Day 739: Rules and guidelines

Here’s a catch-phrase I used to hear when I was in my 20’s, working as a technical/marketing writer at an innovative start-up company in the Northeastern USA;

It’s more a guideline than a rule.

I like that expression, because:

  1. I’m a child of the 1960’s, and lots of people who grew up then do not love rules,*
  2. I’m an Aquarius and a Myers-Briggs ENFP — in both cases, people who don’t love rules,*
  3. I’m a psychotherapist who does groups that break some rules* of group psychotherapy (e.g., group members have the control to attend these groups when and how frequently they choose), and
  4. I have an overactive superego — also called the internal critic — which means I can judge myself and my behaviors by some rather harsh rules, unless I practice, practice, practice new habits and guidelines for how I think.*

I’m also thinking about another rule* I heard, last year:

Ann, you’re now on anticoagulants for your atrial fibrillation,  which means your blood won’t clot normally. No antidote exists for this medication, so PLEASE DON’T SLIP ON THE ICE.

This guideline/rule — which one of my cardiologists told me — tends to make me more anxious when:

  • It’s friggin’ cold outside, and there’s ice,
  • I’m driving a car, in any weather, and
  • I hit my &*%$@! head on a cabinet, like I did right before I started writing this post.

If this post makes less sense than usual, that MAY indicate that I’m developing a subdural hematoma. So if my regular readers notice anything different in my writing style, please contact my nearest health provider.

Where was I?

Oh, yes.  Guidelines rather than rules.

Yesterday, I encountered several rules and/or guidelines throughout my day.


That’s something I wrote on my whiteboard in my office, yesterday afternoon . Why? Because yet another kind, empathic person who sees me for psychotherapy was being too critical of themselves. Therefore, the antidote we came up with together was “The Platinum Rule” rather than “The Golden Rule” (do unto others as you would have others do unto you.)

Here’s another photo I snapped in my office, later in the day:


Note that the barista spelled my name wrong. I used to have a rule* about that: I believed somebody misspelling or forgetting a name was demonstrating that the other person wasn’t important enough.  I no longer think that’s a rule, at all.


That’s a photograph I snapped after I got home, after a long day at work yesterday (which included my facilitating a therapy group starting at 5:30 PM). Even though it was verrrrrry cold outside, I wanted to take that photo of the moon. Because my communication style includes full disclosure*, I want to tell you that even though that moon LOOKS full, it really isn’t.

There are many other things I could write, this morning, about rules vs. guidelines,  but I need to leave soon for cardiac rehab, so I can get my very unusual heart into great shape. The morning session there starts at 7:30, but thanks to the wonderful Carla, Danise and Kathy (l. to r.):


.. that’s more a guideline than a rule.

One of the rules* of my daily posts is that I try to include some music. Instead, today, I’m going to break some conventions and do something new!

I just searched YouTube for “rules and guidelines,” and here are two things I found:

(Photo Composition: Should You follow Rules and Guidelines? found here on YouTube.)

(Stoudman’s Western Movie Marathon: Rules and Guidelines found here on YouTUbe.)

Inspired by that last video, here are ….

Ann’s Rules and Guidelines for the Weekend, Starting Tomorrow:

  1. Must Watch Movies I Love.
  2. Must Spend Time with People I Love.
  3. Must Use The Platinum Rule.

Them’s the rules, pardner.

Thanks to all those who contributed to my writing this post this morning AND to anybody, anywhere who follows or thinks about rules and guidelines (including you, of course!)

* More guidelines than rules, I think.  What do you think?

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “Day 739: Rules and guidelines

  1. yeoldefoole

    “One Guideline to Rule them All,
    and in the Darkness bind them!”

    Keep Staying Warn!!!

  2. I love “The Platinum Rule!” I just added it to my list of goals for 2015. I tend to be a people pleaser and I need to remember to please myself, too!
    When I was younger I was an extreme, to-the-letter rule follower. Now, I tend to enjoy guidelines–they’re just more fun! Have a great day!

  3. I’m defintely a guideline person too…. Maybe its because I attempt to break most rules 😉
    Thanks Ann for todays inspiration!

  4. I don’t like rules. Never have, though I do like your rules for the weekend.
    In general, I like guidelines, though. Guidelines often even make more sense than similar rules, and when something is called a guideline, I know I can do something different and not be a “bad” person.
    My guidelines for the next few days:
    Walk on the beach.
    Enjoy my girlfriends.
    Eat some seafood.
    Keep fingers crossed that Ann won’t get a cut or slip on the ice.
    Hm-m-m. Maybe these are actually rules I want to follow!

  5. This morning I told my son “Go start you car and come back in while it warms up.” His response “That’s illegal.” To which I replied “You won’t get caught”. He laughed and said “So, it’s okay to break the law if you don’t get caught?” I looked at him and said “Of course, have I taught you nothing in this life?!?” 🙂

    Of course, when it’s this cold he frequently will start his car and come back inside instead of sitting in it while it warms, so he wasn’t really being serious! I will admit, I have taught him to learn to rules, that way he knows the proper way to break them!

