Life Changes At The Drop Of A Hat
“The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.” ― George Bernard Shaw
What rules do you live by? I’m not talking about those that govern what you eat or how you dress, but something more meaningful. What rules dictate your life? For example, some people establish rules for how to live their life. When things don’t turn out as planned, they believe things are falling apart. Have you experienced this before? Equally, there are people with rules about the person they should date or marry. We hear this all the time where the person must have certain physical traits, earn a particular income or come from a certain demographic or ethnicity. However, rules don’t work all the time and we should ignore some of them, as George Bernard Shaw remarks in the title quote.
We can’t expect to live a purposeful life bound by rules. Some rules are set by loved ones from an early age, and they follow us into adulthood. We establish other rules when faced with adversity or hardship. Sometimes, we establish rules to protect us from getting hurt, regarding dating and relationships. We set boundaries on what we will accept or not accept in a person. But is this the way to live? Can we place boundaries and restrictions on the way our life should be? Whilst it’s normal to abide by values and beliefs, we must be careful to upgrade the rules we set for ourselves. As you know, life can change at the drop of a hat. This means who we were a decade ago is not the same person we are today. If we abide by the rules from that period, we are not living intentionally but following a script like a computer program.
Does this make sense, where it requires re-examining the rules we set as we mature? When I was young, I had rules about the way my life should play out. How people should treat me, what type of work I would do, and my relationship status. And guess what? None of it worked out. Why? Because life showed me otherwise. Life proved that my rules were insignificant in my life’s narrative. Moreover, as my consciousness expanded, my circumstances reflected this change. I liken it to whitewater rafting and determining how the journey will unfold before you set out. Suddenly, you are besieged with uncompromising conditions and realise your rules did not take this into account. This happens to those who establish rules. Life shows up and proves their rules don’t hold up. Now, from the tone of this article, you might get the impression I am against rules. Not at all. What I am advocating is being mindful of whether our rules are working for us and changing them as we grow.
It’s About The Intention You Set
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
Rules, like beliefs, must change with our circumstances, otherwise they are no more useful than the money we play with in a Monopoly game. Unless you are five years old and believe Monopoly money holds real currency, rules have the same effect. They hold us back from living in alignment with our highest values and intentions. They restrict us from being engaged with life. Rules are as effective as the person who creates them. Behind every rule is a positive intention to move forward with joy and enthusiasm or succumb to fear and criticism. If we create rules from a place of fear, they will show up every time. So, if someone hurt us in earlier relationships and we establish rules to protect us, we hold ourselves back from engaging in love and intimacy. We build barricades instead of healing and transforming our pain and disappointments. Are you with me so far? Are you seeing that while rules can be helpful, it is the intention you set that dictates whether they serve you?
With this in mind, I’d like you to undertake a brief exercise. Write on a sheet of paper or in your Journal, at least five rules you live by. They can be related to any area of life such as career, dating, finances, health or otherwise. Create two columns and in the left-hand column, title the header: “Rules I Live By.” Write your rules below. In the right-hand column, title the header: “Is This Working For Me Or Against Me?” Examine your five rules and decide whether they are benefiting you. How will you know? Look at the quality of your life. For example, are you in a happy, loving relationship? If not, go back to the rule you created for relationships and examine whether it is serving you. Go through the other rules and take an honest inventory of whether they are helping you or holding you back. Be careful in your evaluation not to apply a confirmation bias to feel better about yourself. Ultimately, when you let go of the rules, life gets simpler and shows you whether you’re living from a place of fear or a place of love.