The Golden Rule, also often referred to as the “ethic of reciprocity”, is a general piece of advice on our daily conduct that is found among most religions.
Most basically it states:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In its negative or alternative form it states:
Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.
Even more basically, its a very simple and easy to follow rule that suggests you treat people in ways that you would like to be treated, and that you not treat people in ways that you would not like to be treated. Who couldn’t agree with that? Its easy and fair to everyone involved.
However, if you adhere too closely to the Golden Rule you may run into trouble. There is something missing from the Golden Rule. Although it seems to cover everything about how we choose to conduct ourselves and is therefore assumed to do so, it doesn’t.
What the Golden Rule doesn’t account for, is whether or not the people you are living by the Golden Rule with are also living by it with you. Given that historical religious writings often condone a life of service and giving our own needs less priority than those of others, this doesn’t come as a surprise. It is a problem though for those of us who have a tendency to be very giving and caring people, particularly for those of of who tend to be “rescuers”. When we’re going through life Doing unto others… its not always the case that others are also Doing unto us…
This can create problems when this becomes our way of being without taking time to consider the factors present in each scenario when we are giving of ourselves. What can unfortunately happen is that we run into people who don’t live by this rule, but for obvious reasons love the devotion of a good friend, mate, coworker, or family member who follows this rule. When this happens, these people can turn into bottom-less pits of taking and/or neediness. They can really put a big dent in our energy supply and subsequently, even if unwittingly, interfere with our ability to accomplish our daily, short-term and long-term goals. They can leave us feeling used, abused, and exhausted, wondering how did so much time go by where none of what I did with my time benefited me in any way, shape or form, and/or actually caused my life a lot of harm.
For those of us who have unfortunately become entangled in such a relationship, I propose a third Golden Rule and believe it is just as important as the other two:
Do not let anyone do to you, what you would never do to anyone. Do not let anyone take from you, what you would never take from anyone. Do not let anyone depend on you in ways that you would never depend on anyone. Do unto yourself, as you would do unto others.
Keep well, Susan