I recently went away with one of my best friends – we’ve known each other since we were born and have seen each other through all the life changes to date. We’ve had bouts of not seeing each other for years, but always pick it up like no time has gone by. It had been way too long since we had done anything together without kids in tow, so we decided to break the (unwritten) rules and hopped a flight to Florida for a quick 2 night getaway to “celebrate our birthdays.” (because apparently we needed an excuse)
So while we were gallivanting around with next to no responsibility (within reason, of course), my dear friend tells me, “You’re a rule follower and you need to stop worrying about the rules.”
What was I worried about you might ask?
I wanted to make sure we were allowed to park where we parked and if we parked there if it would be ok and if it’s not ok would we be towed because it wasn’t my golf cart, it was my brother’s, who let me borrow it and trusted me with it and omg what if it got towed or I got a ticket or it was stolen. what if it runs out of battery. Should I find a place to park where we could plug it in?? WHAT WOULD HAPPEN?
And my carefree friend was all… “It’ll be FIIIIINEEE.”
I never had to say those things out loud and I even if I said it, I definitely didn’t say them in a frantic way. She just knew I would be worried about the rules because she knows I don’t like to get in trouble.
On the other hand, I know things will work out. And if they don’t, I can figure it out.
I’m a zen rule follower, if that’s a thing.
Maybe it’s the type-A in me that feels like if I follow the rules, I can stress less because I know the outcome??
The more I thought about that label of rule follower the more I realized that it’s pretty much true.
But it bothered me a little just to be known as a “rule follower”… because the reason I follow them is more about the obligation and expectation other people have on me to follow the rules and do as I’m told. I don’t like to get in trouble, but I’m almost 40, so I don’t think it’s really about that anymore.
Rules are designed to keep us safe — or to keep us feeling safe. And in certain situations, yes, it’s important to follow the rules/laws (and this is what I tell my kids), but if we’re being honest, most people who do what they love and who are really good at it, had to break some rules along the way. They had to break free of the obligations and expectations in order to become who they wanted to become — and that’s a good thing.
One of the first things I do with my 1:1 clients is to create an avatar of who they want to become.
Because change is about becoming. (and breaking the rules)
In order to really change your habits, you have to identify with a person who would do the new habits you’re looking to adopt. It can be modeled after another real person or even movie character, but all of the attributes about this person are important to note. What do they eat for breakfast and what do they do when xyz happens? How do they react? What are their routines? What does their house look like, etc.
And then you begin to consult this avatar as you go through the process of becoming. And that might mean breaking some rules that society has on you. And-or rules you made up for yourself to keep you feeling safe and comfortable.
Sometimes change is hardest because we consider “what will these people think?”
If I show up to dinner and politely decline wine (or dessert or whatever it is people expect of you), then there is likely a call out. And the call out makes us uncomfortable, but more likely, it makes them uncomfortable. So it’s easier to just stay as we are because that keeps the peace.
But does staying where you are makes you happy? or other people?
My point? It’s ok to break the rules. Actually, it’s NECESSARY in becoming who you want to be.