How Kahler’s Drivers and Six Scripts Can Help You Break Limiting Loops



“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

What is it that occurs hundreds of times a day that could reinforce a limiting script … that we play over and over again, throughout a lifetime?

Think about that.

There you go.  That’s it!

It’s our thought patterns.

In his book, The Process Therapy Model: The Six Personality Types with Adaptations, Dr. Taibi Kahler teaches us about Process Scripts.

Scripts, Drivers, and Limiting Beliefs

According to Kahler, a Process Script is a false belief that starts from our Drivers.  Drivers are behaviors lasting from a split second to 7 seconds and they reinforce a position of “I’m OK if …”

Distress triggers the scripts.

The scripts are reinforced by our sentence patterns (our thoughts), and replayed throughout life in intensity as a function of distress.

Scripts are important because they can help you predict how you might unknowingly sabotage your life.  They can also be used to predict or shape your success.  If you can catch the script, you can change it.  In fact, Dr. Terry McGuire used process scripts and Process Model Therapy to select astronauts for NASA.  He then used it successfully for 18 more years to select, place, motivate, build teams, and predict success and failure of the astronauts.

Limiting Loops that Play Over, and Over Again

Our thought patterns are examples of the scripts we play.  The way we form and say sentences in our mind is a reflection of our scripts.  Our thought patterns form and reinforce our scripts, which may limit our success in multiple ways.  In fact, Dr. Berne, found that he could see a whole life script played out repeatedly from a passing moment or several years.  Basically, a script you play second-to-second, can shape your life a moment at a time.

The Drivers

Here are the drivers that are the basis for the scripts, according to Dr. Kahler:

  1. Be Perfect — “I must be perfect.”  “You must be perfect.”
  2. Please — “I must please.”
  3. Try Hard — “I must try hard.”
  4. Be Strong — “You must be strong.” (Doer), “I must be strong.”
  5. Hurry Up

The Scripts (Process Scripts)

Here are the process scripts, according to Dr. Kahler:

  1. After Script — Afraid that something bad will happen.
  2. Until Script — “I can’t have fun until.”
  3. Always Script — Feel cornered, and blame or wait for rescue, or manipulate others into the corner.
  4. Never Script — Have difficulty having closure with projects in life.
  5. Almost I Script — Almost complete a task, but not quite.
  6. Almost II Script — In a professional context, completes the goal or task, but if it was done with the person experiencing considerable distress, then the achievement won’t last.  In a personal context, they have achieved all they want, but ask, “Is this all there is?”

It’s some fascinating stuff.

I think it’s especially interesting because it’s backed with research, case studies, and statistically significant data.  For example, as part of the validation studies, the Personal Personality Pattern Inventory has been administered to more than 700,000 men and women.

In other words, it’s not just somebody’s neat idea.

Don’t Luck Your Way Out of Limiting Beliefs

That said, even if you throw the data and research out the window, it still provides an interesting lens for interpersonal skills, limiting behaviors, and more effective thought patterns.

I also find this especially interesting because folks often have breakthroughs in their life, but don’t know why.  A lot of the times, it comes down to changing a limiting a belief.

They luck their way, or stumble their way into it.

Dr. Taibi’s research and lifetime of work provide a framework for analysis and provide short-cuts to understanding key patterns,

For more on Dr. Taibi Kahler’s work, check out The Process Therapy Model: The Six Personality Types with Adaptations.

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  1. Hi JD,

    The drivers and the process scripts are all too familiar. Sometimes i already know that the particular thought pattern will lead to feeling weighed down again yet i give in. I suppose habit compels one to do it repeatedly?

    As per Anthony Robbins, habits both bad and good are entrenched because we attach something pleasurable or painful to it. Emotions are always at the root of what we take action on.

    Zig Ziglar says that when you sell an idea and it is opposed based on emotions, one must try to use logic and vice versa. Perhaps one can apply this principle when we sell the benefit of dumping “limiting loops” to ourselves. Similar to switching thinking caps…

    It is all easier said than done, but everyday is an opportunity to start and do things right. This is great stuff… thanks 🙂

  2. This is fascinating and quite a bit to ponder, J. D. I too am fascinated with deceptive brain messages and feel they are very core to significant transformation. Meditation can help us slow down enough to start recognizing our deceptive brain messages and thought patterns. It’s really interesting how meditation is becoming such an integral part of emerging therapies.

    I can relate to more than one of these drivers! One of my experiments for the summer is to spend a week reading about deceptive brain messages and identifying my own. Thanks for this information.

  3. Hi J.D.

    Great post, as usual. 🙂

    I recently reread Anthony Robbin’s “Awaken the Giant Within” and was reminded how our thought process can affect outcomes. It’s true how what we concentrate on, or think about, becomes our reality. I’m in the process of changing some of my thought processes/drivers and have already seen a difference. As Riza mentioned, “it’s easier said than done”, but it is doable. Just takes awareness and practice.

