The Rules of Silence

by | Mar 11, 2021 | Blog

You will never be able to win your game as long as you’re playing by someone else’s rules. Why boundaries are vital to your being.

I’m not typically interested in royal shenanigans. They’re human just like us, but with a lot more money and level of prestige greater than many of us will ever experience. But I watched the interview with Meghan and Harry with interest. It’s not every day that one leaves the royal nest.

While you’re most likely not a part of the royal family, your own family probably has their own set of rules. Often unspoken, or only shared when you did or said something that displeased an elder. When you were out of line, you knew it.

The rules define how you’re supposed to be in the world. When you’re young, this is how you learn and test your boundaries. Some rules are good – don’t swim during a thunderstorm. Other rules, not so much – don’t talk about what makes someone else feel uncomfortable.

The rules of your childhood carry forward into adulthood, sometimes with an eerie undercurrent. As children, you look for approval from the adults in your life, to know you’re OK. But because approval of what we do is attached to our approval as a person, because we’ve been so externalized in what it is that we do as the way we see ourselves in the world, it’s hard to sometimes differentiate the two.

So, when someone doesn’t like what you do or say, you may take it a step further to think they don’t like you. The fear of rejection is a way you keep yourself silent.

Are the rules really to keep you safe, or are they in place for the other to present a view to the world of something that doesn’t really exist? Because your internal and external worlds may be vastly different and the only thing holding them together is silence.

Speaking out against the family vs. speaking up for yourself are two very different things. When you speak up for yourself and your words fall on deaf ears, this may be your cue to move beyond the rules, because those rules are holding you in place so that the other person feels safe.

As long as another person is holding the target, and moving it at their whim, you may forever feel off. Frustrated at the lines you’re attempting to work within, and not sure which way to point as you move forward.

Acquiescing to rules that serve the ruler, to prove and feed the ruler’s own sense of safety or power, ultimately only serves to take you away from your own.

No family is perfect. Moving past the rules gives you the ability to connect with who you are beyond them. You no longer have to carry the burden of the impact of the silence, nor the burden of the collective, freeing you to experience life on different terms.

Living by those unspoken rules, keeping the peace for the sake of the family, builds internalized energies including frustration and shame. It affects your health, both physical and mental.

Continuing to go to the source of the rule for permission to give a voice to your story only feeds into their fears. It can turn into a completely irrational exchange that may feel like you’re pissing into the wind. It’s not your responsibility to assuage their fears, and being gas-lit into silence fuels yours.

There comes a point in many of our lives where we experience this struggle. To live by an old paradigm of rules that not only feel uncomfortable, you know deep within that they’re holding you back. There’s a choice point of staying or moving beyond the old bounds. Where you step away, clear the cobwebs and don’t worry about what you’re walking away from. It goes beyond family, inheritance or title.

Going back to Meghan and Harry, what would prompt such a move from the royal nest? It turns out they either stayed, continuing to spiral downward, or they left to create their own safety. When you don’t feel safe, it doesn’t matter the good that’s around you. Lack of safety will eat at the core of your existence and very being.

By walking away, they took their power back. In the grand scheme of life, they had nothing to lose and everything to win.

When you live by someone else’s rules of silence, in a way you’re silencing your soul. But this isn’t a game, nor target practice. This is your life. And you get to choose.

Stephanie B. McAuliffe
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