Did you know the way we experience the world around us is largely determined by our past experiences?
I first became aware of this myself while I was working as a consultant. I found myself in a discussion with a client. And suddenly I felt struck realizing how I had been in this discussion before many times with other clients. I found it hard to believe this was coincidental and I decided to investigate.
At the time, I was attending my first coaching training. And I decided to ask my teachers for help while trying to understand what might be going on.
The term ‘life script’ or ‘script’ refers to recurring patterns in our lives, where the roots of the experience lie in the past.
In other words: a life script is a specific series of cognitions and behaviors that cause us to have similar experiences over and over again. Regardless of whether these experiences might be positive or negative.
Most people do not realize how they actually create their own reality to a great extent. Each of us has one or more scripts ‘installed’. These scripts influence the way we perceive the world around us and thus the choices we make. And by influencing the choices we make, the outcome is affected.
Scripts serve a purpose. They help us simplify the world around us. This way, we don’t have to come up with new answers to recurring situations all the time. It’s a matter of efficiency.
The roots of a script
The foundation for a script is usually laid at a young age. During our childhood we gradually figured out the world around us. As children we strongly depended on the people around us. And therefore we tended to focus our attention on our environment. The word ‘environment’ in this context refers to parents/caretakers, brothers and sisters. And sometimes to other influential others close to us. Like grandfathers, grandmothers and teachers.
The actual script is created once an impactful situation is experienced, that causes us to make a specific decision that forms the basis for our future behavior. This decision is affected by the ‘guidelines’ received from our environment, such as our parents. A script causes us to repeat this decision and the behaviour that goes with it each time we encounter a situation similar to the original situation. The situation acts as a trigger for the script. This way we create our own reality and write our own story.
“My brother and I were raised based on the idea that showing ‘good’ behavior is all important.
I remember this instance where my grandparents rewarded me for getting good grades. I was given a small amount of money. My brother, who had received mediocre grades that semester, was given a much smaller amount.
Moments like these have led me to make very rational choices in my life that tended to be on the safe side and were socially acceptable. This led me to feel stuck in my early 30s. Since I had made rational and socially acceptable choices, I had never learned to tune into my inner compass. Therefore I wasn’t used to base important decisions on what I really wanted. And I wasn’t aware of the direction I wanted to set in life.
Before I was able to start making choices more in line with who I am at a deeper level, I first had to become aware of my script. In my case, the script was all about how I had based important life choices on other people’s opinions, standards and values.
My brother received a similar upbringing in the same family. Yet, he made a different decision. Early on in his life, he reacted against the prevailing socially accepted standards and decided to become self-reliant. He started his own business well before he graduated. Up to this point, he has continued to do so. Successfully and in his very own way”
Why it is important to be aware of your script(s)
Transactional Analysis is the branch of psychology from which the term life script originates. Transactional Analysis assumes that our scripts contain our personal beliefs about many topics, such as:
- How do I perceive myself?
- Will I be successful in my life in the things that are important to me? And will I feel satisfied with this?
- How do I relate to others? And how do I position myself in groups?
Life scripts strongly influence our personal and professional lives in the present, as well as in the future. So if you feel stuck in a particular area of your life – and this isn’t the first time – then chances are one or more scripts are active.
Now that you are aware of the existence of the concept of life scripts, you are able to investigate which scripts are active. You might even alter a script and its outcome.
The script circle – Work on your scripts
It is quite possible to test a script and alter it if necessary.
The ‘script circle’ is a handy tool that helps you investigate your personal scripts.
Now that you know what a life script is, you can start using the script circle. Below you will find instructions that will help you do this.
Script Circle Exercise
Click the button below to download the instructions