I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Golden Rule, right? Treating others how you want to be treated in return is the essence of this rule. How many of our parents taught us this philosophy? In theory, this is a great idea.
There’s a glitch with the Golden Rule. Too many people focus on how they treat others and not enough on how they get treated in return. It’s not always as simple as getting back what you put out. This is especially true when setting out on the healing journey and committing to change.
It should be that simple. If we treat others with respect, kindness, and love, we should get all that back in return, from everyone. Sadly, many people let their traumas and issues run them, instead of finding healing.
You probably can already think of a few people that don’t treat you the way you treat them, but when you really start paying attention to this is when it gets challenging. We can’t always control who we’re around, especially who we work with and who our family is. When we truly start to focus on how we’re being treated, we’re faced with a difficult choice. What will we continue to put up with? Then if you add healthy boundaries, you’re doubling down and likely creating tension in your relationships.
I’ve talked a lot about the importance of healthy boundaries and the change that comes with putting yourself first, so let’s talk about that for a moment. Healthy boundaries are rooted in respect and compassion for yourself. So say that those are two things you highly value and in all your interactions- with co-workers, bosses, friends, family, you choose to show respect and compassion for others.
You hope that you’d get that back in return, but how often does that happen? You can keep paying things forward with kind, positive behaviors- and end up hurting yourself because you’re overdoing it on the first part of this philosophy. Are you too focused on what you’re putting out there and not caring enough about how you’re being treated (what you get back)?
The reason committing to healing and positive growth is so hard for so many people is because of the absolute need to shift your focus to yourself. There’s a mistaken belief that self-care and self-love are selfish, and generations of people were taught that what matters is what goes out, not what goes in.
Nope. Self-love isn’t selfish, and turning our focus to our needs to improve the quality of our own life isn’t bad. Doing this doesn’t make you a narcissist. It makes you a person committed to living your life. Your life.
The Golden Rule should work on both sides. It does matter how you treat other people, and it always will. It also matters how you are treated in return and what you will allow in your life. Knowing your values helps with this. What do you value? How do you want to treat other people, and what do you want coming back to you?
Again, we can’t always control who is in our life, but we can control two things. How we react to how other people treat us (remember, how other people react is about them, not you), and committing to living a life that matches our values and sticking to boundaries about how we allow ourselves to be treated.
The Golden Rule isn’t always golden, so pay attention to what you’re getting back. You deserve to have people in your life that treat you well, just as others deserve to be treated well by you.