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Screenwriting Workshop with Award Winning Screenwriter Message Board › INCEPTION Part 7: Can the Words You Tell Yourself Really Change Your Life?

INCEPTION Part 7: Can the Words You Tell Yourself Really Change Your Life?

Jacob K.
user 3359471
Group Organizer
New York, NY
As discussed in Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this series, Christopher Nolan's screenplay INCEPTION is deeply rooted in the principles of hypnosis. Learning more about these principles may not only change the way you approach your own writing, but also help you understand new ways that you can break through writer's block and build the writer's life you've been seeking.

Can The Words You Tell Yourself Really Change Your Life?

You're walking down the street. You see a crack in the road ahead of you. You visualize yourself stumbling over it. Imagine the embarrassment of people watching you fall. A little voice starts in your head. "Don't trip. Don't trip. Don't trip."

What happens?

You trip.

If you want to understand why, try telling a child "don't look through that window" or telling yourself "don't imagine a pink elephant".

It's almost impossible, right? That's because your subconscious mind is just like a child. It ignores "don'ts" entirely and accepts only the positive parts of your suggestions: "look through that window, " "imagine a pink elephant."

What You Conjure Becomes Reality

Combine the words "trip, trip, trip" that your subconscious mind hears, the image that flashes in your mind of yourself tripping, and the genuine feelings of embarrassment that come with that image, and suddenly those words aren't just words anymore. They're a post hypnotic suggestion, delivered with all the power of the most convincing hypnotist in the world: you.

At this point, to the subconscious mind, these words exist as if they'd already happened. As if they were true already. As if they were unavoidable.

As unavoidable as Mal's thinking that her life wasn't real, once the post hypnotic suggestion was planted in her mind, by a person she trusted, using the image systems that they had created together.

As unavoidable as Robert Fischer finally feeling free of the burden of his father's disappointment, once the inception of the post hypnotic suggestion of his father's love was completed.

As unavoidable as Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Cobb, accepting those kids as real, whether they actually are or not.

To your subconscious mind, there is absolutely no difference between what really happened, and the story you tell about it. Deliver the message in the right way, and the subconscious mind will react as if it were true, regardless of the facts.

Sounds Pretty Scary Right?

Until you realize that even the truth of your true experiences is not necessarily true. That in fact the post hypnotic suggestions you are giving to yourself are just stories, like any other stories, and as story tellers, we can choose the kinds of tales we want to believe, based on the same objective facts.

Five people witness a car crash. And afterwards each presents an entirely different story of what happened. Even though they all saw the same thing. The facts don't change. The only thing that changes is the perception of those facts.

Just as a writer can make small changes in the execution of a script adjust the value of a scene within a movie, so too can you adjust the stories you tell yourself about the events in your life, to completely change the value of what those events mean to you.

So the questions become, not what is true, but what story are you telling yourself about the truth?

Robert Fischer's Inception

In Inception, the father has been cruel to the son. These are the objective facts. But they are not the end of the story. The process of the movie doesn't change the objective facts, it merely changes the story the son is telling himself about his father, from "my father is disappointed in me" to "my father believes in me, and is trying to inspire me to pave my own way".

Same facts. Different story. It's not REALITY that changes his life. It's the story he's telling himself about it.

Mal's Inception

In Inception, after accepting a post-hypnotic suggestion from her husband, Mal tells herself the story that her real life isn't real, and plunges to her death, losing the beautiful relationship she and Cobb have created together. It doesn't matter whether the story she is telling herself is right or wrong. What matters is that she believes it.

Cobb's Inception

In a way, the person incepting himself most powerfully throughout Inception may be Cobb himself. At each step of the journey-- three steps down, and three steps back up-- someone tells Cobb to "take a leap of faith". And by the end of the movie, he finally does, by telling Mal that she isn't real, killing off the part of her he's holding onto, and taking a leap of faith back to his old life.

Cobb tells himself that his relationship with his children is real, and gets to enjoy it as if it were, whether the top is still spinning or not.

Once again, it's not reality that changes Cobb's life. But the stories he is telling himself about it.

And of course the same is true with the stories you tell yourself about your writing.

What if you chose to tell yourself you were really a writer? What if you chose to believe the dream was real?

What step would you take to chase it today?

Take A Leap of Faith

If you've enjoyed this series of articles about Inception, I invite you to take a leap of faith in yourself. Check out one of my upcoming Screenwriting Workshops and take the first step toward being the writer you know yourself to be.

Happy Writing!


Twitter: @jacobkrueger
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