The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Stories we tell ourselves

As we go through life we tell ourselves stories, about others, about ourselves, about life.

Into these stories, we weave our perception of the world that is around us and come to conclusions about what we can do and what we will do.

It starts in childhood and starts already in our pre-verbal period. Naturally, those stories will not use an elaborate vocabulary. They are built on affects, experience, and feelings. And yet they already lead to selected reactions or decisions as we adapt to our environment.

The strategies developed then remain unconscious and also active.

They are the beginning of our life script, the story we tell ourselves about our life. As we grow up, we add experience to it. We include the cultural and national experiences we make. We also integrate the encouragements and suggestions coming from our parents as well as other significant adults.

Not all of them help us to find the best possible solutions to stay and create great relationships. We end up regularly telling ourselves what is happening to us, analyzing others by attributing them bad and good roles, all the while reinforcing our existing story. As we replay the internal video we also project it into the future, trying to shape it or wondering what might happen.

Transactional Analysis gives an inside view of the way we shape these stories. They share four types of messages we receive while shaping our story or life script.

As early as birth we start to observe the visible way adults and peers behave. This modeling gives us ideas on how others behave seeing this as normal. Attributions is another type of messages we take up as we are being told what we are like to others. Suggestions also are part of the messages we receive through hints or encouragements. They tell us, for example, to “always do our best” or to “enjoy life to its fullest”. The fourth type of messages are injunctions which are a way our parents had to demand us to do or not to do things.

We translate injunctions into pretty basic stuff like “Don’t need”, “Don’t be important” or “Don’t be close”. Consequently, they create limits and constraints we grow up with.

We rarely are aware of the depth and history of the stories we tell ourselves and thus don’t always see their relevance. And yet they are a bit part of how we shape our life. By letting ourselves become more aware of the stories we tell ourselves we create the space needed to continue to shape these stories and to find a way to adapt them to our current reality.

Some of you will already have realized how these stories we tell ourselves repeat themselves. That’s a great step as usually it much easier for those observing to see the repetitions than for those living them.

And it’s useful to become aware of the story we’ve written for our life as we work hard to make them happen. We do it to such an extent that we can even recreate and repeat them in the shortest possible period of a few seconds. In an analogy to theatre scripts, the stories we tell ourselves resemble a life-script. Their short version is a miniscript. It is one which we repeat over and over again multiple times every day. The more often we experience either of them, the more they confirm our stories and our view of the world.



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