I have been thinking a lot about rules lately.
Specifically, I have been thinking about the rules I used to follow—and that often made me miserable.
I have also been thinking about new rules that I have embraced and that I follow now. They have made an extremely positive difference in my life.
Here are the old rules I used to follow that made me miserable.
1. Make sure that you do everything right so that no one is angry at you.
2. Worry about what everyone else thinks because they know better than you.
3. Be very hard on yourself all the time, or else you’ll mess up.
4. Ignore your emotions—you can’t trust them.
5. Make everyone happy—that is your job.
6. Berate yourself when you make mistakes.
These rules were all connected. Following one rule automatically led to me following another rule.
For instance, because I did not trust myself, I constantly ran around worrying about what people thought and trying to make them happy.
And when I made mistakes, I was incredibly hard on myself because I thought people would get angry at me or reject me because of my mistakes. Maybe you struggle with this kind of thing, too.
This system of rules exhausted me and filled me with anxiety and shame. Maybe these rules are exhausting you, too.
Eventually living with these rules became unbearable, and I had to get rid of them.
A message from Cool-Hand Chameleon.
Now I live by new set of rules, and I am so grateful.
My new rules nourish, strengthen and enlighten me.
Here are the new rules
1. Act with the intention of love.
I am not required to meet people’s expectations. Neither are you. Many people have unrealistic expectations or are selfish and egocentric, and they get angry with us because we are not meeting these unrealistic expectations of theirs.
All we are required to do is to act lovingly towards ourselves and others. That means that we are required to treat ourselves and others with dignity. If we do that, we have done our job, and we will meet the reasonable expectations of others.
2. Listen to your intuition.
The older we get, the more we are the people that best know how to live our life.
We get the wisdom we need to live our life from our intuition, which is our Wise Self. Our Wise Self contains the wisdom, love, compassion, and creativity we need to navigate our life.
We hear our intuition the best when we act with the intention of love and we give ourselves moments of silence to listen to the Wise Self.
It is right to trust ourselves when we are listening to our Wise Self.
3. Treat yourself with love at all times.
We do not become our best selves or connect with our Wise Self through harshness and unrelenting criticism.
We become our best selves in an environment of love. We can create this environment for ourselves unconditionally.
4. Listen to Your Emotions
We are mind, heart, and body. Each part of us plays an important role in guiding us. Our emotions are our friends and our warning signals—even the dark, weird, and confusing ones.
It is wise and safe to listen to our emotions. This doesn’t mean we have to act on every emotion or that we have to do what our emotions tell us to do.
Rather, our emotions are there to tell us that something is wrong or that something is right or that something is off or that something is absolutely the way it should be. These are all important messages we need to listen to.
Sometimes our emotions tell us to ask for help. Sometimes our emotions tell us to keep doing exactly what we are doing.
5. Your only job is to act in love one step at a time.
Other people’s happiness is their responsibility. Our job is to act with love towards ourselves and others. If we do that, we will contribute all we are required to contribute to other people’s happiness. The rest is up to them. (Of course we need to treat people with the dignity, respect and love appropriate to our relationship with them.)
6. When you make mistakes, love yourself and let it go.
Everyone makes mistakes. We are human beings, and this means we will definitely make mistakes sometimes–even big ones. We don’t have to be ashamed of making mistakes because it is how we learn.
If you have hurt someone because of a mistake, make amends for that. And then it is okay to move on and take the next loving step.
These are some of the most helpful rules I live and love by now. What rules have you found helpful? What rules do you need to get rid of for the New Year?
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4 thoughts on “Rules, Rules, Rules: Getting Rid of Worn-Out Rules and Embracing New Ones”
It’s so important for us to unlearn what ‘society’ and our parents taught us because as we grow up we realise that we aren’t living our lives to it’s fullest and aren’t being our complete selves?. This is such a lovely post! Self-love is such a beautiful thing ?
Mbalenhle: I completely agree. It is so important for all of us to live our own, self-directed lives. Developing our own rules for living is an essential part of that. Thank you so much for your kind words. Self-love is, indeed, beautiful!