R U L E S
“Blessed are the Flexible for they will not get bent out of shape.”
I thought today, for Therapeutic Thursday, we could examine our understanding of rules (personal, family, societal.) I have a funny feeling that I’ll be singing to the choir with the information and ideas that I present. I get the sense that most of you live by the “spirit of the law” which is likely why I enjoy all of you so much. No matter what your personality style and philosophy is, the topic of Rules is worth a look, as it has deep psychological implications.
THE DOWN SIDE OF RULES – (Rules that are rigid, oppressive, excessive, covert, fear based, power-driven, unreasonable, arbitrary, or have outlived the original purpose for which they were made…)
- Rules can inhibit the development of an internal compass.
- Rules can inhibit independent thinking. “Why am I doing this?”
- Rules are black and white and promote a good boy, bad boy, take on life. There’s right and wrong and nothing in-between.
- Rules can stifle creativity.
- Rules can destroy individuality. Rules create conformity.
- When we allow our ability to follow rules to define us. (Good boy)
- Dependency on rules can create fear and anxiety in situations where there are no rules.
- When we live our lives following a set of rules, we may resent and judge people who don’t. We may feel uncomfortable or angry around people who don’t follow our rules.
- Failure to follow rules or achieve the desired outcome can produce fear and shame.
- Hiding behind rules can create a false sense of safety and false sense of self-worth.
- Rule behavior is motivated by reward and punishment(external) and inhibits an internal sense of self-love, charity, compassion, mercy, etc. (The letter of the law is COMPULSION, whereas the spirit of the law is COMPASSION.)
- Rules can prevent us from learning to trust our instincts. We get lazy and rely on rules to guide us through life.
- We can lose the meaning (SPIRIT) of why the rule was created if there isn’t any dialogue or discussion about the rule.
- Too many rules can produce people who are so bound to structure that they cannot adapt and change, even in emergencies. These individuals are prone to panic and anxiety.**
**Too much contextual behavior can also cause duress and yield unstable and undependable people. There must be a marriage of the two: enough structure to give focus and enough flexibility to change situations required.
“The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3 : 6)
THE UPSIDE OF RULES (Rules are flexible, promote comfort, safety, and allow for individuality.)
- For some people, rules can feel safe. They are predictable and give comfort. (Young children respond well to order, routine and stability.)
- Rules can be effective for people who haven’t yet learned to trust their own feelings or who lack an internal compass.
- Rules are helpful in maintaining order.
- Laws protect our rights and our freedom.
QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU EVALUATE THE RULES YOU FOLLOW:
- Does this rule make sense in my life? Who developed it? Why? When?
- What’s motivating my allegiance to this rule?
- Is this rule destroying independent reasoning? Does it take my feelings into consideration? Do my children know why they follow this rule?
- What would happen if I didn’t follow this rule?
- Am I worried what people will think?
- Would I become anxious or fearful if I didn’t follow this rule?
- Do I pride myself in following this rule? Does it make me feel superior?
- Does following this rule make me feel right and therefore, emotionally safe?
- Am I judging others who don’t follow this rule? Do I get uneasy of angry with rule breakers?
- Does following this rule give me a sense of authority, power or control?
I never had a policy that I could always apply, I’ve simply attempted to do what made the greatest amount of sense at the moment.”
In conclusion, “If you’re a rule breaker you’re cool, but could end up with a lobotomy.” Lily in Canada (my daughter)
You left out the best upside – They can be broken!
Yes, rules followed to the letter and not the spirit are some of the most frustrating experiences on earth.
One of the others is rules applied inconsistently.
I totally agree! Lily and I just had some of these experiences at O’Hare International Airport. I’m afraid I went a little R.P. McMurphy on the employees there! LOL!
Can you imagine having a family that enforced rules without allowing members to question, etc. Those are the peeps I often have as clients. Very sad.
I’m the world’s biggest rule breaker – to the point that my pendulum swings and often stays stuck on the far end. 🙂 tee hee
Even worse at airports, because they have a federeally mandated lack of humor!
I can appreciate the importance of rules, but fortunately, I’m not regularly in any environments they were they are overly enforced.
Lily and I were told we couldn’t sit on the ledge of an UNUSED conveyor belt while we were waiting the 4 GRUELING HOURS for her luggage. (Apparently ONE employee was in charge of finding each person’s luggage in a holding room the size of a football field. It was like “Horton Hears a Who” looking for the dust speck.) So all these grumpy passengers were required to wait for their luggage to show up within a 4 hour window. They (UNITED or O’HARE) provided no place to sit. When we were told that we couldn’t park our butts there – I just gave the guy my look – my don’t mess with me look or I’ll go postal, look. That one. 🙂 He didn’t bother us again. tee hee
In maturity I realize that I should have had more of a balance between the conventional and unconventional. I like that you discuss questioning the rules. As unconventional as I am, sometimes I forget to do that myself. I always remind myself that culture, traditions, and even long accepted ‘truths’ were merely created by people, and these things aren’t etched in stone. I’ve always enjoyed operating outside of the norm, the air isn’t as stale.
