Breaking the Rules

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I got my first computer many years ago. After I assembled it, plugged it in, and played with it for a while, I decided to copy what I'd written onto a floppy disk, and discovered that I couldn't.

I panicked - and though thoughts of my sizable investment contributed somewhat to my anxiety my main source of terror was that a mysterious, arcane piece of equiment sat before me, unworking, and I had no idea why.

I was going to have to call someone. I was going to have to ask for help, and that was the most frightening thing of all, because I had a rule that I could do everything myself.

I didn't call it a rule; I didn't even know that it governed my thoughts and behavior, but the thought of violating it had me as terrified as a strict Christian would be if thoughts of adultery passed through his mind. My own rule was just as rigid.

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Rules and Bones

Some of you may be wondering if a rule is the same as a belief. It is in the sense that that it shapes the way we view ourselves and our world, and its ability to limit the kinds of experiences we will allow ourselves to have. I, for example, was unwilling to allow myself the experience of being helped (or to experience gratitude).

All beliefs are limiting, but rules are especially so. Where some beliefs carry the weight of "I should/should not," a rule is more accurately expressed as a "must/must not," and the strong suggestion that violation will result in punishment.

I don't mean to imply that limitations are inherently negative. As humans we are bound by a rule that we are part of physical existence (which doesn't mean that we can't explore other dimensions), and that we have bodily form. We make other rules to guide us. Like the bones which support our physical bodies, they give structure to our lives.

The problem with rules is not their existence, but how they came into our lives and how we respond to them.

Unknowing Learning

I have a small friend named Aidan. Lately, his parents have requested that guests avoid the use of certain words in his presence because he adds to his vocabulary indiscriminately.

In the same way we acquire many of our rules in our earliest years.We not only absorb the rules our parents deliberately teach us but also absorb their speaking and practice of their own rules. Because we've taken them without thinking about them or questioning them they become invisible to us.

Thus invisible, they have the power to create great unhappiness in our lives.

My rule of not asking for help created not only a nonfunctioning computer, but a feeling of helplessness when I was faced with a situation I couldn't solve on my own. A friend of mine discovered a rule that when people didn't call her it meant that they were rejecting her.

Rules can affect not only our interpretation of others' behavior but what we allow ourselves in terms of happiness, abundance, health. Do you know anyone who can't sit down and relax until their house is completely clean and tidy? Or someone who feels guilty if one day out of 365 they skip their exercise program? Do you have any rules about what you must do to have prosperity, i.e., work hard, sacrifice your free time, suffer unhappiness in order to earn the "happiness" of wealth?

Unhappiness is very often the result of unexamined rules, and one of the best way to bring such rules to the surface is to, when you're unhappy, look for the rules which are responsible.

Excavating the Bones

You may find the answers in meditation, or by writing. The following format could be useful:

  1. I'm unhappy because my friend didn't call me. (What does this mean?)
  2. She didn't call because she's rejected me. (Why does it mean this?)
  3. When people care about other people they call them. (That's the rule.)

Or another example:

  1. I'd like to look for a new job, but I'm afraid. (Why?)
  2. Because I have security now, and that's the most important thing. (Why?)

(Say that you get stuck at this point, and don't know why. Another question could be, "Who told you this?")

.My father. His father was out of work a lot, and he had an insecure childhood.

Each of the above examples could go further in terms of discovery; these are guides to get you started.

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Rebuilding the Structure

Sometimes when people realize how rules have limited their lives they want to toss away everything they've ever believed and start anew. This would be a little like raging against the limitation of bones and deciding to remove them from the physical body.

I recommend a slower pace, which can have several aspects.

One is to continue the kind of questioning I describe above; another is to recognize when one of your now-recognized rules goes into effect. Consciousness alone can have a powerful effect in relaxing their hold on you.

Another aspect - and a very important one - is the choosing of new rules, consciously, deliberately, trying them out to see how well they support you. In that choosing you are also deciding the kind of person you want to be.

Again, meditation and/or writing can help. Who is the person you really want to be? Imagine the new you, write it down, and whatever voices you hear telling you that this is impossible should be treated as lurking rules and brought to the light of understanding.

Then ask yourself what kinds of rules this person would have. Write them down. Turn them into affirmations. Think of them often and do your best to live by themãuntil you outgrow them.

And you will, for when we are truly conscious and evolving beings, we find that for each stage of the journey we need new guides.

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Stones and Bones

Clear quartz is probably the most useful stone related to discovery of rules because this crystal helps to connect one to one's true self: that innocent which can wandering into physical existence free of rules. The closer to we get to discovering who we truly are the easier it is to see which rules are not serving us.

Carnelian is also helpful because it grounds us in the present. The more focused we are on the here and now the less power the past has over us.

Hawk's eye (blue tiger's eye) helps to give us an aerial perspective on our lives. When we achieve this kind of distance big things like rules can look smaller.

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Flexible Flowers

Rock Water (Bach) is the principal flower essence for bending rules. The person in need of this remedy has a life which is bounded by rules on every side. In their behavior they are attempting to steer their lives by a fixed plan, firmly shutting out the voice of intuition or spirit or soul. Though this is an extreme example, we can all use Rock Water when we feel an inability to break a rule.

Sagebrush (FES) helps us to see all that is unnecessary in our lives, including rules which are no longer needed.

Chestnut Bud (Bach) is helpful when we find ourselves making the same mistakes over and over again, clearly without learning from them. This can apply when we are unthinkingly following rules we unknowingly acquired.

Beyond the Rainbow
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