If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules
** Interview from Wellness Bound Magazine With Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott
WB: To begin, let’s start with an outline of the Ten Rules for Being Human.
Cherie Carter-Scott: The 1st rule is you will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your time here on Earth. And a lot of us take that for granted, but some people take better care of their cars than they do their bodies. Some people respect their bodies and some people abuse their bodies.
Some people just tolerate their body and other people actually honor their bodies. When you see someone who honors their body, it’s as if they’ve established a relationship with it that is based on respect and care and dignity and a real partnership between one’s spirit and one’s body. Part of the goal of rule #1 is to be able to formulate that partnership because it is the only relationship that you’ll have from birth to death that will endure.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #2: You’ll be presented with lessons. You may like them or hate them, but they’re yours and they’re part of your overall curriculum in the school of life. If we have good things happening in life, it’s easy to take ownership over them.
And if they’re not such great things, it’s kind of like “well, why did this happen to me?” and “How come?” and “Who’s in charge?” The real key here is about seeing everything that happens as a lesson to learn from and as a gift to teach us something.
If you look at it that way, then there’s nothing that happens in life that happens by chance and there’s nothing that happens as an accident. So the whole “game” is there to teach you something about yourself every second of every day, every minute of your life.
WB: And if you embrace those lessons you open up your life potentials to endless possibilities.
Cherie Carter-Scott: You’re a constant, continuous learner. And you’ll learn from everything and everyone that comes across your path. And you’ll stop resisting what happens and look at it as “this is here as a gift to teach me something.”
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #3: There are no mistakes, only lessons. For a lot of people, that’s a tough one, but it really defines and separates the “negaholics” from the rest of the people. Because if you’re a “negaholic,” you will look at the situations that happen as opportunities to either beat yourself up, take yourself to task, complain or beat up somebody else.
But if you actually do look at life as if there are no mistakes and everything has happened as a teaching opportunity, then you will say, “Okay… What is this here for…how’s this going to educate me... how can I grow from this?” I wrote a book called Negaholics: How to Overcome Negativity and Turn Your Life Around. It shows you there are a few people in the world who set unattainable standards for themselves and when they don’t live up to them, take themselves to task. They think “no mistakes” means you can’t do it wrong. I teach this to people often about golf. You know, golf spelled backwards is flog. And if you aren’t playing a good game of golf, you’re tendency is to flog yourself to death for not living up to your expectations of how you’re supposed to play the game.
Now “negaholics” really get out on the golf course and start flogging themselves for not playing Tiger Wood’s golf. So, that’s an opportunity to be able to embrace everything and say, “Okay, this is not a mistake. This is not an accident. This is an exercise in what? What am I to learn from this?”
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #4: Lessons will be repeated until learned. It’s a favorite of a lot of people because they see themselves in it. It’s like the proverbial rake in life. You know you step on the rake and it hits you in the face. You say, “Oh, that’s a rake.” And then you do it again and it hits you again.
You do it a 3rd time and you say, “There’s that same old rake again. It keeps hitting me in the face.” The key here is lessons are repeated until learned. If you look at relationships, they just keep showing up in a different pair of pants. They keep changing clothes and they keep showing up.
It’s like, “you again?” If you haven’t learned it, it will keep showing up, whether it’s in your business life, your personal life or whether it has to do with health issues. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you keep getting the same old outcomes. You have to change something in the equation to get a different outcome.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #5: Learning does not end. As I grew up, I kind of thought that you go through school and you start a career and you find a mate and you have kids and at a certain point it gets easy. “Easy” means you stop having tests or exams, or maybe it’s summer vacation forever. Some people think that happens every week -- they live for Fridays. Or maybe it happens at retirement. Or maybe it happens when the kids leave the house. There’s a time when it’s supposed to get easier, but the real truth is that learning doesn’t end.
It keeps on going through every different cycle of life. And no matter where you are on the cycle, if you’re starting out your career or starting your family or the kids are leaving the nest or you’re starting your retirement or if you’re in your 80’s or 90’s, there’s always something to learn. And it never goes away.
I was just talking to my mother-in-law recently, who is 83 years old, and I said, “…so what are you learning these days?” And she said, “You know, I’m learning about judgments. I really have to learn to be non-judgmental.” And she said, “That’s why I’m still alive. Because I haven’t learned that one yet.”
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #6: “There” is no better than “here.” Very often people will get stuck in the here/there syndrome: “When I lose 10 pounds…when I find my soul mate... when I win the lottery…when I retire... when I something”. It’s the when I, then I syndrome.
It defers gratification and satisfaction till the time when you think you’re going to be there and then you’ll be able to have the happiness, the joy, the satisfaction and fulfillment that you’ve wanted, but you’ve deferred it until that time you think you will be deserving of it.
