Stop being a good girl! Break the rules :)
How to create more freedom in your life/work (or about the healthy breaking of the rules)
In 2012 I started a year-long education in creative business approaches in Amsterdam. The school is called Knowmads Business School and for me the core of the school lies in the name: knowing (about yourself, your dreams, talents, values) and being slightly mad (=daring to be who you are), at the same time plowing through the chaos of our time like a nomad (=flexible, inventive, comfortable with change)
Why am I telling you this? Because I started my year at that school as a person who thought she had everything figured out. Ha! I was so wrong.
My first lesson came 2 weeks in when one of the teachers approached me at lunch and said: “Neža, you like rules, don’t you?” My answer was: “Well, rules are there for a reason, we should respect them.” His face lit up and a big smile as he said: “Nope. Rules are for breaking.”
His statement shook the way I was living my life to the very foundations. I was raised in a loving environment where I didn’t need to disobey to be acknowledged, where I didn’t need to rebel to be me. On the other hand, the society around me imprinted on me that girls need to behave. Thus, double reinforcement of “rules are to be followed”.
So here I was. 30 years of age and shaken, stirred and thrown around by the impact of that statement.
First, I felt a rebel in me screaming: “I don’t follow the rules all the time! I am not behaving like a good girl all the time! And even if so, rules are there for a reason! Why should I go and change what people thought through before me?”
Then it hit me: I was, in so many ways, leading my life according to an endless list of rules. The sad part was that many of those rule I set myself without even knowing it. I put them there without choosing for them.
Once I was brave enough to acknowledge that, I started looking at that invisible list that was limiting me in so many. It was eating on my freedom … I was eating on my own freedom.
Do you want a really ridiculous one? Ok, hold on. Ready?
As a teenager, I convinced myself that I should not be listening to techno music because I believed it was not good for me. (Later on, I dug deeper and discovered that my belief about techno music being bad for me stemmed out of the fact that a group of girls who bullied me in elementary school listened to that type of music.) It gets worse … I secretly liked that music and felt ashamed of my musical taste. So, by ruling out techno music from my life I deprived myself that music enjoyment.
The list goes on and on and on.
Fast forward to today.
A dear friend of mine figured out last week that he lived by the rule: “Do not jump on the couch!” He realised there was no reason for it and announced as his FB status: “I scratched a rule of mine: there CAN be jumping on my couch from now on :)”
When my partner saw this, he FB shouted: “We want proof!” A few minutes later, the same friend shot a short video of himself jumping on the couch with the biggest smile I have seen on his face in a long while.
Challenge accepted! Geert and I looked at each other and knew what we were going to do. Curious about the result? Click here (1 min video)
Now, why so much fuss about a broken rule? The video above is not only a video of 2 people jumping on the couch on a sunny afternoon. It is also a loud cheer of support to a friend who had the courage to identify, question and decide what to do about a rule that was no longer serving him. Even more - he took action on it.
3 STEPS TO HEALTHY RULE BREAKING
These 3 steps - IDENTIFY, QUESTION, DECIDE - are precisely the 3 steps I work on with people who trust me to work with them and their limiting beliefs.
Are you up for a little ride? Awesome. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Here is what you can do.
I am curious - what does your list of rules look like? Write at least 10 rules you live by on that piece of paper. An important note here: this is not your shame list of things you would be doing wrong. Look at it as a list of micro-habits that shrink your inner living space. (Pssst, you usually find these rules in the corners of the room “This is how I have always done it” or they start with “I should… “.) Believe me, you can have a great laugh making a list of your own self-limiting rules. Be gentle to your self and have some fun!
One by one. Where do the rules come from? Dig in the stories that put them there in the first place. Are they serving you or not?
if you want to keep them or not. If yes, hooray for a conscious choice. If not, think of what you wish to replace them with.
bonus: TAKE ACTION
Jump on the couch, eat an ice cream on a rainy day, jump in muddy puddles in your whitest socks, wear a crazy looking tie to work, go for a walk without a bra for a change … Live your free choice.
Now, hit the comments below and tell me which rules do you want to break. I will be your number one fan and cheer you on.
Read you next week!
Lots of love, Neža