Break The Spell

Tear Up Your Rulebook

What are some rules you live by? Rules are convenient, necessary perhaps even essential to our daily lives. If we didn't have rules there would be chaos, disorder and sheer pandemonium. Regulations keep us in line, help us to understand what is right and wrong, while they also guide us in our every day lives and subconscious actions. But what if all rules aren't so helpful? What if the rules we are living by, the boundaries of which we are trying to act within and the precedents of which we are ensuring we must always abide by, are the very things that are causing chaos in our minds and turmoil in our hearts? What if our rules become toxic evil spells of which we feel there is no escape?

Last Monday I broke a major rule of mine. I am the type of person who likes to be really organised and in control, who likes to know exactly what is happening and who can plan everything into a set scheduled routine. Last Monday was different though. It was 9pm, I was in my pyjamas in my college apartment when my friends came in, all done up, telling me to get ready and that we were all going out. I froze. I did not know what to do! My inner mind was screaming at me..'NO NO NO, you can not go out!!! You can NOT do something spontaneous and unexpected. You have to have this planned. You didn't eat crackers for lunch today and you ALWAYS do that before nights out. You ate a pitta bread for lunch, you can't you simple can not drink alcohol without having eaten crackers for lunch. That's the rule and you can NOT break your rules. You can't break your rituals. You know there are xx more calories in your pitta than there are in your crackers, everyone is going to be looking at you and laughing at how fat and disgusting you are!! It's 9pm, it takes you at least 2 hours to try to look half way decent...if you go out you will look and feel disgusting. You don't deserve to have spontaneous fun, you are not allowed that. Everyone will see you for how fat and disgusting you are! Get into bed and go to sleep, NOW'.

I had only ever broken this standard once before in August of 2017 and doing so scarred me so much that the date became notched onto my brain and I since vowed to never ever ever challenge that self imposed law again. It wasn't the breaking of the rule that terrified me, it was the sheer anxiety that came from tolerating the pain of doing the opposite to what my own mind had told me, that made me quiver. The thing is though, the true inner me wanted to scream yes and go out with my friends, to socialise, to have fun and to live a normal college student life...but I couldn't. 'I really really want to but I can't I can't I can't'; I said it over and over until someone asked me why and my only response was 'because'. How do you tell someone 'oh you see I don't allow myself to have fun unless I pre punish myself and ensure that I have stuck by a pre night out routine, also and most importantly, I had a pitta for lunch today and that's not part of the routine so I can't :)'. I don't know how or why or where it came from, but I am so grateful that an inner courageous voice whispered to my heart, 'go'. And so against every engrained rule and fear, I put on my makeup, did my hair, painted on fake tan (hehe) and got changed; all in a record breaking 30 minutes! And guess was such a lovely night out! Just like that night back in August, despite all of the 'I can'ts, I shouldn'ts and I mustn'ts', I had an amazing night that night too (of course with the help of a little alcohol that definitely eased anxieties hehe). The next day however was the crux for me. The thoughts of shame, regret and self hatred came crashing through. I was so angry at myself, well my perfectionist self was fuming anyway! I felt I had to be punished. It was simply unacceptable to have had spontaneous fun, to not have followed my pre night out routine and to have ignored and overridden my own self proclaimed standards. Luckily on that Tuesday, I had an appointment with my doctor, I text my mom and also met with my angel role model of a sister. They helped me beyond words. They helped me to rationally and calmly question this one rule, its value in my life, its benefits and/or drawbacks and most of all they helped me to realise that normal human beings do not really think that way and it is completely OK to go out and enjoy yourself and have fun. They helped me to break my rule and to be ok in doing so. If I can do it, you can too...we all can! Here are somethings I learned and my fabulous supports taught me about rules, standards and toxic evil spells.

Pick the spell of which you are under, a rule you live by. Perhaps it is 'I can not go to bed unless I wash all of the dishes', 'I can never ever fail a test' or 'I must say yes to every invite no matter how I am feeling and no matter what is occurring in my own life'.

Question It
Apply some perspective to your rule and question its validity. Is this a common human rule that many people have, like having to brush your teeth in the morning, or is this a rule that only you have created and placed on your life alone, a standard which would be very uncommon and unfair if applied to anyone else? My rule for example, 'I must eat crackers for lunch on the days of which I will be going out' is a rule that I presume not many people live by. This time last year I was able to eat my usual pitta bread for lunch and still go out that night, however, over summer I developed the crackers habit (literally, it was crackers heheh) and that habit suddenly became a rule, of which if I broke, there would be severe consequences. It was only when I relayed this rule to my supports the following day that I realised just how inhumane and unjust it was. I couldn't believe when my sister told me that almost every other person eats what they want during a day regardless of if they are going out that night or not. Most humans don't live by a rule that because they ate this or that, they are not allowed to feel good, have fun, be seen, feel worthy, drink alcohol or eat something else. My sister even pointed out to me that when the majority of people do go out or attend events, they eat more than they would on an average day...such as birthday cake or 3am post nightclub pizza. After hearing these rational opposing theories to my belief, my rule didn't seem as solid or valid anymore. Apply this to your rule, ask your friends and supports about their beliefs and see whether your standards are adequate or just absolute 'crackers' hehe.

