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Ditch The Rules

Rules. We all live by rules. Arrive at work on time. Stop at red lights. Wash your own dish. Rules make the world go round -- rules in our homes, our offices, our communities. Most of them make for a safe and enjoyable world. Surprisingly, many of the rules we live by are internal rules that were handed to us as children. Don’t touch a hot stove. Don’t run out in the street. Women must defer. Keep your fingers out of the wall outlet. Conflict must be avoided. Don’t throw rocks. Money is evil. Many of our rules or beliefs are disempowering — they literally limit us in some way. And yet, we’ve never stopped to question them because they were given to us like a gift -- no one refuses a gift.

Old rules or beliefs hide out in the areas of our life where we are getting the results we do not want — finances, relationships, career. Take a moment to think of an area in your life where you are not experiencing what you had hoped. An old rule or belief is likely limiting that area of your life. Take these steps to create some new freedom in the area you feel held back.


The first step: identify the rule or belief. What do you say to yourself in the area you aren’t achieving what you had hoped? I can’t manage money. I’m just not smart enough to figure this out. Life isn’t fair to people like me. People will think I’m . . . The belief always sounds true, reasonable and valid. If it is limiting in some way, it is time to wrestle with it.


These beliefs or old rules are not truths. Once you’ve identified the belief getting in your way, acknowledge it is not true. This is a difficult step because they all sound true. After all, we’ve followed them for decades. Ask yourself, “Why does this need to be true of me now?” At this point, you may find yourself more interested in defending your old rule than experiencing new empowerment. The bottom line: this old rule or belief is not serving you and is not true for you anymore.


Use your imagination to try on new beliefs. My financial difficulties in the past have taught me so much. I’m fully prepared to handle this now. Now that I’ve been in an unhealthy relationship, I’ve learned what to look for in a happy, loving partner. You may want to get a trusted friend involved in helping you craft a new belief.


Act as if your new belief is true. If you really learned a tremendous amount from past financial difficulties, what step would you take now? If you really are the kind of person who eats healthy food, what will you put in your grocery cart? If you really are the kind of leader that can tackle this problem, what's the first step? Intentionally retrain your brain to accept and live under a new rule.

Rules bring us safety and order, as well as prevent us from feeling overwhelmed most of the time. Outdated, poorly adopted rules can be places we hide or places that hide us. Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.


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