I'm OK - you're OK, Overview of positive Philosophy

“I'm OK - you're OK” is the short description of positive philosophy. Positive philosophy occurs when both parties in a transaction view the other

as an acceptable adult or “OK”. Dr. Thomas Anthony Harris considered reaching “I'm OK - you're OK” the goal of transactional analysis and therapy.

The starting point for our lives is “I’m not OK, you’re OK”. This is called the Child ego state. This is the transaction or relationship children have with parents. Children are small, helpless, defenseless and dependent. They quickly realize that they must seek the approval and permission of adults for almost everything. And they understand that adults are larger, stronger, know more and are far more independent than they are. Children internalize the “I’m not OK” while seeing adults as “OK” or worthy. Children grow into adults, but often fail to realize their self-worth, continuing to see themselves as “not-OK”. Transactional analysis during counseling can help adults reach a positive philosophy as defined by “I’m OK – you’re OK”.

The opposite of positive philosophy is negative philosophy. Negative philosophy is summaries as “I’m not OK, you’re not OK”. In negative philosophy, the child grows into an adult assuming they are not OK, not worthy or capable. However, those who develop a negative philosophy begin to project this internal judgment onto others. They then see others as lacking worth or respect.

The ability to view each person as an individual allows for an objective appraisal of the person and the relationship. If one adult attempts to force the other into a child state, they dominate and devalue the other person. If one person holds an “I’m not OK, you’re OK” view, they can act like victims or seek an all-consuming relationship. An adult holding an “I’m not OK, you’re not OK” view is at risk of becoming an abuser of an “I’m not OK, you’re OK” view. Positive philosophy and “I’m OK – you’re OK” relationships are part of mature adult relationships and the goal of self-coaching and transactional analysis counseling.


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