Unlike “right and wrong”, which are viewed as absolute and indisputable, there are cases where someone controls the situation and simply enforces his or her personal preferences. It is a subjective type of black and white thinking. What goes on in such a person’s mind is the rule that says:
Things must be the way I want them to be. Otherwise, life will be intolerable
Kids with a rule like this usually have one parent who thinks like this, or two of them. As always, this starts with
Things must be the way my parents want them to be. Otherwise, life will be intolerable
Things must be the way my teachers want them to be. Otherwise, life will be intolerable
I remember some of my high school years, learning one of my most wonderful subjects – literature – and during tests, when we had to write about what the author meant, we had to write exactly what the teacher thought about the author meant, as if the teacher had talked to the author and knew his or her thoughts exactly.
I remember the fear, the anger, the resentment, the disrespectful thoughts we had towards our teachers who gave us low scores when we did not quote their interpretation of the poem or the story. Life was certainly intolerable.
Dad’s way or the highway
Many years ago, when most families lived in a patriarchal home, in which the father was responsible for supporting the family, this rule was a survival tool. Whatever Dad said was the Word of God. Most people in their 60s and up will tell you they grew up in a house that lived by Dad’s way or the highway.
With big families, financial struggles and wives with no ability to study or vote, men’s ability to control their kids and wife was essential to the survival of the family. Unfortunately, most of people’s beliefs are not updated and are carried from one generation to another.
Did you know that the retirement age was set at 60 (or 65) because very few people reached that age? Nowadays, many people live well past 65 and the burden of providing them with a pension is getting heavier every year.
Following an outdated rule is like using an ancient map to navigate in a modern city
– Ronit Baras
“My way or the highway” mindset is the killer of creativity and the source of the herd mentality. In a sense, this rule translates for many to, “Follow those who put pressure on you” or “Obey those in control”. This might give you a bit of comfort and a good feeling of power when your kids are young, but lots of heartache the minute they become teens and start paying more attention to peer pressure.
If you want to raise creative, updated kids, who navigate happily trough life, remember, you are not a king and they are not your servants whose aim in life is to obey. Teach them to question. Teach them to be curious. Teach them to examine their beliefs and update them often by … showing them how.
Since my daughter started her teen years, I tell her, “If you follow my footsteps blindly, this will be the end of progress and evolution. Take my beliefs and my experience and make them better. Find a way to update them, adapt them to your needs and make them your beliefs and experiences. I make a lot of effort to give you things I have never had and to save you from the heartaches I have felt in my life, but only when you take my way, add your ideas to it, update it and learn from it, only then will you speed up the highway of life to your success.
Join me tomorrow for the 6th irrational rule of living – disempowerment.
Until then, be happy,
This post is part of the series Irrational Rules of Living:
- Irrational Rules of Living – External Approval
- Irrational Rules of Living – Self Worth
- Irrational Rules of Living – Problem Solving
- Irrational Rules of Living – Right and Wrong
- Irrational Rules of Living – My Way or the Highway
- Irrational Rules of Living – Disempowerment
- Irrational Rules of Living – Anxiety
- Irrational Rules of Living – Avoidance
- Irrational Rules of Living – Dependency
- Irrational Rules of Living – The Power of the Past
- Irrational Rules of Living – Sympathy
- Irrational Rules of Living – Discomfort and pain