“Open the drapes, grab my coffee. Okay. What are the problems going to be today? What’s not gonna work? What am I gonna do wrong? How many things do I have to worry about? Why is my heart going so fast? Must be the coffee. I’d better cut back”
That was the way my day started for a long time. I didn’t want to live like that, but I didn’t know how to change it. I started trying to figure out what it was all about. After some soul-searching, I figured out that I was worried I wasn’t good enough.
I thought I would look for a potential source, so I thought about my parents. (It’s always the parents, fault, right?!) I wondered if they led me to my self doubt. I realized, however, that my parents assured me that I was good enough, but that was also part of the problem.
As a little girl, I could spit on a piece of paper and my parents would tell me, “That’s beautiful honey!” I knew that it wasn’t beautiful art, and I was waiting for the shoe to drop. I lived in fear of the time when everyone else would figure out my dark secret - that I was a sham!
Upon further self-examination, I realized that this fear led me to the quest for absolute perfection. I assumed that if I was perfect, no one would be able to figure out my secret. The exhausting, impossible quest for perfection become a script that I followed for a long time.
My increasing frustrations and desire to understand and change ultimately led me to my work in Social-Emotional Learning. I learned that assumptions, including my own, were not based on a complete, factual picture. I learned that the assumptions that lead to our life scripts are actually based on how we made sense of our worlds when we were very young. As a result, they are filled with a lot of misinterpretation, and missing information.
I learned that since we created our scripts, we were able to change them. We are not passive actors that have to follow a playwright’s storyline. We can look at our life scripts as works-in-progress, editing and rewriting them. We can create the kind of mindset and life that we most want.
I set about to discover a process with which to do just that. I realized the importance of using tools to remove the errors in logic that fill our assumptions. I discovered ways to edit out the generalizing, “crystal-balling” and “awfulizing”, mentioned in my last blog.
This editing process and tools with which to apply it led me to change my assumption about my need for perfection. I began to embrace the inevitable and helpful nature of making mistakes. I operated from the more fact-based and self-supportive understanding that all I can do is the best I can do. My self-confidence grew, and my worry greatly diminished.
I am committed to helping others apply this editing process. Over the next series of blogs, I will provide information and tools for effective rewrites in a number of life areas. I will begin with a brief monologue like the one above, to highlight the nature and effect of a range of assumptions that we might make. This will be followed by the application of the editing process, We will be changing assumptions to more-fact-based and self-supporting beliefs, resulting in more satisfying life scripts.