Well said. I agree. I’m a rule breaker, I have to admit. I question the reason for everything and when the answer is not satisfactory I get bent out of shape. LOL! Think of all the awful and ridiculous hoops that people have to jump through, for no reason. I’m a rebel. What can I say.
I think we all get lazy from time to time and just roll over and go with the flow, but to stay fresh and out of the “stale” zone – we need to keep questioning and revising.
Great, thoughtful comment – per usual. 🙂
I long for a universe where everyone obeys all the rules–and I am allowed to make all the rules. All joy in living in that universe. HF
Hey, Harper, if you were making the rules for the universe I’d be a happy camper. That’s the truth — just as long as you didn’t require time spent at NASCAR. 😉
Lady, you would love to spend time with me in a trailer in a racetrack parking lot after a big race. I would rock your world! — said one of my characters in my latest short story, How NASCAR is an Aphrodisiac. HF
…and in that trailer is Bob Seger singing “The Fire Down Below?” Just wondering.
Perfect! I’ll add it to my story. Of course, in my world I would not make people go to NASCAR. That’s just silly. They could attend any form of auto racing they liked. BUT THEY MUST ATTEND! HF
PS: All my rules will be in capital letters.
haha! I’m glad I could add a little something to your love story. I like that your rules are in capital letters, like you’re shouting them… Hey, is it too late for me to change my mind as for putting you in charge of the universe?
Hehe, Lily’s quote :D.
Rules are mostly good – if they make sense. But if there’s too much ‘you have to – you must’ involved, I go like ‘that’s it, I won’t take this anymore’. I know a great way to say it in Dutch, but I can’t translate that unfortunately. What I mean is that as soon as I don’t see any sense, I don’t want to accept it. Like Guapo says- rules are there to be broken!
Unless they really, really make sense. Like ‘don’t just kill everyone’.
haha! I’m in full agreement! I go bonkers when things don’t have a good reason or make sense. When people are obedient and follow rules like little brainless robots I get very upset. I may be too much on the other side but I’d rather live by my instinct and have an internal compass than be blindly obedient.
Great comment! Lily cracks me up!!
As you say! I feel the same way. I always want to start riots or something :).
In this way we are VERY MUCH alike!!
I often say, ” oh, those rules are for other people, not me” and do my own thing. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission….haha. Sounds like you and I share “that look”….. you know the one that says “don’t f**k with me!!!!!!!
YES!! Exactly!! I like the quote “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” haha! This is true for me. Even when I was a kid, my friend and I would say, “It’s totally worth the consequences.” That was our motto. Funny, but I still use it today. 😀
I need to print this out and carry it with me everywhere, with multiple copies hung up around work. Thank you for the reminders.
(And how cute was Jack Nicholson then compared to Sunday? Ugh.)
Jack Nicholson is almost unrecognizable now! He was cute back in the day.
Thank you for that very positive comment! I think it’s good to remind ourselves that we should question rules every now and then.
That Lily! Ah, I’m still laughing…xox, to you both.
She always makes me laugh, Vickie. It’s why I love having her around.
Lisa and Lily!
Like we talked about earlier, I actually really liked rules and stability and traditions. But when they’re forced, it doesn’t make them fun or easy to go by. When you feel like you can’t break free, then you know that you should say something and change the way things are.
Children do well with some rules. When they stifle creativity or become oppressive it’s time to rethink them. Agree.
Oh, I say.
Thank you for these.
I would say a negative is that rules can be used to keep you ‘out of the club’ when they set along lines of prejudice and coercion and good when they ‘keep the club civilised’.
The Perfumed Dandy
PS Rules of spelling need not apply!
I completely agree. Any rule that would keep someone out of a club based on prejudice and coercion must be considered ‘fear based’ and therefore, should be eliminated. Anything motivated by fear and ignorance will always have a negative outcome.
Most of my choices in life, where I shop, exercise, dine, etc. are made based on whether that particular venue is civilized! It’s true! It’s my top consideration. Anything that encourages a more civilized experience is A-okay in my book. 😉
Oh, Perfumed Dandy! Of course the rules of spelling cannot apply!! Where would that leave me?
some things need rules, like games, driving on the road, enter and exit signs for petrol stations 🙂 and voting. I don’t need to understand these rules, as long as they work. Other than that, i don’t bother too much, I just do what feels right. If I am forced to follow rules that I don’t understand or don’t agree with i become deeply unhappy – which is why i will probably never work for someone again – I am just very disobedient!
