Replacing The' Games People Play' With The 'inner Game'

I hosted a morning Lent quiet day for licensed church workers this week.  We explored 'The Games People Play' (based on psychiatrist  Eric Berne's book of that title, which revolve around aspects of our ego.  The child in us uses everyone for our gratification. The parent in us uses eveeryone to get our way. The adult in us treats them as equals.  Jesus accused the Pharisees of being 'play actors', so we also explored what Richard Rohr calls The Pharisee Tendency in the church.

 In 1976 Timothy Gallwey wrote the best selling 'The Inner Game of Tennis'. Then followed a whole series of Inner Game Books: The Inner Game of Golf, Music etc and the Inner Game of Work. His principles were so sought after that he founded The Inner Game Corporation which you can find on the internet at   

His basic insight is that in every human endeavor there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. If we have not faced our own Shadow -the aspects of our selves that we have repressed or are ignorant of our work descends into ‘The Games People Play’. In contrast the goal of the Inner Game is to reduce whatever interferes with the discovery and reaching of one’s full potential and that of others, such as fear and pride – and to go with the flow of their true selves in order that we reach our potential.

 This is not the pursuit of freedom from responsibility, it is undertaking our responsibilities in a way that is truly responsible to the real me.  The goal of the Inner Game is to reduce whatever interferes with the discovery and reaching of one’s full potential and that of others. People in a position to make changes in a corporate culture resist the need to make changes in themselves first.

 Self 1 is my conditional reflexes; the scripts written for me by my childhood conditioning, my fears and ambitions, the corporation, church etc. , distractions. Self 1 is an invented self, a mental construct. If I adopt the construct ‘I am not good enough’ I will look at my feelings and behaviours through the lens of that concept, and intepret others’ behaviours towards me through that lens.  So negativities multiply.  Some, still with self 1, counter that by saying ‘I am the greatest’ or my group or country is the greatest.

 Self 2 is the real me, the inner core that I was born with.  Honesty is necessary to develop a conversation between the two selves.  I ca learn to distinguish between the reflexes of my conditioning and my true self, and learn to accept or reject.  Self 2 is open to the God dimension in oneself, the other and the group situation.  So we need to focus on the heart’s longings.

Spiritual  intelligence  has been defined as the ability to be aware of one’s own and others’ frames of reference while operating from a center of empathy and compassion, and maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation. We need:

1.       Non-judgemental awareness. It is like light. It brings greater clarity.

2.       Trust. This is possible only when we let go of a certain kind of mental control.  The more I learn to trust my Self 2 the more I learn to trust Self 2, which, though overlaid, is not entirely obliterated in any other person.

3.       Choice. Performance = Potential minus Interference.

But our No. 2 Self has chosen to affirm the true person hiding behind the pew, the request for money, the PCC agenda or the deceased’s feuding family. When Self 2 is uppermost we become more natural and relaxed. Compassion is released.  We have a choice: to listen to what I can appreciate in a group or to listen to what I can criticize.

 Focus can be lost through uninvited telephone calls, emails and agendas.  Competing agendas can make No. 1 Self ill.  No. 2 Self, however, is free from over-controlling, boredom, anxiety, and moves into what has been called ‘inner flow’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Beyond Boredom and Anxiety writes this of the flow state: In the flow state, action follows upon action according to an internal logic that seems to need no conscious intervention by the actor. He experiences it as a unified flowing from one moment to the next, in which he is in control of his actions, and in which there is little distinction between self and environment, between stimulus and response, or between past, present, and future.

The ancient tension between the inner fire and the forms pressed on us by our work framework or schedules requires leadership to handle well. Blind conformity imprisons us. To use the forms as an avenue for meeting of hearts, use of talents, inspiring  the spirit, creating community liberates us.

 Catholic Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr writes about the Pharisee Tendency.  This did not disappear with the Pharisees, it has taken root in the church.  In his book The Naked Now  he argues that Christians have, in general, lost the art of seeing the big picture, that we have in effect, reduced Christianity to a rule book,  instead of the gateway to a great and wonderful mystery. He suggests that for centuries, believers have been told “what to know rather than how to know, what to see rather than how to see” that we have made our primary goal “sin management” rather than transformation.

 This is a regrettable state of affairs given that the primary purpose of faith is not to dictate morality, 

Jesus’ mission has been to confront the very self assurance and arrogance of which Rohr accuses the church. It appears that scribes and the Pharisees had created certainties; they were telling people what to know and how to see. Instead of living with an openness to God and to God’s revelation, they had developed a closed system of belief which provided certainty, but which closed their eyes to mystery and vision. They were good at teaching the people how to follow their teaching, but had lost the art of drawing people into a relationship with God. The Pharisee in us freezes spontaneity and the free flow of love.  Providence aligns our best intentions with the elements in the cosmos that tend towards Christ.   C.f. Christ on the Cross. Pharisees and others handed him over because he upset their man-made certainties which they clothed in the language of religion; all creation (in the immortal words of the Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood) , when it experienced its Creator being put to death, wept. The sun hid its sight, the earth quaked and raised up the dead. Jesus went with the flows of the divine elements of the cosmos. And Jesus raised up a spiritual  family around his mother and his beloved disciple.

 The elemente of the universe and the elements of spiritual family came together.  That's what happens when we adopt the flow principle.


Posted at 18:45pm on 4th April 2019
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