Episode 117: Are You a Rule Follower?
Hello my friends, welcome back to the podcast. I love that you are here with me. So much to talk about may friends. I have so much I want to share with you that I know can and will help you I just want more hours in the day to offer that to you!
So I’m going to dive right into today’s episode because it’s something that I’ve been wanting to bring to you all for a while now. It’s a topic that comes up every single week in various ways and forms and so today it gets to take the lead and be in the spotlight so you can be aware of this in your own life and make the necessary adjustments to utilize your mental energy and time the way you really want to. And today we’re talking about rules – and not rules like “Do you obey the law or keep the commandments” kind of rules but more subtle, often self-destructive rules.
We’ve grown up in a world full of rules. Researchers estimate that a toddler between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old hears the word NO 400 times a day. These no’s started to teach and establish life “rules”. We learned what not to touch, what not to say, what not to do and we also learned and soaked in the reception of our actions and choices – when you heard a NO it was most likely accompanied by a stern tone and an agitated look. And although we didn’t realize it at the time we were learning the “rules” of life, the “rules” of how to be a “good” person. Because when you’re “good” you get praise, you get acceptance, you get smiles and affirmations. So we learned that we not only want to be good but that we want to follow the “rules”.
Now I’m not knocking parents who say no. I have 4 kids I’m sure I’m just as much in that boat as the rest of us. I’m also not knocking “rules” either. Rules are helpful and can lead us to live productive lives where we can be amongst the humans and have pleasant social interactions. But often times we’re following “rules” of others that might not be serving you, it might not be what you really want or what’s authentic to you. And on a dangerous note, you might be following unproductive rules that don’t exist at all other than in your own head.
We live in a society that is full of people pleasers. You know who you are. People pleasing is when we believe that if we act or show up a certain way then we can “MAKE” the other person feel good. We say yes to things we don’t really want to go to. We don’t want to say the wrong thing or rock the boat so we conform to whatever they want. We want to be “good” and say and do the “Right” things so we spend more time thinking about what other people are thinking about us than what we think about us. We want everyone to like us to accept us so we try to show up in a way where we think they’d approve while discounting what you want to do or how you want to show up.
There are RULES that are productive and there are RULES that aren’t. There are the rules that help us create more confidence and forward progression and then there are unspoken rules that stifle growth, that actually hinder your confidence, and that create more doubts and insecurities. And it’s interesting just how many rules you’re following right now that you’re not intentionally choosing or are aware of.
I can’t tell you how many times a week I ask my different clients – what if there are NO rules? What if that story you’re operating from and believing just isn’t true? What if it didn’t have to be true for you? What if you didn’t have to be stuck? What if…? Right? And if you don’t have to believe that story or follow those “rules” – what would you want to do?
I was a huge people pleaser for so much of my life. I believed, like one of my subconscious rules was that you had to show up positive all the time. If you were ever negative or complaining or saying anything that wasn’t all daisies and rainbows then that meant you weren’t as good. You were a “negative” person that always followed with guilt, or shame, or fear. Because if you’re negative then people won’t like that. They won’t want to be around you and this triggers your natural man/primitive wiring that operates from these survival fears of needing to be a part of the group, a part of the tribe and fearful to rock the boat, to chance your acceptance or rejection right?
But then I started to question this. Why? Why do we believe we have to be positive all the time. I love positivity by the way. We all do but not all the time. You know how not fun it feels when you’re going through stuff and you have that one person who is always looking for the silver lining – which isn’t “bad” but it’s not what you need or want in certain moments. What you want is to be seen, to be heard, to be hugged. We want to mourn with those that mourn and we welcome those that mourn with us.
I call this the Saturday principle – we just celebrated Easter right now if you’re listening to this when it drops and we have the Friday’s in our lives where things are hard. They’re gloomy, they’re negative, they’re just dark and painful and sometimes we or others are too quick to jump to the Sunday’s of all is well. Look on the bright side and we want to get there – but sandwiched between your Friday and your Sunday is the middle, it’s Saturday.
We don’t want to rush through the Saturday’s of our lives. Make space for being human and feeling what you need to feel. Do we want to prolong our Saturdays, of course not. But we don’t want to skip them either.