The real challenge is about living in the present. The challenge of rule #6 is to live in the present with goals, with expectations, dreams, wishes and hopes—and not deferring your satisfaction until those are achieved. So that’s why “there” is no better than “here.” It’s different, but it’s not necessarily better, and it will have a whole new set of challenges and opportunities that come along with it.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #7: Others are only mirrors of you. Let’s say you’re positively recognizing something in another person that you really value and that you say, “Gosh, that’s really wonderful.” That means that you’re seeing your unfulfilled potential in that other person -- that they’re mirroring that back to you.
In the positive sense you’re seeing that which you’re aspiring to do, that which you want to become. When you see something in another person that you judge negatively you say, “I don’t like that” or “I don’t want that” or “that’s ugly” or some sort of a negative judgment, you’re seeing a part of you that you either haven’t allowed, or that you have disowned or you can’t tolerate.
It’s your suppressed part of you. Like somebody who dresses really flamboyantly, who really wears bright, bright colors and you say, “Gosh, that person’s really loud, boisterous, or flashy.” Do I allow myself to wear bright colors? Of course not. No, I wear grays and browns and blacks and muted colors. Well, would you like to?
WB: That’s a very revealing rule and I can see how it could be very difficult for many to embrace.
Cherie Carter-Scott: And it actually can produce a lot of real accelerated movement if you just look at whatever comes up as a judgment you say, “What’s the mirror?”
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #8: What you make of your life is up to you. For the people whom it’s obvious, they are the people who believe it and have lived it. They say what you make of life is up to you. For the people whom it’s not obvious to, they say, “Are you kidding me? You can’t make your life what you want it to be.”
There are circumstances beyond your control that you have to put up with, that you have to suffer through and you really don’t have that kind of control. If you look at life as if it’s within your control to dream it, scheme it, do it, cause it, drive it and celebrate it, then it really puts the power back in your hands.
WB: Then you’re creating your destiny instead of being a victim to it.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Exactly. I often think of the example of the sailboat. You can get in the sailboat and say, “Gosh, I wonder where the current’s going to take me. I wonder where the wind’s going to push me. This will be interesting to find out where I end up. Or you can take hold of the rudder and chart your own course and go where you want to go.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #9: All your answers lie inside of you. This rule presumes that we all have a kind of spiritual DNA and that within each one of us is a sense of purpose, a sense of why we’re here and what our life is about. It also involves our talents, our skills, our abilities, our proclivities and passions. The kind of who we are, in the non-physical sense, is within us. If we stop and look and listen and commit and honor our truth, we can fulfill our destiny.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Rule #10: You will forget all of this at birth. Remembering and forgetting are the dance of consciousness. If you remembered everything all the time, there wouldn’t be any challenge. And if you forgot everything all the time, there wouldn’t be a game at all. But it’s that interesting dance between remembering and forgetting that makes the game interesting. Because we know who we are, we know why we’re here and then we have those moments of temporary amnesia when we do forget and we don’t remember what we’re doing here.
WB: Your Rules for Being Human remind me of gravity, in the sense that whether you believe it or not, it’s always there. Someone may or may not embrace these human truths, but they’re always present. There’s no denying that the more successfully you negotiate life, according to the rules, the more successful your life experience will be. People stop when they come to the edge of the cliff because they understand the rule of gravity is always at work. How do your rules for being human provide a framework to help make our lives better?
Cherie Carter-Scott: Life can be very confusing if you don’t know what to expect. And if you’re looking outside yourself for answers or direction or trying to figure out the game, it can be lonely and alienating at times. So, the purpose for these rules for being human is to allow people to be able to return to them over and over again and to be able to check in and say, “Okay, where am I in the game of life?” and “What rule am I dealing with right now” and “How can I be able to navigate through this process that I’m in—easier, smoother, more successfully and be able to see it from an altered perspective”. Because that’s really what these rules for being human do.
WB: How would you define success in life?
Cherie Carter-Scott: Fulfillment of one’s potential. But again, I would go back to that fulfillment of one’s spiritual DNA. It’s like, what is your purpose in coming to this earth? When you fulfill that purpose then you have succeeded at the bigger picture, which transcends power and money and influence. The bigger picture, or the spiritual picture of what I think is important to humans, is fulfilling your destiny.
WB: Many people have a sense of discontentment in their life. Why might this be a blessing in disguise?
Cherie Carter-Scott: If you take an oyster and you put a grain of sand in it, it’s an irritant. But there is a pearl that grows. And I think in the human process also, discontentment can be like the grain of sand. It’s an irritant, but it’s there for a reason. If they can look at that irritant as something that can actually help them grow a pearl, then it’s not necessarily a moment of discomfort. It’s a moment of reflection. It’s a moment to look at deeper issues and to look at deeper meaning.
