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Lesson six: Do you have one set of rules for you and another set of rules for others?

Sanity check your beliefs and ask: Is what I believe a fact? Is it an indisputable truth? If there are living examples that demonstrate that the belief is not true, or you recognise that it’s distorted or an outright exaggeration, then there’s room for you to adjust your belief to something more balanced.

If you apply the same beliefs to other people and situations, but determine that your belief is not true, why is the belief only true for you and your experience, but not others?

One BR reader shared her story with me of being bullied as a teen and how she’d found it difficult not to feel intimidated even with the success that she attained in adulthood. She couldn’t shake that feeling of being intimidated by those who don’t always behave fairly and ridicule, or who are passive aggressive in the workplace. She explained how people who behave in this manner must perceive her as “weak”. As a child, she had looked for a reason that ‘made sense’ and landed on a supposed weakness and then used this as the basis for future interactions and her identity. “Do you think that people who are bullied invite themselves to be bullied because there is something wrong with them? Do you think that they deserve to be bullied?” Her reply was an emphatic “NO”.

Making one set of rules for you while applying a different set to others supports the idea that there is something wrong with you and distorts your self-image.

In taking individual circumstances one by one and asking herself whether something was actually wrong with her, or whether something was wrong with the person who was bullying, she started casting doubt on her beliefs.  She also had to acknowledge numerous examples of strength that exist in her life.

Even though she’s no longer that teen, in situations that remind her of being bullied, she revisits those emotions that are attached to old beliefs that don’t reflect an adult perspective or the actual experiences.

Let’s also not forget that if anyone is weak in the dynamic between the bully and their victim, it’s actually the bully. When we change the meaning and see the dynamic in a whole new light, that person stops being the mighty monster, and we stop attacking our worth.

Just as much as we can slip into an old pattern of thinking and behaviour when we experience someone who reminds us of another bully from our past, or who brings up old feelings of low self-worth, we forget that a bully is in their own pattern of unhealthy thinking and behaviour. Of course, it’s about us in the sense that they’re doing it to us but when we stop personalising it to the degree that our worth is ‘inviting’ their behaviour, not only do we stop trying to please and appease this person and so can focus our energies on distancing and protecting ourselves, but we also recognise how deeply unhappy that person must be. We see how they have to crush others in order to feel worthy and strong.

The fact is, when we consider the things that we blame ourselves for and then ask ourselves whether we would blame another person for the same thing, we come to recognise where we have one set of rules for us and another set of rules for others.

We are engaging in a painful double standard that removes self-compassion and places too much expectations and false powers on us.

Break your own rules that aren’t rules. Quit the double standard. Change the meaning, change your perspective, change the feeling.

Which rules do you have for you that don’t apply to others? Why is this so? The ‘why’ is connected to those underlying beliefs about your value as a person.

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