As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet with clients at The Dailey Method, a fitness studio that offers much more than physical conditioning for its clients; it also focuses on mental and spiritual well-being. During my session, I discussed the principles of Snowman Therapy, including the concept of “scripting.”
Scripting refers to messages that, as children, we were told by our parents and other caregivers about ourselves. Messages such as, “Jason is our quiet one,” or “Susie is so hard working,” or “Tommy is bright, but lazy,” are incorporated into our sense of self as children. These are powerful messages and, as children, they tend to stay with us. We “live” our script; we “play our part” as kids.
As I explained in Sunday’s workshop, the great part about becoming an adult is that we attain the intellectual capacity to “re-write our script.” For example, while we may have been scripted to be shy, as adults we acquire the ability to push ourselves to be more outgoing in a given social situation. Or, if we were told that we were procrastinators as kids, we can choose to accomplish tasks ahead of time, rather than at the last minute, when we grow into adulthood.
Some of those in attendance at the workshop lamented, “It isn’t that easy to change.” First of all, nobody said that change was easy. But it is also valid for those in attendance to assert that “how to” steps can be helpful for any students seeking to re-write their script. So let’s lay out a template for script revision.
Step One: Recognize what your operative beliefs really are.
A woman (let’s call her Lisa) in attendance at the workshop observed, “I’m a ‘big picture person’ rather than a ‘detail person.’ As a result, I tend to be messy and I don’t like that about myself.”
That’s an honest bit of self-appraisal and that is how change begins. But I would ask Lisa, “What is your operative belief about detail people? Do you see them as lacking an understanding of bigger, more important, issues in their lives? Do you believe that it is impossible to be both organized and detail-oriented while having a sound grasp of more important aspects of one’s life?
Steven Covey’s book, Seven habits of Highly Effective People, underscores the importance of attention to detail as well as adherence to larger principles. So back to Lisa’s possible operative belief: it is impossible to be a “detail person” and attain a ”bigger picture” persona.
Ok, but what is Lisa’s next step, after she re-scripts herself to believe that she can become better with details? The answer is: Do it! But start small. Set a goal of cleaning the kitchen counter before leaving for work. Or make the bed. See how that feels. And observe, hopefully, that it has enhanced, rather than diminished your day and your effectiveness.
In next week’s newsletter, we will outline “Step Two” of the script revision process.
The mind is its own place and, in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” –John Milton