Life Scripts

I read something today that struck a chord. Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says, “Most of us never examine the scripts handed to us by our past.”

A script is a written text for a production or performance, or a plan of action. The quote in the book got me thinking: what script am I living by? Where am I filling a role without thinking about the character I am playing?

 We have all made certain decisions unconsciously, about who we are, and how life should work out for us. We develop our own narrative about what kind of success we are capable of, and what we could never do. This narrative is based on personal experience in early childhood – and is shaped by our parents, and the environments and society we encounter growing up. It’s as if we craft a biographical theme that is superimposed over our lives by default.

Our scripts dictate how we do friendship, conflict, loss, failure and anger. They shape our attitudes towards our own and different cultures, towards family life, and towards our definition of success. For example, if failure and disappointment have always elicited certain internal and external reactions, we just repeat the cycle: we don’t know what we don’t know.

Or do we? I keep coming back to the unavoidable fact that one of the most marvelous things about human beings is metacognition: we have the capacity and ability to think about what we are thinking. If we can learn one thing, we can unlearn it and learn something else.

Critically examining and reflecting on my approach to life’s ups and downs can yield life changing insights if I will allow them. Practicing the skill of recognizing negative scripts gives me the ability and leverage to change them.

So it’s not a bad idea to study the internal conversations I have with myself - in order to realign my script with the real truth about me … “What is the story I am telling myself about that mistake?” … “Why do I want to avoid that opportunity?” … “Why did I think I could never attempt that project?” … “Why did I make that excuse instead of taking responsibility?” … “Why do I always feel inferior in those meetings?”

The beauty of examining scripts is not just the potential transformation in our own lives, but also in our society and nation. Brene Brown, writing about racism in the US, says, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”

What would happen if each of us took regular time out of the action in the spotlight to sit backstage and carefully assess the scripts we are living by? What if we chose one significant untrue theme in our lives (or in our nation for that matter) and set out to debunk it, daily? Let’s tag the mental junk mail and send it straight to the spam folder for deleting. Our future could depend on it.





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