Skip to Navigation

We all live by rules. We carry these around with us, some of them we are aware of, others unconscious. In relationships many of the rules are agreed. Some of the rules are open and explicit, “We take it in turns to wash the dishes…”, others are tacit “When I do ‘X’ I expect you to do ‘Y'”.There should be a book written about rules (A Rulebook! Hah!), because they are so important and yet so overlooked.

Families are full of rules and most operate below our radar. When we leave the place of our upbringing and start our own family unit, we take many of our rules with us, we import them without first examining them for relevance or usefulness. There are also rules about rules, as in “If I do this then he must do that, which in turn means I must then…”. Great for computers, but troublesome for people as they are mostly operating without us realising it.

As if that wasn’t enough, we can get into the habit of making rules to control others. We all know that people operate best when left to decide on their own conduct. Put another way, I’m more likely to obey my own rules than I am to abide by those imposed on my by someone else. Yet, because we have learned that things ‘have to be done according to the rules’, we can unwittingly start to make up rules and applying them to others. These too can be explicit (we tell the other person the rule), but more often they are implicit (we expect something but don’t actually tell the other person what our expectations are). This is even more problematic when we don’t even realise ourselves that we have a rule! (See para 1).

A first point here is that, if we make rules to keep others in line, we’ll also have to make sure that they abide by them. A wise old woman I once knew always used to say “Beware! Whenever you make a rule you’ll have to police it”.

A second point is that it can be useful to examine our own internal rule-book as we may be operating with some unconscious ones that can involve us in a lot of police work and disappointment.

One Response to “Make Rules and You’ll Have to Police Them”

  1. Wow Barry – excellent post. It took me years (until I was in my 60’s) to realize that I was living my life this way – following “old and pre-conceived rules”. They can destroy your life and my hope now is that other people learn this way before I did. As I’ve mentioned before in posts to you, I have a most wonderful life now…why, oh why, did I waste so much time before learning this!

What do you think? Share your thoughts...

Latest from the blog

Why De-Stressing Won’t Work (Sometimes)

The things we are meant to DO in our daily lives (productivity, success, measurable results, outcomes, achieving goals, list-ticking etc), just doesn’t equip us for BEING

Continue reading

Multitasking Murders Concentration

The downside of multitasking

There was a time, a couple of years ago when multitasking was all the rage at work; he or she who could do it was clearly superior to those who couldn’t.

But the honeymoon’s over, multitasking has a downside too.

Continue reading
FREE DOWNLOAD - Get it now.

How to be more Resilient

Get my super-helpful guide '9 Steps to Resilience' absolutely FREE, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Understand the steps to resilience and you can develop the ability to cope with problems and setbacks with less stress and more confidence.
close-link
%d bloggers like this: