Mind Games people play! | Counselling in Melbourne

Healing emotional pain: 10-week program

Mind Games people play!

Many people, especially couples who are separated and have children, love playing psychological mind games.


People play these games on a social or psychological level over and over as these games are subconscious habitual patterns and unintentional methods of behaving (interacting/transacting) and make it possible to conceal their actual motivations to achieve a well-defined predictable outcome/solution, especially when it involves their children.

Psychological games were first identified by Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis and author of Games People Play, “Most of us play benign games without realising what we are doing in order to feel more loved, appreciated or valued.”

However, problems begin to surface when we switch to more serious and manipulative games that have the potential to harm others.

Divorced or separated individuals have been observed to indulge in such games for proving themselves a better parent compared to their estranged spouse.

Sometimes we are required to understand and engage in these games because others around us might be indulging in manipulative or dysfunctional mind games and we need to learn to adapt to the changing circumstances or as our relationships evolve.

Here are some of the reasons why divorced or separated individuals like to play games:

  • Many times, we simply play games to make our lives and other people’s reactions more predictable.
  • Oftentimes, people play games to protect themselves from experiences that they feel can cause potential pain and heartbreak. Such as to avoid looking bad in front of the family, one parent may say damaging things about the other parent.
  • Some games might just run in the family. People might develop the tendency to play certain psychological games because that’s what they have watched or experienced others (probably a parent or other role model) play over and over again. For instance, when one feels that their partner is okay despite the separation, they might try to induce guilt in them by psychologically sending the message that even though I’m not okay, you’re okay.
  • Adults play blame games to save themselves from the unpleasant feelings of guilt and shame that are associated with failure as a parent and therefore, shift the blame to the other partner.
  • Sometimes estranged spouses like to play the game simply to feel good about themselves by obtaining the “upper hand”.
  • We play some mind games to maintain belief systems in a steady-state. For instance, if we believe that we are honest and committed, we might play games to make the other person continuously acknowledge that we were never at fault

How to Stop Playing Mind Games in Your Relationship

“Destructive” and “Abusive” are two descriptive words people often use when partners engage in mind games within their relationship.

The most important first step to stopping mind games is to recognise the signs of controlling behaviour and manipulation of your partner and then simply rise above them.

While it sounds simple, you should avoid trying to ‘beat them at their own game’, as both of you may get hurt during the encounter.

We might also experience mind games in the workplace.

If you’re experiencing mind games in a workplace environment just ask the other party, “what is bothering them” or “is there anything I can do to help” or “if you have a complaint about me to go through the proper channels”.

These simple questions can negate the mindset of the mind game player.

However, if the party is not being receptive and or “it not in the mood for talking”, you can remove yourself from the situation – tell them that you have no interest in mind games and that you will talk to them when they’re in the right mindset.

The above strategy can also be used in a personal relationship ‘mind game’ environment.

Other strategies could include:

Refuse to give up your power.

Everybody has power in a relationship but traditionally it is never an equal distribution.

However, you can change the direction of an interaction or conversation.

How? By remembering that you have 100% control over your response to the mind games your partner is playing.

You more than likely cannot control your partner from playing mind games, but you can definitely control how you respond.

Focus on yourself.

Retreat and figure things out for yourself.

Are all your needs being met? What do you want? What do you need?

Focus on you and be open and honest with your partner and to make sure whoever is playing mind games that their continued actions will have a consequence, such as leaving the relationship.

Relationship counselling services Melbourne

Relationship counselling can also be an effective strategy to consider if both parties are open and receptive to listening to a relationship psychologist.

The parties involved in relationship counselling become invested in the process and will endeavour attempt to improve the communication between each other and try to modify their individual behaviour.

It’s during the relationship counselling process, psychologists, Melbourne CBD, will be able to identify the core reason why mid games are used in the relationship and can provide solutions and strategies to break down these destructive behaviours.

If you think relationship counselling is for you, contact us at Counselling in Melbourne or book an online appointment here

Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or needs assistance, please reach out to a mental health professional or helpline in your country or state.

About the editor, Greg Redmond

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Healing emotional pain: 10-week program

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