Rules are everywhere in our daily lives. Society is built around rules- the do's and don't's of our daily lives. Some are to keep us safe, some make no sense to have in place at all- such as it being illegal to wear a bullet proof vest in the great state of New Jersey while attempting to commit a murder (go figure.)
Then, we have rules in society that aren't written, but unspoken norms that help us to better understand each other, while making life easier to live as a community. Things such as, holding the door for the person behind you or minding the level of noise you are creating in small spaces (this of course does not apply to New Yorkers but that's another story.)
From the time we enter this world, we are being put into orderly fashion, learning what is "right" and what is "wrong." As babies, we are not allowed to have things that may harm us, such as small parts of toys, and we are constantly shushed when we cry. We begin to learn at a very early age about rules and how to live with them.
As we get older and we head into the school system, we learn about more rules. We learn to raise our hand before we speak and not to cheat on tests. Again, things that are supposed to bring society forward.
Through our journey of life, into adulthood, we begin to learn rules of societal norms. For instance, you learn what is an appropriate dress code, the difference between a good influence and bad influence and many other things that begin to shape our perspective of the world.
There's another set of rules we begin to develop as well- the rules that govern our thoughts. This is something none of us really think about, especially not to the layers that we should be. Let me explain through my own experiences.
I grew up in my early years in what many would consider an ideal household. Sure, we had flaws in how we operated but so does everyone. We were comfortable, both my parents were involved in what my brother and I wanted to pursue and we spent time as a family.
As I got older, my parents got divorced. Like most, it wasn't pretty and I now know that's okay. However, during that time, I began to learn rules that I didn't even realise I was formulating.
See, in the human psyche, we are governed by rules and habits. This is what allows us to process more bits of information because we are able to have a prediction on what is happening in the moment.
To simplify, you know that in January, there is a high probability the weather will be a certain way. In the northern parts of America, it will be cold and you will need a jacket, while here in Australia it will be hot and you will probably need shorts and a t-shirt. By not having to figure out if you need to put a winter jacket or shorts on, you can think of the next task. The rule becomes simple- January is either hot or cold depending on where you live.
Now that we have a basic understanding of this function of our psyche, let's look a little bit further by going back through my own experience. As I said, I grew up in a stable comfortable household but all of a sudden our lives were flipped upside down. My mind became confused and a new rule began to emerge. I began to believe "that everything will fall apart." Nothing good can last forever, they say, and that became my mantra.
I became too afraid to put myself out to the world, hiding behind wall after wall of protection by simply hiding from the world. Show just enough to let people know you are here, but don't go past that. Why? because I refuse to trust people because they'll only hurt you because "everything will fall apart."
For much of my life, this has rang true. I have had success followed by failure. I have had people come and go. My mother passed away which feels like the greatest thing in the world fell apart. For a long time, tcohis absolutely ruled my world, there is no doubt about that. To be honest, it still plays a part in who I am today, but I have the awareness now to understand it's a false reality I have created.
When I am working with my clients, I see how affected each and every person is by the rules they have created for themselves.
"I am not worthy of success so I sabotage myself."
"I am not allowed to feel happy so I find a reason to be sad and anxious."
"I might fail so I would rather not try and live my life playing small."
Obviously these are not thinking these thoughts consciously, because after all, why wouldn't we want to be happy, successful and the best version of who we are?
There are layers and layers to our psyche and how we think. When I was taught this, it blew my mind and suddenly the world blew wide open. So many things began to make sense in my life simply because I was shown how to look at the layers of us. Many people refer to humans as onions, but I like to think of them as lotus flowers. We curl up, hiding our beauty within from the rest of the world. When we learn to peel back the petals and let the world in, all of a sudden we are this booming beautiful flower, here for everyone's benefit.
How do you break your rules, though? How do you become the best version of yourself? The answer is simply put, but takes work- a lot of it. We must first learn what our rules are before we can move forward. After we learn our rules, we must distinguish what is true and what is false. Then, we must have the focus, drive and determination to meet those thoughts head on with the proper techniques to create a new set of rules.
When you begin to truly understand your rules, you can identify your actions and measure your productivity. Are you living your life to the fullest? Are you finding purpose in your everyday life? Are you able to find happiness? Success?
When you truly grasp your rules, you can learn how to take what held you back in life, to what drives you towards the life you want to live. It's a healthy form of revenge- allowing yourself to take what was used against you and use it for your own benefit. Imagine the feeling of empowerment and elation by taking control of your own life because you used what held you back against itself.
The rules tell us we aren't allowed to be who we want to become or do what we want to do. Those rules are false realities and it is time you started breaking the rules. It is time to give yourself permission to be the one who makes the rules because it is your life to live. To make the absolute most of it, you are going to need to start breaking some rules.
If you would like to understand these concepts further or are ready to break your own rules, send me a message and let's have that discussion.