The external behavior alone does not necessarily reveal whether it is the Adult or the Child in action. Rather, the motivation behind the behavior determines the state.
Desire motivates the Adult.
Desperation motivates the Child.
This is a crucial distinction.
Certainly both feelings can coexist, in which case it is important to recognize which state predominates.
Take, for example, a couple engaging in a sexual relationship. There may be desire on one or both partners' parts. However, if the woman participates primarily out of fear that she will not otherwise be liked or accepted or the man operates out of concern that he must avoid being seen as inadequate,
it is now desperation that motivates their behavior rather than desire.
The Child surfaces.
Action based on desperation never change's the Child's underlying sense of self.
The action serves only to delay any dreaded judgement until another day.
"I know I have three strikes against me before I even get to bat.
If I hit a home run and the crowd cheers, it was just a fluke,
and I fooled everyone--until I come up to bat again."
Whatever the external success may be, action motivated by desperation count solely as temporarily evading the "fraud squad."
Only in the Adult state, "I know I am o.k." can gratification come from a positive action and be meaningfully incorporated.
Think of how often we have difficulty simply saying "thank you" to a compliment, because it evokes some residual Child feeling of unworthiness.
If the pull from the past becomes greater than the pull of the strength of the present, we regress to an earlier state.
In other words, when the Child states rules the Adult,
we operate as if we were living in the past and not the present.
The importance of appreciating that we always have choices, even if what we choose is inevitable, the awareness of choice is the antidote to the corrosive perception of helplessness.
Choice obviates Child.
Breaking Free ~ Kardener & Kardener