Episode 052 – Personal Rules. Relaxing, understanding how they’re formed, consequences of the good and bad, social media influences, re-defining rules and more
Episode 052 – Personal Rules. Relaxing, understanding how they’re formed, consequences of the good and bad, social media influences, re-defining rules and more
(Please note audio quality isn’t the best in this episode but it was too good to scrap. Thank you for listening)
As people, the way we live our day to day is based on internal and external rules. They govern the way we think, decide and act. More on this shortly.
Now, if you cast your mind back to 2020. As a population, we experienced additional external rules in the form of ‘lockdown’. This lead to challenges such as mental health issues, relationship breaks, financial difficulties, self-harm and more.
It appears that by introducing additional rules, people have had their beliefs challenged and thus are protecting themselves by choosing a different way to communicate and behave.
Another way to describe this is that people are tightening the rules by which they live. As you’ll find out in today’s podcast – rules whether good or bad have consequences.
Becoming aware of your rules and relaxing them is what Dr Ro and Harminder aim to help you discover in today’s episode, which covers the following questions:
- Why is understanding your rules important?
- What is a rule in a personal context?
- How do we form rules?
- What do we then attach our rules to?
- Can rules be good or bad?
- What are the consequences of good or bad rules?
- How does social media influence how rules are created?
- What are the common rules that Dr Ro has observed in people?
Plus taking action on determining what your rules are and how to relax them:
How to relax your rules?
- Move from a conditional based approach – ‘Only if this’ and ‘Only if that’.
- Move away from external validation of the rule for which you have no control over.
How to spot rules and then change them?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do you feel constricted, test or frustrated?
- Have you ever found yourself wanting badly to achieve something but you never quite get the results you wanted?
By answering these questions you’ll begin to identify when the rule comes into play, the next step is to work out what the rules are by:
- Asking WHY? What should have happened to get that feeling, value or result that you were seeking?
Once you answer this question then you’ve discovered the rule. That’s the rule. And if you dig deep enough you’ll find another rule underneath that one. And another.
Now you have a choice, either:
- Relax the rule.
- Redefine it.
- Remove it all together.
This activity is not to be underestimated as it can alter your life direction and the way you feel on a day to day basis.
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Harms: Hello it’s Harms here and welcome to another episode of the Seekardo show.
I want you to cast your mind back to the moment to the last couple of years and the feeling has to be honest been dramatic in how many changes as a culture, society, as human race we have had to go through based on what’s happened.
What’s interesting is specifically today’s show we will be talking about a word called rules and people have been subjected to external rules. i.e. lockdown, financial changes and because of that we are seeing dramatic increases in mental health issues, relationship breakups, self-harm amongst younger people.
The reality is, it seems that people are finding their beliefs being challenged and they are then protecting themselves by choosing a different way to communicate and behave. We’re seeing this in a one-to-one scenario group scenario and all over social media, social media has blown up the space.
It also seems to me that people are tightening their rules by which they are living.
The question I want to bring to Dr Ro who is here opposite me is having worked with tens of thousands of people over the last 30 years Ro, are rules and what you are observing a good thing and I would love to also talk about the consequences and by the end of the show help people understand what they can do around the subject of rules.
The question is why do you feel this is important and what are you seeing through your own eyes?
Dr Ro: Hello everybody and welcome back. Thanks for joining us on this particular podcast really glad that we’ve got the subject out in the open Harms.
I think we’ve had a lot of discussions about this over the years, not just over these few months, but I think it’s come up a lot recently. I’ll wear my glasses just for a minute, I feel that we are at a really unique junction in time where young people, older people and the people in the middle, which I guess would be your demographic are grappling with what is right, what is wrong as this is what rules are about.
I believe this, but I believe this, but in order to believe this, I see the world this way and for me to believe this, I see the world this way. I’m having a conversation at the moment with my two brothers over a subject that is very sensitive. I have a set of beliefs and rules attached to those beliefs and they have rules attached to their beliefs and in some ways there’s agreement, but others there is disagreement. We’re seeing people arguing on social media over the subject of vaccination, no vaccination is Covid real isn’t it real? Should we have lockdown shouldn’t we have lockdown? Should we wear masks, shouldn’t we wear masks?
Then you’ve got families that are compressed into small spaces and parents then trying to get control over the household. It’s like an explosive energy bringing on to a confined space and it explodes out. I feel honestly that people have got to a point now where they are trying to get some semblance of order, certainty that might be by the rules of say Maslow’s hierarchy of needs a sense of control, sense of security because they’re feeling insecure in their lives.
Meaning that because they’ve been told what to do and how to live it if some part of our lives we lose control it is human nature to try and get control somewhere else. So we apply a set of rules, sometimes in a macroscopic part of our lives, but at least we can control that one thing that can lead to dominating relationships, parents being overly strict with their kids, can lead to couples trying to constrict how the other person lives and it can outflow into families and relationships, et cetera.
What I’m trying to say from my observations I think people are becoming stricter in the way they behave in sometimes just certain areas of their lives to the point where it’s causing friction. I don’t want to be too dark on this podcast.