It’s often on the Saturday’s of our lives where we are able to learn the most about ourselves, where quiet confidence is born and your strength refined and fortified. I stopped holding myself to the unspoken “rule” of positivity all the time and instead decided that it served me and those around me more to be honest, real, open, and growing. Instead of believing I had to have it all together, I could be human instead. We don’t connect and can’t relate to perfection. We connect to authenticity. We can relate to Saturday’s because we’ve all had them and will have them and it doesn’t have to be a problem. Sunday will come but don’t wish away your Saturday’s full of growth either.
What happens when you start to question your rules? How do you even know what rules you’re following?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
Are you people pleasing?
Do you want to say no but feel pressure or obligation to say yes?
Do you like your reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing?
Are you afraid if you say what you want to say or do what you want to do that others will judge you?
Are you worried they’ll think less of you or not like you?
Are you trying to prove something to them?
Are you trying to trying to change the story they have about you?
Are you trying to show up a certain way so they’ll like you?
Are you trying to “fit in”?
Are you trying to not rock the boat or walk on egg shells in fear of other’s reactions?
These are all signs that you’re adhering to unspoken and thus maybe not true rules for you. And just notice how many of those are rooted in fear. Fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of lack and scarcity. Fear is the opposite of confidence. Confidence is certainty. It’s certain that when you show up the way you intentionally want to and you like your reasons why – then you can be certain/confident that you’re going to be okay no matter what’s happening around you, no matter what other’s think or say or do. Confidence doesn’t come from their reactions. It comes from what story you’re telling yourself.
That’s some hefty power there! When you start asking yourself the question, what if there are no rules? What happens?
If there are no rules, there is no judgment to be had. There’s no measuring stick or bar you have to reach to be acceptable, there’s no fear.
Think of the rules you’ve been living your whole life. Think of all the judgments and fear or judgment that you’ve been trying to avoid and manipulate in hopes to spare you from a negative feeling – which is super fascinating because your feelings don’t come from the circumstances. You are feeling the way you’re feeling because of a thought you’re thinking. Period.
You are having a thought about your circumstances and that activates a feeling within you. Really think about this – What rules are you following? All through our lives we’re taught, “don’t do that”, “don’t say that”, “don’t feel that” and when we’re young we don’t really learn or have the capacity to understand that we can question those. When we’re young we just adopt like, “Oh, okay. I won’t do that. I won’t feel that. I’ll hold in those tears, that sadness, those fears, these doubts” and to what end?
To our own demise and build up of doubts and a shattered self-image. It’s painful. I can’t tell you how many people and clients I’ve worked with that have an ingrained belief that crying is bad. They hold their breath until they’re red in the face trying to will the tears to stop. They apologize to me. “I’m so sorry for crying. I’m so embarrassed!” And why? Where did that rule come from? Why is it bad to cry? To feel what you’re feeling? Why did we learn that crying equals weakness and thus should foster embarrassment and shame?
Listen, there are no rules. And what would happen if you questioned that? What would happen if you let yourself cry when you needed to? I’ll tell you – I’m gonna give you the answer – you learn to trust yourself more. You learn to create a safe space within you. You learn to embody quiet confidence. The tears dissipate much sooner and hey, you’ll leave without a headache later – you know they crying headache – it comes mostly because you’re holding your breath. You’re holding it in. You’re resisting what your body needs to expel. There are no rules. Maybe you want to learn to let yourself cry when you need to and no judgement required.
So here’s the real deal: Rules are just thoughts. Someone had a thought, others agreed with that thought and thus a rule was born also known as a social construct. We like and choose to agree with some of those rules but others well, maybe you want to question those. Maybe you want to try on the question, what if there are no rules?’
These rules can also be called expectations. We have expectations for ourselves and others – a lot of them but why? I’m all for striving and learning and progression but not out of fear, not out of judgment, and not because of what other’s might think of me.
Think about your own relationships – what rules are you following and what rules have you created for others in your life?
You’ll notice that it’s these rules that are the cause for all your heartache – we’ve heard that comparison is the thief of joy but really, the culprit is expectations, it’s these unspoken rules that we hold onto for ourselves and others that creates all the pain for us. And have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
Why do I believe that? Who are we afraid of disappointing? Where did those rules come from? And to what end?
