Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Scripting Your Life - Carol Gates

I remember a day some time ago when I felt overwhelmed by a mountain of trouble I really didn't want to climb. At the time, I had a hefty list of people and events, which I named and blamed for all the trouble, and my own name was notably missing from that list. Considering my unpleasant mood, it was a blessing indeed that a friend hung around long enough to pass along some advice which really got my attention. After listening as long as he could to the short version of my dilemma, he abruptly stood up and suggested, "Well, as sad as all that may be, it's just a photograph in time - it's not your whole motion picture, you know. Maybe it's time to re-write your script."

The instant those words were uttered, two visual images flashed across the screen of my mind: A tattered old black-and-white photograph lying in a memorabilia box, and the image of a major motion picture being played out on a screen in a dark theater before a large audience. I got the point - the big difference between freeze frame and live action - and experienced one of those "ah ha" moments which often launch a change for the better in our lives.

I began thinking about the milestone events which either froze me in my tracks or thrust me forward in the direction of my dreams. I closed my eyes and mentally hit the play button on the movie of my life so far, switching from fast forward to rewind, pausing certain scenes to observe what worked and what didn't work because of choices and actions on my part. I resisted the temptation to linger and mourn over missed opportunities and managed not to revel too long in celebration of past personal achievements. I simply spent some solitary time observing those life-changing events and the lessons they taught.

Then it hit me! I told myself, "This story isn't over - there's plenty of time remaining for such surprising twists and turns, and unexpected excitement! There's much more to write, perform, and produce." It occurred to me that I had been letting the story of my own life ramble, that it needed attention and direction. I had to know what i wanted in order to write a cohesive, congruent script. I was filled with a sense of urgency to being editing and producing a motion picture with impact, purpose and meaning. I began Scripting My Life.

I immediately discovered that scripting your Life is quite possibly the hardest work you will ever do. As a matter of fact, some people will argue that it's not even possible... that we don't have that much control over our own destinies. So the question is: How can you control your life script? It's been said that we only have complete control over two things in life: Our thoughts and our behaviors. Since every word we speak or action we take begins with a thought, it follows then, that our thoughts are the one thing we truly control. And our habitual thoughts, the thoughts we linger upon and focus our attention upon throughout our day, eventually show up in our lives as wishes come true. Therefore, in order to script your own life story, you must become the master of your thoughts.

In essence, it is our thoughts that write the story line we then act out through our words and actions. For instance, suppose that, as a small child, you may have seen another group of children playing on the playground and you longed to join them, yet you held on to a thought that said, "They won't want to play with me." Beliveing it, you hung back away from the group, alone. Then later, perhaps as a teenager, you considered trying out for a sports team, or joining the high school yearbook committee, and that same old voice whispered, "They probably wouldn't want me on that team, or that committee..." so you passed on the idea. And perhaps, at a later time in your life, as a young adult, you saw someone across a room to whom you were instantly attracted and decided to ask them for a date, but before you stepped up, that old voice said, "Who am I kidding? He/she probably won't want to go out with me anyway." Same thought, different day, scripting your life and creating missed opportunities.

What if you could re-write the script and create a new set of circumstances just by changing your way of thinking? You could do so by replacing the old limiting thoughts with positive new statements, such as, "I step out to do things I have never done in order to have things I have never had." Or, "I am important. My every thought, word and action makes a difference."

None of this is meant to suggest you can change your life simply by walking around with your head in the clouds repeating happy phrases. To the contrary, it takes vigilant attention and lots of practice to notice and then master your thoughts in order to script your own life story. You might catch yourself on a negative wavelength many times throughout the day and you might grown exhausted from the effort of turning those thoughts around. Like any endeavor, it takes a willingness to work at it combined with lots and lots of practice.

It's helpful to have reminders, trigger devices, strategically placed to help you pause and notice your thoughts all throughout the day. For instance, you might place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that asks. "What are you thinking right now?" Or wear a special reminder bracelet on your arm, or hang a special keepsake from the rearview mirror of your car, or place a reminder item on your desk at work. The most important thing is to notice what you are thinking all throughout your day and then to replace any negative thoughts with something positive, empowering and productive.

I have been consciously practicing a better way of thinking for a while and the results have been amazing. Oh, sure, there are still mountains of trouble that sometimes cross my path, but a better way of thinking helps me to step right up and tackle the climb. So, what are you thinking right now? Does it support what you really want? Congratulations! You are Scripting Your Life...As You Wish!

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