Author Archives: Bruce Turner

Are you a Buccaneer or Racketeer?

Are you a Buccaneer or a Racketeer?

Cartoon of children in pirate costumes

Graphic kindly courtesy of

What’s the difference?

Buccaneers are renowned as freedom loving, feel the wind on your face types; adapting in the face of danger and relishing new opportunities for adventure.

Well that’s the Hollywood image and it sounds good.

What about a Racketeer?

A Racketeer relies on cons. Yes, they’re wily and adaptable but only in  so as it leads to the advantage they want. Their behaviour is contrived, not freedom loving.

Most importantly a Racketeer can’t operate without drawing in people to con. What he wants is a predictable outcome from his practiced behaviour. His only comfort is in getting that practiced outcome. No swashbuckling adventure suits him.

How we Racketeer instead of Buccaneer

In this series of posts we’re looking into how we’re too often unconsciously drawn into a pattern of repeated arguments or frustratingly heated discussions that go nowhere and end unsatisfactorily. See, The Unhappiness of Repeating Arguments.

Quite likely we can easily point out people in our lives with whom this all too frequently happens or has happened with in the past.

Other times we see a pattern to the type of arguments we get into with different people though not always with the same person all the time.

When we feel we’re a victim of someone’s manipulation we feel like we’ve more like we’ve been preyed on by a Racketeer. The predicable feelings we fall into after repeated arguments or go-nowhere conversations feel staid, tired and not all buckaneering.

These patterns can drive us and others to predictable outcomes of behaviour. See, Your reward for enduring Repeating Arguments and ‘go-nowhere’ conversations.   Someone throws their hands in the air whilst another walks out. Blame follows blame and one or other retreats to a place of shame, upset and regret. Others may storm off indignantly and defiantly.

Such endings are accompanied by those familiar feelings that seem to have followed us throughout our lives whenever  episodes of stress or attrition arose. We’ve talked of how these family feelings are called Racket Feelings. They are  a product of ancient feelings first conceived in childhood in times of insecurity and vulnerability.

These feelings derive from times when as young children we felt wounded by a lack of support for our authentic needs at a crucial time from people our home environment; from parents or other caregivers.

People often say; hey, my childhood was perfect; I don’t think I spent an unhappy day. Or we might say; well, no parenting is perfect and I didn’t feel neglected as far as I can recall.

The point is that all parents relate with their children differently. In our infancy we absorb a perception of how our parents perceive themselves. In so doing as young chidren we also mix into that our own limited childlike perceptions of the options open to us in how we forge out our best links, our best attachments to our parents, carers and others. The feelings and the behaviours we forge to bond our attachments form survival strategies.

How we find comfort in the familiar

At the same time we recognise these ancient feelings, often feelings of being low, beaten down or misunderstood as being perversely comforting in their familiarity. The same is true for those others in our lives with whom we frequently find ourselves drawn into recurrent arguments or frustratingly ‘go-nowhere’ negotiations.

These self comforting Racket Feelings are preceded or succeeded by behaviour which helps reinforce the emotions we’ve developed since infanthood whenever we’re caused to reflect on our own sense of self-worth. This behaviour is called Racket Behaviour.

We’re unconsciously compelled to rehearse the same patterns of behaving towards and communicating with other people so as to unconsciously improve the chances of bringing about an outcome that’s familiar to us. See, Are you running a Protection Racket?

That outcome in return serves to fan the embers of our ancient Racket Feelings. Turning full circle we’re reminded of those early perceptions of how worthy we feel in relation to others.

Here in diagram form is The Racket Cycle.

Psychological Racket behaviour diagram

The Racket Cycle

The comfort of Racket feelings invites Racket Behaviour. Racket behaviour in turn requires a predictable outcome that promotes Racket Feelings. The Racket Feelings are reassuring and so when our ‘comfort cage’ is shaken in the future we respond with Racket Behaviour. With Racket Behviour comes the comfort feelings and so on and so on…..

How Racketeering reaffirms our Life Position

Racket Feelings that are commonly painful, make us feel demoralised and leads us to self-downing. This leads to a sense of us being ‘Not Okay’. We sense that, once again life circumstances have taught us we’re not as good as others or that once again other people have got the better of us. See, “I’m Ok; You’re OK” .

In Transactional Analysis (TA) psychology we call it our sense of holding a ‘Not Okay’ Life Position.

However in some people whose Racket Feelings from childhood had the effect of defensively blocking-out for them a deeper sense of insecurity can feel themselves holding an I’m Okay – You’re Not Okay.

They come over as thinking themselves more entitled to have their own way and their Racket Behaviour leads them to behave in a way that suggests they feel justified in asserting their will over others.

Such a person’s Racket Feelings will deny the person the opportunity to open up honestly to others. Their Racket Feelings of superiority will sweep away the more healthy option of addressing their deeply felt insecurity .

These people also control their behaviour so as to reject the possibility of more honest, authentic interaction with others. Their Racket Behaviour might be typified as argumentative, overcritical, sarcastic, bullying or superciliousness.Their Racket Feelings drive their Racket Behaviour so deny them the comfort and reassurance for just being themselves they deep down crave.

The ‘Not Okay’ Life Position

Those of us who feel, ‘Not Okay’ perceive that we’re one-down from others. We sense we’re lacking in comparison an essential element that makes a successful character.

