I’m a compulsive rule follower

I know this about myself, and yet it never ceases to amaze me. And surprise me. Especially in the weird ways it shows up.

I’m sitting in meditation, and instead of quieting my mind I can “hear” it full-force questioning, critiquing.

“Are you sitting quiet enough?”

“Does this really count if your mind wanders…SEE it’s wandering!”

“Does this really count if you fidget?”

What’s up with the “does this really count?” thing? How do I somehow mistakenly believe that first, meditation needs to “count?” and second, that it only “counts” if I do it right?

I’m a compulsive rule follower.

It’s funny. I was ostracized in the Church for breaking the rules, which is something I didn’t do. Sure people said I did, but my goody-two-shoes flag was flying high back then.

And sure, now, I love to be – I live to be – alternative. Societal rules? Made to be broken, or at least questioned or challenged. Norms? Again an opportunity to push against and champion for change. I like to think differently, dress differently, and counsel others to try things differently.

But I also can compulsively look for, and fear I must adhere to, the rules. Even if they’re imaginary.

I don’t think there’s only one right way to meditate, and yet I worry that if I don’t sit quietly in a cross-legged, straight-back position I’m somehow doing it wrong, and then it doesn’t count. I don’t know if it’s as if I never meditated at all, or if it’s even worse. That somehow by sitting more comfortably in a chair, I’ve anti-meditated.

I know that’s irrational. Most of my fears are. I know it’s crazy-sounding and crazy-making. And yet, as I sit quietly in my, perhaps, pseudo-meditation, I’m aware of those crazy-sounding judgments and cross-examinations rampant in my mind.

Maybe those are the thoughts I’m supposed to just let float by. Maybe that’s exactly what they’re talking about when the name it the “monkey mind.” Maybe there is no “right” way to meditate, and certainly no way to anti-meditate and set myself backwards.

Maybe it’s just another way to lovingly, laughingly watch my ludicrous thought patterns. To remember, once again, that I learned to be a compulsive rule follower because I thought I needed to be one to survive.

And I did survive, and I don’t need it any more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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