So Whose Rule Is That?
When someone comes to me and they say ‘Oh I shouldn’t do that because such and such say’s so’ or ‘I don’t feel that I can say that because people won’t like it’ or ‘I am not going to try that because last time I did I got hurt’, my immediate question is ‘So whose rule is that?’.
It could be a rule that comes from peer pressure for example from family members or a group of friends; it could be a rule that adheres to societal shaping; or indeed it could be a rule that you have imposed on yourself as some sort of protection after trying, for far too long, to stick to the misguided rules of others.
One way or another if you are adhering to rules and they do not sit with who you are then you are going to come up against a little bit of friction to say the least.
I am not sure that we were put on this earth to sit neatly inside little boxes of suppression hindering the possibility for growth, learning and the opportunity to fully connect to ourselves and others.
To give this some context I met a very charming guy called Phillip recently, whilst sat in a cafe in Ibiza; he was English and had lived there for some years. I asked him ‘what had made him run away to Ibiza – was it a woman?’ and he said ‘no he had run away from the tax man’, then in the same breath conceded ‘it was a woman’. He then went on to say that he believed that ‘men and women were not meant to be together they just purely existed to procreate; but that his life, as it was, suited him, he had the odd liaison with a willing holiday-maker (not this one I hasten to add) and that suited him just fine!’
He said he had deep regret around his past behaviour and how each time he had fallen in love it was the woman that had ended the relationship, but that he was always the one that had pushed it to happen. He talked about his children with sadness and regret, about the lack of openness in their relationship and that he didn’t see that ever really changing unless they were to come forward to him and talk. There was something quite sad and resigned about this man, like that was his lot in life, like he had made his bed and he had to lie in it. I got the sense that he had paralysed and punished himself, not to mention those he loved, with his own rules, and I would imagine some of the rules that had been imposed on him in his earlier years. He had convinced himself that he was not worthy or deserving of any more than he had and therefore he only ever allowed himself to connect on a superficial level. That really spoke something to me. He wanted the connection but it had to be emotionally controlled and absolutely on his terms; therefore it could never really go anywhere.
I would like to add at this point in the story that I am conveying that I am not coming from a place of judgement, many people would argue that that way of life is absolutely right for them, and for some people perhaps on some level it is. Phillip certainly did not argue the case as we talked further.
I gently challenged his original statement and asked if he had ever considered that he had created that rule of procreation in his head as a mask to protect himself from truly getting close to anyone and as such exposing himself to what he perceived to be both vulnerability and hurt. He absolutely agreed that that was the case.
Although he viewed himself in a very disparaging way I reflected what I saw to him. A gentle articulate man, who consistently punished himself for the choices he had made in life; a man that wore his experiences as a badge of shame rather than growth, wisdom and celebration; a man who did have choice but perhaps the biggest consideration he would have to acknowledge was his own view of him; to create any lasting shift in his life he had to learn to love, value and forgive himself and then just may be he would be able to break his own rule to allow the connection that I believe he so truly craved.
As I left him I asked him to imagine perhaps sitting in that cafe one day getting in to a conversation with a woman, just as he had me, but with the realisation that there was the potential for real connection there, was he going to remain closed hearted and stick to his rule that ‘men and women were purely there to procreate’ or embrace the opportunity to throw his rule book out of the window and allow the joy in to his life that he so richly deserved. I do believe I left him with a lot to think about.
So when you are faced with a decision or dilemma in your life perhaps take a radical approach and listen to what your gut tells you to do; may be consider that to take a risk and to dare may just pay off. If your rule book is telling you one thing and your gut is telling you another, which one is correct? The one that keeps you safely and neatly in a little box of conforming and limitation, the trade off superficiality and lack; or the one that allows you to trust and listen to what is right for you and you alone, a choice to become aligned with the real you, an opportunity to step out of the box and feel the joy of being limitless, connected and real.
Envisage how empowering and liberating it might feel to throw away a book made up of rules that were probably never yours in the first place. That really does back up the saying ‘rules are made to be broken’!