Up to about the age of five or six we are well programmed to learn rules. Therapists call them introjects because we swallow them whole. We learn simple instructions and rules which then become automatic – or we don’t. In which case we become delinquent, and after six it’s probably too late to do anything about that.
So, there we are. Full of useful rules, and some which are not useful. Your parents’ and teachers’ rules are not necessarily what you want to hang on to, but introjects are horribly hard to modify. They are the source of all those ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ that people assert unselfconsciously with all the confidence in the world that they are stating some absolute truth. And persecute other people with in oblivious self-righteousness. Useful in a five year old: problematic sometimes in a fifty year old.
So it would be good to reduce the power of some of them. I think. I have a little list…
The one I have in mind right now is ‘don’t just sit there doing nothing’. Relentless useful activity was the order of the day in my parent’s house and things like reading were not in the useful category. Which today means that there are times when it’s OK to sit and read, but they are more circumscribed than I would wish and if Charles starts rushing around being busy, which is his natural mode in life, the old message kicks into life and my peace is gone.
I need to begin the tackle this. One of the best ways can be to get it right into awareness as an automatic rule by laying it relentlessly on other people. This will make you very unpopular – best to tell them what you’re doing and why..But still – keep doing it. The point is to keep noticing the rule and questioning the rule.
So now I have to catch Charles sitting around “doing nothing..”