Nothing holds us back more than our own outdated beliefs about what’s possible; or in other words, your own “rules”. The rule every artist should break is any rule that gets in the way of doing what we feel called to do. Breaking our own rules is easier said than done, especially because we often can’t see them. Our rules have been in place for so long they feel like law—unchangeable reality.
If you are walking around with a rule like Life is hard or I have to suffer to make great art, you’re not in the habit of questioning them. To do so might feel like arguing that grass could be pink and the sky could be purple. Yet, as unbending as rules might feel, you can always find people who are living proof of the exception. Which means it’s not a rule, for them.
For every person who feels like they have to work themselves to the bone to get ahead, there’s another who gets what they want with ease. For each person who lives with the rule that Love hurts, there is another who lives by the opposite. They’re just two people who are living under a different set of rules. Rules get embedded in your mind and are backed up by your story. They were usually laid down long ago—through messages you received about life and yourself when you were too little to question them.
Rules can find their way into your mind via your friends, teachers, parents, or society at large. They slip unknowingly into your psyche when you watch movies or listen to songs. However they make it there, any rule that makes a home in your head has a powerful effect on your life. Let’s say you want to write a song, but hear a voice in your head say: I can’t do that. This contrast means there’s an old rule at play. It might be: It’s a waste of time to make art. Or it could be: I don’t have what it takes. If you want to find the love of your life and hear a voice say: I’ll probably just be alone forever, you’re running up against a rule that’s ready to be broken. Back and forth in your mind is always a sign that you are operating under a rule that is ready to evolve.
Turning Them Around
To turn your rules around, you have to find out what they are first. With some introspection, you can find many of them yourself. Think of your desires that are immediately followed by a mental objection, and write down that objection. That’s a rule. From there, turn the rule into what you’d ideally like instead, even and especially if it feels impossible. Ask yourself: If a genie could fall down out of the sky and paint reality, however you’d like it to be, what rule would you like to govern my life? Write that down under the old rule it’s replacing.
If you discover a rule like: I’ll always be alone, be honest about what you really want instead. You could turn it into: I’m often loved and supported. But if you’d really like more than that, give yourself permission to write something like: I feel completely loved and supported every moment. And remember that evolution is the most consistent pattern in nature. It’s totally natural and OK for your rules to evolve.
Here are 10 of The Most Common Rules (and what they can turn Into):
1. Life is Hard.
My life is easy and fun.
2. There’s not enough (time/money/love/success) to go around.
There’s plenty for everyone.
3. I have to prove I’m worthy of love before I can have it.
I’m loved and cherished simply for who I am.
4. The truth hurts.
The truth feels good; it brings me closer to those I love.
5. If I get into a relationship, I’ll lose myself and feel trapped.
Relationship helps me expand; it gives me even more space to be myself.
6. I have to sell out to be successful.
I am most successful by staying true to myself.
7. I have to struggle to do what I love most.
Doing what I love most makes me thrive.
8. I have to figure everything out before I move forward.
I move forward and figure it out as I go.
9. People won’t take me seriously until I achieve X.
People take me seriously because I believe in myself and my work.
10. If I change too much, I’ll lose my friends and family.
Growth and change deepens my connection to those I love.
Reading your new rules in the mirror (with loving eye contact) can work wonders in reinforcing them, especially since the old ones were often delivered with eye contact too. If they feel like they aren't working, it's usually just because they aren't quite right. You might need greater clarity about what the old rule is, or to stretch yourself even further in naming your ideal. Accuracy matters. If you feel like you need help turning your rules around, remember—you don't have to do it all on your own. We all need support sometimes. Check out how Mindset Repatterning can help.