(don't) tell me what to do


In the past I had a real nature about myself that I interacted with the world from a place of "Don't tell me what to do."

ALL the time.

I began to walk when I was 8 months old. I climbed over every barrier my family made to keep me out of my sister's room, or the kitchen, or the yard. Don't tell me what to do.

I dropped out of pre-school: it was "too boring" and I hated following the rules, protested enough and refused to go enough and finally my mom pulled me out. Don't tell me what to do.

Age 9, creating a dog walking business and a lawn mowing service to make my own money so I could spend it on whatever I wanted. Don't tell me what to do.

Teenage me from age 12 and on could be found ditching class, smoking weed behind the school on lunch and before track and field practice, all the while, getting straight A's in academics. Don't tell me what to do.

Going out to party on the weekends with my older friends and refusing to tell my mom or family where I was or who I was with...well of course that was alright. Don't tell me what to do.

Age 15, taking a Greyhound bus from Indiana to California and not telling ANYone where I was going. DON'T tell me what to do.

That really was the straw that broke the camel's back. After taking that action, the phrase became subdued.

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I ran away after being arrested from my own bed one morning, after a long series of days where I refused to tell my mom where I went. I returned from California after 6 weeks to go to a court hearing for that. The outcome? Being sent to a detention center/boarding school in Kansas for 4 months.

There, I only had one option (at least the only option if I ever had a hope to get out, a decision based on behavior): do what I was told.

In that experience, I began to surrender. But not in a healthy way.

In a way that if "following my heart" meant that I got sent to that place (the hardest experience of my life at that point ), then I had better NOT express myself! I had better go along with life, and do what I "should." What the people around me suggested or encouraged or recommended.

Follow along, play nice, eat the non-nutritious school lunch style meals. Accept that I couldn't get out of my chair or go to the bathroom without asking. Accept wearing grey sweat pants and a white T-shirt every day, not having makeup, hair styling, any form of physical self-expression. Accept not being able to exercise, go outside, have time alone, none of it.

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Grudgingly I re-assimilated after getting out. Returned to high school feeling totally los. Accidentally graduating high school at 16, I took the major or psychology that, to have a "successful career" I should .

Applied to and got into a PhD program. should.

Got married. should.

Bought a house. should.

Took a corporate cubicle lifeless high paying job. should.

All the while, Don't tell me what to do was still there in the background and began showing up as self hate and disappointment. An undercutting comment, a subtle way of being, argumentative language, questioning, refusing to follow rules. A streak of 7 speeding tickets when I was 17 - 18. Not spending time with my family. Refusal to accept correction or being wrong. Don't tell me what to do.

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This year, for the first time, it became clear to me that "Don't tell me what to do" had been running the show. I saw clearly the impact that had on people in the past and in my present life when I operate from there.

I became clear that I could choose to do anything I wanted, and that by listening to others, considering what they have to say and listening to my heart, life flows much smoother. There is power of choice, power of my word, power of being true.

And now, I love choosing "tell me what to do." When I am wrong about small things, having the opportunity to gladly accept guidance, correction, feedback. Hearing the voice begin to say "Don't tell me what to do" and actually having power over it to choose that response or not!

In yoga, being told what to do is the way to learn the practice. I love it. Absolutely. This pose above is totally surrender, getting moved from this pose to the next, giving my body over to someone else, it's beautiful. It expands me and the ability to choose "tell me what to do" every day.

In my work, I love feedback about how to grow. Tell me what I can do to grow, improve, learn, expand. Deliver an impeccable product, satisfy a client.

Tell me what to do. Tell me what works for you. Tell me what you see that I don't see. Tell me so I may grow.


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© 2019 Olivia Pavlov