Why the Golden Rule Isn't Enough


In conversation this week I was reminded of the Golden Rule. You know the one: Treat others as you’d like to be treated. When it comes to interacting with others in any scenario — work, personal, or somewhere in between — I think it’s a pretty good north star. It reminds us to see ourselves in others. And to keep common decency and humanity in mind. 

But I have to be honest. I also think something is missing. We spend so much time focused on how we can, should or are treating others. 

But what about how we treat ourselves? 

Quite possibly THE #1 topic that comes up with all of my clients is the relationship they have with themselves. How their inner dialogue — which oftentimes serves as a resident inner critic — holds them back. Makes them feel like crap. Prevents them from seeing and going after all the opportunities before them. 

And I’ve found that this trend extends beyond just my clients. It’s a topic that comes up far too often with friends, family and peers too. There’s an epidemic of self-criticism out there, and I say it’s time we do something about it. 

Consider this: Would you say the same things to a friend, colleague or stranger that you say to yourself in your head? Would you keep someone in your life if they spoke to you the same way you speak to yourself? I’m willing to bet absolutely not. In fact, I’d put money on the fact that you’d block their number and never see them again. Ever. 

So why do we tolerate treatment from ourselves that we know deep down is considered completely unacceptable everywhere else? 

I know. Such a hard question to answer, right? 

It’s a toughie because it gets right at the root of things. Asks us to face a side of ourselves — and a detrimental mindset — that does NOT serve us. If we really look within and answer the question honestly, things get real. Real quick. 

So here’s what I propose. Let’s take the golden rule and give it a twist: Treat yourself as you would treat others. Because if we’re not kind to ourselves, then why should anyone else be? 

THIS is the ultimate mindset work. It all has to start from within. 

Because starting with mindset shifts that focus on what’s going on around us is like skipping a step. Think of your inner dialogue and thoughts about yourself as the foundation of a house. If you don’t have a solid foundation, then the house will never get built. Or if it does, it will inevitably fall apart. 

If you’ve read some of my past articles or have done mindset work yourself, then you already know: it’s a practice. Whether you’re familiar with working with mindset shifts or a newbie, there’s always more work to be done. 

And if you’re unsure how to start applying this new take on the Golden Rule to your daily life, don’t sweat it. I’ve got your back. 

Here’s how to get started: 

#1. Awareness

If you’re not aware of your inner dialogue — what it looks like, how it sounds, what it says — then you can’t possibly make a change. It’s like opening up the closet door and expecting to find what you need without the light on. If getting clear on your inner voice seems elusive to you, here are some good questions to help you see your inner voice more clearly: 

How do I speak to myself? 

How do I talk about myself to others?

What do I say? 

When I look in the mirror, what do I see? What do I think? 

#2. Write it Down

Your journal is your friend. Paper or electronic, it’s up to you. Write down your answers to these questions, and jot down what you notice throughout the day. What’s your default reaction? What do you find yourself thinking or saying out of habit? Remember to consider whether or not you’d say the same thing to someone else. 

#3. Practice Self-Compassion

When you start to do this exercise, it can be hard to face what you see. Try not to make things worse by beating yourself up for what you find. See if you can approach your thoughts and default responses with curiosity and compassion. 

#4. Re-Write the Script 

Want to know the magic of stories? They can always be rewritten. And your default thought patterns are just that — STORIES. I know it may feel like your current thoughts are real and true. But who’s to say the alternative can’t be too? 

Start small here — you won’t be successful if you start thinking the extreme opposite (i.e. I’m a terrible writer to I’m the best writer I know). If you try to make a small shift however — and one that infuses kindness into it — you’ll be way better off (i.e. I’m a terrible writer to I’m not a great writer, but I’m working on it and will make progress). 

So what do you say… are you in? Are you ready to take a look at how you treat yourself? And how you can hold yourself to the same standards you expect from others? 

I sure hope so. Try the above exercise, and let me know what you think. And if you want to learn more about how to begin making mindset shifts from within, I’m here for you. Let’s chat! 

Comment below or send me an email at sofia@sofiaadler.com 

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