Our romantic relationships and in fact life in general, imitate what occurs in the workplace. In a work environment where people are at various levels and who have all started at different times and with different experiences and perspective, each person has their own idea not just of what they bring to the table but what, when, why and how they feel that they should be noticed, promoted, or rewarded.
There’s someone who ‘punches their card’ and isn’t exactly setting the world alight but has got coasting down to a fine art. While some do it out of laziness, for many it’s about lack of self-confidence and a protective measure. They’ll settle if it means that they can remain in their comfort zone, even if it’s uncomfortable. They might be frustrated or even miserable but at least they’re not thinking or feeling too much.
Someone else does too much (including other people’s work and overdoing it on briefs and instructions) because they want to be liked, they fear saying no, and on some level don’t believe in themselves, feeling as if they have to do extra to prove that they’re not a fraud. They invariably feel under-appreciated and taken advantage of.
There’s someone who follows The Rules, their internal rules and perception of fairness as well as how they think things ‘should’ be done, to the letter, even when it continues to hurt. When they think about raising ideas, they worry about sounding “rude” or “demanding” or water things down to minimise risk which effectively minimises what they convey. Even if their career progresses, some feel left behind or passed over by people who didn’t do things the ‘right’ way. It’s also very possible that they don’t love or even like their job or chosen career and in truth feel unfulfilled, but don’t feel as if they can or should do something else, quickly reminding themselves of security or dangers when they contemplate change.
Someone else is vocal and not too concerned with being popular or even liked. They innovate and will push ideas even if they’re not viable and are willing to stick their head above the parapet, voicing concerns, giving feedback, and willing to network. There’s also likely a passive aggressive and/or aggressive that wears down people’s nerves (and possibly makes someone’s life a misery) and yet gets away with it (for now) because they turn on the charm, don’t get called on it, there’s a lack of leadership, or because they know the right people.
Our romantic relationships and in fact life in general, imitate what occurs in the workplace. Those of us who coast, give and do without boundaries, and who squeeze ourselves into boxes with our shoulds and should nots, end up feeling unfulfilled (and confused as to why), comparing ourselves to others, and yes, on some level resentful at the unfairness of it all.
We coast because we think that rules decided on long ago mean that we’re not supposed to be or do more. We must know our place even if that place is discomfort or habitual pain. Who am I to expect and want more for myself when I ____________? I mustn’t upset folks from the past by being disloyal to the ‘rules’ (the pattern).
If our internal rule is that we should sacrifice ourselves for love and abscond on our boundaries, it seems damn unfair that despite our suffering, that not only would that person fail to change but that they’d leave and bounce off other relationships seemingly unscathed compared to us.
Whoa! Hold up a second here! I’ve kept my mouth shut, extinguished my needs, tried to be drama-free and ever accommodating and now I’ve been ‘replaced’ by [the next person]? Why do they get to be happy?
We actually don’t know that they’re happier but we do know that they don’t give a beep about the same things that keep us clamped to rules.
What has any rule we’ve ever been taught about really originated from? Fear and guilt–make us afraid so that we don’t break that rule and suffer consequences and make us compliant by pushing guilt like crack.
When we make vows and set rules for us, they’re rooted in the past with no real thought for future situations and outcomes. Likely made as a kid, we treat the rule as if it’s definitive and then wonder why people don’t follow them and provide us with similar past outcomes or our predictions, especially when they’re similar to who we originally made the rule to protect ourselves from and/or to appease. It ‘worked’ for my parents and I got through a childhood on this rule! Why, when you’re so similar to my father/mother, aren’t you living up to the picture I painted in my mind? I don’t do ____ and _____ and ______. How did I still lose?
As I talked about in my last podcast, we are not living in a meritocracy environment. We’re not still at home or school–there’s no brownie points, stickers, stripes, pats on the back etc. Rules are invariably about appeasing one person (or a group) and their view of things just like criticism is just one person’s view on how they like things done, not the l.a.w or the universal view.
This is not a paint-by-numbers existence.
Sure, it’d be nice if the world played fair but that’s not the world we live in and ‘playing fair’ isn’t about catering to our unaddressed fear and misplaced guilt. It’s too much to expect others to be fair when we’re not being fair to us in the first place and are persistently holding us back.
A rule based on fear and guilt to help us avoid something that we encountered with others won’t work for everyone else or even similar people.
What’s especially tough is that we continue to blame our disappointment on our worthiness, keeping us further away from the freedom of an adjusted perspective and better relationships and experiences. While we’re still viewing things with the same perspective and so remaining hurt, life and the people we were involved with move on, leaving us feeling as if we’ve been passed over or left behind. This does not have to continue if we accept that the rules aren’t rules.
If we follow ‘the rules’ whether they’re ones we’re parroting from our parents, school or other authorities from our childhood or whether they’re our own made up rules, what we’re not following is our hearts, our souls, our paths and ultimately, us.
Our faux rules only offer temporary relief because no matter how we follow them, the fears they were built on remain. If anything, the fear (and guilt) is only going to recede and our perspective become more honest and compassionate, if we break the rules.
When we follow who we are instead, we enjoy life from an authentic place instead of feeling rejected because people aren’t responding to the masked version of us.
Following ‘rules’ equals following unhappiness.
We’re not in the past anymore, or at least we won’t be if we become conscious about repeating patterns and we forgive ourselves for the past so that we can let go of the rules that harm us. When we do, we notice, promote and reward ourselves but we also show up for the things that we profess to need, desire and expect. If we don’t want to be left behind or passed over, we mustn’t leave ourselves behind in the past or pass us over.