As we grow up, social norms and rules shape how we think and therefore how we behave as children:
- You can play in your room, for example.
- You may not not play in the garden at 8 am on a Sunday (at least according to our neighbour 😊)
These rules can affect every realm of one’s life, depending on how and when you grew up.
To name a few examples:
- You may have something to say, but you may not interrupt the grown-ups talking.
- You may go to restaurants, but you must not behave what is considered ‘wildly’ there (at least in my childhood in Vienna).
- As a boy you must not wear skirts/nail polish/the colour pink/a headscarf….. (insert fitting terms accordingly).
- As a girl you must not have short hair/wear ‘boys clothing’/be a tomboy/dislike dolls…. (insert terms accordingly)
These rules shape our beliefs about life as children and stay with long after we grow up.
These beliefs often take on the following forms:
- You must not be lazy.
- You must finish what you have started.
- You must work to succeed in school/work/life.
- You must not be late.
Or you find them in common, much-loved and often-used proverbs such as:
- The early bird catches the worm. (You must not be late.)
- Cleanliness is next to godliness. (You must be clean.)
- Better safe than sorry. (You must take all the necessary precautions.)
- Don’t judge a book by its cover. (You must not judge people/spaces/situations… by appearances.)
As you may have noticed in my last article, depending on which culture or language the proverbs are in, they can differ from each other quite significantly in what values are being emphasized. There are many more like these in every society, and they shape people’s life and experience of life as they grow-up and go about their business.
More frequently than not they have to do with restrictions and prohibitions and less with freedom, permission, individual needs and choices.
Particularly at the start of a new year, people are more than apt to set themselves new year’s resolutions about what they must do differently this year (‘I should exercise more. I should be thinner. I should be ….’) and while they are certainly well-intentioned they often result unrealistic goals that serve to create even more restrictions in the individual’s life. After two years of pandemic and all the additional rules related to that, thinking about permissions and choices is a common topic in many of my coaching sessions.
Rather than further restricting yourself, how about making permissions a topic to focus on in 2022?
This can take any shape or form, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- What am I free to decide?
- Where do I have the freedom to say No?
- Can I give myself permission to let go of that umpteenth To-Do list?
- What do I want?
What do you give yourself the freedom to do in 2022? Where can you increase your personal realm of choice this year?
If you are in any doubt as to where to start, feel free to give me a ring. I look forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you a wonderful and healthy start to the new year!