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Rewrite Your Scripts

Dealing with the past gives us some answers to the question of “why”. To create change, we must recognize the pattern and take action.

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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.

Relationship choices
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.

Career choices
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.

Photo credit:lickyoats via Flickr

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4 Comments on “Rewrite Your Scripts”

  1. #1 Karin
    on Jul 28th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Your article about re-writing our own scripts couldn’t have come into my life at a more appropriate time. I still have alot of re-writing to do! Thank-you!

  2. #2 Glenn Schendel
    on Aug 2nd, 2009 at 10:33 am

    The idea of scripting, or “the sins of the father” being passed on, however it is phrased, can seem like an irreversible condition. The example “you marry your mother” is commonly thrown around as if that’s just the way it is and there nothing anyone can do about it. This article is great, it outlines very simply how to identify patterns and then choose a response. Nothing ominous about that, just benefits of taking a looks inward and being honest.

  3. #3 Phil Biegler
    on Aug 5th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Thought provoking article. Amongst the other reactions, I found it to be another example of asking people to stop and think about what they’re doing, and why. I have found that a good way of gaining some peace in your life is to occasionally ponder the ‘why’ behind actions – not just your own, but those around you. I even use that in business constantly – what is the *motivation* behind what my customer/partner/colleague is saying, so that I know how to respond in a positive way. In many cases, it’s understanding the ‘script’ – what role does that person have in an organization, and how might that be affecting what they’re saying and what’s important? Translate this to your personal life – partner, children, other family members, etc., and it really opens your eyes.

  4. #4 Remove The Clutter From Relationships:How To Release Negative Patterns – Connected: Creating Loving Relationships
    on Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    […] that no longer serve a useful purpose. These beliefs and perceptions may manifest in the form of scriptsthat have been handed down for generations. It is possible to suddenly realize negative relationship […]

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