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Breaking Rules



We all have rules. Things that at some point in time we decided to do and it became a sort of rule that we followed, because it somehow served us. They can also be thought of as a sort of code of conduct that came about because of whatever circumstances we were in at the time, said "hey do this, it's safer". I would say that most of these are set before we are five, although I wouldn't say they also could not be set in later years as well (but we often find those ones in later years will follow a trail back to before we were 5....they just wear different costumes in different scenarios.)

We follow our rules becuase it's how have always done things and we often don't even recognize them as rules. And then one day we might decide to do something different, something that goes against the rule, and all sorts of interesting things come about that seem to try and push us back to that rule.


Our rules are deeply intwined and wrap themselves around so many aspects of self, down to the biochemical level. Our rules are often things that from another perspective (another persons or even through our own mental body) seem like they should be easy and logical to just simply change. And when we are up against a rule that we have followed for a very long time, it is anything but simple to simply break it.


I have recently been dancing with this, with one rule in particular, that I thought I would share, as sometimes it is easier to storytell than to try and explain things that are incredibly difficult to explain with words. You see, each experience is our own and to reduce it to definition of what we think will make sense to someone else, often falls short (or long or something diagonal and a bit lopsided) because we are trying to guess on what perspective everyone who we might share our analysis with, may be coming from. So just telling the story and letting others decide for themselves is often the easiest and probably most real way to go.


I have always had a very interesting relationship with time. And the fact that time is a man made construct is just another monkey wrench into me trying to understand it. And my relationship with time often brings quite a bit of challenges and sometimes chaos.


I have shared a few times about the gift that my experience with Covid brought me. It was a message about slowing down and loosing the ever present sense of urgency that has followed me through most of my life....or more likely that I have chased.

As I have been very mindful about this sense of urgency and it's presence in my life, I have been making new choices with the way that I do things. As I moved along with this new perspective that did not have the same urgency as before, I had a stark realization, maybe two months ago..........and this was about identifying too closely with chronic illness. I did not think that I did this, and yet it became undeniably clear that this was exactly what I was doing. I would structure my time - with work, family, or whatever - based on how much energy I thought I might have, how much energy I was imaginging something would take from me, and how I would feel afterwards. When I realized this I thought "Holy shit! I am structuring my life around my chronic illness! I am letting my chronic illness control my life!" and yeah that sounds a bit dramatic....but really when it comes down to it, that was what was happening. Well...it actually was more like...I was deciding before hand to predict what would happen in the future based on how things have happened in the past........and if you have attended my talks or classes....you know that this is the description of fear. I also suddenly realized how this served me.........I always had an excuse for something I didnt want to do or at least wasn't thrilled about doing. "I will have to see how I feel then"......and hey, mind body is strong and real and most likely I probably wouldn't feel so good as the event i didnt really want to do approached, which proved myself right and reinforced the rule. In a flash....well about 200 of them....I could see moments in time where this had worked out quite well in serving me. I could also, simultaneously see how it also denied me of many opportunities that I may have actually really enjoyed, but hadn't given the chance. (kind of like how we can block our grief, but then we actually block the joy too......or something like that.)

So I stopped doing this. Instantly.

And my health got instantly better because I decided it was no longer serving me. This is the breaking of a rule.....when it works out well that is. (ahhh but wait....there is the flip side of rule breaking being more of a struggle........and there are rules within rules)

What I would find out, as often one one does, but this was a rule within a role that actually traced back to something older and deeper.


I noticed about two weeks ago, that urgency returning. I would notice my anxiety creeping up and myself becoming more "busy" and feeling more pulled this way and that. I thought I need to sit down and make out a schedule because that will help. (Im not a super scheduled person and although I operate much better with that sort of structure (to some degree), I also resist it greatly. I first noticed that I was doing my morning exercises in a more hurried manner to get to the next thing....which is my morning shower......to get to the next thing...which is breakfast....to get to the next thing, which might be a board game or laundry or doing the dishes from the night before. I then started to get anxiety around trying to fit all of my clients in the next month. In a way I was doing the same patterning as with the chronic illness identification......I was predicting the future rather than planning. Once I became aware of this,the structure of a schedule began to feel more important.