Haha! Me too! This means, of course, that you have a highly developed internal compass. For some people it’s impossible to follow their gut because it’s so underdeveloped, they get anxious at the thought of it.
Wow, I can’t imagine being like that. It must be awful. I am not a rule breaker – I live within the law, mostly, but I just follow my internal compass and don’t think about rules much.
I guess we need rules in order to have some sense of order. Anarchy may seem cool in the movies but in real life, I don’t think I’d like it. I do think rules are made to be broken especially if they infringe on the rights of others. I am like you though, Lisa – the questioning rules part. I do that myself and get very passionate about ones I don’t agree with. Hubby is my stabilizing factor when it comes to that. That Nurse Rachett picture scares the shiz-nit out of me. So did that movie because I identified with Jack Nicholas’ character way more than hers. I especially loved the Native American who threw the fountain through the window and escaped.
Hey lady! I fell asleep! I’m so behind on all my reading and comments and I have Lily home on top of it. I read your comment, saved it for last, and then pooped out! Sorry!!!
The questioning thing… I can see you doing that. Anarchy is just as bad as too many arbitrary rules. There has to be a balance. The danger of living only by the letter is that you never develop an internal compass. Once we start relying on others to tell us what to do, we risk losing that reasoning, feeling part of ourselves. Dysfunctional families are very rule based.
I was trying to think of a good rules driven person- Nurse Ratchet came to mind, so of course McMurphy was the perfect rules breaker. Yeah, she’s one scary beotch. We’ve probably all known someone like that, right? Using rules to wield power?
The Indian was my favorite character – “juicy fruit.” I loved him and his silence, deep, wise, compassionate, strong, all the while watching McMurphy and slowly waking up from his numb state. That image of him throwing the fountain still gives me the chills. Great story.
Oh, Lisa. I love Lily’s quote. It seems like a lot of intelligent people do not like rules, and that they may always be pushing that envelope. I generally think rules deserve a purpose, so long as they make sense, and safety being one of the most important things, especially where kids are concerned. But a little flexible, open-minded thinking never hurt anyone either.
I hope you weren’t upset with my comment yesterday. I was just trying to figure this thing out, and am certainly not blaming anyone or their method of doing things. Bloggers can have their own rules…
I must be pretty dense because I didn’t realize that there was anything in your comment that had the potential to upset me! Lol! Amy, one thing you should know about me, I assume the best in all people, especially my friends. I’m a simpleton at heart. WordPress is like a techno gauntlet for me. I’m surprised when I actually post something, that it all works. Haha! If stuff disappears or comments don’t happen I blame myself for not understanding how it all works.
The rules thing… I think you’re right. There seems to be a correlation between intelligence and disliking rules. Good observation.
I hope I’ve never upset you. What are you and Lily up to tonight? Monopoly or pillow fight? HF
Oh, totally pillow fight! Haha! Actually, believe it or not, we played monopoly yesterday with my son. He killed both of us. It was the fastest game of monopoly I ever played.
That’s what Mormons do- we are a game playing’ people. 😉
Right now, I’m two beers and two whiskeys down and I’m talking to a Mormon. I hope the earth doesn’t start shaking. I might convert! HF
Sorry I missed this little party. Did you feel any shaking? 😉
I think Abe got it right – mix up what he said with Lily’s quote and you have a great philosopy for life!
Haha! Lily is a crazy kid, she always makes me laugh, just like Abe, what a laugh riot! LOL!
the two together are a winning combo – I read Lily on her blog too–she also speaks so well of you–a nice relationshio
I loved this so much! I flirt between Nurse Rachet, and Jack’s character, though not quite that out there. Ah, heck, I have broken some really giant rules, and had I not, no matter the consequence, I would not have the life that I do today. Xoxoxo
I knew I liked you!! Cheers to the rule breakers and rebels! Xoxo!
Oh, how did you know?? Am I that transparent? 😉
You could not have posted this at a better time, Lisa. B and I have just starting to seriously think about rules and structure with C now that she’s getting bigger and therefore needs boundaries in her life. She’s almost a year old, so she is starting to deal head-on with her ego and often has frustrations when she is unable to express her needs. Words are literally on the tip of her tongue and since she’s unable to get them out, she can get mad and throw whatever’s handy (often my glasses.) Or when we move her away from the dishwasher or the fridge (which she would totally demolish if given the opportunity), she makes her body rigid and screams in anger and frustration. We’re finding that it’s harder than we thought it would be to put rules in place for her and stick with them without totally feeling like Nurse Rachet. But I trust that in time she will find security in the limits we place around her and that eventually she’ll be able to follow the safest path that she can see.
