- The rules we create for ourselves (0:30)
- My Impossible Bind (1:40)
- Where the Never Upset Anyone rule comes from, and where it goes wrong (3:10)
- Your priorities are different from theirs (and that’s okay) (4:15)
- Always do the right thing … for yourself (5:15)
- When doing what’s right for you upsets other people (6:50)
- Make a choice to put yourself first (9:35)
- Your turn… (10:25)
Do The Right Thing
I was raised to “always do the right thing.” Seems like a good rule … and it is a good rule.
But somewhere along the line, I combined it with another rule, and everything got really jacked up for me – and I didn’t even know it.
I know I mentioned this in a previous podcast, and I will continue to talk about this because it’s at the core of what keeps us stuck.
The Rules We Create for Ourselves
We create stories in our minds, and they are not necessarily true. A lot of times, these stories, rules, or beliefs – or whatever you want to call them – are created when we were younger, when we had no idea that they were untrue or twisted. The rules that run our lives can be based on other people’s values, beliefs, desires, or even their jokes.
For example, my aunt used to tell my cousins and me that if we drank our milk, we’d get big boobs. We grew up believing that was true until we figured out that it wasn’t … well, not for them anyway 😊
My point is that stories and rules are rambling around inside of our minds, and they go unverified until we make a conscious effort to look at what’s running the show in there.
That’s where I come in … I can help you figure out what rules are running things, and then help you decide if you want to keep them or if you want to usher in a new regime of rules that better suit where you are right now and where you want want to go in life.
My Impossible Bind
Some of the rules come from our upbringing, some from our culture or our society, and some of them are a mishmash of stuff we give our own meaning to inside our heads. The rules are not always true, but they drive us to believe and to act as if they are the gospel truth.
So, when I combined the rule Always Do The Right Thing with the rule Never Upset Anyone, it created the perfect powder keg of insanity.
It’s what I now call: The Impossible Bind. It’s like having your hands and feet bound together, and then you have to swim across the pool.
No matter what you do, there is no good outcome for you, because you CANNOT always do the right thing and NEVER expect anyone to be upset about it.
I mean, literally IMPOSSIBLE!
Someone somewhere will be upset with what you’ve done, no matter what you do.
It’s why we have the saying “No matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy” – because it’s true!
But we try! And we try and try and try until we’re all frustrated and exhausted!
The Never Upset Anyone rule is insane by itself! Who came up with that rule anyway??? I’m not exactly sure, but I have a few ideas…
Where the “Never Upset Anyone” Rule Comes From, and Where It Goes Wrong
Especially for little girls and women, Never Upset Anyone is a message that is drilled into us from a young age—
“Don’t say that. Be nice.”
“Don’t hurt their feelings.”
“Don’t be rude.”
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Well, I’m done with these verbal gags!
I have figured out that “always doing the right thing” is a matter of opinion. What’s right for me isn’t necessarily what’s right for you … and vice versa.
Whether someone is doing the right thing depends on who you are and what your motivation is.
Basically, if your decision aligns with what some other person wants you to do, then you’re doing the right thing, but if it doesn’t…?
Hell hath no fury like a person who doesn’t get their way!
This is where the fighting, uncomfortable conversations, and hurt feelings can come in … because we’re not doing what someone else THINKS we should be doing – and they’re mad as hell about it.
Your Priorities Are Different from Theirs (and That’s Okay)
Everyone has different priorities … that’s what it comes down to.
My priorities are different from yours. That doesn’t make me right and you wrong; it means that I’m doing what I think is best for myself and my life.
And if you don’t like it, that’s okay. I don’t need anyone to approve of my choices, my thoughts, or my beliefs.
This is newish for me – I’m a recovering good-girl people pleaser – but once I realized that this catastrophic rule combo was running my life into the ground, I cried tears of freedom!
Loud, sobbing tears of relief streamed down my face, and it was particularly embarrassing because I was in McDonald’s eating dinner with my husband at the time … I’m sure everyone in there thought I was having a nervous breakdown, but – nope! – I was actually having an awakening, and it was powerful!
The revelation hits when it hits, and it doesn’t care if you’re in the middle of McDonald’s.
Always Do The Right Thing … for Yourself
My new interpretation of the Always Do The Right Thing rule now means that I will do what’s best for me.
Doing what’s right for me doesn’t make me selfish – it makes me strong. It makes me calm, peaceful, and free. Acting in my own best interest makes me happy and whole.
There are times when I choose to put other people’s needs or wants in front of my own, but it’s never at my own expense – and that’s the difference. I can choose to do things for others, but not to my detriment.
