A script is a subconscious life plan made by a small child.
Once this plan is made, it influences the whole course of that person’s life.
I am going to be telling you about the usual way scripts work.
But, since scripts are so extremely personal and unique,
your script may work quite differently.
Take what you read here as a typical example of how these things work,
not as a thorough discussion of the topic.
Also, we will focus on a rather simplistic “bad” script
which hurts the person throughout their life.
There are also “good” scripts and even “neutral” scripts.
All scripts, even the good ones,
impose severe and unnecessary restrictions on our freedom.
The best way to learn about scripts is probably to
read Claude Steiner’s book: “Scripts People Live.”
Gary had a rather good childhood.
His parents were OK.
He had enough friends.
There was no physical abuse, no alcoholism,
nothing seriously wrong at his house.
But one day, when he was seven years old,
he played in an old abandoned refrigerator and nearly died of suffocation.
Years later he recalled the sequence of events this way:
1) I was mad that my parents and my older sister were ignoring me.
2) I was bored and needed something exciting to do.
3) I decided to play with the refrigerator because I was mad.
I had been warned to stay away from it.
4) I propped the door open so I’d be safe,
but then I accidentally bumped it and it closed on me.
5) I didn’t get scared until I started running out of air.
6) I passed out.
7) I don’t know how I was rescued but I woke up in a hospital room
and a pretty nurse was the first person I saw.
Years later, in therapy, Gary describes his typical problem days in this way:
1) “If I get angry early in the day…
2) I just sort of sulk and do as little as possible.
3) Then, after work, I look for some way to party
even though I know it will cause problems.
4) I always try to drink just a little, to stay safe,
but eventually I just say ‘the hell with it’ and I drink some more.
5) I don’t really get scared until I get woozy and start running out of air.
6) Then I’m afraid I’ll actually die.
7) The next day, the only thing that really bothers me
is if my wife gets angry and ignores me.”
HIS RELATIONSHIP HISTORY
Gary says his last three relationships went like this:
“It’s always exciting in the beginning but after a while I feel like she’s ignoring me and I get mad. Then I usually do something stupid – like quit my job or something. It’s no big deal though, I can always find another one. I don’t really realize that the relationship is in trouble until my asthma starts to bother me while we are making love. That’s when I start thinking about who the next woman in my life will be.”
If he doesn’t change, Gary’s life story might go like this:
“In his teens and 20’s, Gary was always grasping for attention and he would get extremely angry when he was ignored. In his 20’s and 30’s he partied a lot, used tobacco and alcohol and other drugs, but continually claimed it was no problem because he was doing it ‘safely.’ When he got sick from all this, his lungs gave out and he was often hospitalized. He just didn’t snap out of it the last time.”
If you read closely
you noticed that,
all seven elements in Gary’s “refrigerator” story
are also present in sequence
in his day, in his relationships, and in his “life story.”
That’s how scripts work.
1) Something traumatic, usually life-threatening, happens in childhood.
2) When it is over, the child is shocked and extremely relieved that he survived.
3) Since he’s only a child, he can’t understand why he survived.
4) So, subconsciously, the child assumes that he only survived
because of the sequence of events that day!
5) Then, as an adult, he repeats this sequence of events over and over and over
– in order to continually prove to himself that he CAN survive.
(This “repeating” is called his “repetition compulsion.”)
Even if you’ve followed all this so far,
it is unlikely that you will suddenly be able to see
the “repetition compulsion” in your own life.
This usually requires quite lengthy therapy.
However, since I’ve gone this far,
I do want to tell you what we need to do
once we do become aware of our own life pattern or “script.”
In Gary’s example: He will always have days when he’s angry, he will always want excitement in his life, there will be days when his wife ignores him, and he will probably always feel some urges to do things that aren’t good for him.
But the very first thing he needs to do is to stop these things from happening IN SEQUENCE!
In therapy, I put the seven elements of Gary’s script on index cards. Then I “shuffled” them and worked with him until he realized that in real life he could actually do these same things in any order, not just this one.
Once he realized this intellectually, he started to feel the freedom to make choices in all areas of his life.
We learn about our scripts so we can become
free to make adult decisions
about what to do with our own lives!
Even if you never learn your own subconscious script,
you can identify some of the repetitious compulsions in your own life.
Remember: These compulsions are entirely optional.
And they are ready for you to start changing today!