A classic children’s toy – the table with shaped holes cut out on top and the wooden blocks – can you picture it? The goal of the toy is to teach the child to put the cylindrical shaped object in the circle, the square in the square, you catch my drift. And when a child discovers that the square can in fact be shoved into the circle if the circle is big enough, we tell them that it’s wrong.
From the moment we are born, we are told things are a certain way and we accept it. We conform, and put the circle in the round hole. And why shouldn’t we? The grown-ups have been around longer than we have – they know better, right?
Hold that thought.
Fast forward to the future. You’re an adult. You have a family. You’re in the work force. You’re having wine with the ladies on a Saturday night and your best friend has just told you she has decided to never have children and to travel the world instead. Your jaw hits the floor, you gasp and go into a wine induced rant as to why this is plain ludicrous.
Put the circle in the round hole. But wait, the square can go in there too. In fact, so can the triangle under the right circumstances.
For years I carried around a feeling of inadequacy because I didn’t obtain a University Degree. So one day I jumped and enrolled in a course called Community Development at a University. Three classes in I was like ‘wait a minute, I’ve already been doing this at work for years.’ I finished the class and never went back.
Still a failure.
Backtrack to summer after high school, I was having lunch with my dad and I told him I was going to college. His response: ‘you’ll never amount to anything unless you have a degree.’ This coming from a man who didn’t finish high school and yet was a successful business owner.
I had built a belief, generated a ‘rule’, and carried it with me for over ten years because of something someone had said, someone who likely doesn’t even remember saying it. Even though many famous, highly successful people like Oprah, Jim Carrey, Coco Chanel, Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson – dropped out or didn’t even bother trying to get a degree.
Not only did I carry this ‘rule’ with me, but I let it bring me down.
Society creates these ‘norms’ or rules that sometimes are just plain – bullshit. And we accept them with open arms and walk through life unaware of their negative effects on our psyche and our relationships. Vishan, creator of Mindvalley, labels these bullshit rules ‘brules’.
Here are 5 steps to burn brules and limiting beliefs that no longer serve you.
- Look at what isn’t working in your life. When something isn’t working it is usually attached to a brule that isn’t working either.
In work meetings, I often don’t express my thoughts or ideas and then end up feeling unseen and unheard. I don’t speak up because everyone else has University Degrees and therefore is smarter than me.
- Consider how this brule makes you feel. If it makes you feel good, then hold on to it. If you don’t know how it makes you feel, or it absolutely makes you feel terrible – then keep reading.
Not having a Degree makes me feel inadequate.
- Determine its origin. Who else carries this brule in your family, your circle of friends, your mentors? Was this brule your idea or was it adopted?
My dad said ‘you’ll never amount to anything unless you have a Degree.’ Likely because someone taught him that a successful career starts with a Degree.
- Soften the belief to include more compassion, less judgment, more understanding and less absolutes. Shift from black and white – to grey. Then re-evaluate based on how it makes you feel.
I could obtain a Degree, but a piece of paper doesn’t define my self-worth. My dad was really trying to say he believed I could achieve anything and I still CAN achieve extraordinary things even without a Degree.
- Stay curious. Ask why? Question everything. This is your life. You make the rules because you are the one living by them. If it’s bullshit – you don’t need to accept it.
Who said having a Degree is the end all, be all? What other opportunities are out there to grow that will make me feel good while doing it? How do I learn best? Instead of a Degree, I could try online certifications for things I am naturally good at and bring me joy.
View your beliefs as roots. They need to be unearthed on occasion and brought to light. Examine the roots from all angles. What’s growing above? Is it a poisonous plant (brule) or one that heals and nourishes (belief)? If it’s healthy and thriving it can be replanted and put into a bigger pot so it has the opportunity to grow and expand. And if you have the latter, there are plenty of healthier seeds out there waiting to be planted.
Ask yourself, what brule has been holding you back from living the life you desire?