And I found I literally could not do it. And I had no logical reason why. I should be able to do it. It really isnt that hard to say "I have these 12 things to do this month, they take x amount of time, so lets put them here, there, and here." Anxiety set in and it became very physical.......feeling like i couldn't breathe and this overall sense of panic.

I reached out to a friend....and I probably soundly like an incompetent loony who was failing at the simplest of tasks.

After listening to me for a bit my friend said "Well, you are trying to push time around.".........and I thought "THAT IS EXACTLY what I am doing!" and i realized that was what I have always done. I instantly saw how this pushing time around contributed to urgency, and how that for most of my life my urgency had actually been seen as incredibly helpful. Sure I procrastinated, but I could always invoke that sense of urgency when things needed to get done and I had always done them very well in this manner. It was something of a super power that I was praised for as a child.. and it had become a rule. (This is also a classic ADHD trait)

What I also realized....becuase I know more than I did back then......was that this wasn't just a rule....it was a sort of addiction on a very physical level. That urgency creates a massive release of cortisol and adrenaline. I wasn't necessarily procrastinating and being as flowy as I thought I was....I was putting things off to create the urgency which created the adrenaline and cortisol because it was literally the only way I knew how to get things done, because it was how I had always done them, because it was a rule. (See how intertwined it can get?) and if I want to go further with it, I created an self perpetuating this addiction.. choice point after choice point reinforcing it along the way.


The very idea of sitting down and setting a schedule so that I could loose that sense of urgency, was sending me into a sort of panic, at least in part, because some rule set a very long time ago, said "You NEED that in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish. YOu cannot do the things without that urgency.".......which is that addiction that was speaking. That addiction that was formed around a rule. The panic was because I knew logically that this didnt make sense....but some part of me belived otherwise. And by even thinking about making a schedule that would shift the deeper tendrils of urgency, I was touching on breaking a rule.


I spent an entire day swirling and twirling with this....and doing a bit of whining alongside....

I finally sat down and drew everything out......in the way one might do if they were a small child learning something new. My brain works in a way that has to see the patterns, which means I have to see all of the pieces and concepts and stare at them for a bit, and then I will suddenly see a touchstone and they will all start to make sense. But until that touchstone comes, it's just complete chaos and pieces and parts everywhere. Eventually I found it and what I saw was how incredibly difficult I was making everything because I was trying to both break the rule and keep the rule at the same time...which is just going to be an ongoing tug of war. I also realized I was still looking at my schedule from the perspective I was a few months back when I was trying to predict how I might feel in the future. (I mean, i am pretty amazing at some of that reading through timelines stuff, but even I can see when I am making up stuff!) I wasn't doing that rule anymore, but haven't brought some of the other pieces up to speed.

Pretty soon, although it felt like an excruciating long time, things fell into place and I could see what made sense....which was quite different than what I had been trying to do. It was almost as if I had to step outside of myself, in a way, to see it from a different perspective.


My usual fallback belief is, I'm doing too much. While is not untrue, it has more to do with my trying to push time around, rather than settling into what is.


So the questions I get to pose to myself are "what is so frightening about what is?" "Why is the present moment not enough?" And the answer to both of these comes down to worth and worthiness. At least in this moment........ because that a spin, the lens that I have been viewing this year through. Next year, I might have a completely different answer.


And I'm still working on this rule........ teetering on the edge of looking at all the the tendrils and aspects of it ....... which is part of the process of realizing that trying to make sense of it is almost silly. Eventually I will decide if this rule continues to serve me, in which case I shall keep it. Or I should say that I am bored with it, and I will let it go. And it will happen to simple as that.

The vision of the gift I received during Covid is a worthy companion, along this journey of a rule breaking. It is always there beside me gently reminding me that in order to have the life I want, in order to feel the way that I want to, I'm going to need to break some of my rules.


I think the best thing we can do for ourselves, when we are up against breaking rules is to be gentle with ourselves. Let go of the ideas that we need to prove anything to anybody even ourselves. And choose what feels best in any given moment.


And so it goes and flows........

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