Ever wondering what is driving you, and what is holding you back? While you may be fairly content with yourself, you may also find that some of your behavior drives you crazy.

In this article, I want to dive into the various drivers (and stoppers) that affect your behavior. I will also talk about how these drivers and stoppers were formed. This will give you great insight into why you sometimes behave in a certain way, and what has caused this.

This article is by no means professional advice. If you are encountering (mental) health problems, always contact a doctor or therapist.

The five drivers

What drives a human?
An engine drives a car, but what drives a human?

The five drivers are usually a reflection of what you have seen in your parents or a reflection of the absence of your parents. Drivers are also tied with the ego states of a parent, and usually reflect a command: I have to.

These are the five drivers:

  • I have to be perfect
  • I have to please others
  • I have to be strong
  • I have to be the best (or do my best)
  • I have to be faster (hurry up)

Most of you will probably recognize a few of these drivers, often one or two are dominant and one can be absent. Usually, your partner may have a driver that is least dominant for you. Drivers can have advantages, but disadvantages too. Let’s explore a few.

Driver one: Be Perfect

The advantages of this driver are that you work accurately and correctly, you are an effective organizer and you plan ahead. Also, your work quality is very good.

The disadvantages for striving to be perfect is that it is hard to set priorities, you have a lot of unfinished or uncreative things, and proposals to your side are often experienced as criticism.

Driver two: Do others a pleasure

If this is your driver, you have a good intuition for interpersonal relationships, and you are very good at promoting harmony and togetherness.

The disadvantages are that you have a hard time setting boundaries, do not have strong own views, and have a hard time saying no.

Driver three: Be strong

With this driver, you can remain calm in critical situations, are able to make unpopular decisions and usually you can work reliably.

The downside of this driver is that you usually don’t ask for help, have a hard time sharing your feelings and don’t use (external) resources that may help you.

Driver four: Do your best (or being the best)

The advantage for this driver are being full of ideas and initiatives and interests, and being enthusiastic to start new projects. You are a driving force in teams and always take problems to head on. You are also very skilled in everything you do, trying to be the very best.

Obviously, this driver comes with disadvantages too, such as doing too much, being bored at the end of projects, and often, the temptation (of starting) lures more than the result. Also, being overworked or constantly tired is a common pitfall, as it is impossible to do (or be) your best everywhere.

Driver five: Be faster

The latest driver is all about hurrying up. It comes with some advantages such as being quick-witted, being able to do a lot in a short time, and having a love for a fast pace in general.

Some of the cons for this driver are making mistakes, being impatient and not being able to keep set times.

From Drivers to Allowers

Green light, from drivers to allowers
Let’s hit that engine!

Drivers can bring you far in life, but also cost you a lot. Tackling a driver is, as an idea, simple, but in practice it can be challenging. The idea is as follows, every time you encounter a driver you will put an allower against it. This can be in your thoughts, in your behavior, or in your feelings.

For each of the five drivers, there is an allower:

Be perfectYou are good enough just the way you are
Do others a pleasure Do yourself a pleasure
Be strongBe open and share your needs
Be your bestJust do it
Be fasterDo it at your own pace

Stoppers & Strokes

Now there are also fundamental values or positions that may hold you back, often caused by circumstances, education, or life events – but in any case encounters with other humans. These are called stoppers, and the idea behind it may surprise you. It’s called ‘strokes’, meaning both petting and hitting.

Humans want strokes too
Hey, doggie, humans want to be stroked too.

Simply said, as a human we need love and attention. We need healthy relationships. We need to be found okay by others. As humans, we communicate in several ways using the earlier-mentioned strokes.

Imagine you are positively greeting your neighbor, but he doesn’t react back at all. You’ll be wondering what went wrong, or at least be surprised. As humans, we’re used to two-way communication. We need strokes. There are several ways in which we can categorize strokes:

  • Verbally or non-verbally: using words, or smiling, shaking hands, hugging, waving, nodding.
  • Positive or negative: strokes can confirm and encourage, but also disregard or ignore someone. A positive stroke is experienced as positive or enjoyable by the receiver, while a negative stroke is experienced as painful. No stroke is the worst stroke of all.
  • Conditional or unconditional:

Not only words but also intonation an attitude are important when communicating strokes. You could say the same words, but if you are gently petting someone instead of being angry and shouting, it will come across a whole lot differently.

Negative Strokes and stoppers

Negative stoppers

In the following, I list some of the most common stoppers and by what strokes these are caused. Often, stoppers come into existence because certain negative strokes are repeatedly conferred. In simple terms, stoppers are big ‘don’ts’

StopperExample Negative StrokeExample Cause
Don’t belong“You are different”Being bullied, having other interests from a young age and not being accepted, learning to be afraid of strangers, growing up in isolation.
Don’t be a child“Children make too much noise”Having responsibilities at an early age because of sickness, death, divorce or any other reasons.
Don’t exist“If only I’d never had you”Being unwanted as a child, position in family among siblings.
Don’t be yourself“Why aren’t you like…?”Being different than expected, being a boy while wanting a girl, or any other characteristics.
Don’t succeed“Who do you think you are?”Growing up in circumstances of loss, being convinced that people like you never will be successful.
Don’t be important“Your needs are unimportant”Being kept dependent on a parent or caregiver, not being able to make mistakes or have responsibilities.
Don’t come close“You don’t need to share how you feel”Not being allowed to share feelings, to hug and touch each other, and to be close to each other.
Don’t be healthy / normal“This is our patient”Growing up in a surrounding with a lot of sickness, or where it is normal to act sick to get attention.
Don’t think“You think you are smart or not?”Growing up in environment where there was no space for questions, good discussions, disagreements, experiments and curiosity.
Don’t grow up“Don’t abandon me”Being kept dependent of a parent or caregiver, not being able to make mistakes or have responsibilities.
Don’t feel“Always be kind”Not being allowed to be angry or very sad, being forced to always be sturdy and strong.
Don’t do“You could hurt yourself”Not being allowed to take initiative or being active, receiving a lot of criticism on ideas or initiatives, being forced to be quiet (“don’t exaggerate and be silly”).

These stoppers drive fundamental behavior and how you interact with others, and a lot of these stoppers originate from one of the parents (and appear in the ego-position of the Child).

Being conscious of what stops you and what caused it is the first important step in dealing with your strokes. You will see that getting rid of your stoppers can be very hard, and often it can be a good step to consult a therapist.

So now what?

That’s the question I have too. We have talcan beked about the different ego-positions, drivers and stoppers. It may have triggered a lot of recognition, it may have surprised you or even annoyed you. Now consciousness is one thing, but what about action?

Nevertheless, I hope this article gave you some great insights in what drives (and stops) you, and may it help you to grow into a more prosperous human being. If you have any thoughts on this article, I’d love to know them.