We all have a manual for pretty much everybody we meet.
What I mean is that we all expect certain people to behave in certain ways. We’ve “written” an operations manual for them.
From the waiter who should be friendly, courteous, knowledgeable, and fast to our coworker who should be quiet, organized, dependable and efficient.
The problem is that rarely does someone live up to the manual we have for them.
And if that manual is for someone close to you like a spouse or your boss – it’s usually a BIG manual!
Why Manuals Are Not Good
A manual is basically an instruction book that we’ve written for somebody else. We tie our emotional life to whether or not they follow it. Even though it may seem very justified to have expectations of other people, it is also quite frustrating for to do so. We have these belief systems that if other people would just behave the way that we would like them to, then we could be happy.
The problem is we don’t even realize that we’re doing this. We think that we have reasonable expectations of people in our life and that they should behave in a way that is reasonable. But what we think is reasonable and what other people think is reasonable is often really different!
It is really important to remember that adults have the ability and freedom to behave however they would like. That includes you.
You’ll make yourself crazy trying to change other people’s behavior to make yourself feel better. My last post on blame talked about that specifically.
But if it’s natural to have expectations of people, how do we break the emotional tie we have to our manuals?
What To Do About Your Manuals
Think about those requests that you have of a person in your life. Try and write down things you think it would be awesome if this person would do.
Then take the time to imagine what you would feel if they voluntarily did all these things.
What would you be thinking?
Remember all of your feelings come from your thinking. What would you be thinking if this person behaved in this way that you want them to behave?
Do you have that thought available to you now?
Can you think that about this person without them having to do all those things? If the answer is yes, you scored. You don’t have to go around changing other people in order to feel better.
What you can do is feel better on your own accord. You can decide that I’m not going to make my life about what I believe I’m entitled to from other people and their behavior.
In fact, I’m going to start believing that I’m not entitled to have anyone behave any other way than the way they behave. The only thing I’m entitled to is taking care of my own emotional life and my own brain to make sure I’m thinking thoughts that serve me.
Take some time to consider this idea.
Are you willing to give up your manuals?
Are you willing to let go of your expectations that are based on what you want in your life?
Can you focus all that time and energy on yourself and creating the best life that you can, for yourself? One that isn’t dependent on anyone else’s behavior? A life that, in fact, is only enhanced by being around people who genuinely are only doing things they want to do?
I think you can.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: It’s OK if you disagree with me. I can’t force you to be right.