When we are born, we are given lots of messages, or scripts, from our family about what we should be like. They aren't formally handed out, but they are rules, expectations, and limitations that are forecasting our future. Our choice is whether we live out our script, or if we decide to understand and illuminate the script and rewrite the parts that don't work for us. Some scripts are better than others.
We get scripts about what we should be career-wise, what is possible for us as a man or woman, whether we are expected to become a parent, what marriage is like, how we are to express ourselves and communicate with others, and much more. Life scripts are powerful. If we don't examine them, they can control our life in ways we are unaware of.
Eric Berne was the therapist who defined script analysis as a key part of Transactional Analysis (TA).
Berne identified life scripts as a life plan, reinforced by parents. He felt we choose a script in childhood as a way to make sense of the world. The script helps us navigate, is what we look for, and helps us define our reality.
Here are some questions you can reflect on to understand more about your life script:
1. What is your earliest memory?
2. What did your mother and father each praise in you? What did they each criticize you for?
3. How did you parents relate to each other? Were they affectionate with you? Distant?
4. How did you play as a child? What did you want to be when you grew up?
5. If you wore a shirt which had words written on it that reflects the you that is projected to others, what would it say on the front? What would it say on the back (the part of you that isn't shared with others)?
6. What role did you play in your family growing up? Were you the hero? The scapegoat? The joker?
The fragile one?
7. Did you experience loss growing up? Did it cause you to be more fear based?
8. What was possible for women in your family? For men?
9. What alliances were there in your family? Who was close to whom? How did family members connect?
10. What lessons did you learn from your mother? Father? Grandmother? Grandfather?
11. If you could make life changes, what would you like to be doing/experiencingin 5 years?
12. How would you like to rewrite your script? What part of your family's script would you like toreject?
Understanding your life script can help you get unstuck, and own more of your own power to create the life you really want to be living. It can help you be aware of the myriad of choices that are available to you.
Your life is precious. Understanding how the messages you digested while growing up have impacted and are impacting your life, career, and relationships is essential. Just like actors read their lines in a play, we hold fixed beliefs about our potential and our essential self. Many times these fixed beliefs are not helpful. Challenging your fixed beliefs about yourself is healthy and important in order to live your best life, and not live a life that is too small.