I think each transition in human development has its discomfort. The books that I write, The Game Rules series, are all about transitions in human development. Each one of those transitions... like for instance, adolescence. It’s a very awkward, uncomfortable transition between childhood and adulthood.
The book that I wrote addressing that is If High School is a Game, Here’s How to Break the Rules—A Cutting Edge Guide to Becoming Yourself. It addresses every single issue that a young adult will have to confront in the process of moving from childhood to adulthood. That is a discontented time of life. It’s uncomfortable. But you have to go through that tunnel to be able to emerge on the other side.
WB: In rule #1, you’ll receive a body, what are some of the lessons we can learn from acknowledging and embracing this rule?
Cherie Carter-Scott: I think the exercise industry is about a 30 billion dollar industry. So there’s a clue that there are a few lessons for some people to learn about the body. The lessons that I have in that actual chapter have to do with acceptance, self-esteem, respect and pleasure. One of the things that I learned a few years ago was that I was gluten intolerant.
Now that’s not great news for someone to hear, especially if you live in the culture we live in. It means no pasta, no pizza, no bread, no muffins, no croissants, no desserts, no cookies, no cakes. All of the sudden you’re invited to a birthday party or a wedding and it’s no fun. I could either complain about it, which I did for a while. Or I could withdraw and sulk, which I did for a while.
Or I could come to the level of acceptance and say this is what’s true here. And I need to find a way to come to terms with it and to embrace it and then to deal with it, so it doesn’t make me miserable. Each person has their own challenges.
Everybody has a different issue with their body and the body is telling us what it needs. We can ignore it, we can abuse it, or we can embrace it. And we can love it and cherish it. Those different challenges don’t just go away. They’re there and they will surface.
WB: I’ve heard insanity defined as making the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different outcomes or results. The Rules for Being Human relate that there are no mistakes, only lessons and that you’ll repeat these lessons until they’re learned. It seems like many people get stuck in a mistake-habit pattern. How do they break out of that cycle?
Cherie Carter-Scott: The 1st thing they have to do is become aware that they’re in a cycle. Awareness is always the 1st step to changing any behavior. Secondly, they have to acknowledge it. And they have to acknowledge it to themselves, or to someone else, but they have to say, “I’m aware that this is what’s going on with me,” which is the point of acknowledging it, because awareness can happen internally in a moment of observation.
The choice to change is the 3rd step. It doesn’t happen with awareness and it doesn’t happen with acknowledgement. It happens with this choice to change. You can be aware of something and you can acknowledge it like a person saying, “I’m aware that I smoke. And I’ll acknowledge to you that I’m a smoker.” But they haven’t made the choice to change.
The choice to change is the most important step. And when they make that choice to change, they have to say, “What am I going to do differently? What’s my strategy? What’s my action plan? How am I going to set this up so that I’m going to do something differently?”
WB: They have to change behavior.
Cherie Carter-Scott: And they have to articulate what that change is. And it could be “I want to be able to have a healthy, happy, functioning relationship.” But it starts with the “I want” statement and it states clearly what they want to make happen. If they’re repeating the lessons over and over again, they have to change something in the equation. They have to look and say, “Why am I choosing the same type of person over and over again?” I noticed this after my second husband.
I noticed that I kept choosing people based on the criteria I had at the age of 16. “Is he good looking? Does he dress well, drive a nice car and is he a good kisser?” Those were not exactly adult values. They were 16-year old values. But, I had never really revisited them and said what’s important to me in a mate.
So, then I revisited them and I said what’s important to me is kindness, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, safety, trust… a whole set of values that had nothing to do with my reality at 16. That was a profound change for me in my criteria, that my unconscious criteria was driving my choices.
WB: Rule #6 talks about how “there” is no better than “here.” If we’re constantly trying to find some greener pasture, we miss a lot of the good stuff of life. We miss the gratitude of the moment. We miss the abundance of the moment and we miss a certain peace contained in that little slice of time that we let slip through our hands. Why is it so important to embrace the moment?
Cherie Carter-Scott: More and more these days time seems to be passing faster and faster. A lot of us are feeling as if, “Oh my goodness. It’s already September next week. How could it be?” Well, if you’re not living in the moment, if you’re living in either past time and rehashing what’s happened, or future time—anticipating or rehearsing for the future, you’re not necessarily being in the present.
Life can literally pass you by and you wake up one day and you say, “Where did it go? What happened to it?” The important thing about life is being mindful, present, and making choices in the moment. Conscious choices, deliberate, intentional choices about your life and how you want it to be. And if you’re not in the present moment it’s very difficult to make mindful choices.
