Dr. Eric Berne, M.D. wrote a book back in 1964 called Games People Play, introducing the concept of Transactional Analysis (the parent, adult, and child ego states) and breaking a lot of problems down into the playing of games. In these games, the rules are known only to the instigator, who may change those rules at a whim. The point of his book was to encourage the rest of us to recognize how we were being manipulated, and to call the game.
Dr. Berne died in 1970, at the age of 60; I suspect had he had a longer life, we would be hearing a lot more about his theories. When his book first came out, my mother latched onto it like she had just discovered a lifeboat. I suspect she was more enamored of psychology than I gave her credit for at the time. Or she was feeling manipulated by someone in her life and loved that this famous psychiatrist had that someone’s nonsense pegged. Whatever the reasons, I ultimately found myself also drawn to his theories. If you pick the book up today, you will find a familiar ring to the games he cites: “Look what you made me do,” “Let’s you and him fight,” “Corner”…. My focus today will be on “Corner”.
I have seen and heard about this game played so many times in so many ways, yet it is almost always successful in frustrating the mark/target or the person against whom this game is being played. Essentially, if you are the target in a game of Corner, there is nothing you can do that will be right.
The game of corner involves constantly changing the rules, and never clearly stating what those rules actually are. One example would be a person who complains because dinner is served too late for their liking, so you manage to serve it a half hour earlier the next night and they complain it was too early.
We all know of the person who complains because the house is a mess, then when you go on a cleaning binge the problem suddenly becomes that you are too busy with the house to pay attention to the people in it. Others will berate you for not having pets, then complain about how those same pets they couldn’t live without—are such a nuisance.
Weight issues are a great platform for a game of corner. Your partner complains about the healthy meals you serve, to the point where you say “Okay, then you do the cooking.” They do, gleefully, substituting lots of fried food served with potatoes and gravy for the “boring” low-fat meals of salmon, baked chicken, and assorted fresh vegetables. This is likely to result in you gaining weight, and they have you right where they want you: in a corner.
How do you win at this game? You don’t. You recognize that you are being played, and you do whatever it is you wanted to do in the first place, without regard to the opinion of this person who has been calling the shots.
This is how you take your life back.