Who Makes Up All These Rules??By Cindy Marks
January 27, 2009
This article is about creating rules for ourselves all the while thinking they will help us to feel safe and happy when in reality they make us feel lonely and sad.
I remember one day when I was picking my 5 year old son up from school, as I watched him playing by himself in the playground I was thinking, “He is so joyous”. Then I watched as he approached a group of 8 year old boys he had never met before kicking a soccer ball around the field. He walked right up to them. I was too far to hear what he said but his hands were very animated. Before I knew it he had joined them running down the field kicking the ball and laughing.
I thought to myself, I wish it was so easy for adults. I wish I could do what he just did. Sadness and feeling of exhaustion washed over me. “I am so tired” I thought. Then I heard a voice in my head scream, “Who says I can’t do the same thing?” “Who makes up all these rules when you get older”? “Who makes up all these guidelines that I spend so much energy following?
Actually, the real question is “why?” The answer is so obvious. To control how others see me. If I was to walk up to a group of women and ask if I could join them they might think I am weird or even worse, DESPERATE. That’s when it hit me, these guidelines that I have basically created for myself to protect myself from rejection and judgment are preventing me from living my life. They don’t keep me safe or protected (as my wounded self would like me to believe) they keep me lonely, sad and tired.
My son didn’t ask himself “what if they say no?” or “what if they don’t like me?” or “what if I say something stupid?” before he decided to approach them. I have watched in the past when he has approached other children and they weren’t necessarily open to including him. In that situation he has come to me disappointed and crying, but within minutes he is doing something else joyfully. He doesn’t stop and judge himself or criticize himself. What’s even more ironic is in those situations I will always pick him up hold him and comfort him.
Why if it were happening to me would I choose to judge or criticize myself and tell myself I am not enough? I would never say that to him. I realized in the past I often feel drained and depleted but what I haven’t realized until now is that I am choosing this for myself. I am choosing to live by these guidelines, I am consciously choosing to not do things that make me joyous in exchange for controlling what people say or think of me.
In the park that day my son had made a choice to put his inner child first and he received much joy from that decision while I on the other hand have always chosen to control. I am the creator of these so called guidelines or rules and therefore I am the only person who can make them vanish. Only I can make the choice to live rather than control and if I forget how to do that I always have my children to demonstrate it for me. Many parents think they are the one to teach their children but in reality our children have so much to teach us.
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The desire to control and not be controlled is so great in many people that it often overrides caring about self and others. When you feel pulled at by someone to do what they want, do you go into automatic compliance or resistance? Next time you feel the pull, stop and ask yourself, "What is in my highest good, to do what this person wants or not?" This way you are making your own choices rather than being controlled by the other person or by your resistance.
By Dr. Margaret Paul