We can feel less intelligent, less qualified, less loveable, less social confidence, lacking in streetwise savvy. You name it.

We unconsciously use our Racket Behaviour to draw towards or be drawn towards other people who will treat us in a way that brings about a reinforcement of this early ‘Not Okay’ Life decision .

Conversely those whose Racket Feelings mask deep down vulnerability and insecurity use their Racket Behaviours of bravado, confident gregariousness, or critical argumentativeness to unconsciously seek out ways of interacting with others so to boost their self-deceived Life Position of I’m Okay – You’re Not Okay.

Fanita English is a legendary mind in the development of Transaction Analysis psychology. She coined the term Racketeering to describe this process in which we unconsciously seek out people and interact with in an unconscious style so as to remind ourselves of, and perverely comfort ourselves in, our Life Position.

How we each ‘Racketeer’, the style it takes, depends on the Life Position we hold of ourselves.

So, how can we be more buccaneering than racketeering? First its important to identify what style of Racketeer you are. And as importantly what style of Racketeer you attract.

Read next Coming Soon; What style of Racketeer are you?

“I’m OK; You’re OK”

The OK Corral

How many people do you know; family, relatives friends, work colleagues, whom you can safely predict, as sure as houses, will react the same way, time and again when things don’t go right for them or when they don’t get things their own way?

We notice in some people the consistency as obvious.  We can guarantee witnessing the same display of emotions time after time. They do themselves down with the same self-critical put downs, protest the of blame of others or even constantly shout against life itself perceiving it’s their fate to live with frustrated and failing.

How many people do you know; family, relatives friends, work colleagues, whom you can safely predict, as sure as houses, will react the same way, time and again when things don’t go right for them or when they don’t get things their own way?

We can even guess what they’re feeling and saying about themselves inside.

We have a name for this fall-back position of thinking, internal feeling and behaving in times of stress. We call them Racket Feelings

How we react when things don’t right for us or when we don’t get our way frequently gives us a clue as to a person’s Life Position Continue reading

Are you running a Protection Racket?

“Pay up o’ there’s gonna be-a trouble”

Threee Mafia type Gangsters

“You’ll pay us because we’re such good friends”

You know the scene. In fact you’re right there; on a rainy afternoon; front row seat; with popcorn bucket, Kia Ora and a straw.

On the big screen two Wiseguys, footsoldiers of the Lambrini family enter the Deli.

Tony the store keeper, serving kind Mrs Romazo, glances over as the bell above the door rings. The mob guys offer him a sideways smile. His face turns limp and pale.

The chatty elderly Italian lady in the black dress and coat suddenly turns silent and hurriedly stuffs her cheese and salami into her bag.

Giving Tony a nervous, “Grazia”, Mrs Romazo shuffles quickly out the door.

The owner regains a brave smile. He’s supposed to act pleased to see them. He’s not expected to show he’s scared. He knows that; they know that. Camaraderie is what they expect.

After some light conversation and strained laughs, he hands over an envelope.

Wiseguy One lifts up the envelope and balances it in his palm.

“Feels a little light this month, Tony”, he says menacingly.

Tony’s mouth goes dry. He bites his lip nervously.

“You know how business is now guys, since they opened the Fresh n’ Low on Third. I’ve got a special order to Gino’s restaurant this week, big party. I’ll make it good next month”.

You know how the rest of the scene goes.

There’s always a nice Wiseguy and a psycho Wiseguy; right? Psycho wise guy is just itching to take out his mother-in-law’s nagging on the first person looks at him wrong.

Psycho Wiseguy eyes Tony, then the cheese grater on the opposite side of the counter.

If the nice Wiseguy is in charge, Anthony gets a reprieve. If not; well, as you know and as Psycho guy is thinking: cheese graters are sharp tools, and accidents in a Deli, as an occupational hazard do sometimes happen.

Not that kind of Protection Racket

Ok; I apologise. Put the cheese grater away, please. I get carried away at the movies; what can I say?

When I asked if you run your own Protection Racket, I didn’t mean to accuse you of a Mafia scam. Though there are similarities with what I do mean.

Let me explain.

Continue reading

Your reward for enduring repeating arguments and ‘go-nowhere’ conversations

A Groundhog emerging from his burrow under a title of Groundhog DayIt’s Groundhog Day once again

We’ve talked of the frustration, hurt, anger and demoralisation that repeated arguments and ‘go-nowhere’ conversations can render.

Recurring showdowns with family, friends or job colleagues sap our energy, morale and jeopardise our enthusiasm for our relationships. They make us want to cut family ties or contemplate quitting a job.

This feeling of having been suckered into repeated arguments and deadlocked conversations time after time, reminds me of the movie, Groundhog Day. Continue reading

The unhappiness of repeating arguments

two bulls locking horns in arguement

Why are we always going head to head?

Repeated arguing: A habit in relationships that drag you down

What do I mean by Repeated Arguments? I don’t necessarily mean constant arguing, although for some people in bad relationships at home or at work, life can feel like a constant fight.

What I mean is those arguments which happen, time after time; often with the same person – often close, loved-ones: husbands, wives, partners, children and wider family.

Repetitious arguments like this can also feature in our work relationships; with bosses and work colleagues.

These arguments frequently have a consistent theme or feature a specific recurring bone of contention. Sometimes they can simply explode out from a simmering tension that inexplicably defines our relationship with that other person, or persons. Continue reading