I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes over the years. Some have been embarrassing, some have been stupid, some have been life changing in a really bad way and some have been downright dangerous!
Mistakes are normal. They’re how we grow as people and can be a good thing if we learn from them. But, I don’t like them and used to wish I made a whole lot less.
One day, after a particularly bad stuff up, I was crying and beating myself up as usual, when I came across a blog post that changed my life. I wish I could remember who wrote it so I could give them credit here but it was a long time ago and I truly don’t recall.
The post was talking about making rules for yourself and your life. Now, I love rules. I like to know what I can and can’t do in any situation because then I know there will be as little stuff ups as possible. I think that’s why I’ve always been drawn to the subject of etiquette. Etiquette is simply a rule book to follow to enable us to live in polite society.
Anyway, the premise is you decide who you want to be and stick with it. It sounded so simple so I immediately started making the list, starting with the stuff up that had me crying in the first place. That stuff up was letting other people make me lose my cool. At that time, I knew this person who was an expert at pushing my buttons. He would just go and go at me, saying all the things he knew would upset me, until I lost it and yelled and cried and said things I didn’t want to say. I hated when I turned into that person and I hated that he could so easily make me feel that way. So, my first rule was, when I recognise that someone is trying to push my buttons, leave the situation immediately.
I wrote a few rules down that first day and since then, as more situations have arisen, it has become more like a novel rather than a list. And, while there are quite a few rules in there to follow, it works. Here are some examples of rules in my list.
Once you start to raise your voice, you’ve lost all control of the situation. Not only will it give you a sore throat, no-one will listen to you anyway. Nobody takes a screaming banshee seriously.
I’ve been in situations where the person I’m arguing with has taken the ‘loudest person wins’ approach and I have been known to try to shout over the top. It never works! They don’t listen and all of a sudden you’re the bad guy because you’re the one screaming like a crazy person. Not to mention what the neighbours must think!
Now, because my rule is don’t yell, I leave the room when I start to notice that the level of my voice is rising and I come back later in a consciously calmer state.
As a child, we were not allowed to swear under any circumstances. At school we would swear because, as a child, anything you’re not allowed to do is cool. But, at home, I wouldn’t even dare. I once lost a vial of fake blood (it was from a showbag, I’m not weird or anything). I found it on the bathroom basin and I exclaimed, ‘there’s my blood’. My mother, obviously thinking I had said bloody, grounded me immediately for a week. That’s how important her no swearing rule was to her.
I don’t know if it was because I was no longer under my mother’s rules or if it was because of the people I socialised with, but when I left home, I swore like a sailor. I never thought anything of it. It just became a habit. Then, one day, I dropped the F-bomb while out shopping. A woman standing next to me with her small child looked at me like I needed to be put in a Hefty bag and set out on the curb on collection day! I appreciate that she didn’t have a go at me (classy lady) but her look said it all. I felt like a huge piece of garbage and I never wanted to feel like that again.
This rule has been a huge game changer for me. I don’t like liars and I certainly never wanted to be one but I would be lying if I claimed to have never told a lie! Most of my lies stemmed from not wanting to get into trouble such as lying about why an assignment is late, chucking a sickie from work or bending the truth when my husband asked how much a purchase cost. However, the guilt also made me feel horrible and it would always blow up in my face quite quickly. Then, not only have I disappointed someone with my actions, they now see me as a liar as well. Double whammy!
Now, I always tell the truth. I know that by telling the truth it might cause somebody to be disappointed or angry at me but it’s way better than someone being disappointed or angry at me AND think that I’m a liar.
Of course, I try not to do anything that will disappoint anyone in the first place but we’re all human and we can’t please everyone all of the time. At least when people think of me, they’ll know that I am an honest person that they can trust even if I wasn’t able to give them the answer they were hoping for.
Does that mean that I tell a friend straight out that the brown dress she is wearing makes her look like an elephant’s backside. Of course not! That wouldn’t be very classy, would it? No, I just say the black one suits her better or I compliment her on another part of her outfit. It’s not lying but it’s not being in-your-face honest either.
Don’t Make Promises I Can’t Keep
This life rule came about after I promised my daughter I would take her somewhere and then I didn’t. Something else came up and I just wasn’t able to do it but, as much as I tried to justify it, I couldn’t get my little girl’s disappointed face out of my mind. Worse feeling ever! To avoid ever having to feel like that again, I don’t promise anything unless I know I will absolutely, for sure, be able to do it. I just tell people that I’ll try my hardest. This fits in with my don’t lie rule as well.
Don’t Mess Around with Another Woman’s Man
This is one rule that I didn’t make up after a mistake. I have always followed this rule because I know what it feels like to be cheated on and I never want to make another woman feel that way.
It surprises me that some woman think this sort of behaviour is acceptable and justify it by saying that they are not the ones who are cheating. No, you’re not and the man is definitely the jerk in this situation but that doesn’t mean that your hands are clean. Don’t think for one second that you are not hurting people with your actions and, although you have no obligation towards his partner, you do have an obligation to be a decent human being and have some self-respect.
Don’t Get into a Car with a Drunk Driver
This one doesn’t need any explanation. If you do this, you’re an idiot.
These are just a couple of the rules I try to live by in order to make my life more elegant. Do I follow them religiously and never make a mistake? Of course not. Do I sometimes raise my voice out of frustration or let the f-word fly when I hit myself with a hammer? Of course I do. I’m not perfect. But, I do know for a fact that following these rules, or at least trying, has made me a better person and led for a more peaceful, elegant life.
What is the one big rule that you live by?