and monologues. I didn’t tell this to Georgina though – Just chuckled internally.

She carried on, ‘There are four corners of this theory: 1. I’m ok, you’re ok, 2. I’m not ok, you’re ok, 3. I’m ok, you’re not ok, and lastly, 4. We’re both not ok. You can imagine the four scenarios like a square.’

I nodded at her imagery. I do enjoy Georgina’s diagram-style methods of behavioural therapy. I’m still re-living her whiteboard representation of transactional analysis complete with arrows. What did this have to do with diving though?

‘Have you heard of the five drivers?’

I shook my head. Wait, there was no whiteboard in this room. Doh. Oh well.

‘In this theory, there are five main emotional drivers to make us feel ok. We’re told these drivers when we’re young – and we tend to grow up with a combination of them. This isn’t to say that we don’t have the agency to change them when we’re older. They go like this:

  1. Be strong
  2. Try hard
  3. Hurry up
  4. Be perfect
  5. Please others

Are any of them familiar sayings to you?’

I winced. I’d already said ‘Hurry up,’ about five times to Delphine – and it was only just after 11am. ‘I think so.’

Georgina nodded unassumingly. Except unassuming for Georgina meant she was about to get the big guns out. She stared at the wall for a few moments, as if thinking about what she was going to make for dinner.

Then she said, ‘When you’re not ok anymore, it tends to be one or more of these five drivers putting pressure on you. That’s why you’re not feeling good anymore. Because hurrying up no longer works, as does being strong. Being perfect has become impossible, you can’t please the people you want to or try any harder than you are. Overall, it means you’re not ok any longer.’

Ok. This was definitely more than what she was eating for dinner.

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