I want to talk about a concept that will help us in our relationships. Jody Moore and Brooke Castillo call this The Manual.
We all have a so-call Manual about how we think other people in our lives SHOULD act. (Remember, should is a red flag!) When these people don’t act in accordance with our Manuals for them, we feel frustrated, angry, or any number of emotions that don’t feel good.
I have a teenaged daughter. I think she should be kind to her siblings and respectful even if she disagrees with something. I think a teenager is old enough to have learned at least those basic human courtesies.
But alas, it is not so. My daughter is often rude, mean, and disrespectful. To say the least, this rubs me the wrong way. It sometimes creates so much frustration that I want to take every convenience away from her. I want her to feel as miserable as she makes everyone else in the family feel.
And it’s because of how I think she SHOULD act. If I thought being rude, mean and disrespectful were positive traits, I would be praising and rewarding her and I wouldn’t have “negative” feelings toward her. It’s all about the meaning I place on her actions.
I need to burn the Manual I have for my daughter, because it is only causing me problems. She doesn’t get frustrated or angry; only me. (She doesn’t place the same meaning on her own actions as I do.)
This is how she SHOULD act, because this is how she IS acting, because there is no should for how people are. I know it’s a tough one to wrap your mind around.
It’s in the trying to control and the dwelling on how it might be changed that we run into trouble. What if I just accept her the way she is instead of resisting the way she is? It is what it is, so now what? How do I move forward?
[And by the way, I am not saying I should let disrespectful behavior go unchecked. I am only saying that I can drop all the drama I have in my mind about her behavior. There can certainly be consequences for her, but I don’t need to stress and worry about it. She acts a certain way, consequences follow. No drama.]
This is true in all our relationships. We have an idea of how a husband, father, mother, sister-in-law, etc. SHOULD be. If we just let go of our preconceived (sometimes subconscious) expectations, and responded in love toward our people I think we would be much happier in our relationships.
What “Manual” have you been carrying around for your child/spouse/parent/in-law/friend? Can you burn your manual and leave the mind-drama behind?