Yes, there are laws in whatever country you reside in, but other than that, the only rules or guidelines you have to follow are those you choose to. Some will choose to follow religious rules, or the rules of a group that they belong to, or their own internal moral compass. All of these are choices you have the freedom to make — you get to choose what the rules of your life will be.
So many times though, we forget this fact — that we choose the rules (and the associated level of freedom) in our lives.
If you come to a place in life where you are feeling constricted, boxed in, or stuck, take a moment to think about or even write down all the rules, the “should’s“, that you live your life by. Then look over the list and determine if any of those rules are outdated or belong to someone else (in other words, they don’t fit you and what you believe today). Feel free to update the list, removing any rules that no longer suit your life or beliefs.
Here’s an example:
Macy grew up in a very strict religious household. Her parents were devout and followed their religion to the letter. Macy never knew another way of being. That was just how life was in her world.
As Macy became an adult, she met people from all over the world who had many different belief systems and religions (and some who had no religion). She was awestruck at the diversity of beliefs and the variety of ways of being in the world!
The more Macy experienced in life, the more she realized that while some of the basics of her parents’ religion still fit her, most of the rigidity and rule-based living was no longer what she believed. Intellectually, she had made the shift to being very open-minded, accepting of others’ beliefs (even when they conflicted with her own), and curious about people who lived differently.
So she was surprised at age 35 to realize that she felt stuck, boxed in, and shackled in her life. How could this be? She had a great job, enjoyed traveling the world, had a strong support network of friends and family, and generally led a good life. Why was she feeling so hemmed in?
Macy decided to write down all her beliefs and rules. She kept a small notepad with her and every time she noticed a rule pop up in her head, she jotted it down. She wasn’t analyzing them — just documenting them. After a while of doing this, Macy noticed she had pages and pages of notes! But how could that be? She had become a very open-minded, interested adult who was accepting of others’ ways.
However, deep inside she still carried many rules that she had believed in the past, guidelines that had worked or been passed on to her when she was younger. No one had taught Macy how to go in and “edit” this part of her belief system.
She took some time to look over the pages of rules and beliefs. So many of them were outdated and no longer fit her life or what she knew to be true for her. She saw old rules such as:
“Money doesn’t grow on trees. Hard work makes the man.”
“A woman’s place is in the home or on her man’s arm. The man is the head of the household.”
“Do not speak until you are spoken to.”
“Life is hard and it will beat you down.”
It was at that moment that Macy realized it was time to do some spring-cleaning in her mind! She crossed out each rule that no longer fit her and replaced it with a statement that felt more true and authentic to who she was now, a phrase that inspired her and helped her to feel free. In place of the above rules, this is what she wrote:
“Life is abundant and supports me in many ways.”
“Humans are created equal, regardless of their gender, skin color, nationality, creed, religion, sexual orientation, education or occupation.”
“I feel empowered when I stand in my truth and speak it in loving ways.”
“Life is magnificent — filled with wonder, surprise, awe, joy and beauty.”
Macy looked at her revised list and immediately felt relief. She felt as though all the barriers and blocks had been removed and she was now free to move about her life!
Now, it’s your turn…what old rules are you still carrying around? Are there some you’d like to edit and bring into alignment with who you are today?
If it feels right, take a look at your choices — what do you choose to believe; what rules do you follow without even realizing it? When you update your rules to fit who you are today, you will feel immense freedom in your life!