I am generally not a big fan of abbreviations, teenspeak and portmanteau names like Brangelina, Brexit and cronut. The only person who can style out these expressions and say “struggs to func” (struggling to function) with a straight face is Queer Eye’s glorious Jonathan Van Ness, who has virtually invented his own nonsense language. However. I am willing to make an exception when something jumps out as a brilliantly useful idea that suddenly makes sense. And “brules” – “bullshit rules” – are just that idea.
Although it sounds like you need to say it in Jonathan’s voice in your head (“Yas, queen, brules!”), brules are genius. They are the “bullshit rules” you’re living by without knowing it. They’re another term for “limiting beliefs”, a popular expression that describes unnecessary myths and outdated values that not only don’t serve you any more but may even never have been true in the first place. If you can identify your “bullshit rules”, you can see clearly where you’re holding yourself back.
If you’re putting up with a relationship that is making you miserable, it could be because you’re frightened of being alone. What’s the underlying belief there? That you’ll never meet anyone else?
Examples? “You have to have a partner in order to be happy.” Having this as an unconscious rule is going to stop you allowing yourself to enjoy your life if you’re single. “It’s bad to want money.” This is going to stop you from knocking on your boss’ door and asking for a pay rise. “Creative work should be painful.” You’re never going to write that novel if you’re certain that it’s going to be really difficult to write. “If you don’t have a regular salary, your career doesn’t count.” This thinking is going to keep you in a job you hate instead of accepting the risks and rewards of freelancing. Nasty brules!
It’s not often easy to identify these beliefs in ourselves because they’re so deeply held. Also, they often contain a grain of truth. It’s true that it’s not going to make you happy if you’re obsessed with money. But, on the other hand, a healthy respect for money eases your path through life. So, identifying your “bullshit rules” is about figuring out where you’ve adopted a hard-and-fast mentality that could do with some loosening up. How can you transform those unhelpful “rules” or beliefs into something more balanced?
A good place to start to identify where these limiting beliefs are coming from is to look at where you’re stuck in life. What’s annoying you? What are you putting up with? Now ask yourself why. This is where the rules can show up. If you’re putting up with a relationship that is making you miserable, it could be because you’re frightened of being alone. What’s the underlying belief there? That you’ll never meet anyone else? That it’s better to be unhappy but with someone than happy alone? (That’s a bullshit rule right there, if ever there was one.)
Once you have figured out the ideas that are keeping you where you are, you can decide whether you want to challenge these rules and replace the bullshit with sensible rules. This is the time to set your “no-brules” in place (“no-bullshit rules”). “People can be just as happy outside relationships as they are inside them.” “It’s fine to ask for the salary I deserve.” “Creative work can be fun.” “Freedom is just as important as security.” The difference is you actually get to write these rules because you’re conscious of them. And you’re no longer hostage to a load of made-up, unconscious bullshit that you didn’t even know you were telling yourself! Hurrah! The frightening thing is how very easy it is to challenge your brules. You just need to know what they are. Astonishing, right? As Jonathan would say, “Can you believe?”