I Threw the Rule Book out

In the May 2012 issue of Ladies Home Journal, actress Melissa McCarthy (from the CBS sitcom Mike and Molly and the movie Bridesmaids) says something bold. And I think beautiful. “There is greatness in not caring what other people think”.

I grew up with a gazillion rules in my house.

To this day, I can still hear my mother saying, keep your shoulders back. Don’t wear too much make-up, you don’t want to look like a whore like so and so.

Don’t eat pasta, you’ll get fat.

My mother even went so far as to enroll me in an etiquette class when I was a young teenager to learn how to sit properly, stand properly, and to discover which eating utensil was to be placed 1/8 of an inch to the right of the main, salad, bread, and dessert plates. You would have thought I’d be summering in London with the Queen of England herself spending the afternoons with good ole Elizabeth for high tea and crumpets. Seriously!!!

Please hear me loud and clear when I say my mother loved me dearly and raised me to the best of her ability. I do not blame her for anything.

But do you wanna know what I think? I think my mother was worried about appearances, and what other people thought. Because that is how she was raised.

About 8 years ago I was going through a lot of crap. My marriage wasn’t going well, neither was my career, AND my mother was diagnosed with cancer. This is known as the trifecta of low points in my life.

But that is when I made the decision. The decision to look at all the rules that ruled my life.

Rules.

AKA.

My beliefs.

Those are the thoughts that we think over and over, usually from childhood, that actually run our day-to-day lives. We just don’t realize it.

I decided to start caring about what I thought.

What were my rules for me? I looked at the beliefs I had been carrying since I was young and decided which ones I wanted to keep and which ones weren’t serving my adult self any more.

I started small. The holding my shoulders back so I’d have good posture rule meant I was a walking advertisement for breast augmentation.  What I really had was neck pain. That rule went out and became, take a deep breath in and out and my posture falls into place perfectly.

Then I looked at the pasta eating rule. I did eat it and it didn’t make me fat. That rule went out and became eat pasta and stop when I’m not physically hungry anymore.

Next came the rule about make-up and whore-ism. That became, I’ll wear as much or as little make-up as I feel like, thank you very much.

But the granddaddy of all beliefs was about me, who I was as a person, how I saw myself, and what I believed about myself.

And it was all wrapped up in what other people thought about me. I cared about what they thought. Because growing up I learned I needed to act and do things a certain way so I would be accepted by others.

My big, bad, behind the scenes belief was…

I’m not good enough.

And let me tell you, that was one massive, heart-wrenching, soul-gutting, tear-rendering belief to confront.

It didn’t matter that on the outside, to others, I looked successful. That I had traveled, worked super fun jobs, attained college degrees, married, had a house, was debt free. The American Dream! But it wasn’t my dream. I was living by someone else’s rules. I just didn’t realize it.

For the longest time it didn’t matter that I had created what I had in my life on my own. I still never felt good enough. My belief followed me everywhere. I tried to be a perfectionist at everything with crappy results. Because you can’t really define perfection, no one can. I was trying to live up to a standard that didn’t exist.

So how did I tackle that big granddaddy belief? 

With resolve and kindness.

Over time, it has morphed into…

I am enough.

Because I am.

In every moment.

We all are.

If someone doesn’t like me, I respectfully do not care.

I cannot control other people’s opinions about me.

So I’ve thrown out the old rule book, rewritten a new one, and will be glad to revamp it again as I grow and change down the road. I keep what serves me and makes me happy. If a rules feels harsh or not in line with what I value, I change it up or throw it out.

And sometimes at dinner-time, it’s all I can do to throw a fork on the table to go with the pasta dish I made while I was busy putting make-up on. But don’t tell the queen. Because good lord, what would she think?

Thank you for spending some of your time with me today. I really do appreciate it and hope you found it helpful. As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest, you can leave behind. Bloom On! Susan P.S. What rule, AKA, belief have you thrown out?  And how has it changed your life? Leave a comment below or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com

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