I want people to be aware of it because I see it explode when people have meltdowns and I say let’s have a look at your life. How come you’re living like that? They go because of this and the minute someone says because of this it’s actually a rule they’ve attached to their life. If you look at it from a global perspective all of our rights and this is a personal view a lot of people’s rights have been taken away simply because of the rules that have been implemented to say you can’t travel here. You can’t see this person, you can only hug on this date.
These are all rules by the way and you can’t go have a coffee with a friend in a café, you can’t go have a meal out, you can’t travel to the beach.
They are rules and when you live in a society where there are continuous rules it just becomes built into your psyche and in a year we’ve seen people conform to a set of rules my concern is now that that’s becoming a natural course of history in their own lives down on a daily basis.
Harms: We’re seeing the heightened tightening of rules but just for clarity for the audience these rules have existed in people’s lives for a long time before.
What’s happening is extreme in certain parts of people’s lives also that means the opposite effect is happening elsewhere in people’s lives or it’s being neglected. Just for clarity these are rules that existed from the day you’re born external or internal but what we want to do is bring this to your awareness today as the listeners because we need you to be aware of the fact that you may be tightening your rules to a really heightened extent and not even realising, you’re doing it.
Dr Ro: If we step back and look at it, let’s look at rules as a massive heading you can get global rules, you have these big conventions where heads of all countries get together and say how do we want to behave around the environment?
What about civil rights?
You can have global rules, then you go down into a country where there are country based rules and I wrote about this in a book there was a couple I worked with from Poland and how their society rules had transcended into their family rules and when they moved to the United Kingdom where they had more freedom of rules they found it difficult to then go and operate, because they were living by the set of rules they have in their own country.
Which happens in Asian cultures as well.
Then you have local society or what we would have had previously tribal rules and that would be defined by the leader of that tribe and community then you go down to a family level where there are rules around the family.
How we conduct ourselves and then it comes down to the individual and your own set of rules. If you think about it as you said there we grow up by default into a set of rules.
I think today is more about at the individual level, I do not believe that an individual can operate through life and create their own rules without them in some way being affected by that first ring of rules i.e. family, then the bigger set of rules which is their town, bigger set rules which is the county then country and the global. It all pervades all the way down and it comes down to our emotional development and awareness of how to define our rules and which ones we want to live by and which ones we want to let go.
Harms: When it comes to that word then rules you started to explain, what is a rule in the context of what you just described on a personal level? And off the back of that how do we form these rules as individuals?
Dr Ro: In the context of what we’re talking about here is the way we frame how we want to experience something. Let’s say for example you want to experience health in order for you to feel healthy so this is a value, in order for you to feel the value of health something has to happen.
If you said to me I want to experience love Ro, I want to have more love in my life. How do you know you’re experiencing love?
And whatever comes next would be all set of rules and in the turning point book I refer to those as conditions. These conditions have to be met in order for me to feel that beliefs are similar. This is what I believe and in order for me to see that happening in my life this must have had to happen. So rules are the conditions if you look at a computer program if this then that, if that then this, then this is the output from the computer. If I experience this and I see this if those things happen in my life at the moment they are the rules that tell me I’m feeling healthy or that I’m feeling loved, feeling successful so they are set of conditions or formulaic achievements that tell me that output that equals healthy, relaxed, loving, connected, successful, whatever you want to attach it to.
Harms: Here’s an example: imagine yourself the day before your birthday and you’re excited and you wake up the next day and nobody has wished you happy birthday yet.
You haven’t had any text messages and you go to the kitchen and there’s no special birthday meal there’s no balloons, no decoration, so each of those items I just listed are conditions or rules in my mind which need to happen for my birthday to be amazing. I’ve experienced it, I’ve also been on the other end of not having done the birthday balloon and breakfast to see your partner’s face. Then what you discover is actually a birthday is a day and the moment we start to remove the conditions that the birthday is amazing regardless of what happens on that particular day.
Dr Ro: In other words, the day on which you are born is your birthday and whatever age you got to in your description there, something must have happened for you to define what makes that particular day a great day, that definition if you wrote it as a paragraph you take those sentences and they become a rule.
I have to have a card by the side of the bed, balloons in the kitchen. I have to see a text from my family. I have to get a hug or kiss from my partner if all these things happen it’s an amazing day. They are the rules, conditions that make it an amazing day.
This is a life defining as everything we do ultimately comes down to our beliefs and values of the rules attached to them and if they’re misaligned some people it can lead to suicide. I’ve worked with people where their rules are so strict that it led to them attempting suicide that’s the consequences in a dark way.
Harms: What do we actually attach our rules to?
Dr Ro: Your example let’s go back, so you would have had a belief about what your birthday should be.
The belief was how it should look like and feels like might be you attached joy, happiness, excitement possibly surprise. Pick one of those.
Dr Ro: The question I’d say to you is in order for you to feel surprise Harms on your birthday what has to happen?
We’re eliciting here a set of rules that only Harms has attached to the meaning of surprise. The one where I’ve worked with a lot of people emotionally to the point of depression and suicides is often attached to success, but in this case surprise.
Walk us through some of the rules that have to happen, how do I know you’ve had a day of surprise?
Harms: The first thing that has to happen and I’m going to exaggerate, but honestly I was like this at one point in my life.
Rule number one is the midnight of my birthday date. I must have received a text from my partner. After a good six, seven hours, eight hours, nine hours sleep the moment I open my eyes, I must see additional text messages from my family, friends and again my partner.