WB: You’ve got a quote in your book by Carl Jung that states: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”. I bet for many people that is a real eye opener—in that our perceptions of others reveal something about ourselves. By understanding and embracing this, what lesson can we take from it?
Cherie Carter-Scott: Well, this a little bit like graduate school. It’s kind of a graduate lesson. People who are new in the game of life just don’t like it, don’t get it and don’t want it. And people who have been around a while and are ready to look at the higher level see it as very freeing. It really can free you to be able to see that if you’re behind slow people, you probably have a lesson in patience.
It doesn’t happen to everybody all the time, but we know that if you are stuck in elevators a lot, you probably have a lesson in claustrophobia. Or if people drive you crazy, maybe there’s a control issue there. It really can reflect back to you exactly what you need to look at, if you’re willing to look at it.
WB: I love the Mary Kay quote, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” It’s simple and exactly to the point just like rule #8. We all get to make choices and we all have to assume a degree of responsibility, if we want to achieve a certain level of success in our life. What is the big reward for assuming total responsibility for our life?
Cherie Carter-Scott: The realization of visions, dreams and goals. The positive outcome of what you have stated and stipulated as what you are looking for. If you take some responsibility for your life, that’s the prize right there. That’s a huge jump on everything else.
There are the people who play the game called “I’m in charge” and there are people who play the game called “I’m the victim.” The winners are the people who take total responsibility and the people who lose the game are the ones who say, “I don’t have any control, I’m not in charge, it’s not up to me.” It’s really a dividing line between the two.
WB: When you assume responsibility for your actions you have a certain power vested in yourself at that point. Not power in a negative sense, but a certain personal power.
Cherie Carter-Scott: Absolutely. You have to start with yourself and you have to start with the things within your “control” like your habits, your behaviors, your actions, your addictions, your choices. You can’t go around telling other people, “You should do this” and “you should do that” when your behavior is antithetical to that.
WB: Tell me more about how your answers lie inside yourself.
Cherie Carter-Scott: When I was a child I would ask people questions about what I should do with my life. “What should I be when I grow up? Do you think I should become a vegetarian? Do you think I should cut my hair? Do you think I should have kids? Do you think I should have a career and children? Do you think I should move here? Do you think I should….all the questions I would ask other people.
The problem with that is that everybody has a lot of advice for you about what you should do. And most people have got it all figured out for everybody else, not for themselves. The challenge is when you get a myriad of different answers that are all contradictory. How do you sort them out, especially if they don’t resonate with you? So, I had people saying to me, “You should become a doctor…you should become a lawyer... you should go into real estate…you should sell vitamins.... you should be a chiropractor.” I had all these different answers and I didn’t know what to do. I was more confused than I was to begin with.
So after a while, I decided that this wasn’t working. I decided that I was going to go inside myself. And by going inside I mean that I was going to revert to prayer and meditation and listening and making lists; all the things that I could do to access the spirit within to be able to give me guidance about my life.
I started getting some very clear messages. Messages where a spirit spoke to me directly. I asked for it and then when I got it, it was a kind of unsettling. I said, “So, what do I do with that?” And this is the process of going within and that the answers do lie inside. If you’re willing to ask, if you’re willing to hear and if you’re willing to truly listen to what it has to say, it will give you direction. It will give you guidance, because that spiritual DNA is within each one of us, always.
WB: The final rule, you’ll forget all this at birth, is about remembering the truths you were born with. What does it require to access these truths? And what does it reveal when you successfully do so?
Cherie Carter-Scott: It’s like one of those deja-vu feelings, where you remember something that you didn’t even realize that you’d forgotten. It’s a moment of illumination, of clarity, of recalling; recalling something that has always been there, but you had somehow obscured it or overlooked it or couldn’t see it clearly.
To access the truths, I think it’s a moment… it’s a wanting… it’s an opening… it’s an allowing. When you do so it connects you with humanity or reminds you of who you are and why you’re here. It allows you to be present with whatever challenge you’re up against. If you’re in a body, you’ve got lessons to learn. And anybody who pretends that they don’t, because they’re “there” or they’ve “arrived,” is really fooling themselves. Because no matter where you are in the food chain, there’s something to learn. Always.
New York Times #1 Best Selling author Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. has been coaching change successfully since 1974. Dr. Carter-Scott is an international author, entrepreneur, consultant, lecturer, teacher/trainer, talk-show host, and seminar leader. Her company, Motivation Management Service Institute, Inc. (MMS), has reached millions of people worldwide. Dr. Carter-Scott’s Fortune 500 corporate clients include: AMI, FMC, American Express, IBM, GTE, State Farm Insurance, AMI, SGI, Burger King, and Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Visit www.drcherie.com
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