How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Kahler's Process Scripts
Taibi Kahler describes six 'miniscripts' that shape how we think. Noticeable about these are the time-base aspect of them and are perhaps related to our perception of time and the way in which we tend to focus on past, present or future.
In a general 'after' script, we think about what will we will do after a harmful negative event that may happen in the future, such as 'after she leaves me' or 'after I lose'.
For example a person becomes convinced they will lose their job and thinks about what life will be like being unemployed, on the streets and so on.
This can create a negative spiral where their belief in the negative event eventually causes it to happen, for example where believe that you will lose your job results in losing motivation and so being marked down and eventually sacked.
'After' thinking can also be a way of procrastination, for example when we think about things we will do 'after' the weekend or Christmas.
Another way 'after' is used, is when we anticipate or hope for a good event, after which we think we will be happy. For example 'after I find love' or 'after I get paid'. This thinking can make a less than happy present more tolerable.
The 'until' script also considers the future, but now thinks about the period up until a specific event. In a dysfunctional sense, this assumes the negative present will continue up until some transformational event after which things will get better. The negative present and future may well extend indefinitely where the positive event is distant or unlikely, such as retiring or winning the lottery.
People in this state may use the 'until' event as a form of forlorn hope. Whilst they know that the event may not happen or after it happens things may not improve, they gain some positive feelings from the hope that it just might happen.
The 'always' script goes from the past right into the future, in an unvarying stream. It assumes that things cannot be changed.
When we think 'always', we tell ourselves stories such as 'it always happens to me' and 'I always fail.'
'Always' thinking allows the person to sustain a comfortingly negative position of a victim, where they are unable to do anything and so have no obligation to act.
The 'never' script is a reversal of the 'always' script, reaching unendingly through time, but with the thought 'never' rather than 'always'. In such scripts, people think that good things will never happen to them (in comparison with bad things 'always' happening).
'Never' thinking includes thoughts such as 'I never get a chance' and 'They'll never notice me'.
In the same way as 'always' thinking, this allows a victim to stay where they are as there seems to be no point in what seems like futile action.
This script has the person nearly completing a task or achieving a goals but somehow never reaching it. This may be because the comfort of the present patterns is more desirable than the uncertainty of the future, even if it might seem to be positive.
In this way, people procrastinate and otherwise put off those last few steps that would take them to a potentially better future. One reason they may not do this is because they have a focus in the present, where today's reality, even if it is bad, is better than tomorrow's possible worse state, even if it is likely to be much better.
You can also fall in love with the journey, gaining satisfaction of some kind from working in the task and not wanting this to end. When the journey is completed, what will you do? The fear of that vacuum, that change can be enough to keep people from taking the final step.
The second variant of the 'almost' script is where the person completes something but fears that somehow it will all come undone and they will be thrown back into the previous negative state.
For example if a person has successfully written a report or software program, rather than enjoying the accolade and looking forward, they may fear somebody criticizing what they have produced such that they will either have to do it again or will otherwise lose out.
Whilst these patterns are taken from a therapeutic context and assume a negative dysfunction, they can also be turned around to a positive purpose, for example where a single positive example can break a 'never' or 'always' script or positive 'after' thinking can be applied to the shorter term.
If these patterns seem familiar, then it does not necessarily mean something is terribly wrong. Recognizing the pattern, however, can be very empowering, because when you can see what you are doing, you can make a conscious choice to change.
Kahler, T. (2008). The Process Therapy Model: The Six Personality Types with Adaptations, Taibi Kahler Associates, Inc.