Why Living by Other People’s Rules (or Even Your Own) Doesn’t Work…

I walked into a small room filled with nothing but a round table, two chairs and a psychic. She asked for a personal item to hold so she could feel my energy and after I handed her my gold wedding band, she looked me squarely in the eyes and told me I was a liar.

At the time, I didn’t get it. I thought I was there for a fun psychic reading but I walked out hurt, incensed and embarrassed that she didn’t see who I really was. I thought I was someone who was kind and truthful but she thought I was a fraud!

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized I had been lying to myself and to everyone for a long time. I had been lying about the health of my 30 year marriage, had smiled when I wanted to scream “no” when someone told a racist or sexist joke and had agreed to go places and do things I really didn’t want to do–all because I wanted to be liked.

I had been rigidly holding onto what I thought would keep me safe.

I was taught to believe that I had to follow other people’s rules and had been lying to get what I thought I wanted—their love and approval.

Now don’t get me wrong—after high school, through college and especially in my 20’s and 30’s, I certainly quietly rebelled from my family’s rules. There were drugs, sex and rock and roll after all—and when I got pregnant at 21 while dating my future husband—which wasn’t really a quiet rebellion—and told my mother, she said that was the worst thing that had ever happened to her.

I hadn’t realized just how much my family’s expectations about keeping it all together, putting on a good front and skipping over feelings and emotions had shaped who I was and how I showed up until it hit me in the face that I had shamed the family and especially my mother.

But that didn’t stop me from following other people’s rules, as well as expecting other people to live by those rules as well without even asking if that’s what they wanted!

So now I’m a recovering rule follower and still catch myself agreeing so I can keep everything peaceful—or saying what I think someone else wants to hear—but I’m much, much better. I’ve learned to not automatically say “yes” or agree when someone wants me to do something but rather to listen to what’s inside me and then act from that place of quiet wisdom.

Last week, I posted this quote from Katherine Hepburn on our Facebook page…“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” and that’s pretty much the exact opposite way I’ve lived most of my life.

Am I having more fun now not obeying other people’s rules or even my own? You bet and there’s still so much more to learn! You can’t find happiness and love by looking outside yourself and following rules—even your own that you’ve concocted. Rules keep you from being present and experiencing life and all its juiciness in every moment and I don’t want to miss that!
by Susie Collins