You’re the Villain When You Force Your Rules on Others

Somebody who used to be close with my family thinks I’m a villain. Ok, maybe not that I’m an outright villain, but definitely that I’m a bad guy. For the time that we were close, I gave advice and friendship by encouraging her personal development. My typical advice was along the lines of, be respectful of others, make prudent choices, get active and involved, give more than you get, start with small goals to build momentum for large goals, etc. Essentially, I gave to her the exact same content that I write about here. I was being myself and offering the rules I live by – and that’s the problem. I repeatedly offered the rules I live by.

I placed my personal expectations onto another person who valued different things and had her own rules to live by. On top of that, I sent a clear message that her way of doing things wasn’t good enough and that I wanted her to change. I didn’t accept her for who she is, and for that reason, I am the bad guy.

Through this experience, I realized the full meaning of the word projecting. I’d heard this term plenty of times and had always thought it was about seeing my problems/fears in other people (whether they are there or not). Really though, projecting could be done from good intentions too, but that doesn’t make it less inappropriate. How does this work you ask? Let me give some examples from my own life.

  1. I say: Joe is rude, he’s always late for meetings and never tells the other person. Translation: I believe I am rude when I am late for a meeting without telling the other person.
  2. I say: Susan is so lazy, she sits around and plays with her phone all the time. Translation: I believe I’m being lazy and wasting time when I play with my phone for too long.
  3. I say: Eric eats like crap and will probably make himself sick. Translation: I believe that eating poorly will affect my health and wellbeing.
  4. I say: Mary has no clue what she’s doing and needs a game plan. Translation: I believe that having a plan gives me greater awareness of what I’m working on.
  5. I say: Kevin needs a budget because he spends money like there’s no tomorrow. Translation: I believe that without a budget, I could spend money like there’s no tomorrow.

I hope these examples illustrate the point I’m trying to make. We’re all here on our own journey, and I can’t know what life you are personally inspired to live. Based on my past experiences and my moral compass, I’ve developed beliefs about how I should live my life. When other people don’t align with these, I tend to think that they are wrong. Worse yet, I want to guide them toward my way of doing things because I think it will help them. In reality, they will find their own way of doing things by using their own internal guidance when they are ready to make those steps. They don’t need me giving my two cents, and it’s probably fair to say that, even if they ask, they don’t really want to hear my two cents.

Anybody committed to a personal development journey, however, knows that it’s never as easy as just “figuring it out.” Next you have to live by the new standard. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I caught myself pushing my expectations again. You see I was recently introduced to two topics that have caused a big shift in my personal discipline. Both topics will get their own posts and likely become recurring themes, but I’ll quickly introduce them to finish this story. Firstly, I made a major purge of household belongings and secondly I have set early retirement as a legitimate target that is now securely in my sights.

While both of these sound uptight, for me, they are surprisingly invigorating. I feel freer than I have in years and I want to tell everyone about it…so I have been…everyone. My husband finally pulled me aside and told me that I can talk to him about them all day long, but to layoff others because these are heavy duty changes and people won’t embrace them until they’re ready.

I have now been taught twice, in two very different circumstances that we are all here to live our own lives, and there is no benefit in forcing my lessons on others. I am a lifelong learner and I want to share, but not at the expense of being a villain.

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