Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Learning To Recognize When You Have an Invisible Script

Invisible Scripts.  Interesting term, and quite fitting for these little quips we operate on that can be completely unfounded - the ones that are there "because it's always been done that way" - or beyond positive - like finding a way financially to make education and educational costs work even when money is tight.

Two examples from the amazingly talented, often direct, blunt and to the point, yet so very wise Ramit Sethi.

If you are following along, you'll know that I am taking several courses by him, despite being in debt.  Why is this?  Because I believe that his material will help me move through this transition phase of life I am feeling like I'm floundering in.  They will give me a concrete source to reference for many aspects of my life, be a reminder that I can read and listen to over and over again until something in my head clicks and I get moving.

Ramit tells us that invisible scripts blanket our mindsets.  Recognition of them and a willingness to understand if they need to be erased from existence or kept and used often is the hard work involved here.

Another example:  "I can't apply to that job because I don't have all of the qualifications."  It is an invisible script we use to tell ourselves we'll never get the job, why would anyone pick us to even talk to etc. 

Another one I use often is that I work in a male dominated field so that's why I have to do all the "female" admin work for the office.  I've learned that that simply isn't true.  I get that work because I am allowing myself to be available for it, and because I thought I was "doing them a favour" by taking care of those things that they "seemingly" couldn't figure out.  It is sometimes a case of "I'll do it myself because it'll take me three times as long to walk you through it".  Sometimes it's a case of "oh they are busy, I'll just do these little things for them to be nice".  What has happened is that I keep getting stuck with all these things on top of all the things I have to do as part of my core job, and when I'm out of the office for any reason, especially vacation, nobody handles anything I do.  they all leave it piling up until I get back.

I started the internal script, but I allowed the behaviour to be perpetuated by my male colleagues. 

Now when they say "can you just take care of this for me, you're better at it anyway..." I say "Thank you for acknowledging that I am good at it, however I am unable to do that for you until Thursday or Friday because I have several tasks that clients need and are on a time-sensitive deadline."  Sometimes I simply say "No, I'm too busy."  It is getting better and they've stopped treating me like a doormat.

It is a powerful script I don't need working against me anymore and I'm working at eliminating altogether. 

Another invisible script:  "I should buy a house because my rent is just being thrown away an I'll have nothing." 

A quick analysis of the numbers shows that if I rent a place with all the utilities included in the price, I am actually spending less on housing that if I bought a house.  For the first 15 to 20 years of a 30 year mortgage, I am working really hard to pay off the interest on the mortgage before the principle comes down.  I have to cover my own repairs, maintenance, utilities, and property taxes, meaning the number I pay for housing when I own my own place, could be nearly double the rent I would pay on a place.  So at the end of the 30 years of the mortgage, I will have caught up to the renter and will now have a home when I am done the mortgage, in the first half of that time, the renter is actually doing much better than I am.

So, will I own something when I'm done if I rent?  Nope.  Does it work out for me that I don't have to pay taxes, take care of the lawns and gardens, be responsible for my own repairs when the furnace or washer or hot water heater break down?  It surely does!  Here's the funny part.  Who decided I needed to won my own place anyways?  My housing choices are my own and nobody elses.  Many times when I talk to people that say that to me, and I tell them that it is cheaper for me to rent right now, for the above reasons, they can only say "Ya well you won't own anything in the end."  You may be right - 30 years from now, or less depending on the size of the mortgage and the duration.  I don't have to pull my hair out looking for the money for taxes and lawn care and driveway sealants, and window replacements, and water bills when someone forgets to turn off the tap.  And right now, I am happy having no maintenance to do on my place.  It works for me.

Another invisible script:  "I could never do...[that]."
Youa re so very right my friend.  You could never.  Because it isn't a priority for you. Because you've already defeated yourself before even trying.  Because you've never done it before.  Need a lesson on this?  Watch a baby learn to walk.  You were that baby once.  You fell down.  You got back up and slowly over time you were walking...then running...then dancing and singing and doing cartwheels.  I do not know a person on earth that did a cartwheel perfectly the very first time.    This script has "I'm afraid to try because I don't want to look foolish" written all over it.  This one, lately, makes me want to hurl the person through a glass door and then vomit.  Stop using this one.  Say I've never tried it and be honest about whether you even want to.  Say it isn't a priority for you right now.  Say the honest to god truth about this but for crying out loud stop verbally announcing the fact that you are an utter and complete defeatist in your own darn life. 
If you say you can, you can.  If you say you can't, you can't.  No matter what you say, you are always right.  People, life is about practicing the things we need to and want to.  I couldn't play the flute for the first month or two I had the thing.  I never said I could never play it.  I said, I do not know how now...but I will learn.  I practiced 30 minutes or more every single night to become, not only someone that could play it, but third chair in our orchestra.  It made me work harder to get to first chair. 

I couldn't walk in the beginning either.  I can do that now too.  Somewhere in our adult life a switch was flicked that said if I can't do something now, I should never try to.  Ever.  The switch also allowed our brain to tell us that we'd look silly in front of people we are trying to get to respect and hold us in high regard.  When, if you think about it, if you'd just go ahead and do that thing you are telling everyone you can't do, and then belittling people that are doing it, the people you want to respect you will either have earned the respect of you and hold you in even higher regard for being authentic to you, or move on and you can accept people who deserve your respect as much as you theirs back into your life. 


Here is a positive script:  If the money is for education, even if we don't have it, we'll find a way. 

This one rewards the process of learning and improving oneself and says even if we don't have a lot of money, education is the most important thing, so we'll figure it out. 

Another one:  I may not know how to do that now.  I do know how to learn and practice it, especially if it means career advancement, personal improvement, or overall bettering of the quality of life for someone else.

What invisible scripts can you see in your own life?  Are you going to keep them or change them? 

1 comment:

  1. I used to have a lot of those invisible scripts, not so much anymore. At a certain age it no longer mattered to me if I looked foolish or not. And I have all sorts of retirement plans that will take me out of my "comfort zone" and will require me learning all sorts or new things. One thing I can say truthfully is I've always liked a challenge - I haven't always succeeded and sometimes it takes a while to get back on the horse, but I always do. And so do you!

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