Dr Ro: Imagine a programme everybody in order for the word surprise to come up on your computer screen the computer has to register a text before midnight the night before your birthday. Then eight to nine hours later, the computer awakes to check the text and the rule next is.
Harms: I need text messages from people who I don’t speak to for years.
Dr Ro: You also need to see text messages from people you haven’t seen for a while.
We’ve already got four conditions in my program before my computer screen can print up surprise and this has to happen before 9 AM.
Harms:En-route to brushing my teeth in the morning the postman should ring the doorbell and as I open the door I need to be delivered a parcel. And the final one as I could go on all day, I need a missed call, which I won’t answer but will make me feel good.
Dr Ro: Give me a few headlines for the day as well.
Harms: Balloons, birthday breakfast and lunch.
Dr Ro: We’ve got to up to 10 rules there. In this example we’re taking a value which actually the belief was I want to have a great birthday. Your broad belief was a good birthday has the following things in it, each one of those was a value and then we’ve gone deeper. We said let’s pick one of those values in order for you to feel surprised what has to happen. I could have then gone in order for you to feel love what has to happen?
Harms: In the listeners mind imagine a tree and the tree has four big branches and each branch has a big label and off those branches are smaller branches. These are the rules associated with it.
Dr Ro: If you hadn’t had a text the night before, how would you have felt?
Dr Ro: Already you lost that sense of surprise. What if you woke up in the morning and no texts from friends, family?
Harms: Have people forgotten, do people care?
Dr Ro: There’s no sense of surprise. What if you have received them, but at 6 o’clock in the evening?
Harms:I would still feel the same way.
Dr Ro:Even if one or two of those rules hadn’t been met by 9AM you would have lost your surprise.
Harms: The danger with that is and early 20s I felt that the whole day now was thrown off and no matter what happens on that day it could be amazing; it just won’t make it the best birthday I imagined in my mind.
Dr Ro: Add to that what if 9:30 you have no texts from your family and friends, but you speak to a friend of yours who has the birthday on the same day as you and they say I’ve had a text from my girlfriend last night and woke up this morning to many messages, how would you have then felt?
Harms: I guess the whole birthday is a right off. It is worthwhile pointing out I’m describing the subtleties that happen in somebody’s mind. It’s these subtle rules that occur the more you have, the more they stack, and the more it takes you away from enjoying that day.
Dr Ro: Those 10 rules plus made it very difficult you to just feel a sense of surprise on your birthday. If you’re laughing at this just do the exercise for yourself.
Harms: We’ve personally seen in your big live events turning point and the audience is in hysterics. The reason they’re laughing is they can relate to it.
Dr Ro: Imagine us going, do you remember in that year when we weren’t allowed to go out, we weren’t allowed to talk to a friend across the fence in our garden. We had to cross the road when someone else was walking towards us and then couldn’t go anywhere without a mask.
Do you remember when we couldn’t sit in the café less than two minutes apart?
We might look at that in years to come and go that’s ridiculous, in the same way we look at these situations.
Harms: Imagine somebody has these rules already built-in and now they’ve got external rules which they didn’t choose. This is why we’ve got mental illness, challenges, the struggle, the pressures people are at a tipping point because people already have rules that they live by. Hopefully they’re not 10 rules before 9 AM but people have rules, add to that external which is now the controlling factor which is out of your control.
Dr Ro: I spoke to somebody one my clients just recently he’s 33 nearly committed suicide and it just got to a point this year where his feeling was he couldn’t cope, he needed to get out and when there was an announcement of locking down et cetera, all of those things something snapped. He had issues before and he couldn’t see a way out, there was a lack of any sense of purpose.
Harms: I’ve described a bunch of rules which are fun they’re very minor in the grand scheme of things, but we also mentioned the government rules, rules that take people to a very dark place.
The question I have is are there good and bad rules?
Or all rules bad?
Dr Ro: First of all not all rules are bad.
We put rules in place to allow ourselves to feel that I’m feeling this because of this, so there are certain rules that serve us in a way that is good for our health, our relationship.
For example, if you in the past had a relationship break up and that person has been bothering you, but you’ve always been open to talking to them because you felt somewhere that connection, but if that conversation keeps wounding and you can’t move on to a healthy new relationship it might be that you need a rule in place that’s like a gatekeeper, emotional block that stops that person being in your life as they’re not serving you anymore.
The challenge of course is what if you implement that rule to every new relationship. We had a lady at Turning Point who hadn’t been in a relationship for 12 years because she had a partner who cheated in the last relationship she created a rule that all men will do the same thing. Even if I let them into my life so my new rule is I won’t allow men to get close to me, she’d been in and out of very short-term relationships and she hadn’t had anything physical, emotional with anybody in depth.
She was afraid that’s an example of a rule and the question was do you want to feel free and do you want to let go and have a deep meaningful relationship?
Yes I do, I don’t know why I’m not. When we dug back we found out value was and what the rules were so binding she could never have a healthy relationship, she created rules that initially were that there to protect her, but she’d reinforced them to the point where the safe and this is where the challenge with rules is, they can be very controlling to the point where we forget why we set them up.
Our rules are like this solid wall that we can build around ourselves and some are made from paper.
