Written by Leilani Mitchell

What happens if our buckets have holes in them? Well they are never full and always empty and anything that is put in our bucket just flows away.

Some people have holes in their buckets and some don’t!

You maybe wondering what I am talking about (I am wondering a bit myself)

What I am talking about is ‘attention’ or in Transactional Analysis (TA) we call them Strokes (units of recognition). We all need attention, human beings are social animals and we need contact with each other for survival, development and quality of life. Sometimes this attention can be positive like a hug, a smile or someone telling us how much they value us or sometimes it can be negative like being rejected, shouted at or someone scowling at us.

When we are young we learn to get our attention needs in different ways. Depending on the family and wider culture that you grew up in you may have been giving attention for being:

Helpful, friendly, clever, musical, argumentative, aggressive, passive, attractive, hardworking, funny, destructive and/or a whole range of other things

We are much more likely to continue doing things we got attention for, even if the attention is negative – at least it is attention. The worst thing for human beings is no attention. This is why solitary confinement is such a severe punishment. So if you we often told off for being disorganised when you were young you are much more likely to continue being disorganised.

What happens for some people is that develop a hole in there bucket. This means that no matter how much attention they get, it is not enough.  Anytime a stroke is given it goes into their bucket but slips straight away again.

This can be quite debilitating for people and is why we refer to some people as attention seeking, often these people are seeking attention because they needs it and can’t hold on to what they have got. This could then manifest in someone constantly asking for positive attention or constantly inviting negative attention – or a combination of both

An example might be someone saying ‘I love you’. In the moment someone with a hole in their bucket will hear the I love you, it goes into their bucket and is then lost. That sense of being loved is lost. The warmth, the nourishment, the pleasure is all gone and there is nothing left. With no hole we can hang on to the sense of being loved which is very pleasurable and nourishing for us

‘So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry’

It’s easier said than done, it is important to understand how come you developed the hole in the first place. I believe that all of our behaviour served a purpose for us once but it may well not be useful anymore. At the time we developed the strategy it was probably the best way we knew how to deal with whatever was going on at the time with the limited knowledge and experience that we had.

Within the safety of a good therapeutic relationship people can explore these sorts of defence mechanism and survival strategies. They can increase their understanding of themselves, including their blind spots and make choices about how they want to be in the future

These are my random ramblings today; tomorrow I might change my mind.

To get in touch with Leilani please click here

Courses Leilani has coming up:

  • Diploma in NLP – 4 days – 21st/22nd Jan and 10th/11th March
  • Introduction to Transactional Analysis- 2 day course 25th/26th Feb
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One thought on “There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza

  • 17/01/2012 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you, this is a concept I have learned about and understand.
    I know how hard it is to let the bucket fill and I also know how lovely it is when the bucket gets filled and I allow it to remain full.

    You should find 4 messages on Twitter (sorry no room on there to write a full message) and I hope you understand my thoughts. I wrote them before noticing I could contact you here Doh!

    Bon continuation.
    Kathy recently posted..Who hangs on to the memories when they’ve gone?My Profile


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