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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 20
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 20. Re-write Your Life Script.

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If you have been working through these steps, some time has passed since you wrote your first life script. It takes time to practice each of these steps until they occur more automatically so it could be six months or more since you wrote it. But if you have been practicing the steps consistently over a period of time, your life script should have changed. It is time to re-write your life script.

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If you have not been consistently working on these steps for at least six months, stop here! True change is not simple and the mistake that most people make is wanting quick change. Someone who loses 20 pounds over six months is more likely to keep it off than someone who loses 20 pounds in six weeks. Take the slow road and you are more likely to be successful at permanent change.

Re-writing your life script can consolidate the changes you have made and continue to reinforce your self-esteem overtime. In addition, it can help you determine whether you need to address any of the steps further.

To re-write your life script, you can review the questions in Step 2 and answer the questions according to how you feel now. Or, you can review your old life script, cross out what isn't true and add in what is true now. Also, be sure to take the statements you wrote in Step 14 and add them into your life script. Once you do that, it is a good idea to re-write the script because the process of writing allows you to obtain further repetition of the new way of thinking of yourself as well as have a clean copy to continue to use.

While re-writing your life script, keep in mind what you learned in Step 14: recognizing limitations and weaknesses is okay (and important) as long as you don't include a value judgment about those aspects of yourself. Those with good self-esteem take responsibility for their lives. They accept both their strengths and their limitations. They don't deny reality but they are not unduly critical and harsh with themselves. Limitations are accepted without a value judgment. By doing so, they seek opportunities for improvement.

Accepting limitations without judging yourself harshly (often referred to as self-compassion) allows you to take responsibility for change. You can change any negative self-statements, if they are true, into descriptions and not judgments. For instance, “I am a pathetic drunk” can instead be “I have a problem with alcohol but I can work on changing that.” Even if you have done something terrible, accepting that mistake as part of yourself can allow you to work towards becoming a better person. Value judgments such as "I'm a horrible person because of the things I have done" leave little room for self-improvement but instead lead to discouragement and hopelessness. Instead, "I have made mistakes for which I need to take responsibility and make amends to those I have hurt" allows for change and improved self-esteem. Notice this is very different from the pop psychology self-esteem movement's overly positive rather than realistic statements such as "I am a good person and wonderful in every way." Such statements do not lead to true self-esteem and successful change, but instead, artificially inflated self-esteem that does not transfer to life improvements.

After re-writng your life script, if you find your current life script still has negative aspects, examine what they are and determine if there are certain steps you may need to review or focus on more. Remember, it takes time for change so you may just need to take additional time with the steps and then re-write your life script again.

Once you have re-written your life script, read your life script frequently. Read it especially when you need a boost, when you are having self-doubts, and when you anticipate facing a challenging situation. The more you read your life script, the more the changes you have made will adhere and become permanent. This step is crucial for permanent change. Frequently, people make changes, feel somewhat better, but don't continue to reinforce the changes. As I've talked about before, cognitive therapy creates new pathways in the brain. However, the old pathways can't be eliminated from the brain. They are still there. Ideally, the new pathways need to become stronger than the old ones so those new pathways become the automatic choice. Unfortunately, the old pathways have been reinforced over years so they will tend to assert themselves when they get the opportunity such as when you are stressed or facing a difficult situation. By reading your new life script frequently you can help reduce the possibility of this occurring.

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