Principles versus Rules

Principles guide decision making.


As a young child I quickly learned that life has rules and if you break those rules, you will be punished. The pain a belt inflicts is a powerful motivator, especially for a sensitive child like me. I was frantic to avoid its sting, both physically and emotionally.

Image - Teresa age 5

As a teenager, I discovered that rules can be broken, if you’re smart about it. I learned how to break rules without getting caught – well, most of the time.

I developed a weight issue that I desperately despised.  Without knowing how to lose weight in a healthy way, I made lots of rules about what I allowed myself to eat and when. I broke those rules more times than I can count. Each time I broke a rule I was rebelling. Who was I fighting against? Me.

Many years later, I realized I was trying to be my own parent, to carry forward the restriction ethic I had known all my life. This opened a door to healing. And, instead of making rules, I decided to live by principles.

Rules versus Principles

Rules say, “do this and don’t do that.” Rules limit. Rules set the minimum of good behavior. And rules are meant to be broken.

Principles are statements of truth. An example of a principle is “Organic food is better than non-organic food.” The principle does not say, “Don’t buy non-organic food.” It’s just stating a truth.

When faced with a choice, a rule may restrict you while a principle will guide you.

When Abraham Lincoln was asked about principles, he said, “Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” Because his decisions were guided by principles, he was able to set thousands of people free and hold our war-torn country together. Learn from his example. If you have an internal civil war going on, principles can be used to set you free and hold your life together, too.

Memorizing the principles in this book can help you avoid inner rebellions. Embracing these principles will make it easier to shape wise choices.


Action Step:  Avoid restricting yourself with self-imposed rules. You are unlikely to stick to them anyway. Instead choose to simply set yourself free from doing anything that brings you harm. Apply principles of truth to your daily life. The principle for each chapter in this book will be listed under the title of the chapter.

Write the following affirmation on a sticky note and post it where you will see it every day.

Affirmation:  Truth is the key that sets me free. 

[Author’s Note: This is one of the first chapters in the book. I include it here because I will start each blog post with a Principle.  Also notice that each blog post ends with an Action Step and an Affirmation. These three elements enhance your potential for success in getting to where you want to be.  Live by the Principles. Do the Action Steps. And say the Affirmations until they become a part of your thought patterns. It works!]


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