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Three Winning Alternatives to the Golden Rule

By Eve Delunas (with tongue firmly in cheek)

I know the Golden Rule is universal. Some version of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is found in every world religion. And in the long run, what you give out is what you get back in return.

On the other hand, the Golden Rule advocates kindness regardless of how other people are behaving towards you. Does that seem fair to you? What if others are not doing unto you the way they would have you do unto them? Is there a way that we can bend the Golden Rule so it appears to work to our own advantage?

As a matter of fact, there is. My research has uncovered three winning alternatives to the Golden Rule which seem to be in vogue nowadays. Indeed, they seem even more popular than the original version. Let's look at what each of these "Not-So-Golden-Rules" has to offer...

NOT-SO-GOLDEN RULE #1: Do unto others as they are likely to do unto you.
This version of the Golden Rule lets you treat others the way you anticipate they will be treating you. This means if you think others will be cheating you, you can cheat them first. If you expect others to be selfish and take the last piece of cake, you can take it first. If you think others will probably cut you off on the road, this rule lets you cut them off first. Of course, if you expect someone to be treating you kindly, then you can reciprocate. But should you suspect someone's kindness is short-lived, this rule provides ample justification for undoing the good things you have done for that person.

NOT-SO-GOLDEN RULE #2: Do unto others as they have done to you.
This rule provides you with plenty of justification for giving back what has been dished out to you. Why be respectful to someone who has treated you disrespectfully? Why be nice to someone who is not nice? Why be honest to someone who is dishonest? This rule lets you get even, without having to waste any time being generous and thoughtful to someone who is not going to treat you the same way. After all, why bother to be kind if you know your kindness is not going to be reciprocated?

NOT-SO-GOLDEN RULE #3: Do unto others before they do unto you.
This rule gives you the power to beat others at their own game. It enables you to second guess others' actions so you can cut them off at the pass. The benefit here is clear: you can prevent others from taking advantage of you by taking advantage of them instead. When you do unto them before they do unto you, you win. And what could be better than that?

Copyright © 2005 Eve Delunas, Ph.D.
Eve Delunas, Ph.D., psychotherapist, author, speaker, trainer, offers proven strategies to help you rise above your limitations and soar. "Breaking the Spell of the Past" is a book and guided visualization CD set.
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