Harms: We need to be extremely conscious of the rules we have and because would you agree or disagree to the fact that the longer the rules stay in existence, regardless of whether it serves us or doesn’t, does it get stronger?
Does it turn into concrete the longer it’s been there?
Dr Ro: From my engineering background we say calcified something becomes more solid and the answer is yes, because it is like treading on a path the more you tread on it and we don’t deviate from the path. Then someone says let’s go down this track and others say can’t we have to stick to this track.
On the consequences involve our kids. If you’re a parent and you enforce rules at an early age they can become the same way they can calcify to the point where you can’t remember why you did it with your kids and the kids then inherit rules. You maybe did it initially to protect them, so the answer to your question is you’ve got to keep coming back and ask the question is this the right path?
Are these the right rules?
Have my beliefs and values changed?
In answer to your question about good or bad, can be both good and bad where I think they are bad is where they are overly emphasised and maybe are set up because we try to protect ourselves. Typically where I see rules becoming an issue not just ourselves but partner or family or children and we do it maybe as an initial reaction to a set of circumstances. I think what Covid has done has got people now to a point where they’re starting to be very cautious because we are fear driven.
So, rules defined based on fear are the ones that worry me as opposed to rules based on aspiration. In other words what can I do to make that area of my life amazing, what rules can I put in place to steer my life towards having an experience of surprise or love or connection, health, family, having more adventure.
If we go on an adventure but the rules are we can’t do this, and we can’t do that, kids you can’t do this. If you think about it from that perspective, a fear-based set of rules then how can you be aspirational because you’re always living from fear of what if this happens?
Harms: I think the listeners will take a moment to process that and something I’ve taken away from that is the intention you would have had when you first created a the rule would have been a good one it’s to protect yourself, but what you also described is do check back into these rules, do continuously assess them because what you were protecting yourself from in the initial instance may only have to be in place for three or four months.
Then we have to just release the rule because you want to be free and if you want to act on your behalf if you want to do what you want to do in life, but you’re struggling to work out why that’s not happening, maybe you forgot that this rule you created six months, 12 months ago.
But it’s stuck in your unconscious like concrete.
Dr Ro: Families have rules.
There was a fantastic story I heard to do with a housewives tale of mum that used to take fish and chop the fish like third or two thirds of the way to the body of the fish and cook it and three or four generations kept being the same thing.
This is how we cook fish and one day the granddaughter said why do you do that?
We’re losing half the fish.
That’s what your great grandmother did and when they asked the grandmother she said my mum only had a dish this long so she couldn’t cook the full length fish. But we’ve got bigger dishes, so we’re cooking only one third of the fish, it was a rule that came because of the set of circumstances back then.
Harms: It was appropriate then but no one has assessed it.
Dr Ro: You’re in an interesting time as you are a parent right now that’s having to literally manage that, in the middle of Covid. We are quite relaxed as a family. We made a choice a long time ago with both our kids. There are all the sleeping routines, eating routines and we made a decision to be more relaxed.
The consequence of which I think our kids are probably a bit more free-spirited. You’ve gone through a situation recently where you’re managing your little son’s sleeping patterns and you’re being mindful of that, even though you’re experimenting back and forth. That conversation with you and your wife in six months’ time do we want to keep doing that?
The same thing with how he eats and travels with him. If as parents at a young age we are too strict, the child literally becomes like that. It’s flexible and we stay. Some kids grow up to be really rules driven because the parents didn’t relax those rules at a young age.
I sat in parent’s evening four years ago and the mum was like my son is so anxious and he won’t do this, when we first started swimming I wouldn’t let him let go of the bar, he didn’t go anywhere near the swimming pool and now he doesn’t want to go near the sea and it seems like he is terrified. I’m thinking she doesn’t see that her whole anxiety and rules have now become her son’s rules.
If I was in the space to tell her what to do at an event but it wasn’t my place. But it does worry me that this last year has just ingrained rules into our kids.
What are kids thinking about now?
We’re seeing mask after mask going to school environments where the teacher may have a mask on or full PPE, what unconscious rules does that create for our kids?
Harms: We’re defining two types of rules. the rules that you create yourselves but we also have a responsibility not as parents but in the workplace, managerial, leadership to then create rules for other people, communities, families, so rules play out in different ways.
Dr Ro: I think by being aware of it you as a parent I’ve seen you play and experiment to go when do we relax it, when do we tighten it?
Harms: For many people when they first realise that rules are existing on their mind and they start digging deeper they find more subtle and candidly, it is stopping you from enjoying life. That feeling of anxiety exists because this whole list of 10 rules exists.
Dr Ro: It’s a process of removal and redefining otherwise you could replace those rules with another set of rules.
The way to look at it is if your rules serve you to create a positive experience or negative? If negative you’ve got to change the rules.
Harms: Something that I’ve seen in my generation creeping up now into your generation is the defining of rules from an external place, but often people don’t know it’s happening and when I say this, some listeners will say yes 100% agree, some will say no way. That is the way social media starts to create and define rules in our life.
Dr Ro: Our rules were defined by our parents, observations and it was a microscopic world.
Harms: It was parents, school maybe a magazine maybe television show.
Dr Ro: It was a much smaller environment. It took quite a significant event to just rules outside of the small world we grew up in. we didn’t have repetitive stuff.