All of that, all of those rules just create more stress, more pain, more struggle, more insecurities, and more guilt and shame. It’s not fun. And it’s not even true.
Okay this is where your rules start to take a productive shift. When we first allow ourselves to see and entertain that there are NO RULES. It releases the judgment that we have or had or fear from others. Then from that open, full of possibility space we can then make room for what we VALUE instead. What we really WANT instead.
Instead of shaming yourself with “should’s and shouldn’t” what if you asked yourself what you want?
When we separate the rules and expectations from questions and realizing our wants then we’re able to get to what we value and want to create. When we stop judging ourselves for having a negative thought, comment and we’re so afraid of what the other person must think of us and instead just ask ourselves why? Why is that a problem? What if there were no rules and you get to be human with a negative thought or comment here and there then what’s left is acceptance. What’s left is, questioning even – do I like how I showed up? Do I like what I’m talking about? What do I really want? Which immediately shows you what you value. Which opens you up to more possibilities and options – no shame or guilt necessary.
What rules are you following and why? Get to what you value and stop holding yourself to a rule that isn’t really true.
Values creates positivity. It promotes fulfillment. It’s productive. But people pleasing, blind rule following is a completely unhelpful and unproductive habit.
I urge you to question and challenge every “rule” that you have ever followed. I’m not even kidding. Do this just for 5 minutes and see what you come up with. It’s really an eyeopener.
There are no rules. And when you know that there’s no fear of judgement either. There’s just thoughts and choices. What do you value? What do you want? What feels most authentic to you?
And if rules are thoughts what does that do to your model? Remember, our thoughts create our feelings so when you think that thought how does it feel?
…They value growth and progression and notice how that feels – it’s a lot better, right? It’s a more productive, loving, confident feeling.
Focus on what you value and question these rules. Your values can actually replace any and all rules – this is what I love about the 10 commandments and when Christ came and “made all things new” with the 2 great commandments. Because the two great commandments teach that we are to love God first with our all and then love others. It’s no longer an itemized list of do’s and don’ts. But because I love and value my Father in Heaven it’s easier for me to look at others with a compassionate eye and with kindness and a desire to uplift and serve. All the rest falls into place. The scriptures even teach us that. In Matthew 22:40 We read, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”
Focus on what you or WHO you value – and everything falls into place. It provides a framework for me to move forward in a confident, certain position because I’m going to be focused on Love because God is Love. Instead of creating rules that love looks like serving all the time. Love looks like giving and giving and forgetting yourself and getting to work – and it can? But what if love also looks resting? Like Elijah the prophet who God gave him comfort, and nourishment, and rest instead of scolding him to go and do. What if love can look like saying no – I love you but it’s a no for me today. What if love looks like being willing to have a hard conversation?
What if you really questioned your rules though the lens of your values? And maybe that’s where you want to start. What do I value and why? What kind of a person do I want to be and what does that look like?
Recently I had a client who wanted to be kind and so we started with what is kindness? What does that look like? Because when you start describing and questioning it you start to uncover all your rules – and not all rules are bad – some you want to keep but pay attention to how they feel to you. Part of her discovery was that kindness wasn’t always saying yes to others and in fact that was more unkind – it was people pleasing. It was dishonesty to them and to her because she didn’t really want to say yes. So we asked again, what is kindness then? For her, she discovered that kindness looked like being honest. It’s creating a safe space. It looked like showing up in a capacity to hear the other party.
Write out your values and why you value that. If you’re not sure and it’s hard to get going think of other people you admire and what you admire about them. Traits, virtues, examples and start there. Then question those so that you can get to the root of what you really believe about them.
It’s really eye-opening and going that direction you know what that value is inside and out. You know what’s authentic to it and what’s not. This is how you create more certainty for yourself and ultimately confidence. I love this work. Now, go and get to know yourself even more deeply, my friends!
I’d love to hear about your journey in this! Please reach out to me, schedule a free session or come join the Catalyst Membership. It’s only $50 a month and you get way more than you could even do each month – I always love to have an abundance so you can take as much or as little as you like. So come join me and let’s chat! Okay, friends! Have a great week! Bye!