"You can't do that, you're not experienced enough."
"Don't wear that. Find something more neutral. You don't know what you're doing here."
"Don't even try. You're gonna look like an idiot."
"You're never going to get there so don't even think about that."
"You're way too young to even think about starting that. That's just not the way it's done."
Who said all of this to me?! Well, it was actually me.
Throughout these 26 years I've lived on this earth, I've restricted myself in so many ways and lived according to an endless number of rules. I thought I needed permission from someone (I really don't know who) to do so many things I wanted to do. Now, I've always been one to want to defy authority (definitely did not make my mom's job easier....sorry mom), but it took me a while to actually question the rules I've been living by. Once I did, though, my life changed pretty dramatically.
This is something I'm seeing a lot of recently and it's something I've seen a lot in coaching clients so I figured it would be important to write about.
For whatever reason, we feel like we need permission to do things, be things, have things, sometimes to even think or want certain things. It's kind of crazy if you really think about it... but it happens in our minds alllllll the time. This is something I fight constantly. I'm constantly giving myself permission to do/want/be/have/try things.
I find myself on a daily basis saying things like:
"It's okay for you to try that, Christina."
"You're actually allowed to say no."
"There's nothing wrong with you for feeling this way."
"You are allowed to be whatever you wanna be, lady!!!"
"It's okay to make a mistake. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT WOMAN."
Somewhere inside me, there is a belief that I'm not allowed to do a very long list of things.
There's a whole set of rules I think I need to follow and I do follow until I question them and ask
myself such important questions as:
-Why do these rules exist in my mind?
-Who made them up?
-Why do I think I'm obligated to let them run my life?
-What will happen to me if I don't follow them?
Even right now I'm asking myself what is the acceptable amount of times one can use *~italics~* in any given written piece and I'm reminding myself I can do whatever I want despite whatever the general rule is. This is after I briefly scolded myself for liking italics too much. We are over that now. (I don't know why but I refer to myself as "we" quite regularly... it's whenever I have two sides of me arguing against each other and we come to a consensus).
I have challenged many people on this and I wanna challenge you on it. What are the rules in your life you're following and why do you have to follow them?
Clearly I'm not talking about laws, things that keep you and other people safe, and or anything that helps uphold the dignity of yourself and other human beings.
What I'm talking about is these random limits we have in our minds that hold us back from actually LIVING. Why are you not allowed to put yourself out there more? Why can't you wear something you want to wear? Why can't you try for the harder career path you really want? Why do you shrug it off when people close to you laugh at you for stepping outside the generally accepted comfort zone of your social circle?
The scary thing is, it's very often friends who set or impose rules on us. Most likely they don't mean any harm by it, but it can end up really really holding you back.
One of the earlier times I started to question these rules and experienced the push back was in high school. It wasn't everyone, but it really seemed like everyone was drinking and that was pretty much the accepted norm. I didn't want to drink for various reasons and I especially had no interest in letting people my age dictate my actions lol.... Well, this didn't go over well with a lotttt of people. And this carried over well into my twenties.
I have lost count by now of how many times people asked me why I wasn't drinking or why I didn't want to and I'd give my answer and people would be completely shocked. I don't understand why it was so shocking but people were shocked and some people were really offended by this haha. There's a part of me that likes offending people so I was pretty entertained by this but I found these reactions to be pretty ridiculous.
So many people would argue with me, try to convince me or demand that I give them better reasons than "I don't drink" or "I don't want to". It seemed liked in their minds, I wasn't allowed to be that age and not want to drink. I was breaking a huge rule and that was just nottttt allowed.
This whole situation kind of set the scene for what was to come later in life as I headed into my twenties and ended up really breaking some big rules. It made me really think about why things were unspoken rules or expectations and why on earth did I have to follow them? Because I had pushed back already and seen what that was like, I became really introspective about all of this with each experience of people attempting to tell me I just had to do something for whatever reason and I started to develop stronger boundaries and make a few rules of my own.
Here are a few I live by:
- I can say no to anything I want to and I'm not obligated to give anyone any reasons why.
- My reasons for not doing something don't have to be approved by everyone my age.
- "This is just the way it's always been done" is generally not a sufficient reason for me to be doing something.
- Even if someone is an expert at something, they're still not a fortune teller and them trying to discourage me from trying will be taken into account but never accepted blindly.
- In most categories of life, there are no solid, unchangeable, unbreakable, non-negotiable rules even sometimes when it really feels like it.
What if Thomas Edison was like ehhhh inventing a light bulb seems really impossible and some people think I'm crazy for trying and most people aren't trying to do this maybe I should go do normal things I'm expected to do yea good idea. LOL. Just imagine what kind of things went through his head? If I were him I honestly don't know how I would have built myself up enough to keep trying when I failed and to not be too weirded out by myself and my abnormal interests.
Even writing this write now I could say to myself "You're not a writer. You don't even do proper grammar 50% of the time. You have no idea if capitalizing the first word of this little section was even right. You write weird things. Just stop, lady." Which does cross my mind a few times, to be honest, but instead I'm thinking you know what? I'll write whatever I want whenever I want. This is a free country and I think this is fun and I'm passionate about it. Haha.
Do people think I'm weird sometimes? Yes. Do people think I'm dumb sometimes? Yes. Do people think I'm ridiculous sometimes? All the time. haha. Am I ever ever ever in history going to ever be able to please everyone and follow every single rule? No. Nope. I'd rather be out there pushing and stretching myself and seeing what happens when I try new things and come up against new challenges. I make the rules for my life and I won't let anyone else do it for me. I don't need permission to live by my own rules and neither do you.
If you'd like to schedule a life-coaching session with Christina, click here.