What’s your life position (and what is it doing?)

Picture the scene- a problem occurs at work, and there is a last-minute request to change the upcoming presentation. You’ve all been working hard on this for the senior staff and this change requires a lot of time and effort in such a short timespan.  There are four of you in your team working on this project, and each one of you has a different life position. So lets see how each of you might view this problem.


1. I am ok, you are ok: The team member in this position takes a minute to digest this new information. It seems stressful to contemplate making these changes so close to the deadline but they know that some of these changes can be done if the work is divided across the team and they ask for help from another team.

If all the changes aren’t completed it will be a shame but they are confident that it will be understood by the senior team- with such a short deadline and everyone doing what they can it's ok if it’s not perfect and this can be explained in the presentation if needs be.  

2. I am ok, you are not ok: The team member in this position sighs out loud and rolls their eyes. It feels so typical that the idiots in the senior leadership team just don’t understand the effort that’s gone into this already and that what they are asking for is so irrelevant to what they want to see- this member knows what needs to be in the presentation.

It doesn’t help that the rest of the team can’t be trusted to do the work without this member's constant supervision, the others always get in the way. They sigh again and start doing the work without speaking to the rest of the team. Its better if they just get on with it and do it themselves, the others will slow them down or make too many mistakes.

3. I am not ok, You are ok: This team member panics- did they do something wrong? Was it a mistake that they made and now the others are going to be so annoyed that now they have to do extra work to make up for them?

They feel there is no way they can get this work done in time but they know the others will be annoyed if they don’t at least offer to help - the team is so competent of course they can get this done but only if this member stay out of their way and tries not to make any (more) mistakes. They contemplate stepping out of the presentation so a team member who is more confident can do it - they will do it better. This member panics for quite a while and isn’t able to be involved in the problem-solving the team is trying to do because of this.

4. I am not ok, You are not ok: This team member doesn’t have much of a reaction- they’ve been expecting someone to pull something like this all along - in fact, they’ve not been very invested in the team project and have missed quite a few of the meetings - they’ve got on with the work but their heart hasn’t been in it and they’ve struggled to collaborate or even voice an opinion at all.

They wonder what is the point in all this- they are sure the senior team won't like what they’ve done and they agree it's not good enough. Everyone around them seems stressed but they just don’t see much point in trying- this feels like the final straw for a project full of problems.
Each of these positions view this problem differently, and they also view the people around them differently. Our first position of you are ok, I am ok is our healthy problem solving position- when we hold this internal belief about ourself and others we are able to view the presenting problem as something we can tackle- we feel comfortable seeing the skills and strengths in others and also can handle mistakes and limitations without feeling like they define us and others characters.
In these other positions we find it hard to see past the story we have written about the world and our place in it. Everything that happens is being distorted to fit in with our established life position- for the second position, this is that other people can’t be trusted and we can only rely on ourself; we need to believe we are better than others to keep ourself safe from the disappointment of them.

For the third position, we believe that others are more capable than us and that we cause problems for ourselves and others - we don’t believe in ourselves and we over-inflate the abilities of others. In our fourth position we don’t trust anyone including ourself- we feel like there isn’t much point in trying because nothing every works out for anyone.
If you recognise yourself in any of these positions, its worth exploring the story you are telling yourself, the beliefs that are underpinning this. Therapy is a great way to do this and explore the other position’s- once we create movement we are more and more likely to develop the skills to move us to the position of “I’m ok, you’re ok”- our healthiest position where we can be ok with ourselves and others and feel capable in our life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Dorchester DT1 & Weymouth DT4
Written by Carley Symes, BSc, MBACP
Dorchester DT1 & Weymouth DT4

Carley is a humanistic integrative counsellor practicing in person in Dorchester, Dorset, and provides counselling and workshops Online across other areas of the UK..
Carley is passionate about a building better relationship with ourselves and does lots of work with clients looking to improve their self esteem and boundaries.

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