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Home » Vayishlach

Vaysihlach: Rewrite Your Script

Submitted by on December 4, 2011 – 12:52 amNo Comment | 3,999 views

Where Do You Fish?

Are you plagued by internal scripts that are injurious to your well-being? Many of us suffer from scripts that hurt us, but from which we powerless to depart. It can be a parent or sibling whom we really love or a colleague or employer whose company we really enjoy, but whenever we get together they provoke our temper and we end up quarreling. It is almost as if they know how to push our buttons and trigger a pre-scripted response and try as we might we feel powerless against the oncoming tide.

It need not be a particular person that triggers our response it can also be a situation. For example, you resolve to control your diet but at the next meal, your good intentions fly out the window as you overindulge yet again. Heaping plates of delicious food always provoke a similar response within us and we don’t very much like ourselves in the grip of these responses. We would love to change our script, but don’t know how.

In his book Practical Kabbalah, Rabbi Leibel Wolf employs a fishing analogy. If you want to catch bass you need to fish in the section of the lake populated by bass. If you change your mind and decide you want tuna, you need to move to a new section of the lake. Despite your best intentions, if you keep fishing where the bass swim you are likely to come up with bass again. (1)

The same is true in the analogue. When someone says or does something that solicits a reaction we fish around in our psyche for an appropriate response.  The question is where to drop our fishing pole. By force of habit we follow the path of least resistance to familiar lakes that worked for us in the past or that we were taught to fish in our youth. But if we are fishing for a new response, it makes little sense to return to our old fishing holes. To rewrite your script you need to find a new lake, but how do you find the right one?

Jacob’s Approach

When Jacob was informed that his brother Esau was approaching with four hundred men and with intention to make war he adopted a three pronged strategy. He appealed to a higher power (namely G-d) through prayer, he sent a tribute to Esau and he prepared his own camp for battle.

Esau was a brother, but he was also an enemy bent on destruction. Our internal scripts appear at first blush to be our brother. It is our built in mechanism that helps us cope with pressure and it has seemingly protected us in the past. But in truth, it is an enemy bent on our destruction. These reactions are soothing at first as we stand up to those who offend or oppress us, but then we realize that no one actually meant to hurt us. The only enemy is our own paranoia and the only threat is our internal script.

Fortunately we can change our scripts because they are ours, they belong to us. No one scripts them for us and no one foists them on us. Though we don’t realize it we choose them freely each time we return to them.  The path to remove these scripts and write new ones is comprised of many steps, but as a general outline we can employ Jacob’s three pronged approach.

The Three Pronged Strategy

Let’s begin with prayer. Prayer is the process of appealing to a higher power. When re-scripting our internal responses we must of course turn to G-d for inspiration, courage, determination and endurance. But we also need to turn to a higher power within ourselves, namely our willpower.

We are not enslaved to our internal scripts. We are empowered to change them, but this ability is locked away. The key that unlocks this door is willpower. The Talmudic sages taught that nothing can stand in the way of willpower. If we will it, we can achieve it. So the first step is actually two pronged, a, to realize that we can indeed rewrite our script and, b, to engender a powerful desire to do so.

The second prong in this strategy is to send a gift to ourselves. In theory everyone wants to rewrite and improve their script. No one wants to remain constantly embroiled in bickering especially not with those they love. The question is how to channel this desire into an actual attempt at effective change?

The answer is by sending ourselves a gift. We need to sit down and visualize the benefit we will accrue from this investment of effort. The reason we don’t immediately change our habits though we want to, is the great effort it entails. But visualizing the real life benefits, the gift we will derive from this effort, motivates us to do all that is necessary to turn our yearning into our reality.

The third prong is to prepare for battle. We have established that we have the ability to rewrite our script. We have also inspired a raging desire to get it done, but good intentions do not rewrite a script. To rewrite it we need to draw up a battle plan. We need to channel all the constructive energy and willpower that we have generated into an actual strategy.

There is no end to what we can do if we put our minds to it, but we cannot do it all at the same time. We have to confront the question of which particular habits we are going to change, which particular scripts we are going to rewrite and precisely how we intend to accomplish it.

Each of these steps is crucial, but preparing the battle plan is perhaps the most crucial of all. Without it we have no outlet for the enormous energy we have generated. rewrite your script By drawing up a plan we have a daily itinerary and actionable plan. We know precisely which steps we need to take and precisely how we intend to do it. We can now use all our pent up enthusiasm to catapult us forward and onto victory. (2)

In practical terms this means:

If we were to use the example of dieting we would begin with recognizing and actually buying into the belief that we are indeed capable of controlling our diet and losing weight.  (3)

We would then generate the motivation to actually do so by visualizing all the drawbacks of being overweight and the real life benefits of weight loss.

Then we draw up an actual menu and exercise regimen and embark on the journey of losing weight. Vague commitments without a plan don’t meet with success despite the enthusiasm with which they are made. Marrying the enthusiasm to a specific plan gives us a point by point map that we can follow to our intended destination.


  1. Practical Kabbalah, Three Tivers Press, 1999, NY, NY, p. 69.
  2. In his book, The 7 Habits of Successful People,
    Stephen Covey utilizes etymological constructs to make an important
    point. To succeed we must follow our adopted strategy with discipline.
    This means that our actions must be disciples of out willpower. If we
    want our actions, step three, to produce the benefits envisioned in step
    two, they must be disciplined, meaning disciples of our willpower, step
    one. He further suggests that the word responsible means response-able. This
    means that since we are able to respond, we are therefore responsible to
    do so. We cannot shift responsibility for our failing scripts to anyone
    else. If we weren’t able to respond to these scripts we would be able
    to shunt the blame to the next person, but since we are able to respond,
    we become responsible to do so.
    I recall distinctly sitting down to lunch with a friend and complaining
    that I always sit down with good intentions, but end up overeating. He
    responded without a shred of sympathy. If you don’t want to eat it,
    don’t. What are you grumbling for? I never forgot that line and am
    forever grateful to him for it.
  3. This essay does not address those who are unable to
    lose weight because of a medical condition.

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