Today Jamie asks, “what rules do you wish to break?” It’s strange, or maybe magic, because I met with my therapist today and we got to talking about rules — all the ones I live by, the shoulds, the expectations, the restrictions and judgements about who I should be, when and why and exactly how I should do things.
As a simple example, sometimes I’m already hungry for lunch at 10:30 am, but I struggle with the decision to eat because lunch isn’t until 12:00 pm. In those moments, I often choose the rule over what I need, over caring for myself, and I either don’t eat when I’m actually hungry because “I’m not supposed to yet,” or I do eat and I beat myself up a little for it, (because then when I’m hungry again at 2 or 3 pm, what am I supposed to do?). And yes, I know this makes me sound like a crazy person…
Underlying all these rules is the belief that I have to earn what I need, I have to put forth some kind of effort, I have to be “good” and deserving in order to be worthy of care and love, in order to have my needs met, to feed my hunger. This is not accurate, I know intellectually that without doing a single thing, simply by being, I am worthy of those things, that I am innately wise and compassionate and deserving, but I don’t live as if that were true. Instead I struggle, convinced that something is wrong with me, that I have to fix it, control and monitor myself.
My therapist challenged me to start keeping a list of the rules as they arise. I paid attention as I left her office and went to the grocery store, came home to walk Sam, checked my email, did some work, really noticed all the times I judged what I was doing or thinking, assessed whether or not I was doing it “right.” It felt as if every single thing I did, there was an internal critic judging and evaluating, determining if I was good enough. I think this is happening all the time, every moment, and I’ve grown so used to it I don’t even notice it anymore, assume that’s just the way life is. That’s not okay, not at all workable, and will not lead to peace or contentment.
So, kind and gentle reader, I wish to break ALL the rules. Every single should or have to, every regulation or standard or principle or law I have constructed, anything that measures who I am and what I do against some prescribed guide for conduct or action. I wish to let all that go, to simply be present for myself, to give myself what I need, to take care of myself, to be gentle and kind, open and curious.