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How Unconscious Rules are Making You Sick (and what to do about it)

unconscious rules and how they control our lives

People are different, I mean have you ever wondered:

Why are some people happy/optimism no matter what happens around them?

Why some people are confidence even though they’re going through pain?

Why can some people live with less, and still be happy?

Why some successful people, no matter what they achieve in life, always feel like failures because of not achieving that little one thing on the back of their minds?!

Such questions really make me curious to figure out what’s going on, to dig deeper into the human’s nature and see if we can do something about it.

Wouldn’t it be great to figure out how can we become happy with what we have, while pursuing what we want?

Wouldn’t it be great to give ourselves the permission to feel good about ourselves before certain things happen (lose weight, make a million bucks …etc)? Sure while working hard to get them.

I bet you’ve heard that quote about pursuing what you want while being grateful for what you have, but how we can really apply this to our lives?

Because the shocking truth is that we go so hard on ourselves, we beat the hell out of ourselves! without we even realize it.


Great question, let’s answer that.

The Unconscious Rules Inside of Our Minds

We all have our set of rules, rules that must be met before we can be a certain way, feel a certain way, or do a certain thing.

In other words:

In order for X to happen, Y and Z must occur first.

We all have these rules, with most of our emotions, something has to happen before we feel a certain way or do a certain thing.

For example, in order for someone to feel self-confidence, that person must meet his own rules of self-confidence.

And most probably these rules are unconscious and they’re unique for everybody.

For example someone can define self-confidence as talking to strangers, maybe talking to the other sex or maybe giving speeches (and maybe all of these things, in a specific order).

Someone can define success as doing what you love, someone can define success as making a million dollars, and someone can define success as the fact that he’s fighting for what he wants (maybe all of these things, but also in a specific order).

And while there’s nothing wrong with setting rules, sometimes they stop us from enjoying life and enjoying the current moment.

And that can stop us from going after the things that we want, because deep within we’ll start to believe that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never get what we want.

Other examples: In order for me to become successful, I’m supposed to always get the results I want, otherwise I’m not successful.

In order for me to feel confident, I’m supposed to be liked by everybody (or by a specific person or a group of people), otherwise I’m not worthy.

In order for me to have a good day, I’m supposed to make a great impression on everybody that I meet, otherwise it’s a bad day!

And so on, as you can see, we put off things/feelings, until other things happen first, even though it’s not necessary.

And also we have rules on the other side, that are for the negative things:

In order for me to feel rejected, someone has to disagree with me/ignore me (If you allow yourself to feel bad every time someone ignores you, you will feel bad pretty often).

In order for me to feel like a failure, I’m supposed to be told that I’m one/supposed to fail couple of times.

and so on, you get the point now.

How to Know When it Backfires at You

As I said, having these rules isn’t necessary a bad thing, as long as we have some balance. We don’t go too hard on ourselves, and also not too easy.

However, you need to take a look at your own rules because most of the time we’re not even aware of these rules.

Then you need to consider what is your ultimate goal? is it to feel successful, to feel confident or to feel free?

Those can be called “your values”, it’s a bit of a long subject that requires another article, however, have a sense of awareness about what emotion you’re trying to get or achieve.

Then you need to determinate whether your rules are too harsh and whether you’re putting much more pressure on yourself than you should.

Yes I do value hard work, and I know you do too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article, but there’s a difference between working hard and burning yourself off.

Just examine your rules and see if you can find any rules that are hard or difficult to be met.

And also examine the opposite side, the rules you have for feeling bad, if you’re making it too easy to feel bad, you got a problem.

Make your bad emotions “hard to get”.

So, you first become aware of your goals (end-feelings), then you examine these rules for any extreme rules, and change these rules to make some balance.

But …

Be careful! Misusing This Piece of Information Can Kill Your Drive

Yes, you shouldn’t go hard on yourself by setting extremely difficult rules, but at the same time, you shouldn’t make your rules too soft.

Balance is everything.

If you have a rule that says you need to make a million bucks, you don’t have to change that, just set another rule along with it, like as long as I don’t stop, and as long as I’m doing my best, that’s great.

Don’t use this article as an excuse to give up on the things that you want the most.

If making a million bucks is important for you, go for it.

If giving a public speech is important for you, go for it.

It’s like things that you do to grow and improve, but you don’t allow them to control you and make you feel bad about yourself all the time, either because you’re not there yet or because you’re so ambitious that you always aim to the next level.

Because in reality, it takes a lot of time to achieve some of these goals.

You won’t make a million bucks in 3 months, and you won’t get on the stage and become the best public speaker out there overnight, it takes some practice, hard work, and patience.

So, it makes sense to keep the “big rule”, but also to make “smaller rules” along the road to help you feel good about yourself during the process.

You either ditch the whole rule if it doesn’t make sense, or you set another soft rule along with it to balance things out.


We all have this formula:

In order to feel a certain way/do a certain thing, XYZ must happen.

And many times those XYZ are unrealistic or extremely difficult to meet them, it’s like we set ourselves up for failure.

So, being aware of the goal we want to achieve (confidence/success …etc), and also being aware of the rules we’ve set unconsciously for what reaching this goal really means for us, that’s the key.

Yes, I agree that achieving our “big rules” is important, but it takes a lot of time and motivation to do that, and if we don’t set smaller rules to help us feel good during the process, we’re more likely to give up.

Because disappointment can hold us back, and we only disappoint ourselves because we’ve set unrealistic rules or rules/goals that take so much time to achieve.

It’s all about being happy with what you have while pursuing what you want.



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