What is the difference between making rules and making decision? Rules imply restriction. They offer guidance in what to do or not to do. As a child, I am sure you can remember a time when a parent said, “Don’t touch that,” and then the questions that inevitably followed was, “Why?” much to many parents chagrin. But wanting to know why to do, or not to do something, is perfectly natural and is truly a great way to clarify the reasons behind a rule. It’s easier to follow a rule when we are given the reason, such as “I don’t want you to touch that because it is hot and you’ll burn yourself.”
I would like to suggest a new way of thinking about rules. A way that I have found less restrictive. Decisions. Decisions based on desires. This is a kinder approach that can have more positive and lasting effects. First, make a list of desires. What do you want in life? Where are you going? Then list below each desire the things that you will choose to do that support that desire.
Let’s say one of your desires is to lose 20 lbs. Let’s compare how making rules looks different from making decisions.
Making Rules (based on restrictions):
I’m not going to eat after 7:00.
I’m not going to eat bad foods, sugar, fatty, fried, etc.
I’m only going to eat out once a week.
I’m going to exercise 4 times a week.
Making Decisions (based on desires):
My highest desire is to lose 20 lbs.
I choose to eat 3 healthy meals a day.
I enjoy eating healthy snacks.
I will find an exercise that feels right for me.
I will look for ways to make healthy choices when faced with unhealthy ones.
It’s not that the overall list is that different, but it’s in clarifying the actions we will take that support our desires. Over time, these actions are what will bring our desire to us. Rather than feeling restricted with the thoughts of, ‘I can’t do this,’ ‘I can’t do that,’ we can instead be empowered by the feeling of choosing to do something (or not do something) because it supports our highest desire.
So if you find yourself struggling with the feeling of ‘have-to’s’ and ‘do not’s’ try rephrasing your list. State the desire you have and then list those things that you are choosing to do, or not do, that support your desire. Now that you have your list, when faced with a challenge, you can make your decision based on your desire. Ask yourself: What decision, right now, would support my highest desire? What is the best choice for me? Give weight to your desire by making decisions and taking actions that support it and you can be sure that it is only a matter of time before that desire becomes reality!