Rules of Living
We all have a set of Rules of Living; these are the rules we live by. I call these rules the Rules of Living. Our first set of Rules of Living come from our parents. Our Rules of Living are hidden in traditions or routines we are brought up with. These rules we live by are a form of security for us. It is a form of habit we apply for a more extended period, some of them are from childhood, others we pick up from significant relationships like close friends, family, loved ones or role models we adore. However specific rules might change in our lives when we question them or when we mix with other people who become an essential part of our life. Rules of Living are a form of expectations we have, either what we expect from ourselves, other people around us or the world. When we are unhappy or struggle or stuck in life, it is essential to look at our Rules of Living and see if they make sense.
Ask yourself following questions:
1. What rules are getting in the way that you feel that you cannot move forward?
2. Do these rules or rule make sense? Are they realistic?
3. Where did this rule come from?
4. What would happen if you drop this rule? (List the positives and negatives)
5. Has this rule to do with an expectation you have for yourself, others or the world?
6. if you could change the rule or adjust it slightly, how would you do this?
Take time to reflect on these questions
Take your time with this list. Try not to judge yourself too harshly. Try not to over-analyze why it has happened, just acknowledge it. Sometimes we get upset witnessing that we almost automatically apply these rules. We attach our security to them or trade our dreams and ourselves in for being accepted by a particular group of people like family, colleagues, friends. We believe that without them we might be nothing or have no security. What we forget is, that our circle of friends and loved ones are changing during our life, it is very rare that we keep the same friends and are still growing.
Feelings might come up when we realize what we have done to ourselves
We look at our Rules of Living and get upset, tearful, embarrassed, shocked and wonder why we have not recognized them earlier. These are all typical reactions. We now consciously realize what we are doing, which means we switched the so-called autopilot off. You put yourself in the driver seat again, and you can choose now what you want to do with it. Do not worry about it, we all do it.
Embrace the learning experience. If you feel it is difficult to change these Rules of Living, try to change them in small steps. Write one rule down which is easy to break. Do it mindfully and sit with the feelings that come up when you stop applying the rule. Look at the identified rule you want to get rid off. What do you predict would happen if you do not use the rule? After you have broken this Rule of Living start to compare the reality with your prediction. Very often the prediction is different from what happens in reality. Predictions are sometimes just thoughts and not necessarily facts, but thoughts can be very powerful in creating emotions like fear which floods your body with all sorts of stress hormones. I wish you a “Strong Heart,” lots of fun of breaking these rules. Oh, and by the way, welcome to the club of Rule Breakers. You little rebel.