Harms: Now we have the repetitive stuff which is message after message after message which is more damaging and we can’t avoid it. It takes such a conscious effort of our mind to actually put a block on it and actually process every piece of information coming through your eyes is extremely difficult to say, what am I seeing?
It’s the social dilemma.
For those who listened to the social dilemma I’m a big fan because it highlights the importance of how social media is shifting culture and just tilting it by one or 2 degrees, but another way to describe that is, it’s creating rules within our society and certainly our younger generation.
Dr Ro: We’re seeing information be presented on a consistent regular basis about a subject somebody might relate to so maybe a value or belief they believe in themselves, so now they’re perceiving how that is. They’re seeing that image being presented so many times it’s almost defining the rule for them without them realising.
Harms: It is an unconscious definition of the rule which then dictates how you live or enjoy.
Two examples, think about the online world and Internet as having every single niche community and belief system and value that exist ever. It’s all on the Internet. Let’s take one example about money, so there is a drive and a worthy ambition which is to create financial independence to unshackle yourself on a salary and take control of your finances.
One of the challenges that exists online is whether it’s people, organisations they make it seem like getting rich is easy, easy, and easy.
Dr Ro: In my generation it’s like it’s not easy. You’ve got to put the work in, go out and send leaflet flyers. That was our perception. The image was always that it wasn’t perceived to be easy.
Harms: I’d say that’s a much better image.
It’s a harder sell. For example if you have a program which is going to show somebody how to take care of the finances, the harder thing to do is to say this is going to be hard work but buckle up. We would rather somebody go into the space with the rule already associated with this is where it’s going to take hard work and effort and discipline, versus it is going to be plain sailing, super easy.
There are your rules coming in.
The problem is if these rules exist in your mind are you ever going to achieve that success you want?
Dr Ro: What are millennials doing if they try the business and the rules come in and they pull back what do they do?
Harms: Searching for something easier.
Dipping in and out and they’re trying to find as they’ve got this rule in their minds it is going to be easy. They’re hunting for the easier thing that’s going to work. Another example, which is away from money and that is lifestyle.
I also class is living the way that you want and that will provide you a feeling, you go through the day with fulfilment with joy. Now this is a big challenge and it actually transcends any kind of money conversation and I personally believe it causes great challenges as one is the pursuit of money.
The other is how I live minute to minute day-to-day and if you take social media for example, whether they live that way or not is irrelevant, the fact that the image exists of somebody living an amazing lifestyle on the beach, maybe six months of the year, 12 months of the year or they have a glamorous house or whatever, the picture they painted whether it’s true or not is irrelevant because the person consuming that now starts to create rules in their mind.
My kids have to dress this way. My sofa has to look this way, my TV has to be 55 inches not 30 inches. I need to have that extension, I need to make sure I have Mercedes or BMW.
Dr Ro: Here’s where the damage comes in because now we’re starting to talk about what I classify as the counter to that, what is the opposite to that?
What if you don’t get that?
Now we start going down the path of life is worth living. I’m a failure. In order me to achieve success this is how it has to look, these are the rules but what’s the opposite to that? Failure.
If you don’t have the BMW you’ve failed. If I don’t have that house on the beach, I’ve failed, if I haven’t done it in the first six months I’ve failed.
This leads to suicide, depression this whole emotional spiral, these are the negative consequences. We’re seeing people are not living up to their expectations of what they’re seeing they’ve created rules without realising. Somebody has written and unwritten set of rules that says this is how it should look like and you should live that way and now we are talking about damaging and so no wonder people are getting into depression and self-harm increase in teenagers.
Harms: Why this is so critical to get across is social media didn’t switch itself off it’s 24, seven, so to untangle your walls from there, it could be an evening exercise the moment you switch that machine back on, the moment you see those images, you are now sucked back into recreating those rules.
Dr Ro: That’s the same as you meeting your friend who goes I had three, four texts this morning it was amazing, what happens now is you’ve switched social media someone else tells you it’s amazing. It’s hit those rules again.
Harms: Even if you follow the process to untangle the rules the challenge I have with social media the moment someone looks at their phone again, looks at their newsfeed they’re going to be rewiring those old rules and because those rules have been there for long it’s easier to fall back.
Dr Ro: Depending on how emotionally developed a person is as well of course.
Harms: Just for clarity for myself I had to switch it off. I know you use it for business use.
Dr Ro: I can’t go near it, even someone my age I get drawn in as it’s hypnotic.
It’s designed that way.
If you say we don’t understand I can’t live without it, that is a rule. I need to get a connection, another rule, I need to check there is another rule.
Harms: Have you observed when somebody is defending what they do will they create justification rules like we’ve just done.
Dr Ro: But they don’t know that’s the rules. They wouldn’t admit, unless you dig deep and question.
Harms: What other rules I guess what underlying rules do you see that are the most important that we should be extremely vigilant and careful of?
Dr Ro: I think one of the biggest ones at the moment genuinely hand on heart, one of my deepest concerns because of Covid, because of the set circumstances that occurred this year more than any other time in history is just freezing. You freeze, you run or you fight.