Great comment, Emily!! I think Cee’s little willful ways will serve her as she grows and matures. It’s really very healthy and shows intelligence. ( no surprise there!) she knows what she wants and has strong feelings – that sounds like a healthy ego to me. the alternative is a child who is malleable and shows no preference – easy but not always a precursor for independent thought and action. So, Cee is a little bossy boots now… I think it points to great things in her future. She’ll be outgoing, have lots of friends and find success. I know, I’m a psychic, right?
In the mean time, know that you’re doing everything right. One thing that you could try which might prove helpful is to reflect back what she is feeling, give her a word. So if she gets a little tantrumy say, “Wow, you are angry!” repeat the word angry and then you act it out too – show her the angry face. (something like that) this gives her the word “angry” and she’ll soon learn to use her feeling words instead of acting them out. She’ll get the same satisfaction from using the word angry as she would from getting rigid, etc. Just validate her feelings when she identifies them. That way, she’ll know you understand her and there’s no more need for her to feel that way. Both of you will get relief. talk about feelings as much as possible – give her that vocab and little Cee will be light years ahead of the other babes who are still acting it out!! 😀
as a librarian I love rules and order— however, I like to quietly break all the rules (smile)
Yes. That’s who you are. 🙂
the line between rules and boundaries gets blurry to me at times. Rules seem forced, rigid, no room for movement. Whereas boundaries are more guidelines. To say we as a people do not need rules is ridiculous. Can you imagine the mayhem?.. As a parent (when the children were growing) I found if we set boundaries with expectations that seemed to work far better than a rule.Example: “Your curfew is 10pm and that is our rule” vs”You need to be home at 10 pm, on time, but if something arises and you will be late we expect you to call us”.. Truthfully, they were rarely if ever late..
Great post Lisa that is a good forum for discussion and learning 🙂
Enjoy the time with your girl 😉
Rules and structure are great for children and teens. Eventually you want them to live by their own code, something that is positive and self affirming and makes sense. Families that have unspoken rules, covert and oppressive rules or are unpredictable and have arbitrary rules are some of the unhealthiest environments for children. Not enough people enter into adulthood with a healthy sense of how to run their own life. When people rely so heavily on rules it kills creativity and spontaneity.
I used to be an art mom and taught art classes in the elementary schools. Some of the kids would have an absolute panic when we’d do very free and loose art projects- they were desperate for something to copy, for some rules. I swear some of the kids had anxiety attacks over it or would just sit there and not even try. To me that’s scary and a hallmark of a kid who has been burdened with too many rules and shoulds.
I know you raised your kids right with a even, steady, balanced, approach. 🙂
“Blessed are the Flexible for they will not get bent out of shape.” That is the first time on that one for sure. I liked that!
Circa Cheech N Chong 1970’s …. “Rules! Rules? We don’t need no stinkin rules man.”
Haha! thanks, DS!
I forgot about Cheech N Chong!!
Best. Rule Post. Ever!
Seriously, I see where Lily gets her brilliance…. And beauty, of course!
Thanks, Hook! Haha! I’m sure you read every word, right? 😉
Thanks for the compliment – any comparisons to Lily are always appreciated.
Society is riddled with unnecessary rules. Thus, one is encouraged to break the bad ones, and this leads to breaking the good ones. If rules were kept to a minimum of those really necessary to protect life, liberty and individual rights, and rigidly enforced, the whole fabric would be much improved.
I agree completely.
Sometimes I feel like life is so dependent on rules that they interfere with how people express themselves. But, as a high school teacher, rules are necessary for teens. After they graduate, I hope they can figure out what rules are important and what rules are flexible!
That’s so true. I sometimes see parents or teachers, just adults in general, thinking that they’re cool if they act all loosey goosey with kids and teens. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think children need structure and rules to feel safe and secure but also to feel loved and cared about. I would always tell my own kids that the parents that had zero rules were probably being lazy – anyone can do that. It’s the parents that have healthy, practical rules that really care about their child’s well being. But yeah, too many rules, too many external cues and kids forget how to self-govern. It’s a balancing act. Great comment, Jean!!
Rules. So good and so bad. The trick is having only a few rules that cover a lot of areas. When it comes to kids anyway. I think most of my rules had to do with schedules for bedtime, doing homework, bathing etc. I’m trying to think back on specific rules I had and I think I only had a few. Nobody was allowed to play at the park that had the bums that slept in the bushes –under any circumstances. That one was my biggie. I think you have to have actual spelled out rules for teens what with them being so slippery and all– verbally. Those were the years I was always enforcing rules! Those were the days when all it felt like I did all day was bark orders and hand out big wads of money for everything under the sun! Ha! I needed a megaphone. I’m still resting up from those days, Lisa. LOL!!!
sometimes I just look at nature and see if the rule is applicable in the wild. If not, I break it 🙂
This is why I really like you. If I were lost I would follow you, Raunak. You’re my kind of guy. 🙂