Sunday, July 13, 2008

Negative beliefs and life scripts

Here’s another nature metaphor for you: Imagine that your thoughts and emotions and even the dramas that keep running through your brain form the leaves and branches of some inner, subterranean bush or tree. (Think wild and uncontrollable here, like blackberries or bamboo.) What do you suppose constitutes the root, from which the leaves and branches relentlessly spring?

Well, you may be surprised to discover that the root is a cluster of beliefs and stories, many of them negative, that have formed as the result of what people — especially people who are significant in your life, like loved ones and friends — have done to you and told you over the years. These beliefs and stories have intertwined over your lifetime into a kind of life script that defines who you think you are and how you view the people and circumstances around you. (I say “surprised” because most of us are clueless when it comes to life scripts — although you may have noticed some resemblance between your life and, say, Survivor, As the World Turns, or The Simpsons.) The point is this: Your tendency to identify with your life script actually limits your range of possibilities and causes you suffering by acting as a filter through which you interpret your life in negative ways. To return to the bush metaphor, you can keep pruning back the branches, but you’ll keep living out the same old story until you pull it up by the roots.

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