Tired of Living by the Rules? Question them. Go Rogue!
I’ve had some wonderfully provocative conversations with women recently, so I’m especially inspired.
Our conversations were about what it means to really be free. To unlock the cage door many of us have found ourselves behind when we’ve spent way too much time living according to the expectations of other people, be they friends or family members, organizations or the culture we live in.
The rules these cages are made of keep us from expressing what we need to express and do what we need to do in order to feel whole, connected and engaged with life. We have all had experiences of feeling our freedom has ben violated.
The current definition of “going rogue” is to stop following orders, stop doing what’s expected of you; throw away the rules or the instructions and go your own way and do what’s necessary for you.
Unfortunately, I’ve known way too people, women especially, who are reluctant to ditch the rules and trust themselves and what they know. They either think they’re too old to live differently or it’s been too long since they’ve relied on themselves for the answers. Or they think they’re too young to throw away the promised success and happiness that those rules are supposed to deliver.
I see the choice between rules vs. rogue played out most frequently in three situations in our lives. The first is when someone’s life has been touched by death.
The second is when they’ve gone through a life-threatening illness (or watched a loved one go through it).
And the third is when someone realizes, I can’t live my life this way anymore. It’s not working, it doesn’t fit, it’s too painful.
All three of these situations have something in common: there’s an abrupt change in the course of our lives, characterized by an ending of the familiar and emotionally predictable world we’ve known.
And whether that ending is dramatic and abrupt or a slow buildup to an uninvited consequence, it’s something that we’re unprepared for and need new resources for.
In situations like this, you’ve got to take a stop and question the rules you’re going to follow in order to get through what’s happened beyond mere survival. You want to come out of this stronger and wiser.
Question those rules. Find out if they’re right for you or whether you need to create your own.
What do I mean by that? Despite our society’s obsession with following “expert advice,” in our hearts, each one of us knows what’s right for us.
There’s plenty of information and wisdom and advice out there, but only we can recognize when the timing is right to act or not to act. And we all need to claim that knowing for ourselves.
The rules we’ve grown used to following may no longer be relevant for the person we are now. They may be too restrictive, or too general, or too unsatisfying, or they may have been made simply for someone else’s convenience.
Societal rules are made to govern or control the behavior of people. Beyond our shared needs for respect, health, decent wage, living conditions, and well being, many rules have been created that thwart the well being of the individual.
This is an age-old story. We have always, to some extent, been conditioned by whether we are accepted or approved of.
But this is the real question: are you aligned with the rules you’ve been following? Do they suit who you are? Do they fit your circumstances? Do they afford you freedom of spirit or do they constrict the expression of who you truly are?
If you’ve been following the rules for how to behave, when to be seen and not heard, how to stay out of trouble or make sure people will still like you, you have an opportunity in this moment to recognize yourself as the individual you are and live your life accordingly.
You’re only going to come through the increasingly life-changing situations we are facing in the way that’s right for you by insisting on thinking, feeling and doing what you need to do in your own time and in your own way.
Take advantages of the resources available to you and find the people that support you, but make sure you check in with yourself and respect your own inner wisdom above all else.
Some rules are indeed for the good of all (like the Golden Rule), but some are for the good of only a few. Will you choose to examine the rules you’ve always lived by or will you continue to follow them because it’s too much trouble or you think it’s too much work?
Will you give yourself permission to discard the rules that no longer serve you, choosing instead to trust your own hard-earned wisdom and “go rogue”?
It’s up to you. And especially if you’re in one of those life-altering conditions I mentioned earlier, there’s no more important time than now.
Nina Lockwood is a transformative coach, author and artist. She is the creator of Redesign Your Life: an Invitation to Discover Your True Nature and Live Free. Visit her at ninalockwood.com, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (@ninalockwood.nilo).