What I mean by freeze is I know for a fact that the moment people are genuinely wanting to improve their life financially, trading the stock market, start a business, go into property. Maybe developing an online business like you have is possible if they put the work in but what’s happening is they’re freezing as they are in that state of mind where they go. I’ve got a rule which under certain circumstances it’s probably better to do nothing just to lie flat.
That is historically what we’ve done as human beings, that’s a dangerous rule when applied to your own life when you’re not being life threatened by Tiger actually threatened by doing some work. Invest some money behind it, put hours into it, educate themselves. I think I’ll just wait. That could be the rule and I’m seeing it.
Number two is I’ll just wait and see, I’ll watch what’s going to happen. Maybe in about three- or four-months’ time I’ll do something.
Harms: Linking back to what we said at start is the longer that goes on waiting also becomes an inherent rule.
Dr Ro: I run courses on property and people come through and say we want to do this, but we’re going to wait and see because the government is talking about furlough. I say what are you waiting for?
We’ll just wait to see if mortgages become available, but the reality is if they don’t act now they’re always going to be governed by the government. In a relationship if it’s not going well I’ll just sit and wait. But how will it get better because the same set of rules, beliefs and values and conversation always existed.
If you don’t stop and review that now it’s going to carry on with the future. It’s a dangerous rule it’s not actually being proactive but being reactive to a set of circumstances that may happen in the future.
Harms: One that pops into mind off the back of that is if the parents themselves are behaving this way that naturally is passed down to children unconsciously. Parents being extremely strict and creating rules around how their children live essentially and operate day-to-day and then not relaxing those.
Dr Ro: Particularly at the moment with lockdown maybe parents fear is not allowing the child in the garden, just ask yourself the question, yes, I have these rules six months ago because of certain conditions, et cetera, are they still appropriate now?
We have always been adverse to digital media and my 12 year old I didn’t want her having a lot of access to a phone and iPad however, we have relaxed the rules this year to give her a chance to speak to granny, speak to some of her friends she hasn’t seen physically for a year eight months, 12 months so that she can maintain that connection as a young, soon to become teenager and allow her to have those connections.
If I said no you can’t use that iPad, but she says I want to connect with my family and my friends. No, the rule is no digital media. That is actually affecting her because she doesn’t get the connection she wants. I’m looking now where to relax that to still give her a chance to be a young person.
Harms: The other area is couples. Couples rules are fascinating.
What’s the most important rule clash that you see in couples?
Dr Ro: I think it’s security and freedom so we all have a basic need for security to be safe. We don’t want to take risks to jeopardise our relationships or our financial situation equally the opposite to that is I want to travel. In couples you might want to hang out with me, your wife might want to see her friends, you may want to travel together so variety, what I’m saying is Covid has magnified that.
People that are historically security and fear driven that’s become a magnifying glass they don’t want to risk anything. The last event I did was probably the most fearful group I have had.
There was a wife saying I want to do something different, start a business, get into property in the next two to three years and we’ll have financial security. Husbands like let’s not take the risk we’ve got to get our heads down. I don’t want to risk any finances or do anything. The polar difference is massive.
You’ve got security from one end. She wants to create security by doing something, she realises I have to change my rules to create new business to create security. He doesn’t want to do that.
That’s a massive one with couples.
Harms: The next level beyond that is single people who are looking for a couple or for love.
Dr Ro: Let’s pick love.
Love can have lots of different rules attached. You might remember there was a lady. What was your observation when you came off that event? I met her a few years later, it was big and affected lots of couples in relationships. She was struggling as a single person. She said I’m really finding it hard to be in a relationship and feel love and I really value love.
Harms: So why I loved that because she was of the generation that I am who are couples between 25 to 35 years and the closer they get to 35 mark they seem to be struggling even more with finding love.
Dr Ro: She was a vibrant, attractive young woman who by all accounts would easily go and meet somebody because of her energy.
Harms: The audience was 300+ the audience were all on her side and the observation was she wanted love, but when you start asking those questions as you asked me about my birthday, what has to happen for you to feel love and then she starts to describe almost a perfect man and a perfect relationship scenario. But the rules associated with that were intense.
Dr Ro: Going back I think it was like he has to text me.
I need to be sent gifts.
He has to know what I’m thinking.
He has to tell me he loves me on a daily basis and every one of these were stacked behind each other and it was all to do with what he had to do for her.
Harms: That was the biggest takeaway.
It was these rules where he needed to be and what he needed to do almost on a daily basis for him to show that he loves me.
Dr Ro: They were all conditional to each other. I said what if he doesn’t text you or doesn’t tell you he loves you or doesn’t know exactly what you’re thinking.
Her face looked like horror.
I think the last relationship she’d broken up with him because he just didn’t get what she was thinking. You could see even the women shaking their heads, but the more we listed it out she started to see.
Harms: We’re seeing that play in my generation massively in the sense that we’ve got a generation of people who are very career orientated, probably the last generation to come out of the classic school system so they have rules for example my partner has to earn a certain amount. My partner has to have a certain professional job. My partner has to have a certain cultural background, these are rules that exist as well.
Dr Ro: Even within the Asian culture you have the caste system which basically says you have to come from X, Y, and Z.
Then that pervades into a behaviour of even one culture but you’re talking about the younger millennial generation where it’s an image thing.
Harms: The reason is the way that rules are established is when we are a couple we’re only going to be a couple if we can get a mortgage together or we can share the rent so I need my partner to pay £500 to the rent, as an example.
