Q. Several years ago I took the BTSA and what I learned changed my life in so many positive ways. I recall you saying something like: “Check your script. Whose script are you following?” Please tell me more about that.

A. Metaphorically, at birth you are handed a script. It contains the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) rules and expectations for your family system. It can even begin before your birth. For example, I was supposed to be male and was expected on my father’s birthday, January 26. However, I was six days late, being born on February 1, and I was female. Part of my mother’s severe post-partum depression was likely hormonal; some of it may have been due to the fact that she would need to go through another pregnancy to get the requisite male. At some level I sensed not having met expectations and that may have been reflected in the severe colic I experienced for weeks.

Your script comes from your parents and forebears, perhaps as far back as three or four generations. Since the only brain a person knows (and often knows it only superficially), your parents and grandparents only know their brains. At some level they believe their children will be like them. Some even need their children to be like them in order for the parents and grandparents to feel okay as care providers. 

The problem is that every brain is unique, and your brain may not have the same innate giftedness as that of your parents or grandparents. When this occurs, parts of the script you received may not work for your brain. In fact, sometimes the script is absolutely horrible—if not downright abusive—for a specific child’s brain. The more unique the child’s brain or the more different from its parents, the more likely this mismatch is to occur.

My mother and her sister were the first females in our maternal generational inheritance to graduate from college. Prior to that, formal education was encouraged for males but considered unnecessary for females. My mother tweaked her script to include obtaining a bachelors degree and included in my script that I would graduate from college. However, going on for a masters and later a couple of doctorates was not in my script. It made other family members (both males and females) quite nervous. And in some cases—to be perfectly honest—nonsupportive, disaffirming, and even discouraging.

Whenever you find yourself pushed toward a specific activity or behavior, especially when that behavior is energy-exhausting, pay attention to your thoughts. Ask yourself:

  • Was I expected to exhibit this behavior in childhood (or is it 180 degrees from the behavior that was expected)? Remember, 180 degrees from dysfunctional is still dysfunctional.
  • Does this behavior work for my brain and my lifestyle (or am I trying to do something that was written into my script)?
  • If this activity or behavior doesn’t work for my brain and my lifestyle, what would?

When figuring out the script you were handed and tailoring (no pun intended) it for your brain, there may be several things for you to do. (See my examples in parenthesis).

  • Delete a section of script (I deleted: “Females can be only secretaries, teachers, nurses, or housewives.”)
  • Rewrite a section of script (I rewrote: “Females can select any career of choice.”)
  • Add a section of script (I added: “Females can obtain a doctorate.”)