How following rules too strictly can ruin your life
Hold on, let’s see how strictly following the rules will make your life better:
You don’t ever have to do much critical thinking since you have rules
You and the teacher/manager will become best buds
And you’ll naturally repel most people away, giving you more alone time
Now the only problem with all this is that you become a lil b*tch in the process
So obviously, strictly following rules doesn’t make you the most liked person in school, work, and life in general. Plus, you get all those nicknames, like the teacher’s pet, the boss’s b*tch, etc.
It’s a bit of a sad existence. Trust me, I’ve lived an embarrassing amount of my life strictly following rules. And it sucked. There wasn’t much happening for me, because most things didn’t fit the rules. And the worst part about all this is that I didn’t even realize I was living like this. So in this weekly newsletter, we’re going to go a little deeper into the topic of following rules strictly and ensure that you learn not to make this mistake.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what the heck does a person’s life look like when they follow the rules strictly?
Well, here are some of the sad traits I’ve seen others and myself experience:
Always by the book. Whether it’s for a small or big decision. They resort to some form of rules or manuals to justify their decisions. Completely disregarding the context.
Little imagination. They can’t come up with anything new since they are bound by rules and can’t venture outside of it. So they swear off variety and live boring and predictable lives.
And the worst trait of all is being completely risk-averse. I mean, cannot tolerate any amount of risk. Risk means chaos. Risk means leaving the rules and living like animals.
I know, it’s a sad life when you are ruled by rules. In fact, people who live like this are similar to a robot, where the rules are the program. And they can’t operate outside of it.
Why following rules strictly can ruin your life
Okay, so we have a general idea of what a life strictly following rules look like. But let’s go deeper and understand some of the reasons why living like that can ruin your life.
When people strictly follow rules, they believe in this one lie. This lie is so crucial to their belief system around rules that crushing it will destroy their world.
This lie is believing that obedience will get them taken care of. I mean, it’s a simple logic, where they follow all the rules and should be rewarded for it. Whether that reward is a promotion at work, being more popular, or being more successful. They are expecting something. Yet, none of these things happen. And they probably won’t happen in the future. Okay, maybe a promotion to a middle management role might happen, but that’s it.
The problem with strictly following rules is that you’re not taking full responsibility for your life. You think that you will be taken care of because you followed the rules. But in the real world, that’s not how it works. In fact, you are making yourself more vulnerable to shitty parts of life. Because when the rules change or new situations come into place that the rules didn’t account for, then you’re screwed. It’s as if you can’t use the creative or adaptable side of your brain since you’ve refused to use it for so many years.
Despite this, there is another way that following rules strictly can ruin your life. And it is by far the worst thing. When someone follows the rules diligently but gets nothing in return, he/she start to build resentment towards life.
Let me tell you a story about my personal experience of building resentment towards life.
When I graduated from university, I was happy and ready to take on the world. But little did Bulcha know that the world was ready to take him on. So soon after graduating, I started applying for jobs, and in a couple of months, I found a job at a local start-up. I was thinking, ‘finally, my life is headed somewhere.'
However, after three months, I got laid off. So back again on the job hunt. I was thinking that it shouldn’t be hard since I’m educated, have superior social skills, and a little bit of experience. Well, it took me over a year to find another job relevant to my career. But nonetheless, I was ready to move my career forward. However, after 8 months, I got laid off again!
I was so frustrated with life, I mean, I did everything right. I was a good boy, got an education, and rarely caused trouble. Yet nothing was working out for me.
This hurt me because following all these rules in being a good and educated person got me nowhere. I started resenting life, emotions were getting out of control, and that’s when I decided to go to therapy.
It makes sense that someone would build resentment. You see everyone else doing well, except for you. But having resentment is like shackling yourself. You can’t move forward with it.
And to ensure that we don’t build resentment, we have to take full responsibility for our lives. And we do this by relying less on rules and embracing the chaos.
How to rely less on rules for life and embrace chaos
To be honest, there isn’t one surefire way to do this. This is something that we all have to learn on our own. And when I say learn on our own, that means learning to embrace chaos by yourself. Everyone is different and what worked for me won’t work for everyone. But with that being said, we can discuss some things that may help you to learn to embrace chaos.
So, the first thing to accept is that life is messy. It’s not neat and orderly like the rules. And if you fight this, this will only cause more frustration, because you are asking a wild world to fit into your nice orderly box.
Another way to embrace chaos is to learn to voluntarily seek variety. When you seek variety, you will be infusing more randomness and emotion into life. Whether something turns out to be good or bad, it doesn’t matter, because it helps you learn to embrace a little bit of chaos and the emotions that follow them.
This is key because when you learn to feel your emotions that come with chaos, you’re training yourself to deal with the bigger chaotic events that will eventually come into your life. Compare this to always following the rules where it takes the fun out of life, becomes predictable, and not getting to experience the chaos and varied emotions. Then out of the blue, some random chaotic event comes in, slaps you silly, and leaves you confused with all these conflicting emotions.
And lastly, you have to learn to trust yourself. I think the reason why a lot of people follow rules too intensely is that they don’t trust themselves, but having rules takes away that responsibility. You can’t live like this. You have to accept 100% responsibility for your life and this means not relying on rules. You have to trust yourself because as life progresses, you are going to encounter a lot of new situations that no rules can ever help. When you make it a habit to trust yourself, then it will be simpler in dealing with new situations you have never encountered in your life.
Okay, but some of you are thinking: Shouldn’t we be following rules though, or things would be anarchy.
Listen, I am not saying to go all V for Vendetta. So when you are at work or school, yes follow the rules. When it comes to driving, yes, follow the rules.
Rules are for their respective places or context. But rules won’t help you with the messiness of life.
When you have a crisis in life, what rules are going to give you clarity?
When you fail at something, what rules are going to give you direction?
When you get hurt, what rules are going to assure you of the future?
You can’t rely on rules, because rules were made for specific contexts. So you have to rely on yourself. This is scary because that means you need to take responsibility in navigating life and trusting yourself.
But when you learn to do this, this will allow you to have a zest for life, because no matter what happens, you know you’re going to be okay. Whether it’s meeting new people, finding a new job, getting heartbroken, standing up for yourself. You know that you are going to be okay.
And that feeling alone is what helps make life worth living.
Alright, before this gets too serious, let’s hop on to the summary of this newsletter.
Signs a person’s life is based on strictly following rules are:
They are always by the book.
They have very little imagination.
They are completely risk-averse.
Following rules strictly can ruin your life by:
Thinking you will be rewarded for obedience, but really don’t.
Not taking full responsibility for your life.
Making you build resentment towards life.
To rely less on rules and embrace chaos start off by:
Accepting that life is messy.
Voluntarily seeking variety in life.
Trusting yourself more.
We should follow rules for their specific contexts, but we shouldn’t expect the rules to solve our problems. We need to rely on ourselves and trust ourselves more to deal with the many situations life will throw at us.
Okay, so for the next steps, get your journal, and remind yourself that you need to take full responsibility for your life and accept that rules are not going to save you. Remind yourself of this until it becomes ingrained, then reread this newsletter at a later time to really get the gist of it.
Anyways, enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll see you next time.
The Charismatic Nerd
P.S. You can watch the video version of this on my YouTube channel here