The Rules of Life
June 20, 2021
Hi Friends! Today we are going to dive into some unspoken (and spoken) “rules” that we all use to get through our day-to-day socializations. This is an article that’s been brewing for some time now. I hope you enjoy! Don’t forget to follow me on social media and read up on my other articles. My Etsy shop is also linked below after this week’s inspirational affirmations.
Rules. We all know them in one way or another. Some rules we follow because they’re good for us. Rules like making sure we drink enough water or eating enough food. Here’s where it gets tricky. Often times with rules comes restriction. Eat this, not that. Don’t have ice cream today, you had it yesterday. As if we aren’t allowed to indulge two days in a row. It’s true that we, as humans, thrive on routine. In fact, there are many health benefits to having a daily routine. According to NM: “Some ways a routine can help include:
- Better stress levels lead to improved mental health, more time to relax and less anxiety. A lack of healthy stress management techniques can put you at greater risk for heart disease and negatively impact your overall health.
- Better sleep will leave you refreshed. Your daily routine influences your quality of rest. Your sleep schedule and bedtime habits affect your mental sharpness, performance, emotional well-being and energy level. It’s best if you can maintain a consistent time for waking and going to bed.
- Better health is a result of just a little extra planning. Set the alarm a little earlier and you’ll have time to exercise and eat breakfast, fueling your body for the day. Even a quick (and healthy) breakfast will get you energized. Whether you like to just go for a run or go to the gym for a bigger workout, it’s important make time for exercise.
- Good example setting will encourage others to try a routine as well. You demonstrate its importance and the positive effect it has on health, motivation and self-esteem.”
While I enjoy routines myself and agree they can be good for us, let’s take a look at why we feel we need to do certain things in social situations. Ie. social cues. (Note: often times neuro-divergent people do not have the same social cue awareness as neuro-typical folks. Please keep this in mind and always be kind to your neighbor.) Social cues come in even when we’re alone. Have you ever bumped into a doorway and excused yourself? Just me? OK great. There are times when we are made to feel ashamed if we miss one of these cues, often being labeled as rude or insensitive. This is another great reason why communication is important. I encourage you to think about how you would like to be spoken to before speaking, no matter what the topic is. Some rules of life that I’m thinking of today aren’t as obvious as a “bless you” after a sneeze. Routine and rules can include trying to keep your space clean, making sure that your family has something fun planed for long weekend, or being sure to catch up on all that housework after family vacation. (Hi family).
Something that we forget all too often, however, are the limitations that come with these self-made rules. When you set expectations like this for yourself, it is way too easy to hyper-focus on them. When you make up rules for yourself you could end up chastising yourself for not being up to par. Up to this imaginary standard that you set for yourself. Do you see how this can be harmful? To help overcome this, I will give some examples and how I, personally, have dealt with them as they arise. At the end we will have some affirmations for this week that I encourage you to internalize.
Something that I want us to remember: life and the little things we stress over are, more times than not, not important in the long run.
Our first example will be simple. Cleaning. Now, I’ve touched on the importance of a clean space in past articles. However, I want to present a scenario. Your house is a mess. To you, it looks like a bomb exploded. You have baskets of laundry waiting to be done. There are dishes in the sink. Towels are on the floor in the bathroom (which needs scrubbed by the way). It feels like even if you did your household duties for 24 hours straight, they still wouldn’t get done. You feel as if you should just do it all as fast as you can, then you can be done.
How about this one: Your friends want to go out. You went out last night, and feel like you should stay in. Besides, while you were out last night you ate a burger, fries, and a milkshake. You feel as if you should punish yourself for having a good time. Maybe have a salad that you don’t particularly enjoy and eat alone.
Some ways to help with unnecessary guilt in situations like these are to ask yourself some questions.
- Am I hurting anyone by doing this (including myself?)
- Am I a bad person for doing/not doing this?
- If my friend asked me for advice, what would I tell them to do?
This last one is especially important because if you’re anything like me, you don’t take your own advice. The important thing to remember is you are not a bad person for resting or enjoying your life. Remember that the next time you set imaginary rules for yourself. The best part about life? There are no rules.
Thanks for reading, Friends!