Have you ever noticed how many ‘rules’ we have in our lives? Rules at work. At home. When with family. Out in public. And, the ones we are likely to have forgotten about or not have much awareness of—the ones inside our own heads.
These are the ones that can cause us the most pain and frustration, without us even realising it. If you’re wondering why you’re not reaching that goal you set yourself, or why you keep skipping the gym, it’s highly likely there’s some buried rules at play here that are tangling you up. Yet if you never consider what they are, they’ll keep playing mischief and you’ll keep beating yourself up for not getting up at 5am.
The simplest way I can think about rules is this:
- Something happens
- We create some sort of meaning to the ‘event’
- From that point onwards we operate by a ‘rule’ to ensure we always feel ‘good’ (safe) in those similar moments
Or, here’s an example:
- I got my first A+ at school. Mum and Dad looked so happy and hugged me lots. We ate ice-cream.
- When I get an A+ (when I do ‘well’) I get rewarded. With ice-cream. And with LOVE.
- Rule: “I must do well to receive love”.
The rule becomes so unconscious and so automatic that we don’t even realise that our actions continue to operate according to the rule. And yes at the time perhaps that rule was really supportive. It got us to where we needed to be. It helped us feel safe. It was constructive.
Except, we never reconsidered it and whether it was still ‘working’ years later. Years later after plenty more life events. And now you feel stuck. Frustrated with your results. You keep burning yourself out. And you don’t know why you just can’t get to the gym after work.
These rules become so much a part of the internal fabric of our lives. They’re unwritten because we’re not consciously aware of the dialogue that is going on inside our heads and therefore operating our decision-making machinery.
So you keep going round and round the same loop. You don’t get out of the pattern because you don’t change the rule.
So how would your life be different if you changed some of the rules? What if you evolved and upgraded your rules, the ones that may likely have been set before you even made it to school? We evolve ourselves. We grow. We learn. We upgrade our homes, incomes, diets, clothing. What about our rules?
What if “I must do well to receive love” just wasn’t working anymore and you let it go. You came up with a new rule: “Being me is enough” or “It’s okay to make mistakes” or “I am loved for who I am”. How would this new rule serve you? Support you? Get you out of that loop you keep getting yourself in?
If you’re experiencing resistance in any area of your life, starting to dig around to see what unwritten rules you uncover could just give you the relief you’ve been craving. Simply asking: If I was operating by a rule right now what would it be? And, now that I know that: What could be more supportive in my life right now?