Rules, unwritten and unspoken, but what effect are they having on you?

From a young age, we take on board a whole stack of 'rules'. These rules include how we must behave, who we must be, where we go, where we should live, what job we should have, when we should be married by, how much money we should have in the bank, when we should own a house by, what we should eat for breakfast, that we should only drink wine after 5pm, that we must have a spotless house if someone comes over to visit ... and on it goes!

We often accept rules as being true. But are they true for you?

These unwritten and unspoken rules shape who we are, how we show up and what we do, but have you ever challenged them to check that they serve you well?

I know it can feel uncomfortable and scary to challenge rules that you've lived by for years but if you don't take a close look at them, how will you know if they're helping or holding you back? 

Here's an example from my own life, perhaps you can relate to this one...

After years of being in the corporate world, I was hit hard with guilt when I set out to work for myself 4 1/2 years ago. I no longer wanted to work 60+ hours a week, 7 days a week and while it was relatively easy for me to reduce the number of hours I worked, I struggled with losing the attachment to working Monday-Friday, 8 hours a day.

It took a while to establish my new normal, my 'rules', in terms of working days and hours. I did eventually, through a lot of soul-searching, sort out the days and hours that suited my style of working and gave me the flexibility and freedom I wanted. Every now and then guilt rises up but mostly I'm okay with when I choose to work as it suits me well. 

Now it's your turn.

What rules are influencing how you show up, and how you're living and working? 

As you do this self-reflection work be kind and loving towards yourself. It's not an opportunity for judgement or to be harsh and critical. Simply notice the rules and write them down.

Once you've done that, take a look at the rules you've written down, are they helping you or holding you back?

For any that are holding you back...

  1. Who are you satisfying / keeping happy by sticking with the rule? 
  2. What is the rule stopping you from being or doing?
  3. What new rule could you create instead? (if indeed you need a rule) 

Let me know how you go with this. I'd love to hear what came up for you as you thought about the 'rules' you've been living and working by. 

If you're unsure about how to identify the rules in your life or how to start releasing the shoulds and expectations, let me know. Wherever you are in the world, as long as you have access to a computer, we can connect!