Redefine Your Rules: Flexibility and Self-Compassion

Jillian DuBoisBlog, Connect Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better, Teach Happier


  • Set flexible standards for yourself to increase self-compassion.
  • Celebrate who you are.
  • Focus on your successes throughout each day.
  • Pause and think about your response before acting.

Redefine Your Rules

On any given day, I could list a few things that bother my inherently natural “I’M A RULE FOLLOWER” instinct. Things like: people standing in line on cell phones having awkwardly loud conversations, people who leave a mess of trash behind at the fast-food table, bicycle riders without helmets, theme-park wanderers that block the paths, to just name a few.

Who’s with me?

I was raised from a young age that it was best to stay within the firm boundaries of the rules that were laid out for me. And, I pretty much complied. I did not want to risk losing the respect or love of my family, so I set up some pretty unrealistic expectations for myself as I grew older. Those led to creating unhealthy habits that ruptured into pathways of anxiety and stress.

Let me be completely clear in saying that I am the only one who created those expectations.

No one else demanded I do things a certain way in order to achieve love. Of course, I had rules to follow, but the consequences were often minor if there was an infraction. My family understood that compassionate redirection typically corrected offensive conduct.

On good days, we somehow manage to find grace, compassion, and kindness for others who fall out of line, but the bigger problem comes when we break the rules ourselves. When I break a rule, it sends me down an uncharted path of what I overthink to be a failure. I start to doubt myself. I can’t stand the thought of myself being disrespectful or selfish. If I set the rule and break it, I feel like a hypocrite.

After years of putting myself through adverse emotional conditions, I decided it was time to reposition myself to accept peace and grace through flexible rules that would not dictate my success. It’s not a perfect blueprint, but it is one that is fluid and can be adjusted to meet the standards that I desire for my life.

I decided it was time to reposition myself to accept peace and grace through flexible rules that would not dictate my success. Click To Tweet

Here are the top three simplistic rules I have adapted to fit my life:

Own WHO you are.

You are the only YOU. You have permission to be your own person. When you experience certain emotions and physical signs manifesting in various ways, take time to let yourself acknowledge that awareness with your heart. Don’t ignore it or wish it away. It may be difficult to face, but name it rather than avoiding it.

Validate your bravery.

Each day’s circumstances bring new worries and anxieties. When you demonstrate boldness to approach challenges, give yourself enthusiastic praise, or what I like to call “mad props.” When you avoid showing yourself compassion and courage, you compromise your own self-worth. Accepting yourself and the strength you have helps you to act on your values.

Nurture your respondability.

Yes, I said “respondability,” not responsibility. You have voice and choice in how you will respond or react to situations and people around you. Impulsivity can diminish when there’s a pause or an intermission in our thought process. When we can begin to envision the warm energy that allows us to positively respond to our experiences, we actively practice self-love.

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Friends, you are not alone.

The fact is that we can celebrate our uniqueness and design with unconditional empathy. When we struggle to tolerate WHO we are, there will be a difficult path ahead. Acceptance means we can open up with honesty and make room for our struggles, allowing ourselves the ability to make decisions based on what is important versus how we feel in the moment.

Go ahead.

Redefine your rules.

Own them.

You have permission to BE YOU.

About Jillian DuBois

Jillian DuBois currently serves as an elementary school educator in Clearwater, FL. She has worked both in public and private educational settings for over 20 years. Her passion is to initiate, instill, and infuse joy to those in educational leadership through blogs and podcasts. Jillian uses her voice to help foster hope for student equity and empathy. Outside of school, you will find Jillian outdoors, soaking up the sun and surf, or finding new paths to hike with her husband and son. You can visit her website here!