What is your life script? Do you know? And are you aware of how it’s affecting your lifestyle choices? Karla Gilbert explains.
As we move through life, we create stories, weave our perception of self, and develop a narrative of how we should react to the world around us. Each decision we make is deeply rooted and often unconscious, shaped by an experience, positive or negative, and encouraged by the people we have spent time with.
These are referred to as life scripts and act as seemingly mindless actions that shape our mood, relationships, and daily decisions in the aid of building stories to help make sense of our often-chaotic world.
From the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep, each day in so many ways these scripts shape the person we are. The question remains though of whether these repetitive actions, thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions serve us with the purpose we chase in life or promote a growth-state idealism.
We each approach and view situations from different perspectives. Where someone may see an opportunity to do something differently, others may experience resistance or fear — it all comes down to the details we ‘stick’ with or focus on. And it’s this stickiness that stalls the progress of any kind as we ‘stand in our own way’.
Psychologists believe these are labels that our parents developed for us from a young age, leading us to believe they are factual (and are common hurdles I see as a health coach). Behaviour change is only possible when a person can acknowledge and understand repeating current scripts and allow new narratives to form.
Examples of negative narratives include:
“You have two left feet.” (You’re clumsy.)
“You’ve never liked vegetables.” (Things never change, and neither will you.)
“Stress is always something you’ve struggled with.” (You’re a non-adaptive person.)
“Why are you crying? You’re okay.” (It’s not okay to show emotions.)
You may notice the narratives come from a place of good intention at the time (parents trying to counter-effect a negative into a positive), but unfortunately this leads to feelings of not being good enough or always doomed for failure.
When we repeat an action (or even hear it or say it), it becomes a habit or ingrained script. It creates a subconscious process that happens in the background even when we aren’t aware. Offering yourself moments of understanding around how and why you do something is the only way to intervene in habits that continue to shape your daily lifestyle.
Over the next couple of days, experiment with yourself try being curious, catching yourself in the moment of what stories you’re telling yourself. You may imagine a no-good little devil tapping you on the shoulder, whispering in your ear.
Notice these repeating scripts throughout the day and how they shape your choices. Perhaps you may begin to feel frustrated about something — jealous, angry, hurt, happy, or sad. Feel this moment of reaction and what may begin to feel a little sticky.
Now, you may ask, what has this got to do with our nutrition and health? Ah, I can see your point, but when we begin to get caught up in reacting to negative emotions or following scripts, our health style choices take a downward spiral.
Emotional eating, making excuses for not showing up to a workout, allowing stress to take a stranglehold — all stem from unconscious life stories. Remaining in an unstable relationship affects our thought patterns of not being good enough, let alone allowing us the time to look after ourselves through proper nourishment and care. I call it the ripple effect.
Here are some strategies to help become mindful of the moments, stories, or scripts that are ruling your life.
Three steps to overcoming life scripts
Feel the emotion and tell yourself it’s okay and natural. Don’t act out in any way, but just observe what’s coming up. Feel the empowerment that doing this brings. If you never acknowledge, you can never change a thing. Realise that thoughts do not define you, and it does not mean they should be viewed as a weakness. Perhaps a script such as ‘I don’t do that kind of thing’ or ‘that’s just not me’ is commonplace. Challenge this and ask, ‘Why isn’t it me who does those sorts of things?’ And notice how it is cocooning you into a world full of restrictions. Thoughts can change if you want them to.
Remain the observer in the situation — likened to seeing yourself watching from afar. See the story as not necessarily being true and only a belief that has been presented to you. Keep returning to the present moment. Like any muscle or things we try to strengthen, it simply takes time and practise, so don’t beat yourself up if you keep getting drawn back to a strong emotion. Just start at the beginning.
Allow the feeling to release and flow out of your hands and feet like a free-flowing tap. We need to acknowledge that issues may have originated from adolescent years, but as an adult we have the choice to the parts of childhood we hold on to and what we need to let go of.
Each time this sequence is practised, you will find that it will become easier. Hopefully, you’ll be less caught up in what the trigger was and more aware of how you react. The most important thing is that you’ve recognised a pattern and stepped away from it.
Better yet, write it down and think of alternative action (positive self-soothing techniques) that you can repeat to form a new habit or reaction.
This process can be confronting, but at the same time this is what allows us to step out of the shadow of us being us and permit ourselves to let go of old beliefs that may be holding us back from success.