by Dr. Bill Austin
Why is it that when someone upsets us, we seem to get obsessed with thoughts about that person and what they did. We can’t seem to let it go or get over it. We need to be curious enough to look behind the issue and ask ourselves, “Why can’t I let go? What is behind all these feelings?” Why am I taking it so personally? Why am I making this incident a 10 on the awful scale? How do we move on?
Perhaps, one of the reasons we can’t move on has to do with the script or schema we live by. If they made a movie of our life, what would be the script that we are living by? Some of the scripts or schemas that some of us live by are: “What I do is never enough.” “I know I will be abandoned.” “I don’t trust anyone.” “I am inadequate.” “I do not fit in.” “Everyone has to like me.” The list goes on.
One way to discover our script is by finishing the following statement: “Someone has criticized me, and that means…”
If we live by the script or schema, “What I do is never enough,” we could be saying, “I am not enough.” So we might try to prove ourselves and win praise through accomplishments. Unfortunately, no matter how much we accomplish or how much praise we receive, it is never enough to change how we feel about ourselves. We fail to ask ourselves, “What would be enough?”
If they made a movie of our life,
what would be the script
that we are living by?
When someone criticizes us or when we do not get the response that we think we deserve, we can imagine what our response would be if our script is, “What I do and who I am is never enough.” Or when someone doesn’t seem to like us, we can imagine what our response would be if our script is, “Everyone has to like me.”
If our partner makes a suggestion about what we did, some of us make it all-encompassing by interpreting it as criticism of who we are. We not only believe that we did a horrible job, we believe it was completely horrible. These scripts can limit us from being the person we are capable of being or doing the things we have the potential to do.
A good suggestion for working on these limiting scripts comes from The Work by Byron Katie. It consists of four questions:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
There is another suggestion that may help us deal with our responses to our life script, and that is to ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this and how can I improve?”
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700