One time I was having difficulty sleeping and a friend gave me a pill that she described as a powerful sleep aid. That night I slept like a baby. The next day I was informed that I had ingested a vitamin C tablet. My internal script about that pill put me to sleep.
Some of our internal guiding narratives are deeply ingrained and shaped by our early experiences. Take the whole experience of inferiority. People who feel “less than” engage in a chronic comparison between themselves with others. Either they grew up “on the wrong side of the tracks” or they were told they were intellectually inferior to a sibling. The result is they allowed this internal script to limit their sense of their possibilities. The question “Am I good enough?” haunts them for the rest of their lives.
How do we change misery-generating scripts? We begin by
Recognizing that we are the authors of our own story.
Yes, that’s right, we wrote that defeatist script (often dictated by others). By the same token we can change the narrative.
I love what Ros and Ben Zander write in “The Art of Possibility” about invented stories.
It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework of meaning that advances our quality of life and that of those around us
Question. What story can you tell yourself that will enhance your life and that of others? (You may as well make up one that works for you and others)
So how then do we edit that misery-producing story?
In what way can we reprogram ourselves? We can begin by
Thinking our way into a new way of acting
Inventing a new story involves asking questions like,
“What do I have to do to stay in the moment?”
“How can I make a contribution today?”
“Where can I find an opportunity in this difficulty?”
“What do I have to do to give an inspiring speech?”
Powerful questions such as these set off a positive chain reaction within us that undermines a negative mental disposition. Our thinking can literally be reshaped.
Have you ever watched schampion gymnast mentally rehearsing an upcoming routine? Are they remembering a time when they failed miserably at the maneuver? On the contrary, they are running through the script of a perfect performance. Like the athlete we can reshape ourselves into possibility thinkers.
Question: What empowering question can you ask yourself today?
Now let’s look at the editing process from the additional perspective of,
Acting our way into a new way of thinking
As a psychologist I used to treat depressed people. One successful practice for some persons with this challenge was to suggest a physical activity that they once enjoyed. That activity may have been jogging. The first time out I would walk with them around the block and then steadily progressed to more extensive exercise. The body behaved in healthy ways and slowly the mind followed suit.
When I was going through a very difficult time in my life about two decades ago I decided to go to a dance class. I found it very difficult to be down mentally and dance at the same time.
Question. What life affirming behavior can you engage in to reverse your negative mental script?
The symbol of the Phoenix rising from the ashes is a metaphor of a power within us that facilitates the realization of new possibilities.
Imagine a world where you realized new possibilities for yourself.
What would that world look like?