Have Fewer Rules

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 08-04-2013

Have you ever noticed how many rules you have?  Too many rules can cause conflict...

Take a moment and think about all the rules you have, for example rules around:

  • How others should behave towards you
  • How people should greet you
  • How your family should act/talk
  • Who’s turn it is to call who (“I’m not calling them, it’s their turn to call me”)

Have you ever wondered if everyone has the same rules? Well the answer to that rarely, even your own family are unlikely to have exactly the same ones as you.

So how do we build our very own book of rules? We collect them as we go through our lives, some rules we take on board from our religion or lack of religion, our parents/ grandparents/teachers, what we see on the TV, what we experience in our lives, from how we’ve been treated in the past; in fact our rules can come from pretty much anywhere. But that’s the point, they are OUR rules and not everyone has the same.

Here’s a good example of a ‘rule’ that I picked up from my mum - she is very strict on timekeeping, which I seem to have ‘inherited’ from her. It was drilled into me at an early age that you should never keep people waiting and you should always be one time. Therefore, one of my rules is that I will NEVER be late for anything unless there’s an exceptional reason for it and, unfortunately, because that’s one of my rules, I’ve always thought that everyone else would be the same – but they aren’t.

Until I understood that we all have different ‘rules’ I would get really frustrated, sometimes offended and often quite upset if someone was late when we’d arranged a specific time. I would actually get quite wound up about it. I know now that the pain that I was feeling was because they were breaking one of my rules. I saw it as a lack of respect or that they didn’t care, however, now I don’t see it as being directed at me personally, others just have different rules and therefore, I’ve learned to manage my own feelings and emotions accordingly, causing myself a lot less pain.

I have a good friend who has 5 children all under the age of 10. I recently asked her how she manages to cope with having so many children all relatively young, her reply, “We don’t have too many rules.” She explained, “When the first two were born, we had all these rules about what they could and couldn’t do or how they should and shouldn’t behave. For example, ‘no eating in the living room’, ‘no TV before bed’, ‘finish everything on your plate’. The more children we had, the more impossible it was for these rules (and we had lots) to be met and I was feeling constantly disappointed and out of control. Once we relaxed the rules, the easier things became and the happier the family is as a whole.”

If you have too many rules, you are setting yourself up for a very painful life. There will doubtless be times when you’ll end up breaking your own rules (causing pain) and they will definitely be broken by others (most people won’t even be aware what your rules are!) causing more pain.

As rules are something that we create, here’s the good news, we can change them or let them go. The fewer rules you have, the less chance there is for you or someone else to break. Try loosening your rules for 3 days and see what happens. It may be a little difficult to let go at first, you only have to try things and have positive results a couple of times before you’ll start to create new neural pathways in your brain which will start to change your current default setting.

Give it a go. What have you got to lose?

Do you need help identifying and changing your rules? If so, why not contact us for a free, no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

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