Manuals in Relationships
Whether or not you are are aware of it, you probably have manuals for the people you’re in relationship with. Yes, I’m referring to those manuals, the ones that are super helpful when we’re putting together a dresser from IKEA. Did you know we also have manuals in relationships?
Listen in to this week’s episode as it’s important to see where you have manuals in your relationships and how they are affecting you and the people around you.
Why Should I Care if I Have Manuals?
Why is it important to become aware of who you have manuals for? For emotional freedom. I am here to help you live a life you love and manuals create a ton of unnecessary emotional drama in our lives. Manuals give our control away in two ways:
- We are expecting others to behave how we would behave if we were them. News flash: We’re not them. They’re not going to do or say what we would do or say if we were them.
- We put them in charge of our emotions. When we have manuals, we basically say “If you do this, I’ll feel….”. If that isn’t the equation for emotional powerlessness, I don’t know what is.
Who Do You Have Manuals For?
Honestly, you probably have manuals for most of the relationships in your life, important and not important. Whenever you hear the word should, there’s a clue that you have manuals in your relationship.
Our culture and upbringing leads us to believe that it’s totally normal, if not justified, to have expectations of other people; for us to think: “a good husband should….” Or “a son shouldn’t say something like that….”. Essentially what we are doing is thinking the thought that “if other people would just behave the way we’d like them to behave, we could be happy”.
While it seems innocuous, those thoughts only hurt us and our relationships. It isn’t fair to them or to us. Thoughts like “if he does this then I feel…”, removes our ability to act as an emotional adult. We’re saying, when he does this, I feel that. NOPE. Look back at the episode on emotional intelligence (linked below) and remember other people or things aren’t what make us happy. Thought model 101: it’s our thoughts about those people or things that make us feel what we’re feeling.
Letting Go Of Manuals in Relationships:
(1) Speak up:
Our manuals are most often unspoken. We make assumptions and expect the people in our lives to be able to read our mind. Seriously, this is humanly impossible. Can you think of a better recipe to set someone up for failure? Yet we do it all the time. “He should know I wanted help unloading the dishwasher” or “she should’ve known I wanted her to come to that coffee shop with me”. While humans do not have the capacity to read minds, we do have the capacity to speak up.
(2) Adults Have Autonomy:
Adults have the capacity to act independently and to make their own free choices. Most often defined as agency. When we do voice our requests or expectations in a relationship, that is no guarantee that those requests will be followed or that our expectations will be met. This is human nature and people are free to act and do what they will.
(3) Let Go of the Outcome.
How can we reduce manuals in relationships? Choose to not make what they do or say in response to you speaking up mean something about you personally. Speak up and set the person free to do what they will do. Notice what they’ll do and notice what you think about what they do. A question I love asking myself is: “what are you making this mean?”
”If people don’t follow through on what I ask of them, I get to decide what to think about it.”
This is freeing! Realizing I don’t have to be angry or frustrated about what another person does is truly empowering. Allowing people to be who they’re going to be and not make it mean anything about me is empowering and liberating.
Time to look at your manuals in relationship and take some action. This week:
- Notice who you have manuals for?
- What do you want them to do that’s different than what they’re doing?
- In which relationship, can you ‘burn up’ the manual and set that person free to be who they are?
You can’t control others but you can control yourself and your response to how others behave. I have found that when I let the people around me be who they are without my manuals and expectations, I feel so much better. I am a lot calmer and can focus on the actual health of the relationship. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, reach out to me. You are not alone. If you’re over 40, you’re eligible to join the greatest community on earth – the Midlife Warrior Movement. If you prefer one-on-one, check out my scheduling link here to see if I have room in my schedule.
Bottom line: You matter to me and you’re not alone. Get support so you can feel more free in your life. As I said, this is where I am magical. Where can you let go of making someone else’s behavior mean something about you?