I was reminiscing about a holiday from a couple of years ago on a beautiful Greek Island called Chios. The little apartment I rented was right on the beach. Just the kind of place to rest and recharge. It was so quiet and peaceful, with cicadas chirping, and the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore.
Rules we make ourselves
Next door to my apartment there was a lovely couple, with a 10-year-old daughter. I got to know Ruth, the mum, as each morning she rose before her husband and daughter to enjoy some peace and contemplation.
She told me that one of the things she planned to do for herself, and part of her self-development was to challenge the rules she made in her life.
We all have to live by some rules
Such as laws that are imposed upon us. There are also unwritten, or informal rules we make within our personal lives.
Ruth was challenging those personal rules, as to whether they were HER rules or those that had been imposed by others. For example, in childhood by her parents.
It got me thinking about the unwritten rules in my life
Let me give you a simple example.
I always make my bed each day, so I wondered how it might feel if I left it unmade – and staying with feelings and thoughts that came up for me.
Firstly, I wondered whether this was my rule, or whether my mother had imposed it upon me. I really started to feel uncomfortable, and thoughts of others judging me came up. What would they think of me?
- That I was lazy,
- I lived like a slob,
- That it’s important to make my bed
- The room looks a mess
There is no right or wrong in this, the point of the exercise is to ask yourself the question and to sit with those feelings.
I came to the conclusion that I like a tidy bed to look at when I go into my bedroom during the day, and that there is something really comforting about climbing into a freshly made bed each evening.
I discovered I can leave my bed unmade – but only if I tell myself I’m airing it! I noticed how I felt I needed to give myself permission. But I decided I’m ok with that.
Then it becomes rules we make for ourselves
Some of them could have become habits, and we do those things for no other reason than ‘I’ve always done that.’ As I said earlier, there is no right or wrong, rather the feelings that come up for us when we challenge them.
We can feel we are stuck in rules and many of my clients exhibit this and its at the root of their issues.
Many of my client operate in rules that sabotage them, restrict them, do not allow them to be free of expectation, cause them to feel in conflict and stop them progressing.
Many of these rules are:
Drivers: messages that drive us in a particular direction – You must, you should, you ought to, be strong, be good – defined by somebody else’s view
Injunctions; statements of how we have to be without choice statements of how we have to be without choice
Don’t let me hear you again, don’t speak out, who do you think you are, don’t answer back
Where do these come from? Often our parents, teachers or societies views, sometimes they are ancestral (how our forefathers behaved) , things said when a child , peer comments etc …
The good news is in a few sessions, together, we can find these blocks, reframe and release them
My personal one was my Dad saying when I was six that’ I was a good little girl who never lets us down’ A big one that stuck with me and certainly caused me some problems!
Have a think what yours might be …… Your subconscious holds them
Want to get rid of those restrictions?