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If you regularly find yourself feeling irritated at having to follow instructions from others, you may want to pay attention to the last of our PACES hotspots (the five main ways in which we tend to disturb ourselves).
This hotspot is about autonomy and identity.
We all create rules for ourselves, based on how we see ourselves as individuals. For people who have a higher demand for autonomy, the rules are more rigid and have greater consequences when their demand for sovereignty over themselves isn’t met.
For example, I have a writer friend, whom I’ll call Carlos. He’s a classic ‘Self Ruler’.
Carlos can becomes frustrated when things don’t go his way, or when someone else is calling the shots. He tends to be critical of anyone who has the nerve to order him around. I love the guy but he’s a nightmare when we play team games at Christmas!
Occasionally his negative judgement is aimed at himself, especially when things don’t go his way or when people fail to appreciate his creative qualities. He ends up feeling under-appreciated, misunderstood and in some way “less than”. This is hardly surprising since self-damning and low self worth are well known consequences of our demands not being met.
Our egos are a key part of our personality and we have to learn how to live with them. Most young children go through a developmental stage where they discover their own identity and realise they are actually separate beings to those who have charge of them. We’ve all come across toddlers who are starting to explore and exercise their own autonomy. They can get quite wound up by simple things like not being allowed to choose their own clothes or eat what they want.
Some people continue to experience emotional resistance to the will of others into adulthood. They are likely to have a whole raft of demands based on autonomy and identity. It’s also not uncommon for Self Rulers to have a perfectionist habit too.
Here are typical thoughts experienced by someone for whom Self Rule is a PACES hotspot:
Can you hear all of the irrational demands going on?
There’s no law of the universe that supports those ‘musts’ so when, inevitably, others don’t deliver what the Self Ruler is insisting on, this can lead to frustrated thoughts, emotions and behaviour. It can place a strain on working and personal relationships.
There’s that “or else” again.
As with my other posts in the PACES series, what really winds us up here is the consequences of not having our Self Rule demands met.
So what can we do to manage our tricky egos so that we don’t sabotage important relationships, and to give ourselves a more peaceful life?
The most helpful thing we can do is to learn to recognise when we’re making irrational demands and to be able to swap those ‘must’s for a more flexible and resilient point of view.
When this happens, it’s much easier to detach our self-worth from other people’s behaviour towards us so that we don’t stumble over low self-esteem issues when people ask us to do things, or when they don’t pay as much attention as we’d like to the identity we’ve embraced.
Task: Developing self-awareness is the first step to resolving the problems that over-attachment to ego can create, such as anger and feeling stressed.
If you suspect that Self Rule is one of your hotspots, start to pay mindful attention to your thoughts when you’re interacting with people.
Notice what goes through your mind when others make suggestions that involve you. Do you feel resistance? Does your mood change? If the answer to either is yes, ask yourself this question: “What am I demanding of them and myself?”
Then amend your demands in this way. “I really want to do things my way but I accept that sometimes life doesn’t work out that way. And it doesn’t make you – or me – less worthwhile.”
Try repeating this to yourself and notice how your mood shifts. It’s subtle but effective. I’m also willing to bet that when you shift to a more flexible and accepting mindset, you won’t be giving yourself – or anyone else – such a hard time..
If you believe your attachment to Self Rule may be getting in the way of you living a life that matters, get in touch. With the right Mindset Training, you can leave this hotspot behind and free up your energies to be happier, healthier and more resilient.
Caroline is a Mindset Trainer and speaker who works with sensitive, high-potential leaders who know they were born for something more. She shows them how to beat mindset blocks and habits, such as limiting beliefs, low self worth and procrastination, that are preventing them from making a bigger impact.
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