Is your life influenced by rules or by standards? Do you know the difference?
Rules are a generally negative force in our life. They are the expectations that we place upon ourselves and others. And they play a crucial role in how happy our lives are. More rules = harder the life. If you break a rule you feel guilty. You know you have rules when you use the four big ones – “have to”, “should”, “must” or “unacceptable”.
So change the rule and the guilt will pass. OR replace it with a standard. Want to know more?
Let work through an example. Sarah has a rule “Children should never watch TV”.
Now I am pretty sure that there are many mums who have this rule lurking around in the back of their heads. There have been times that it’s slipped up on my radar!
Sarah has this rule. It’s been a combination of literature, advice from early childhood nurses, influence from her family and mummy friends as well as her own personal beliefs about childhood and television. What’s the problem? Every time Sarah puts her children in front of the TV she feels guilty, she beats herself up inside, gets cranky, tells herself she’s a bad mum. Does this sound familiar? As soon as she’s in this frame of mind, she starts getting frustrated and yells at her kids and then ends up feeling more guilty. All this goes around in her head and Sarah just goes around in circles. Sarah isn’t a happy mum. She isn’t a blissful mum!
What is underpinning this rule? FEAR! Fear that others will judge her, that she’ll harm her children long term, that their brains won’t grow properly, that they’ll be overweight children, that they’ll become television addicted teenagers that take drugs, drink and hang out with all the wrong people and end up hating their mum, move out of home and never get married, never have children and leave their poor mum alone in a nursing home! Might seem far fetched but you understand where her mind might be going. And all of it is coming from fear.
Yes it is recommended that children, particularly young children shouldn’t watch television. Paediatricians, nurses and experts alike all talk about how damaging TV is to the mind of children and to their social skills. However talk to any mum and they’ll tell you that their children watch TV, it’s reality. So does Sarah’s rule help her? Well the experts might agree, but I don’t. A rule is rigid and doesn’t create happiness. It isn’t helpful.
Standards are the opposite – they are flexible and respectful. Let’s replace Sarah’s rule with a helpful standard… “Children can watch TV for a set time during the day”. It is obvious that this standard will be helpful to Sarah AND decrease if not totally eliminate her guilt about when her children watch TV. Instead of feeling inadequate, and like a failure as mum, or that she’s going to end up alone in a nursing home, she can reaffirm to herself that it is okay to HER and okay for HER family that her children watch TV for a set time during the day.
Now this could be in the morning, midday, while she’s preparing dinner, before bed, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she has made the decision about what is the standard is for her family! Yes I’m sure that someone could try and have a discussion with the aim to change her position and I’m sure there are nurses, friends, family members or a random person in the supermarket checkout line who would love to give her their two cents worth. But it is none of their business!!
When Sarah changes her rule to a standard then she invites flexibility into her life. She invites happiness into her life. She gets rid of her mummy guilt! She starts to control her life as the decision she makes for herself and her family have come from HER! They are not because some study proved how damaging TV was or how a thread on Facebook said that TV was fine and that all the experts are just childless scientists who have no idea what happens in the real world. It was because of Sarah.
And isn’t that what we want? To be in control of our own lives? Make our own decisions? And have those decisions make us happy???
What rules do you have? Can you replace it with a standard? Can you remove guilt from your life?
If you’d like some help with this, or to have a chat about some of the rules you have in your life and would like to change then get in contact with me here.
I love to hear your comments so put them below!
Remember…. contact me here and we can have a free chat about how this can work for you!