These are the kind of rules being created in someone’s mind. If you think about going on a date and then you start to narrow this down every rule narrows your ideal partner down.
It makes it harder to achieve.
The person you may want to be dating because of your rules could be sitting in Brazil and you’re in the UK you’re never going to meet them.
Dr Ro: It does lead to some unbelievable behaviour patterns. I see in couples wanting to have babies, we’re only going to have a baby when X, Y, and Z. The finances, I have to be in the right career and it seems to go on and on and on. When we started to really understand human behaviour and started to challenge decisions, we were making the first thing you look at are the rules.
That’s why we see couples have babies in their 40s; they have to wait for the rules.
You tell that story about health and how for you certain things had to happen from a health perspective. In other words, a value for you back in the day was health. You had this frown on your face when you talked about it.
The question was what has to happen for you to feel healthy?
Harms: Health is a massive one Ro and personally the way it played out in my mind and again it is formed from social media, the Internet, creating certain health rules which was for me to be healthy or feel healthy I had to do a whole bunch of things and actually it stemmed from this concept off the different labels miracle morning.
Basically you wake up at 5 AM and that first hour window is yours but your day is only a success and you’re going to be healthy mentally vital. For me to have a holistic view I had to wake up at 5 AM. I had to exercise.
Dr Ro: I’m guessing you’re seeing people on social media saying it is nine. I’ve just done two hours of this, just cleansed this, just done that. And you’re going okay I’ve just woken up.
Harms: But I was going through that.
But the moment I didn’t say an hour of power, miracle morning five things to do journaling, exercise, cold shower, whatever it is if I didn’t do one of those things, I didn’t feel healthy. If I didn’t do another thing I felt terrible.
Dr Ro: By a rule you set up against what?
Harms: Against an external way of living.
To the point where you have to have a certain type of shoe to run, you have to wear a certain type of outfit with the right type of logo to run, I’ve got all the gear all and we all go through this.
Dr Ro: People start to look at that and go I can’t do that.
Harms: So I must not be healthy. If I don’t have power hour or I don’t have my miracle morning my day won’t be a miracle and this is how the rules define us. I want to move onto the solution part which is how can we redefine our rules, bearing in mind some people have stacks of them. How do we relax them?
Dr Ro: I met her at a property networking event and she was in a relationship she was glowing and she was like thank you.
Harms: I know couples you’ve worked with and they’ve had rules and they went on to get married the first time lots of phenomenal stories. For me health it was a case of all I have to do is to stick some shoes on and run and do any exercise.
So how do we redefine rules so that we don’t end up feeling the consequences?
Dr Ro: First of all be mindful of any rule you currently have that involves the other person. You talked about the lady that’s a classic example.
The minute you have a rule that is based on someone else, the government or environment control around you it is the reason that you can feel that it means that the powers outside of you. You have to start to look for that. Can’t be external it has to be something you’ve got control of like you said, if I put my shoes on and go for a run I feel healthy, great you’re in complete control of that whole situation.
So that’s the first thing it can’t be an external influence on how you feel it has to be something that you do. Then we need to look at the only if conversation and that is only if he texts me every morning and only if he texts me in the evening and only if he does that and you said only if I do my hour or power. Only if I get juice before 9 o’clock, only if I get a text from my family and only if I get a phone call from my girlfriend. They’re the only if statements.
Rules bound by only if you can never achieve it because all of them have to have this.
We have to change only if we relax the rules. That means that you make it any time so two things to write down.
Harms: Anytime I put my running shoes on and go for a run.
Dr Ro: You are not even defining how far it is or how long. Before it might have been only if I hit 5K. if you did 4.5 K not enough?
Harms: No even though I’ve been on a run go home check the distance and it’s only 4.5K.
Dr Ro: So you haven’t succeeded. It’s any time I and for those single looking for a relationship any time I think about how amazing I am and the fact I attract anyone into my life, that’s me in control of that. I can have that thought any time or whenever is another way of doing it.
Whenever I grab my shoes and just go out for a short run, I get my heart pumping that’s enough. We know the result of that will be an easy, quick win or and not and so we have to change it.
What would be another way that you could feel healthy without going for a run?
Harms: Or I’ll do 15, 20 minutes of bodyweight exercise.
Okay so whenever I do bodyweight exercise it could be 15 minutes or be whenever I do it.
Dr Ro: It’s not and if only it’s or whenever or whenever
Harms: I’m reading an interesting book at the moment called how to live by algorithms. What it really discusses is how do computer programmers, engineers, scientists, create or use algorithms that we live by on a day-to-day basis but how can we use that in our day-to-day lives?
Now the chapter I read last night, I love this as the synchronicity to the podcast is a chapter called relaxation and the example they use is a travelling salesman example.
The computer’s job is to have a, and if this and if this and the perfect scenario for a travelling salesman to optimally travel the United States of America without crossing their path once. They have all of these strict examples the computer has to work out now the computer can’t work it out, it takes an extremely long time to process that so all they did in computer science for a lot of things is they relaxed the rule literally what you are talking about.
All they did was take one rule out which was travelling salesmen can go back on themselves. Computer worked it out in a fraction of a second and in terms of living a life we’ve got a result, rather than waiting for a computer to take weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks to find the optimal solution.
