The psychology of relationships: life scripts
An exercise to discover your own life script
If you're interested in identifying your own life script, try this exercise, which is designed to dig out your script and clarify it. I have taken it from Ian Stewart and Vann Joines' book TA Today (reprinted 2000 by Lifespace
you want to know more, read the book! It's a
good, if somewhat basic, introduction to
transactional analysis concepts.
fantasies, fairy-tales and childhood stories
can all give us clues to our script. Here
are some exercises using these: while you're
doing the exercises, let your imagination
run free. Don't bother thinking what they
are for or what they mean.
Don't censor or try to figure out what you
are supposed to say.
Just accept your first images and the
feelings that may come with them. You can do
your interpreting and deciphering
You will get the most from the exercises if
you find a group or partner to work with.
Whether you work in a group or individually,
it's a good idea to record your responses on
tape. Just turn the recorder on and let it
run during the exercise.
Afterwards, play it back several times and
let your intuition bring meanings to the
surface. You will be amazed at the amount
you learn about yourself and your script.
While doing any of these exercises, it is
possible that you may begin to experience
These will be the childhood feelings which
you are bringing to the surface along with
your script memories. If you do have this
experience, you can decide at any point to
stop or continue the exercise. If you choose
to stop the exercise, fix your attention on
some prominent object in the room.
Tell yourself (or your partner) what the
object is, what color it is, and what it is
used for. Think of some routine grown-up
topic such as what you will be having for
your next meal, or when you next need to be
at your work place.
While doing this, stand or sit up straight
with your head and body balanced around a
vertical mid-line. This will all bring you
back to the here-and-now, so you don't
continue to relive traumatic memories from
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Hero or heroine
Who is your favorite character? It may be
someone from a childhood story, perhaps a
hero or heroine from a play, a book or a
film you remember. Maybe it's a real person.
Choose the first character that comes to
Now turn on your recorder and/or get
attention from your partner or group. Become
your chosen character. Talk about yourself
for as long as you like. Use the word "I
For example: Suppose my story hero is Superman. I might start off by saying: "I'm Superman. My job is to help people with problems. I fly in from nowhere, do all sorts of miraculous things, then disappear again. Most of the time, nobody knows I am Superman, because I go around in disguise......"
Whoever your chosen character is, go ahead, be him or her and talk about yourself.
Story or fable
A variation of the first exercise is to tell a story or fable. Again, choose anything you like - the first you bring to mind is likely to be most relevant. It may be a childhood fairy-tale, a classical myth, or anything else you want.
You might begin:
"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful
girl who was sent to sleep for ages and ages
by her evil stepmother. She lay in a room
deep inside a castle. Round the castle was a
prickly hedge. Kings and princes came
looking for the girl, but none of them was
strong enough to hack through the hedge..."
To get even more from the story, you can go
on and become each of the people and things
in the story. Each time, talk about
From the story above, you could choose to be
the girl, the stepmother, the room, the
castle, one of the princes, and the hedge.
As the hedge you might say: "I'm a hedge.
I'm sturdy, rough and prickly. All my
prickles point outwards, so that people
can't hack me around. My job is to protect
that young girl who's asleep inside me..."
Choose a dream you've had, preferably a
recent one. You're likely to learn most from
a recent dream or one which recurs, but any
dream will do.
Tell the dream. Relate it in the present
tense, not in the past.
just as you did with your story, become each
of the people and things in the dream
and talk about yourself.
Recall how you felt immediately after you
awoke from the dream. Was it a pleasant or
Did you like how the dream ended? If you
didn't, you can continue the exercise by
re-writing your dream ending.
Tell the re-written ending just as you told
the dream, using the present tense. Test
whether you're now fully satisfied with the
dream's ending. If not, re-write it again,
as many times as you want to.
Object in the room
Look around the room. Choose any object you
The best one is the first one you think of.
Now be that object and talk about yourself.
For example: "I'm the door. I'm hard square
and wooden. Sometimes I get in people's way.
But when I do, they just push me to one
side..." To get even more from this
exercise, ask a partner to conduct a
conversation with you as the object you have
chosen. The partner is not to make
He is just to talk with you as the door, the
fireplace or whatever you have chosen to be.
For instance: "I'm the door. When I stand in
people's way, they push me aside." "Well,
door, how do you feel when people push you
aside?" "I feel angry. But I'm a door
and I can't talk. I just let them do it."
"Aha. So is there anything you want to
change, door, to feel better?"
See your life as a play
For this exercise, you need someone to act
as a "guide" and talk you through it while
Alternatively, record the cues on tape and
listen to them when you're relaxed. One
guide can lead a group of people through the
exercise. The guide need not follow the cues
as written here word for word.
In fact it is better if she simply jots down
a few reminders of the sequence to follow,
then improvises the wording. She should
allow plenty of pauses between sentences.
This gives the participants time to develop
Relax in a chair or on the floor. It may
help to close your eyes. The guide then goes
ahead on these lines:
"Imagine you're in a theater. You're waiting
for a play to start. This play is your very
own life story. What kind of play is this
you're going to watch? Is it a comedy, a
tragedy? Is it a high drama or a
kitchen-sink opera? Is it interesting or
boring, heroic or matter-of-fact - or what?
Is the theatre full, half-empty, empty? Are
the audience going to be enthralled or
bored? Happy or sad? Are they going to
applaud or walk out - or what? What's the
title of this play of yours - your very own
"So now the lights are going down. The curtain is opening. Your very own play is just beginning. And you see the first scene. This is the very first scene of your life. You are very, very young in this scene. What do you see round you? Who is there? Do you see faces or parts of faces? If you see a face, see the expression on the face. What do you hear? Be aware of what you feel. Maybe you feel some feeling in your body. Maybe you feel some emotion. Do you smell or taste anything? Give yourself time now to be aware of this very first scene in your play.
"Now the scene changes. In this next scene of your play, you are a young child - maybe three to six years old. Where are you? What can you see round about you? Are there any other people there? Who is there? Are they saying anything to you? Are you saying anything to them? Do you hear any other sounds? What do you feel in this scene? Do you feel any sensations or feelings in your body? Do you feel any emotions? Maybe you smell something or taste something? Take time now to be aware of all you see, hear, feel, taste or smell in this second scene of your play - the scene when you are three to six years old." (Pause)
Then the "guide" runs through the same cues
for the following scenes in the play, one
after the other: a teenage scene, about ten
to sixteen years old; a present scene, the
age you are now; and a scene ten years in
The last scene of your play is your death
scene. In giving the cues for this scene,
the guide should also ask "How old are you
in this last scene of your play?"
Finally the "guide" asks you to come back to the present, taking all the time you need. Share as much of your experience as you want to with the group or a partner.
If you want to read more in script, please have a look at the book this exercise has been taken from: Ian Stewart and Vann Joines: TA Today (reprinted 2000) Lifespace Publishing.
There is a
profound relationship between how successful
your sexual relationship may be and how your
life script dictates that you will enjoy (or
delayed ejaculation - a problem where the
man cannot ejaculate easily (or at all)
during intercourse - can be traced by to
You can click here to read more about ejaculation problems. To repeat, these are often
linked back to a script which contains
faulty beliefs about sex such as "I have to
please a woman before a please myself"