A Life Script, according to Eric Berne (introduced Transactional Analysis) is a set of childhood decisions made unconsciously by a person in response to parental messages about self, others and the world. Further these are strengthened through seeking evidence of this to ensure our beliefs are justified.
Let me offer you a few life scripts of mine.
I remember once I was moaning about my grades on a paper, and Dilip Bagri (name changed), a classmate who studied with me at St. James’s said, “Steve, laugh and the world will laugh with you. Cry, and you will cry alone”. From that day on, I was determined to take charge, be accountable for all things around me, and resolved to make the most of opportunities that came my way.
I remember my principal John Mason encouraged all of us to participate in extra-curricular activities. One day he strolled into our classroom and his eyes settled on me as he invited me to take part in the debate competition. I protested, saying I could never debate. “How would you know you cannot”, he countered, “unless you tried. I want to see you on the podium next week, young man” he said as he walked out. The next week I went up on the podium, my first time, and over the years many such events followed. But it was just sheer nectar, that first moment when he walked up to me after the debate, and shook my hand, my face all flushed and red with excitement. That day, I decided, I would use the opportunities provided to me – give everything a try.
Then there was that moment pre-selection ahead of the final exams when he walked into our class, and started to address each student, exhorting each one to give their best performance. When my turn came, he looked at my academic progress scores, which was quite good, but his eye picked the lowest subject (no guesses, it was Hindi). “So what do you have to say about this”, he challenged me. I will do well, I replied, but weakly, this time quite uncertain of myself.
Then to my surprise he said, ‘I know you will do well. I recall the day on the track field last summer. You had red all over your foot (I had wounded myself and bloody). You still picked yourself and ran that race and completed it. I know you will finish this one too”. No surprise he words spurred me. I put my mind to the task, not so much for myself but for the faith he had put in me. I finished off St James’ as a school prefect, stood second in my class in the board exams, and had a string of certificates in field and track events, soccer, as also debating, elocution and plays. From him I learnt, ’Seize opportunity, be the Best you can be”
I curiously wonder what made John Mason pick me that day in class? I know it could have been anyone: each of us is a seed of potential. Today, I realise we can all be mentors to others. To blow into the ember that can start a raging fire!
On one occasion, I remember my father, and his friend and myself being invited to the Diamond Harbour docks – my uncle who was a Captain had invited us on board his cargo ship. I was so excited coming on board the ship on a dinghy, and coming up through an iron staircase, then atop the deck. We were taken around to the radio room, and other areas, and finally to the Captain’s Cabin. While the adults drank whisky, I was handed a pack of six beer cans! It was my first experience of drinking. In the spirited reverie that evening, I am not sure what prompted my uncle to give me unsolicited advice (certainly the spirit helped), but he actually did, when he spent a few minutes one on one with me and said, “Be something young man. Only if you are something, will others want to keep relationships with you.” I understand only now, he may have been projecting onto me his ‘life story’ but his comments burned deeply within me. I think I took on a belief system then that ‘I matter only if I am something to someone.” Only by what I achieved would I be a ‘success’, perhaps nothing else mattered as much. That is, there is me, a person, and then there is an instrumentation (my external definition of success) of self. Years later, I realised that while I took pains to grow the instrumentation, I had not valued the self, as much as I would have liked to.
Dear Readers, I know you may find sharing uncomfortable even unnecessary. Still, would any of you like to join in and respond to: What has been one significant moment that helped create a Life Script within? Or something you said, that helped someone?