Does Following the Rules (or Not) Affect Your Relationships?

The questions today are simple and have to do with a topic we generally don’t talk about much, it’s the way in which some of us are sticklers for following the rules (perfectionists particularly) and others who rebel against rules. If you and another person are at loggerheads, perhaps that is one of your problems. How would you answer the following questions?

sun with question markExploring Your Personality # 15:

Following the Rules


Would others consider me agreeable, conventional, conforming, suggestible, and/or indecisive?

Do I sometimes feel I understand others, but then realize I don’t because I’ve been too focused on pleasing them? If so, why do I think this is true of me?

Might someone say that I act bored, want to make a good impression, go by the book, and am nice but rigid, strong and silent?

What do the answers to these questions say about my relationship with others?

These questions complement the Better Tomorrows Program for healing strained and broken relationships and are part of the blog’s series of questions for exploring who you are.

To explore other questions, see Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, Healing Relationships is an Inside Job, and the Q-and-A Club.

Will My Advice About Cancer Work For Me?

Where Is My Ship Taking Me?


In this picture of the paddle-steamer HSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown, New Zealand, I knew where I was heading; to a sheep ranch across the lake. Now I’m on a boat, metaphorically speaking, and my landing point is unknown. In fact, as far as my body is concerned, it will be at least a few days before I’ll know in what direction I am sailling.

I was very much aware of such uncertainty for people who are in the process of getting a diagnosis for cancer when, about twenty-five years ago, I co-founded The Wellness Community—Foothills in Pasadena, California, which is part of an international support program for cancer patients and their families. During my approximately fifteen years with the organization, I served on the board and gave many workshops. Later I co-founded the nonprofit CancerOnline website (no longer active) where I wrote thousands of words offering encouragement and information.

What I said time and again was that it is important to have hope and to participate in treatment decisions. I gave lots of advice that seemed, to an observer of the experience of others, to make sense. People seemed to like what I said. [If you’d like to read just some of the advice I’ve given about cancer, look at the Getting Well and Staying Well index in the health section of Support4Change.]

However, if you’ve been following the blog, you will know that now I get to see whether all that advice applies to me as well. A couple weeks ago I said that life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I made the comment when I was called back for a diagnostic mammogram because I had had an “anomoly” in my first exam. So last Thursday I went in truly expecting it would be a false positive.

For those who don’t know what that means, it’s when a test looks as though the results aren’t good, but they are. I’d told hundreds of women that there are many false positives. I had only had an “anomoly.” That sounded much more favorable than if the original mammogram had indicated a large mass, or if I could actually feel a lump. So I went into the exam last week taking my advice that it was probably just fine. Only an anomoly.

Now, because of that exam, I have learned that I have a suspicious mass in my breast. That sounds so ominous, doesn’t it, a “suspicious mass”? I watched as they did a sonogram and it didn’t look terribly big to me. It’s strangely shaped and less than an inch. But that’s still awfully big if it’s malignant and I’d rather not have it hanging around if it’s going to keep growing, even if it’s caught early. So I expect, if it is cancer, that in the end I will be fine. However, I’ve been around the cancer scene too long not to be aware of the potential for uncomfortable treatment, hair falling out, and all that stuff that no one wants to have to go through.

Now I have scheduled a biopsy for this Thursday and I will get the results this Friday. The answer will help determine what direction my ship is sailing this year.

When friends ask how I’m doing, I report that it’s an interesting experience to notice whether all those thousands of words I’ve written for others might now apply to me. I’ve discovered that they do. Not only do I know that diagnosing cancer early means a far greater chance of cure and survival, but there is always the possibility that the biopsy will show that it won’t be malignant. I’ll just have to wait.

However, there is an additional thing I want to share. If you have seen the video called “Heal Your Relationships by Strengthening Your True Self,” on the homepage of Support4Change, you will know that the true self is able to observe what happens to the body without being attached to it. It doesn’t identify itself based on whether the body feels well or looks good.

I can honestly say that I am reacting to this intrusion in my life with greater acceptance than I would have been able to pull off twenty years ago. Guess that means I’ve made progress, though I admit that my ego still has greater control over me than I’d like. In fact, the more I recognize my ego in operation, the more I become aware of how it wants to run my life, like claiming that I should be immune to the visisitudes of life — such as needing to deal with the bother of cancer. However, the first step in getting rid of the ego is recognizing when it’s active so that the true self can make decisions and take actions the ego may not like.

This evening I was talking with a colleague of mine who has had cancer and who became blind a few years ago. She has a much harder time accepting the blindness than she did accepting the cancer diagnosis. Our discussion led to the observation that we all have stumbling blocks along whatever path our journeys take us. Some are there because of challenges placed in our paths by illness and loss. Others we place there ourselves when our ego says, such things may happen to others, but they shouldn’t happen to us. Our true self accepts them as the reality of what lies in our path, and then proceeds to deal with them to the best of our ability.

I’d love to hear from you about how you have dealt with stumbling blocks in your own life.

Does Flexibility or Inflexibility Affect Your Relationships?

NOTE #1: If you’ve been following the blog, you may notice that the travel notes got a little messed up recently. You may find some pictures and their stories got repeated. Sorry. I think I’ve gotten myself straightened out now.
NOTE #2: I have revised and updated the Q-and-A Club and now include the blog’s questions for exploring your personality (including those below) as part of the Understanding Yourself category. Check out the new club and see which level of free membership you’d like to join. It’s all informal, so just choose some area of interest and ask yourself questions.

sun with question markPART ONE

Exploring Your Personality # 14:

Flexibility and Inflexibility


Does it take time for me to adjust to new situations and unexpected circumstances? If not, why do I think I am flexible? If so, why do I think I have trouble being flexible?

Would I like to roll with the punches better than I do? If so, how do I imagine I would do things differently?

These questions complement the Better Tomorrows Program for healing strained and broken relationships and are part of the blog’s series of questions for exploring who you are.

To explore other questions, see Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, Healing Relationships is an Inside Job, and the Q-and-A Club.

grey line


Equador and Peru Travel Report # 15:

We Were Blue-Footed Boobies

Blue-footed Boobies

On the cruise ship through the Galapagos Islands, the ninety passengers were divided into groups that fit nicely into the Zodiac boats that took us on trips to the beaches of individual islands. Each group was given a name like Penguins, Dolphins, Pelicans, etc. We were the Boobies, which meant the blue-footed boobies like those above. I was particularly pleased because when I asked my grandson at Christmas last year what he wanted, he said he wanted a donation in his name to the Wildlife Fund; and he chose the blue-footed boobies as his choice of an endangered species.

I have to admit, these are strange-looking birds who carry out a blue theme throughout their whole bodies. I don’t know if there are other birds whose name reflects the color of their feet, but these do and I like to think that maybe a tiny bit of the money we gave to the Wildlife Fund makes their life a bit easier.