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What are the five mind or ego states?

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Social & Performance Anxiety

Dear Jonathan.  I am new to your site and have been listening to several of the free audio’s.  Can you please tell me a little about how you think about the five mind or ego states?

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  1. Jonathan Berent on Jun 09, 2012

    I believe the ultimate technology for anxiety management and self help is mind state development and balance. First, it’s important to understand the concepts. These concepts are based on a psychology called transactional analysis; evolving from Freud and made more functional by other psychologists and scientists like Eric Berne. I’ve adapted and formulated this methodology specifically for social and performance anxiety. All too often, when an individual goes for counseling or psychotherapy the process is too abstract for the person being counseled and sadly; all too often for the therapist. Understanding mind state development will make the process of change as concrete and as scientific as is possible.

    Here is the primary concept: the mind or personality, which is in the biological organ the brain is comprised of specific states called “ego” or “mind” states. In each state is a specific form of energy. Think of this; five distinct states; each with specific content and energy!. All of these states are good and important. The collective energy of the states is finite or limited. That’s why the balance and synergy is so important. People suffering from anxiety are not in a healthy mind state balance; therefore the objective is to increase specific states so that others will go down. This statement is incredibly important. Please read it again. When mind state balance occurs and is sustained, there will be more optimum energy emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, physically . What I refer to as the “high performance mind” will have been attained.

    Know Your Own Mind: Naming the Five Mind States
    As humans, we usually think in words. That may seem like a simple thing to say, but it’s worth considering for a moment. It’s true we can recall images, smells and tastes, and physical sensations. But we use words to name those things for ourselves even as they occur. When you experience a sensation such as a chill up your spine or you recognize a friend in a crowd, do you use words to “narrate” the incident? Those words interpret your experience: The chill might cause you to say to yourself, “Wow, that’s spooky,” or “Autumn’s in the air.” Seeing your friend may prompt you to say, “This is a great surprise!” or “Jeez, I should have called her back last week.” We say things to ourselves all the time.
    Think of the mind states as actors, each with a role to play. Read the definitions several times so the five character names become familiar to you:

    Nurturing Parent (NP): NP energy promotes growth, teaches, acknowledges, and provides support. “You’re doing your best,” “It’s okay to make mistakes,” etc.

    Critical Parent (CP): CP energy represents authority, evaluates, and passes judgment. “You’re doing it wrong,” “That was not your best work,” etc.

    Adult (A): A energy is logical and objective. “I have a meeting at 8 a.m.,” “I need two hours to prepare,” etc.

    Adapted Child (AC): AC energy is conforming, compromising, and manipulative. “I have to do this right,” “I have to be perfect,” etc.

    Natural Child (NC): NC energy is responsible for spontaneity, exploration, creativity, and joy. It is the truth of desire. “Just do it!” “Do whatever you want,” etc.

    All five of these inner scripts are present in you all the time. When you are experiencing anxiety, it is the Critical Parent and the Adapted Child that dominate the others. The other three—the Nurturing Parent, the Adult, and the Natural Child—are there, but they are weaker than they should be. Remember, the sum total is finite, so the key is balance. If you strengthen NP, A, and NC, CP and AC recede. (Merely “turning down” CP and AC will not work. You need those personality components to be effective.) Enhancing your self-nurturing (NP) energy and opening yourself to exploration and discovery (NC) plus opening yourself to logic creates the synergy that decreases your critical and adapted energy. You do not have to tell those mind states to “shut up”—the will simply fall into proper balance as you increase your NP, A, and NC mind states. (This is something many physicians often fail to take into account when they prescribe medicine—you cannot decrease energy in one area without creating energy elsewhere;. Self-medicating with alcohol is good example of why decreasing CP and AC does not work: Having a few drinks or using a recreational drug to “take the edge off” may feel good for a short time, but it ultimately has an effect of dulling all the mind states—including those you need to increase. A very bad long-term solution!)

    There is extensive self-help “mind state” work in:

    1. The book: “Work Makes Me Nervous: Overcome Anxiety and Develop the Confidence to Succeed.
    2. Self Therapy CD for Public Speaking and Performance Anxiety
    3. Comprehensive Self-Therapy Audio CD Program for Social and Peformance Anxiety
    4. Social Anxiety: The Untold Story DVD.

    All programs are described and available at http://www.socialanxiety.com.

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