Monday, January 14, 2013

Social Scripts

Mental scripts are the ideas and language that run through your head on a constant basis and shape your attitudes and behavior.  Individual mental scripts can be very powerful and it is very useful to identify the scripts that you have.  Beyond your individual mental scripts however, are social scripts which are reflected in the culture and civilization you live in.  It is the story of the people.  Of course social scripts have a huge influence on your individual mental scripts, but they act more as a collective mental script which outlines the values of societies.  It is the narrative by which a society churns.

While there are many social scripts, Charles Eisenstein discusses societies narrative around money and has an interesting perspective on how that script is evolving.  According to Mr. Eisenstein, this social narrative defines the values of what is possible, what is real, what is valuable, and good.  He states that our current story of money is the old story.

In our modern society, we are bombarded by our social scripts non-stop.  We are barraged by the TV, the internet, social media, and more.  It is worthwhile to detach yourself from that narrative and listen to the narrative of silence to clear that story out of your mind for a minute.  Instead, work to create your own story, listen to alternative stories, and question where that narrative comes from.  Take a minute to decide if that social script is correct or if it needs revising or editing.  It is vital to question the narrative and find that which is pure and good.  Charles Eisenstein does exactly this.  I want you to pay close attention to the source of the social scripts and work be the source of a contribution to that script.  Make the collective script an original, unique, and good one.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Six Methods to Identify Your Mental Scripts

Previously, I have discussed why mental scripts are powerful, and more specifically defined what a mental script is.  But before you can use mental scripts to your advantage, or work on changing them to something effective and positive, you have to be able to identify what your mental scripts are.  For some people this is easy, but for others it is not so intuitive.  Below are six methods to identify your mental scripts:

1.  Sit Quietly and Listen
This is the most basic method and is actually my favorite, but there are a few tricks to it.  First, you must have the intent of identifying your scripts while you are taking time sit quietly.  Simply sitting there and letting your mind wander will not work.  You have to think about what memes are running through your head.  Further, you must be honest with yourself.  Its no good to listen to what your mind is telling you if you are going to lie to yourself.  There may be some uncomfortable things that are hard to face, but resist the temptation to lie about it.  Listening only works if you are willing to be honest so that you can eventually take your scripts and construct them into what you want.  Lastly, you must write them down.  This is the step that everybody skips because its more work and they think they can away without doing it.  You must write them down.  You will forget everything you worked on in less than an hour if you do not.

2.  Meditate
Meditating is similar to the first one, but goes beyond sitting quietly and listening.  It involves focusing on your breathing, being aware of the body, relaxing, and letting go of your thoughts.  After enough practice you can use this to have a better understanding of yourself and your mental scripts.  By silencing your thoughts, you are better able to identify them when they come back.  Often meditation can lead to certain epiphanies.  Prayer can work in a similar way if one is so inclined.

3.  Free Flow Writing
Take the following words and put them each on a separate word document or piece of paper:  Self Image, Job, Family, Goals, Strengths, Weaknesses.  You can add any other words you want too that you think are relevant on separate sheets.  With each word printed on the top of the page, take one document, and without thinking, write continuously for 5 minutes.  It does not matter what you write, but its important that you just begin, and don't think too much.  Just go.   What will emerge is general themes that correspond with your mental scripts. For practice one this with unrelated words, is a useful tool to get you started.

4.  Talk to Your Future Self
This method is the most interesting of the six.  Again, get in a quiet place and relax.  Close your eyes and imagine meeting your future self.  This is whatever you want it to be or think it should be, maybe 1 year in the future, or 30 years.  Picture yourself exactly as you would like to be and have a conversation.  Ask your future self how it is you can get to that point, and what is holding you back.  Ask him or her to help you identify your mental scripts.  You will be surprised at the results.  Be sure to write them down. 

5.  Ask Others
If you are having difficulties identifying your scripts on your own, ask someone you trust and are close with you help you out.  This is likely to be a frank and honest discussion, so be sure to find somebody that will accommodate those conditions.  Ask them what scripts they have noticed you portray, what your attitudes are, and what thoughts are holding you back in life.  If there is truly nobody you can talk to, it might be worthwhile to hire a professional.  Life coaches, career counselors, and therapists would be able to help.

6.  Write a Fictional Story
This method is a bit more intensive than the others, but it works well.  Write a fictional story about a character in a situation that you have been in before.  Be sure to elaborate the characters self-image, family attitudes, goals, strengths, and weaknesses.  Look for themes in the story.  These themes may lead you to some of your mental scripts, but they may also reflect what you want your mental scripts to be rather than what they are.  This method requires more careful analyses than the others.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Are Mental Scripts?

I have written about the power of mental scripts in a previous post, and I've received questions asking for more clarification about what a mental script is.  I recently complimented a friend of mine on his positive outlook for the new year.  He mentioned that success is all about positive thought and that thought influences your attitude, attitude influences your actions, and your actions influence your character.  This is all true and easy to agree with.  He wanted to start at the core of success by shaping his thoughts to be positive and optimistic.  While he didn't realize it at the time, my friend was using mental scripts to lead to a new reality for himself.

Humans process reality through language.  We take information from the world which we acquire through our senses, and through learning, and we encode this information in the form of language.  All of our conscious thoughts occur through language, and once those thoughts and beliefs are encoded, they are played over and over to ourselves in a constant unconscious loop until new information is incorporated to change them.  When people ask, "What is a mental script?", this is what they are referring to.  It is the linguistic representations of reality that we have encoded in our minds.

Another way to describe mental scripts is to consider them our internal dialog, both conscious and unconscious.  Everything we do has language associated with it.  Even as I pick up this coffee cup, I think, "I want some coffee, I am going to reach out and bring this cup up to my mouth" before I actually drink.  I may not exactly say this, but the thoughts are running through my head.  Beyond our everyday actions however, we have ingrained representations of ourselves and the way the world is.  Some of these are positive, such as "life is great" and some are negative such as "nobody likes me".  All of our thoughts, beliefs and opinions are reflected in our mental scripts, and thus our realities are shaped by these scripts.

Knowing that these scripts vastly influence reality and your life, it is worthwhile to understand how to control these scripts.  They are built up over time and reinforced through repetition, and are shaped by many different sources.  They usually take time to change.  For example, as a young person you might have the mental script of "I am a boy".  This is repeated and reinforced for most of your life and is a strong script that runs unconsciously through your mind.  As you get older, that script begins to change with some realizations that you are changing, and you receive inputs of "I am a man".  The man script competes with the boy script, but the boy script remains dominant.  Eventually, enough inputs of "I am a man" are experienced so that it becomes the dominant script, though "I am a boy" still lingers as a small percentage of your beliefs (which is partially why even as adults we sometimes feel like children).  As enough time passes, the boy script fades and you are left with the belief/reality that you are a man, and act accordingly.  While this change is usually gradual, there are some things that may accelerate the change, such as a right of passage ceremony, or the death of a parent.

These scripts exist for everything from what you think is healthy, what your values are, who you like/dislike, your politics, your religion, and everything else.  I will continue to write more about mental scripts, but for now I leave you with this exercise:

Write down all of your beliefs that comes to mind about yourself, and be completely honest.  Seriously, take 5 minutes to do this and you will be amazed.  Write down what you think you are good at, what you are bad at, what your self image is, what you like, dont like, etc.  Some of this will be true, and some will not, but you have begun a vital exercise of identifying your own mental scripts.  The next step is change them or erase them and construct new ones based on your own will and intentions.