Dr Ro: That applies to everything we’ve talked about really today and I think is a great point because the rule about I can only get into property when the market conditions are perfect, as opposed to getting into the property market now and starting my first step I can get my first property deal. It doesn’t have to be a massive one.
Relationship I will only talk and have this discussion with my partner if she sees exactly eye to eye with me as opposed to I can sit down with my partner now and just tell her how much I love and express my feelings. That’s a great way to start, it’s that first step, breaking that rule starting to rebuild.
The phrase is relax the rules and it’s when I or whenever I.
Harms: Those are key differentiations.
Dr Ro: Switch and for or.
And I, as you’re in control, as opposed to making somebody else.
And less rules by the way. I feel great in the morning. I just look out the window, take a deep breath and remind myself how amazing the world is. All of a sudden I feel great as opposed to only if.
Harms: Only if the sun shines and there are zero clouds in the sky. How many days in the UK are you going to feel miserable if that’s the case.
A final question to close this off then is right now what can listeners do to spot a strict rule: maybe it’s unconscious, subtle. What can they do to spot it and change it, shift immediately, relax it, remove it?
Dr Ro: Do not be afraid to just strip back bullshit and speak openly about how you feel because these rules that are holding us down you’ll look back at some point in the future and I look back now at certain parts of my life I think I wish I hadn’t has those rules when I was younger. Just let go of them and redefine a set of new relaxed rules to enjoy what is a new world.
Harms: If you’re wondering how we have this flow one we are great friends we have this connection, but also this podcast has very little rules.
Give us a couple of headlines and we’ll talk as long as we go deep.
One of our rules is we have to go deep not staying surface, the other one is we have to leave you, the listener with value.
Dr Ro: Whereas some are really strict with content.
Number one is ask the question where do you feel constricted, tense or frustrated? In an area of your life ask the question you might be feeling great in health, might be feeling great in your parenting, but maybe your relationship you’re feeling intense. It might be that you’re feeling a lack of success, where are you wanting to achieve something?
Is there a part of your life where you want to be more successful in career or business but you are not feeling like you have succeeded in those areas, or you’re not feeling like you’ve got the results you wanted to experience in that area?
The output from that is I don’t feel happy here because I feel frustrated because I don’t feel I have achieved enough in this area because that’s the first step. It’s
Harms: the pain point.
It’s what you feel frustrated about when you look back on the last 30 days, that’s an internal reflection or feeling point.
Dr Ro: That’s our indicator.
Now we look at symptoms, ask yourself why?
You might say to me this last month I haven’t been feeling healthy. I feel frustrated. Okay good now we know the value is health, or as a parent I’m not feeling I’m getting connection with my kids. So that value is connection or it could be to do with success.
The next question is, why?
What should have happened in order for you to feel healthy Harms?
Or to feel successful Sarah? Or to feel a great parent Mike and then whatever comes next are the rules being broken. Well in order for me to feel successful I should have felt this, I should have felt that, I should have felt this and I should’ve experienced this. I want the listener to write down the answer to that, in order for you to have felt this what needs to happen?
Harms: Is it fair to say somebody could do this live?
Can they do it as if they’re living through their day the moment they feel something which is like that’s frustrating, I’m not enjoying what’s happening now and immediately take a moment to self-reflect. 24-hour window.
Dr Ro: Soon as it happens.
For example, I wake up on my birthday. Why am I feeling like this? I was expecting this.
Write it down. Those are the rules and that’s why you feel down, nothing to do with anyone else. Nothing has meaning apart from the meaning we give it.
Then finally start to ask yourself the question how can I replace that, the more relaxed rule. For example those first two rules, balloons, text, how could you relax that?
Harms: Those rules have to go. One of my questions off the back is in those circumstances is it possible just to remove the rules?
Dr Ro: Yes.
Now you wake up and go great it’s my birthday so the new rule could be I’m just excited and surprised about the world. I look out the window and I feel a sense of awe and surprise about how beautiful the world is every day I wake up.
Harms: I’ve had another year on this amazing planet this day demarcates that for me.
Dr Ro: You’re surprised and feel amazed at how easy it is to walk to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. You can put a more relaxed approach to it. Even removing those rules just saying It’s birthday.
I’ve seen this play out in people’s lives again and again and again and when they remove the rules they’re glowing, they’re having a great time enjoying the day.
Really the fundamental question raised is do I need those rules? If you do need something then you make it more a relaxed rule.
Harms: A single person doesn’t need 15 rules associated with the person they’re about to date; those are just built up over time so just relax them, redefine them or drop them altogether.
Dr Ro: How about this, I wake up on my birthday and I’m grateful that I was born and I’ve had all these amazing years’ experience and grateful for the people I love over the years, and I am grateful for the fact that I’ve got people I can phone going today and just talk to on my birthday. These things you’re in control, so it’s just simple things like that.
More than anything it’s what you have control over I believe that your thoughts are the best thing. It’s how many people I can smile to on my birthday and hug, it’s these things that you’ve got control over and I think that’s where it makes the whole experience so much easier to achieve.
You get rid of them or make it easier to experience.
I actually think right now in this moment in history more people can listen to this.
Harms: That’s myself and Ro signing off.
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