  4. Hi JD, this is so interesting but it also made me sad because I recognize all those scripts (thankfully not all in me though!) and I want to read your solution and ideas for creating positive scripts. Hopefully that is coming next:)

    It’s so easy to chase away those negative scripts but to stop them forever now that would be brilliant.

  5. Thank you for this review J.D. Unhealthy thought patterns can literally stop you in your tracks. Had to let go of many of those patterns myself (and still going through this process)…

  6. Hey J.D.,
    Thanks for sharing these powerful ideas.

    I’m a firm believer in the disabling power of limiting beliefs and I think removing them starts with identifying the scripts you live by.

    The way I’ve overcome the negative scripts in my life has been twofold. First, I’ve retrained (or renewed and continue to renew) my mind with positive scripts. Second, I try to practice living in the moment principles so that I shut off the “stories” my mind conjures up.

    It’s all a process and it take practice, but day by day I’m changing my life one thought at a time.

  7. @ Riza — I really like your point from Zig. I think the fastest way to switch our caps, is to switch our questions.

    I would say it’s our default patterns that create the habits. Luckily, we can interrupt our patterns *if* we know how to recognize them, and we know how to break the loop. Asking questions is a great way to break the loop, because “ah-has” actually create a chemical reaction and deeper emotional response.

    @ Riley –Thank you. I’m a fan of turning insight into action, and I get to test it on the job.

    @ Sandra — I like your focus on deceptive brain messages. I bet your experiment will truly be insightful.

    I do have to say that I actually find the book tough to parse, and break it down, while keeping all the connective tissue intact. In fact, the power of the book is that it does connect a lot of dots, and dives deeply into interaction patterns, connecting needs, drivers, thoughts, channels, phases, etc. It’s powerful, but requires sustained and focused study to take the balcony view.

    I do think it’s one of those unique books with timeless insights.

    @ Barbara — Thank you. Tony was way ahead of his time, and always is, and he has a great way of teasing out the timeless insights.

    We definitely get more of what we focus on, and I think it’s the little loops that reinforce this pattern. Edward de Bono also hit this from another angle in his book, The Mechanism of Mind.

    @ Annabel — Take heart, there is hope 🙂

    I’ll go more in depth on solutions, but first I wanted to shine the light on the drivers and scripts, since awareness is the first step.

    You’ve actually started the solution process. You noticed the patterns. Now, by sprinkling in some questions, you can interrupt and reshape the patterns. For example:
    – Who says, you need to be perfect, or that you need to be strong?
    – Who says you have to please, and what if you don’t?
    – What’s the bad stuff that will happen if you don’t obey the drivers? What’s the good stuff that will happen?

    This can start to break the loops because the patterns we learned as a kid, because now we have new lenses, new skills, and a different context.

    @ Kenya — I’m always amazed by the power of thought patterns, and how they can empower us, or, as you stay, stop us dead in our tracks. The trick always seems to be taking action, and interrogating our thoughts by asking objective questions … and testing our results.

  8. @ Marlee — Very well put — “removing them starts with identifying the scripts you live by.”

    Swapping out scripts is a great way to go … sort of a “think this, not that” approach.

    Process does take practice, and I like the fact that, especially with our thoughts, we get hundreds of times a day to put what we know into practice 😉

  9. I am in a big transition in my life right now and I find those auto pilot phrases just popping up even more than usual. I was in resistance for a couple of weeks, then I had company and when they left read your post about doing the opposite…so I did…I launched my new work blog and although sign up are slow, there have been several…
    then I had a mentoring group last night around letting go and realized while others were talking that I no longer am awake half the night with worrying or confusions…or those pop ups!

    I am thinking today about how many changes I have planned and worked on in the last three years and wow…I amazed even this change artist.

    Thanks for you good and clear words and ideas. I appreciate what I find here – Thank you

  10. […] Kahler’s Drivers and Six Scripts that Create Limiting Loops […]

  11. Hi JD .. I need to come back and read this again .. or perhaps you’ll refer to it in another post – I know you do that!

    I was thinking in simplistic terms .. we go into a new job and we can’t expect to understand immediately all that goes on .. that settlement takes a few months .. but suddenly we’re more comfortable we’ve changed our drivers and scripts to tie in with where we’re at.

    I’m sure I’d enjoy reading more – anon! – cheers for now .. Hilary

  12. @ Patricia — “I no longer am awake half the night with worrying or confusions” … That’s a powerful place to be, and not everyone can say that, so I’m sure more people would enjoy hearing about your solution.

    @ Hilary — It’s true, our drivers and scripts change to match where we are at. The trick, of course, is to be where you want to be 😉

  13. […] the answers’ focussed on two drivers. A simple model developed by Dr Taibi Kahler (1975) on J.D.Meier’s blog describes 5 different drivers to help you understand what’s really driving you, why you feel […]

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