This week’s blog is about a life-changing process that I created, called Rescripting.
The basic idea behind it is that successful people often have the following belief: “You can be happy and a loser, or you can be successful and stressed; you can’t have happiness and success.” The idea behind this process is that you can have both – in fact, being happy will actually make you even more successful.
How did rescripting begin?
Before I begin, a little bit of background. In my late 30s, I found myself in a similar position to many of the people who come on our courses. As the success in my career grew, I found myself increasingly stressed and unhappy, and began to worry that this was taking a toll on my health. The energy and drive I had in my early career now seemed to be destroying me. Around that time, my dad suffered a heart attack and a stroke. This had a profound effect on my thinking about my own future. I started a quest involving all sorts of remedies: t’ai chi, yoga, meditation, therapy, coaching and a deep study of psychology.
Although all of these approaches had some benefits, I still felt myself troubled with a deep sense of anxiety which refused to shift – until one day, I was sitting beside a swimming pool on holiday. I’ve no idea why, but at that place at that moment I found myself creating a healing process that was a kind of combination of all that I had learnt. This process changed my life. I unexpectedly found myself able to become happy. I worked out a rigorous structure for this initially intuitive process, and I have been teaching it across the world since 2002.
What is rescripting?
The process starts from the premise that each of us has a ‘life script’, a life plan that we develop in our early years and which later runs unconsciously. As this plan was formed when we were very young, it can be bizarre, with potentially destructive qualities. The Rescripting process is effectively to find out what the original plan was and then, if we choose, replace it with a plan that we actually want.
Fear of changing the plan
This may sound simple, but often people have a deep sense of fear about changing this plan. After all, we have had many successes and enjoy close relationships. Could all that be lost if we were to change? As one client put it, “I know I am f***ed up and dysfunctional, but I’m scared that if I ever changed, I would lose it all.” This is probably the most important part of the process, providing a way to change this fear into a belief that you really won’t lose anything by changing. In reality, we are safer than we think. Nobody can change so much that their memories and learnt behaviours are erased. Even after powerful therapy, you can still gain access to all of your past (and all of your f***edupness). The aim is that the bad bits lose their power and are replaced by new, stronger thoughts, understandings and feelings.
Let me give a couple of examples of the process at work, one from the UK and one from China, of how the process frees up people’s creativity, enabling them to see their lives in new ways and make new paths for themselves – something they had previously been unable to do.
Rescripting in practice
A woman who attended my course in Shanghai had what I considered a heroic history. Defying the sexism and the political upheavals of 1960s China, she had managed to learn English, gain an MBA in the USA and become a director of a major company. However, the demons that drove this success proved very hard to release. She was still unhappy. She said that her main preoccupation was now that her son (who was at university) would grow up to be both happy and successful. She understood that being unhappy and successful was not great role modelling for him, but she could not make the change in herself. During the process, she suddenly understood that to make this change was the most loving thing she could do for him. This proved the ‘sweet-spot’: once she truly understood this at her deepest levels, she was able to make the shift to her new life plan.
A man who attended a London course was a successful entrepreneur who had built up a street food company, but wanted to go into a more formal investment business. However, he came from a very poor background and didn’t believe he was the ‘right kind of person’ to be accepted in the investment industry. He spoke colourfully, in metaphors, and described his life-script as a ‘ball and chain’. During the process, he asked if he could summarise all of the positive characteristics he had in business and have them symbolised as a ‘golden key’. I of course agreed. This became the key to unlock his psychological chains.
It is always very moving when people, in therapy or on a course, make radical shifts like this. The shifts last, too. I was delighted to hear a couple of years later that the man now runs a successful investment business and has many happy investors. The Chinese lady wrote to me and said that she had now finally found a sense of inner peace that had eluded her for years. In both cases, greater happiness and greater success went hand in hand.
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