Rewriting the Script – Understanding the Script
This is the second post in the rewriting the script series… I would recommend reading the first post before getting stuck in to this one.
Types of Script
Our scripts are stored in our ego and are classified in to two major categories – parent and child. When we start to act out our scripts, we can describe it as adopting an ego state.
The term ego state is used because it encapsulates that when we are acting in script, we have slipped out of being present and consciously aware of our behaviour (being I); in to being in an unconscious ego driven state. It is important to be aware that this is only a problem if we don’t realise it is happening; i.e., if the change happens unconsciously. But more about that later, first let’s find out more about the ego states.
It is important to note that none of the ego states are intrinsically good or bad. They each have their positive and negative aspects and there must be equilibrium within the state and between the states. It is disequilibrium causes problems.
The two primary ego states are called parent and child; each of them has two sub variants.
Includes the attitudes, feelings, and behaviour learned and copied from our parents (or any primary caregiver). When operating in parent we respond as one of our parents would have: saying what they would have said, feeling what they would have felt, behaving how they would have behaved. There are two variants of the parent ego state
- Nurturing Parent:
- Constructive: Supporting, caring, loving, and helping
- Destructive: Overprotecting, discouraging of personal development (“wrapping in cotton wool”)
- Controlling Parent:
- Constructive: Discipline, structure and routine
- Destructive: Criticizing, disrespectful, censoring, dictating, and punishing
You can see how in both variants, the constructive and destructive elements are extremes of the same thing, this demonstrates that the optimal approach is selecting behaviour that is balanced between the extremes. The same logic of balance applies to the child ego state and its variants.
How to Understand your Parent Ego State
Think back to when you were a child, how do you remember your parents behaving? Were they critical? Untrusting of others? Cautious and anxious? Reckless? What were their beliefs about the world, money, people, etc.?
Now think about which elements of your Parents you’ve integrated into your own beliefs you, other people and the world.
Includes the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that we experienced first-hand as a child while we explored the world and stated to develop social relationships. When operating in child, we feel and behave the same as we would when we were a child. There are two variants of the child ego state:
- Free Child:
- Constructive: curious, creative, open, fun, and loving
- Destructive: hateful, impulsive, angry, selfish, and self-pleasing
- Adapted Child:
- Constructive: adaptive, thoughtful, creative, imaginative, and thorough
- Destructive: emotional instability; guilt, fear, frustration, anxious, envious, rebellious, passive aggressive, and trying to please others
When we allow ourselves to unconsciously slip in to a state of adapted child, the destructive elements can kick in making it one of the most troublesome parts of our ego. It developed as we learned to change (adapt) our feelings and behaviour in response to the world around us.
How to Understand your Child Ego State
When you were a child what do you remember feeling? What was a theme in your interaction with your parents, siblings and friends? Were you always fighting for their attention? In the case of your parents, did you feel unconditional love? Did you feel that you needed to prove yourself?
What Happens When Scripts are Triggered
We can be blissfully conscious and present, ready for action, preparing for a conversation with someone or a key meeting that we have coming up. We approach the situation with all the best intentions and then as the events start to unfold something the other person does may ignite our emotions; maybe they did not listen attentively to a key point you were trying to make; which created a slight feeling of being disregarded. The next thing you know you have slipped in to a feeling of outright indignation and the conversation is going sour fast. You slipped in an Adapted Child script.
Our scripts are triggered when feelings and emotions arise and we choose to grab hold of them; choose to embody them. As soon as we do this, our foreman quickly runs off to the warehouse and returns with both the right script in hand and the appropriate costume for our ego state.
Don’t blame the foreman though; they are just trying to save you the effort of working out what to do!
When we fall in to script, the problems start to happen because we all of a sudden think we know how to predict the future. Well… the script says that if I do/say this then you should do/say that.
When the situation does not play out as the script dictates (because all humans have free will and follow our own scripts, not each other’s) this pours fuel of the fire of emotions that is already burning and sends us in to a cycle of ego driven emotional chaos.
In a word: suboptimal.
In the next article on the rewriting the script tool, we are going to explore how we break our scripts and rewrite them. Between now and then, maybe have a think about what scripts you may be acting out… are there any repeating limiting behaviour patterns that you want to change?
Enjoy, for now.