    And lastly – I’m glad you have changed your tune about people remembering names, because I’m one of those that struggles with names. I can tell you about every conversation we’ve had, but I can’t always tell you your name! And don’t get me started on spelling! Way too many options out there!!

    Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend guidelines!

    • I struggle with names too, Kate! I’m getting better at forgiving myself for not learning them quickly enough, forgetting them, misspelling them, etc. i love the conversations between you and your son. Happy Friday to you and to him!

  6. I like your 3 Rules for the weekend. I’m going to be ruled by them too! Thanks! Oh oh. Now to not get all unruly. 🙂 It’s the rebel in me. give me a rule and I like to break it — but your rules are not to be broken. they are to be embraced.

    I like that idea.

  7. I get excited when you give yourself assignments, Ann. I can’t help it. I hope you enjoy your well-planned weekend. 🙂 Great moon shot, my friend.

  8. Hi Ann- sending you love and hoping todaygoes well

  9. That rule is 24 carot platinum 🙂

  10. Ann, one of my guidelines is “Play the moment, not the results.” It is enough to be in the now and enjoy it without worrying about what might happen.

  11. My favorite guideline is the “mindfulness of the moment”. DO NOT MULTITASK. Be mindful, DOING ONE THING AT A TIME, and then everything will be okay. I know one must think it’s impossible, particularly while working, yet this is how one lives in the moment (and avoids accidents while driving, walking, and doing household chores). Being mindful also helped me with my attitude (how am I doing this? Gracefully vs. disgustingly) and to concentrate on the present action. It’s so difficult not to multitask, yet it can be a life saver. That’s why the “texting or talking on the cel while driving” is a no-no.

  12. I have heard rules are meant to be broken 🙂 Thank you for the link to the photography blog.

  13. I love your platinum rule! I’m going to try to think of it and maybe even follow it sometimes.

  14. Ann, i know i have misspelled your name before, and most likely the word, miss-spelled. 😉 I want you to know i don’t feel bad about it because no matter how it is spelled, it is a beautiful name, and i would know that factually because Mallory Anne is my youngest daughter’s name, Bevery Ann is one of my sisters Lisa Ann, Shelly Anne and Andrea Ann are my nieces. 🙂

    I love the Platinum Rule. I love the Biblical Rule, too.

    I’ve missed some of your posts. My Father-in-Law is in the final days of his struggle with Stage Four Lung Cancer. I’m struggling with knowing there are things i want to say to him. I want to be brave and not break down. I’m selfish, and even though i understand death comes to each of us, I want the end to be as gentle as possible for him. I fear that if i break down he will be burdened by my sorrow. He’s been one of my greatest joys of in life. He’s been the rock during the storm, the light visible when i was within the tunnel. I’d like to share with him the joy of how he taught me not to fear a father. He is the one i could trust.

    • I’ve missed you here. Many thanks for writing, so beautifully, about what’s been going on.

      I understand the experience of being with somebody you love who is dying. I believe that breaking down — out of love and sorrow — does not burden people. I’ve written about these three guidelines before, which I’ve found helpful in so many situations : (1) show up (2) be gentle and (3) tell the truth. Here’s another thought that’s helped me: the pain of the loss reflects the importance of the connection.

      My thoughts and love are with you and your father-in-law as you go through this difficult time.

  15. Pingback: Day 740: Links, Labels, and other L-words | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  16. Great rules, I’m planning to follow them. Thank you.

  17. I’m aquarius and I’m also very familiar with the rule breaking of your generation. I’ve spent my life recovering from and enjoying them.
    Rules, you just gotta know when to break them, and when to follow them. I don’t know a life that escapes without thriving from following and braking them. Rules make wisdom valuable.

  18. Hi Ann, I’m catching up on reading my emails. I’m an ENFP as well but I’m a Virgo. I can’t say I love rules but I do follow them. I may bend them a bit if they need bending but in school I was always such a ‘goodie two shoes’. Where did that expression come from anyway?

    • Carol! So great to see you here today.

      To answer your question, I found this at Wikipedia:

      Although The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is credited with popularizing the term “goody two-shoes”, the actual origin of the phrase is unknown. For example, it appears a century earlier in Charles Cotton’s Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque (1670):

      Mistress mayoress complained that the pottage was cold;
      ‘And all long of your fiddle-faddle,’ quoth she.
      ‘Why, then, Goody Two-shoes, what if it be?
      Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle,’ quoth he.

      Well, the origin of “Goody Two Shoes” may be unknown, but that’s something else you and I had in common in school (besides being ENFPs).

  19. Pingback: Day 782: How to look at things | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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