Say It To Your BFF
Turn to your best friend and tell them 'you are not allowed to relax until you have completed every single piece of homework, I don't care how tired you are' or 'you must not leave your house until you have ensured that your makeup is perfect at least 10 times' or 'you must prepare home cooked meals for your children every single day, or else you're a bad parent'...literally any rule that you have. Seriously imagine saying that to someone you love and just how horrible it would be! I know if I told my best friend that she couldn't go out because she doesn't deserve to after eating a pitta bread for lunch she would laugh or maybe slap me silly at how ridiculous a demand it seemed! We are always harshest towards ourselves, our own biggest enemies and cruelest critics, yet as the age old adage goes, if we treated others the way we treated ourselves, we would have no friends left at all.

Define Its Purpose
Understand the purpose of your rule. Understand why and how it developed to serve you and you can then figure out an alternative kinder rule which may also serve your painful law's purpose. Rules have both benefits and drawbacks. I can see now that my rule helps me to feel safe and secure yet also continues to trap me tightly within the confines of illness. When I follow this certain rule, I feel less anxious about consuming alcohol and less worried about my body image. For some reason, I see such a routine as a way of keeping me safe from the thoughts and fears of feeling fat, ugly, horrible and like a bad person. The rule manifested simply to protect me from pain. However, this standard brings a lot of heartache too. This law abhors all and any spontaneity, lack of control and freedom. This precedent rules out any space for flexibility and normal living. It also creates extreme distress and heartache if it was even slightly altered. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your rule? What is its value and purpose in your life? Does this rule allow you flexibility or is it very black or white? Does this rule make you happy (that is the true you happy and not your fear ridden self)?

Seek Alternatives
On discovering the purpose of your negative rule it is now time to investigate whether there is something that can serve you in the same way yet through a much kinder, compassionate and healthier approach. I found on that very Monday night, that ringing my mom and being distracted by my friends helped me with the thoughts of self loathing and horrible body image. Reaching out for help and support served me just as well as the four crackers would have except the only difference is that one is dangerous, restrictive and traps me further in an illness while the other only strengthens bonds, communications and boosts trusting love. Perhaps an alternative to your rule could be to get out into nature, to read a book, to call a friend, to write a letter...anything that helps give you that sense of fulfilment yet also helps to tolerate the anxiety of opposing your own enslaved desires. Looking back now of course it seems more rational to reach out for help than to follow a strict ritual, yet, of course if it was that simple nobody would ever suffer from there own mind tricks! Reaching out and asking for support takes courage, bravery and vulnerability which in this day and age can seem even more terrifying than being a slave to your own mind. Try an alternative to your rule, I promise you it just might work.

What If?
What is the worst that could happen if you disregard your rule and live outside its boundaries? According to this specific rule, I believed that if I ate something other than crackers for lunch then my hips, thighs, tummy and arms would balloon out before a night out, I would appear obese in every and any photograph, everyone would be laughing and staring at me, I would become hated by everyone, I would be too ugly to be able to ever attract a boy, I would end up isolated forever, I would die alone. Ok of course the first thought is not 'pitta=dying alone' but you can see the spiralling decline into doom lol! When you look deeper into every fear, rule and coping mechanism, you will begin to discover that the thing you are afraid of is not truly what you are afraid of. As humans, our only true fear is death, yet our modern brain has adapted to associate and link certain perceived threats to death, and so, smaller perhaps insignificant things can now trap you in your own prison of fear. The true me isn't scared of a pitta bread but I have subconsciously grown to believe that if I eat a pitta bread and go out that same night, I will die alone (this is not the instant thought reaction, but when you follow through with each of your thoughts, you may often find that there is an underlying greater central controlling fear). When you take a step back from 'pitta=dying alone' you can understand how ridiculous and funny it is, yet, one must first break it down and follow the thought's path to understand why a pitta bread creates so much fear, anxiety and terror. Try choosing a rule you have and journaling out all of the 'what ifs' and consequences. Follow through with each thought and hopefully you will see that the law which protected you from pain is perhaps shielding a much greater deeper hurt and fear within yourself of which is being masked by your very own version of a pitta bread heheh.

Test Yo' Self
If you never try you'll never know. This is the scary part, the 'feel the far and do it anyway' part, the part where you have to be really brave, really strong and really resilient. Break your rule. Eat your pitta bread heheh. Maybe if you believe the earlier mentioned rule, that you must make your children home cooked meals every day or else you are a bad parent, you could go straight to McDonalds and treat your children to a burger and chips. When you roll down the window and speak to the server, your voice will be shaking. When you pay the cashier the money, your hands will be quivering. When you see your children squeal in delight over a curly fry, your mind will be screaming 'you are a bad bad bad parent, if you were any good you would be slaving over the oven right now, you clearly don't truly care for your children, you are bad bad bad'. It's going to be hard and you are going to have to sit through and tolerate that anxiety...but the sparkle of sunshine is that that anxiety will dissipate. You will survive your rebellion and you will live to see that all of your worst fears and 'what ifs' in fact did not come true. The following day I asked myself if any of my feared 'will definitely happen' consequences came true. Did I die alone? Nope. Did my friends hate me? Nope. Did I become obese? I hope not! Did I have a horrible night? Absolutely not! Only through testing and defying your rules can you further discover if they hold any truths or necessity in your life. Furthermore, when you break it once, you will find that it becomes automatically easier to break it a second time. Through continued exposure and testing of your boundaries, you will realise that there was no need to have been so strict and restraining towards yourself for so long!

'No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams'.

What spell has you hypnotised? What can you do to break free and finally soar? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or message me directly through Instagram (it makes my day getting such kind lovely messages from you, it means the world that these posts are helping people). I hope this post helps you to break your spells and rewrite your rulebook. 

Lauren x

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