Who's Rules Are You Living By?

Jamie Silverstein
Who's Rules Are You Living By?

I went to an inspiring workshop with Jen Pastiloff recently and Jennifer talked about 'the rules'. And, friendit got serious! Jennifer was ultimately asking for each of us to look at what rules we believed should govern our days, while simultaneously asking us to challenge our beliefs or stories that conflicted with those rules. Jen spoke about noticing the negative impacts of dissonance; for example, we might have a rule to be kind but continually show up with a curt manner. This internal conflict hurts us psychically. Not cool.

To get past the negative impacts of dissonance though, we first have to notice our own ‘rules’! What are your rules about your life? What do you believe your days should feel like? What are your non-negotiable daily practices?

(Note: your rules are not another person’s expectations of you or the default story you tell yourself about who you ‘should’ be!)

Here is an example of Jennifer's rules:

  1. Be Kind.
  2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to YOU.
  3. Write poems, even if only in your head.
  4. Sing out loud, even if badly.
  5. Dance, even with no rhythm.
  6. If you don’t have anything nice to say…you know the deal.
  7. Find things to be in awe of.
  8. Be grateful for what you have right now.
  9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”
  10. Duh, do yoga.
  11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.
  12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.
  13. Take more pictures.
  14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.
  15. Thank the Universe in advance.

I especially love 11 and 12!

Take a moment to jot down your rules. And, don't worry about thinking too hard about this! Write what you truly believe your life is about and what your rules for daily practice are. Then, notice if your actions coincide with these written beliefs; if your actions do not support your beliefs, ask: 'Why?'. Remember, this exercise is not an invitation for self-loathing, but, rather a spark to start living as you!

By investigating our internal rules, we notice how, often we fall into habitual (re)action without exercising choice! It is possible (although sometimes flippin’ hard!) to let the dissonant habit response subside though, clearing space to live by our own heart-felt rules. If you believe in 'yes', stop saying no! By noticing our own interpersonal conflicts, we can become so much more than our habits or stories. We can feel like ourselves!

Ultimately, the real work then is to get to a place where our rules mimic our lives. So practice. Practice embodiment of your own rules. Do this daily-- especially, when it feels hard! Can you find the ‘thank you’ in a conflict? Can you forgive the dream of someday and embrace the magic of your own life?! Through our actions, we learn to live by our rules.