Let’s face it. We all have them. Rules – assumptions of what we need to be like, in order to be worthy of love. They are there. And they are real. Some of our rules are conscious and some are unconscious, hidden away in the recesses of our multi-faceted mind, waiting to spring forth just as we tear apart the one above it. Like eating the marror – it is a bitter process. We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears. The journey of discovering our “rules” that hold us back from loving and accepting love, leaves us with a bitter taste and we want to give up – it’s simply too painful.
Where Oh Where Did Our Rules Come From? They come from direct and indirect sources.
Direct Source: Danny is a thirty-year-old married man and father of two. His wife and kids desperately want to spend more time with him, yet his response is always the same – “I’m busy at work.” The conflict of wanting to maintain a certain image at work and constantly letting his family down causes Danny great stress and a feeling of inadequacy.
Let’s flash back twenty years: Danny’s father only praises him when he does exceptionally well at school. The minute Danny appears to be lagging behind in his school performance, his father scolds him and withholds his love. Danny develops a strong rule: his self-worth is dependent upon his level of performance.
Indirect Source: Our parents’ shalom bayit. As children we subconsciously pick up on our parents rules of love based on their interactions with each other. Take Sara for example. When Sara was growing up she observed her father constantly criticizing her mother on the one thing she didn’t do right that day. Sara indirectly learned a very strong rule: she needs to be perfect in order to be worthy of love. Flash forward twenty years: Sara suffers from anxiety as she’s constantly trying to prove her worth to her husband by being the “perfect wife,” yet somehow can never live up to her own rules.
How do you free yourself from all your “rules of love” when they’ve been there for decades?
Step #1: Awareness. Without awareness you’ve got nothing to work with. You’ve got to notice that there’s some bitter marror living inside your heart before you can discard it.
Step #2: Write Your Life Story. Begin by writing your life story from your earliest childhood memory until now. This will take time – weeks, if not months to finish. Patience is the key. As you’re writing, different painful memories will be brought to the surface and you will become more and more aware of all your “rules of love” and where they originated. Although this process can be rather arduous and time consuming, the reward of being free from your rules of love will allow you to have the love and joy in your life that you truly deserve.
Step #3: Tears + Prayer = Freedom. Crying is the body’s natural way of releasing negative toxins/emotions from within itself. As painful memories and emotion rise to the surface, do not run from them; embrace them and cry for as long as it takes to release all that stored up negative energy. It takes courage and strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable, so use your tears as an opportunity for prayer. God really listens to those who are in pain – just like He heard our pain and saw our tears in Egypt and freed us from Galut Mitzrayim. Turn your pain into prayer and beg God to free you from these tightly-rooted false rules – so you can be free to live life and serve Him out of love and not fear.