Don’t let people guilt you into doing what they want you to do. It’s emotional bullying; don’t fall for it. Do what’s best for you!
But understand that people will get pissed. It’s just how it goes.
Some people will understand and support your decision, and some people won’t. The people who get mad are the ones who don’t really have your best interest at heart.
If they really wanted what’s best for you, they would understand, even if it’s not what they want. They would wish you well, and everyone would go about their business.
They would be able to separate their wants from your needs.
You have every right to act in your own best interest. You don’t have to people-please, and if people get mad, then that’s their problem – not yours.
Put that responsibility where it belongs – and that’s not on you.
Doing what’s best for ourselves is very hard for some people, myself included. I’m a work in progress, but I’ve paid the price for doing what I think is right for myself…
When Doing What’s Right for You Upsets Other People
Hurricane Harvey made people very mad at me, and there was nothing I could do about it … other than ignore my own needs and do what they wanted me to do.
At the time, people were still being rescued from their homes, the airport was closed, and there was no guarantee of a hotel room or rental car. After Hurricane Harvey hit, the situation in Houston was devastating. I was glued to the television for days, watching coverage of the destruction.
I was supposed to perform a wedding ceremony a week after the hurricane hit in a seaside town outside of Houston, but from the moment the hurricane hit, I couldn’t sleep. For days, all I could do was cry and eat.
It was one of the first times that I had the awareness to notice my emotional eating. I needed something to soothe my shattered self, and food is my coping mechanism.
We all have a way we cope with stress. Some people use drugs, some use alcohol, and others use sex, while some people use shopping or perfection. The list goes on and on, and we all have our own.
I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place; I was a total mess.
The bride kept telling me that everything was going to be okay and that all of her vendors could perform under their contracts, but that didn’t address my safety concerns.
She wouldn’t hear that I was terrified, while my husband and father were begging me not to go into such an uncertain situation.
I made a list of 17 reasons why it wasn’t safe for me to go. I was hoping that those reasons would help everyone involved see that I was genuinely scared.
But the real reason I was so stressed out was that I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me. I was TERRIFIED that people would be mad, and I couldn’t stand the thought of it.
But I had no choice, I had to do what was best for me and honor the clear signals my body was giving me.
When I finally delivered my deeply unpopular decision, I immediately became an enemy of the state … an automatic villain.
Just for honoring myself. Just so I could sleep. Just to stop emotionally stress eating.
Okay, I can live with that. I knew there would be disappointment, but I didn’t think it would last forever. For the record: They’re still mad.
But I have to accept it because, at the end of the day, I made the right decision, and just because other people disagree with it, doesn’t mean it was wrong.
So they can be mad, ignore me, exclude me, unfriend me. That’s their choice; I’ve done all that I can do.
And I stand by my decision.
Make a Choice to Put Yourself First
I’m sorry that they didn’t like my decision – or didn’t agree with it or respect it – but that’s not my business.
I completely understand their disappointment, but I had to make a choice to do what was in my best interest or to do what someone else wanted me to do.
I chose me.
So, make a choice to put yourself first.
Do the right thing for you and no one else.
And if people get pissed off, that’s their issue, not yours.
It’s not easy to have people mad at you. It’s certainly not my favorite place to be, but sometimes it’s necessary.
I didn’t realize how always trying to do the right thing and never upsetting anyone was keeping me stuck in my life. It affected everything from standing up for myself to taking care of myself to every decision I’ve ever made.
So, where are you putting yourself at the end of the priority list?
This week, my challenge to you is to identify one place where you put yourself on hold to please someone else, and then decide if you want to continue to do this. If not, awesome!
But if you decide you want to make a change, what will you do differently?
- Will you choose to speak up?
- Will you say no to what doesn’t work for you?
- Will you make time for yourself and ask for help to make this possible?
How will you make yourself a priority?
It can be a baby step, but take it. It’s the first step to not putting your life on hold and to getting what you want.
Making yourself a priority pays big dividends—
- Less resentment and more happiness
- Less stress and more peace
- Less angst and more confidence
More happiness, more peace, and more confidence lead to better health, less emotional eating (or whatever your coping mechanism happens to be) and increased mental clarity.
Try it on and see what shifts.
p.s. If you’ve ever wondered how gratitude can change your life, I’m offering a free 4-week program starting November 5th called the Month of Gratitude. Each week we will focus on a different aspect of how practicing gratitude can change our lives. Click here for more details and to sign up for 4 weeks of inspiration! » Month of Gratitude
9 Ways to Find Your Feisty by Doing the Right Thing (PDF)