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.
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, oneword.com 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.