psychology of relationships: strokes
stroke economy is a concept which was created by Claude Steiner, a
transactional analyst psychotherapist, in the 1960s. To understand this
section, you will need to have read the section on strokes.
economy is a concept which helps to clarify why we end up with so little
warmth in our interactions and what we can do to change this.
is the sixties. There are a lot of ideas floating about regarding power
and economy, feminism, sexuality and lots of other socio-political ideas:
the concept of stroke economy fits very well into this era.
off with a stroke. A stroke is a unit of recognition. If it's a positive
stroke you could see it as a little parcel of love given by one person and
received by another.
We all need
strokes and a lot of us go to great lengths to earn them (like working too
much, or being overly-nice to people, more than you really want to be).
strokes are free, they are easy to give, so why aren't we all giving and
receiving strokes all the time, which would make us all feel a lot better?
said it's because of the stroke economy, which he suggested works just
like an economy based on money.
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Once you make
money scarce, people will work very hard to earn some so they can get
their basic needs met. Indeed, one can control people by making money
scarce. It's the same with strokes, at least according to Steiner.
that we are all indoctrinated by our parents with five very restrictive
rules about stroking.
that strokes end up being in short supply, which means that as children we
would work harder to earn each one of them.
is quite a simplified way of looking at it, it's also a good metaphor for
why we end up being so reticent about giving and receiving strokes when we
don't really need to be so tight about it: in reality, there is always a
limitless amount we could give.
are the five stroking rules, which we tend to learn, which means we limit
the feel good factor in our relationships drastically:
Don't give strokes when you have to give them to give
Wouldn't it be great to give all the strokes we want to give to people!
However, we often tend to hold back and not say the nice things we think
about people. Then the moment passes and we never say it. What a shame!
Don't ask for strokes when you need them
For a lot of
people it's a really radical concept that it would be ok for them to ask
for what they want instead of having to wait passively until somebody
happens to give them the right thing.
It's ok to ask
for the right words and that doesn't mean the person who is giving the
compliment doesn't mean them!
Don't accept strokes if you want them
A lot of
people really struggle to take in strokes. They feel exposed or
embarrassed and deflect the nice comments about themselves.
Again, what a
A stroke is a
gift meant for you, so take it, feel it, and remember it so that
when times are less good you can take it out again and warm yourself with
Don't reject strokes when you don't want them
thought about not taking on destructive comments from others and just
ignoring them? You really don't have to take them to heart, you can
remember some good things people said to you instead.
Don't give yourself strokes
very radical concept! Why not be nice to yourself, say nice things to
yourself and believe them?
And "stroking yourself" can also be a literal
Biologically, any sort of grooming behavior raises our endorphins
and we feel better. And, as this is a website about sex you might as well
take it that way too!
let's have a revolution! We can turn the old stroking rules upside down
and arrive at ones that are much better for us:
Give strokes that you want to give
Ask for the strokes you want or need
Accept the strokes you get
Don't accept the strokes you don't want
Stroke yourself (a lot)
The new rules
should help you increase your sense of warmth and your feeling of being
loved and belonging. Remember to give only strokes to people which you
hurt. (But you could give someone you don't like a stroke on how much you
like their new shoes, for example.)
Also, once you
start to take in the strokes people give you and you are giving out more
strokes, you are really encouraging other people to be more open and
You may have
to practice for a while until giving and receiving strokes becomes
natural, but it's great when you get there! And the people round you will
want to find out more about strokes, have a look at
applying stokes in your relationship, or complete the
stroke profile exercises. One way of stroking yourself is the use of
affirmations. You could also read up under
discounts how people manage not to accept strokes.