The manual

The manual is an instruction guide for how we think other people should behave.
Who do you have a manual for?  

We think they should behave how we want them to so that we can feel good and be happy.  Generally we don’t tell this other person what’s in our manual.  

A manual develops when we think we’d be happier if someone would change.  

Other people’s behavior has no impact on us emotionally until we have a thought about it, and we make it mean something.

How do you know if you have a manual?  If you are continually having problems with one specific person.  If you feel guilty for the way you are thinking about them.  If you don’t want to be around them.  

A manual might sound like this.  

My mom should be ___________ or do __________.
My child should listen when I talk to them the first time.
My husband should shovel the driveway.
My friend should text me when I text her.  
My dad shouldn’t have such a bad temper.
My husband should clean up his stuff.  
My child should not throw a tantrum.

The shoulds are endless and they only lead us to feel bad.  

For example: I have been feeling lots of frustration with my 12.5 YO.  It’s not anything he’s doing it’s all my thinking about him.
Each night I’d go to bed feeling guilty that I had felt that way most of the day about him.   I felt some guilt and knew I wanted to do better.  I was trying to change both of us in the moment to feel better. I was actually tired of the way that I was thinking not his behavior.

I wasn’t showing up as kind and fun as I normally am.  
I was thinking he’s not very respectful, but when I think that I feel bad and then I show up disrespectful to him. I was feeling guilty from (a lot of thoughts) the thought, “I messed up.” But, to help with that adding on the qualifier, “I messed up tonight.” Seems to make it feel less heavy.

Recently I took some time to figure this out.  I got out a paper and wrote ALL my thoughts down, even the ones I don’t want others to see and that I don’t like.  We have to be willing to be honest with ourselves to make progress.  Try and not judge yourself as you do this.  Getting coaching on this is SUPER helpful too.

A lot of them were he should __________, and he shouldn’t ____________.  

As I was writing I realized I have a manual for him.  I think if he’d change then I’d feel better.  Guess what HE DOESN’T HAVE TO CHANGE FOR ME TO FEEL BETTER.  I tried this.  It doesn’t work because even if the person does what we want we will think they are just doing it because we want them to. OR we know that that’s not what’s honest and real. We are trying to manipulate them in some way. Here’s one of the models I did. When I have a lot going on it’s useful to do this to see what it’s creating for myself. I’m not my best when I’m frustrated.

C- I said, “I’m sorry.” and he said, “no you’re not.”
T- He doesn’t get it.
F- Frustrated
A- apologize more, try and explain myself, try and help him see that I am.
R- I don’t get it and I don’t get him.


1. AWARENESS is the first step.  What are my thoughts?  Write them down and NOTICE the thoughts when they come up.  I don’t have to believe them, but I’m good at thinking them so they are habit thoughts.  Once I am aware of them then I get curious. 
I have been asking myself, “I wonder why I”m choosing to believe this?”  


2.  If you notice you have a manual, now what?  Sometimes it’s easy to drop and sometimes it’s not.  
Asking yourself some questions will help, but you have to answer them and write them down.

-Why do I think this person should behave differently?
-Would I feel better if they did that thing I think they should?  -Why?
-How can I love them exactly how they are?
-How am I behaving just like them?
-What would love do?  
-If you focus on trying to control only you and your response to how others behave, what would you imagine your life would be like?

3.  Be compassionate with yourself.  The more we love ourselves the more we will be able to love others. I remind myself that, “I can feel frustrated, and that’s ok.” What’s wrong in wrong with feeling frustrated?

You don’t have to drop the manual, but if you choose to your relationships will IMPROVE DRAMATICALLY.  

Have a great week.  

If you want help implementing this click here.

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