We all have rules, or better yet, guidelines in the way we live our lives. In fact, it is helpful to have them as they keep us on track as we navigate our days. Rules that are realistic and flexible serve us positively. These are the kinds of rules we want to be sure are guiding our days.
There are signs though when it’s time to cross-check our rules to re-evaluate how they are serving us. Key indicators are feelings of disappointment and criticism. These feelings may be pointed inwardly at ourselves, or possibly towards others. We may have rules about:
a right way or a wrong way to do things
how often to work out
what we eat or don’t eat, when we eat, etc.
what it means to be the best
how tidy our home is supposed to be
how late we stay up
We all have our own individual set of rules. What are yours? Once you have identified them, take a quick inventory to assess where you are at with each one. Ask yourself:
Are any of my rules rigid?
How do I react when my rules are broken?
How do I feel about myself when I do not adhere to my rules?
How do I feel and react when other people get in the way of my rules or break them?
When we know what our rules are and how they impact us, we can bring some awareness around the ones that need our attention. For example, let’s say I have a rule about the right way to fold clothes. When my husband folds them, I get frustrated that they are folded wrong and react by huffing and puffing that now I have to fold them all over again. So instead of being loving and kind towards my husband, if I hold this rule about folding clothes, I would react in a disappointed way towards him. This reaction would likely cause my husband to feel disappointed in return that his attempt to be helpful completely backfired. [Poor hubby.]
It’s essential that we create a routine for checking in with ourselves from time to time to assess where things have become rigid. By creating more awareness around our rules, we can act more accordingly with what we want.
Flexibility is key.
Truthfully, we are the ones who suffer most when we hold such rigid ways for being in the world. We are the ones who are having an internal frenzy about what’s right and wrong, good and bad, etc. We are the ones who give a care.
I can’t tell you enough how much it drives me crazy when I hear intelligent, competent women bonding with each other over how they are going to punish themselves the following the day at the gym by doing extra cardio for enjoying a piece of cake at a party. It makes me sad that this is the culture of rule-abiding that we live in. That we are not allowed to have cake. That we are not allowed to enjoy cake. That if we have cake, we have to reverse it.
So here’s my loving nudge to you.
Let go of your rules, darling.
Enjoy an unmade bed once in a while. Eat dinner a little later than usual. Say thank you when your guy buys you tulips, instead of peonies, your favorite.
And most importantly. Eat the cake.
And enjoy it, dang it.