Dealing with the past gives us some answers to the question of “why”. To create change, we must recognize the pattern and take action.
As a child, our interactions with our families teach us how to relate to other people and establish patterns that appear later in life. If Dad always complains about Mom and launches into lengthy diatribes about the “craziness of women,” this will have an effect on how we relate to women. If Mom waxes poetic about the sad state of chauvinistic cavemen in her life, this will influence our relationships with men. Interests of parents, brothers and sisters all sway our perceptions. However, we are not slaves to these perceptions, and we must learn how to identify, and subsequently change, our negative scripts.
There are several ways to identify scripts:
Preferences or tastes
Often, the preferences we have are developed as a result of who we spend a significant amount of time with. Children will often take on the likes and dislikes of their parents or siblings. When we explore why we like or dislike certain people, places, or things, we often find our families feel the same way.
Forms of self-sabotage
Many forms of self-sabotage or self-destructive behavior are described as “hereditary.” A more accurate description would be scripting. I’ll use alcoholism, a common scripting pattern, as an example. Although there is an age-old debate about whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, I am going to focus on the behavioral aspect. When a child is raised in a home where alcohol abuse is prevalent, there is a strong likelihood he will react to his environment by abusing alcohol himself. Growing up in an alcoholic environment doesn’t guarantee the child will abuse alcohol, but it certainly increases the odds. When this person discovers he is abusing alcohol as a reaction to a scary or negative environment, he has begun the process of script identification. This reaction is a comfortable, familiar behavior, but comfortable and familiar do not necessarily mean positive.
Most people are familiar with the saying, “We marry our mothers (or fathers).” What this means is we seek a partner who exhibits certain character traits with which we are comfortable. Remember, comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean positive. Many people find themselves involved in relationships with people who provide a sense of security, even when the relationship is very destructive. The flip-side to this example is seeking character traits in a partner that are familiar, secure, and very positive.
Some tasks seem to come naturally to certain people. This often has a lot to do with scripting. When we are exposed to something regularly, we will understand it much better. This includes acquiring skills that seem extremely difficult to develop. Being exposed to something isn’t a guarantee we will prefer it, but it certainly predisposes someone to develop this preference.
In scripting, our actions stem from an emotional reaction. When there is a negative scripting pattern in our lives, we have emotions connected to it. For example, if someone grew up in a home where there was a lot of yelling, the same person may react emotionally to loud voices or shouting. The emotional reaction may never change, but the response certainly can. Changing our responses is how we can make powerful changes in our lives.
People become victims to their scripting when they allow their feelings to control what they do. Emotional reactions are often irrational and create many problems in relationships. Once an emotional reaction takes place, the people we are interacting with will generally react emotionally as well. As a result of an emotional exchange, we wind up saying things we don’t necessarily mean, and everyone involved walks away with hurt feelings. If we are emotional, it is best to pause and think about our response.
When we are able to separate our emotions from our actions, we take back our personal power.
Once we take back our personal power, we start to form more joyful definitions of success and happiness because these definitions will no longer be based solely on familiarity. When we form joyful definitions of success and happiness, we begin to choose more positive relationships.
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