I have a manual for my children that I’ve recently decided to toss in the trash.
This beautiful, intricate manual that describes exactly how they are supposed to act, lives in my head. So, they don’t know how they’re supposed to behave. They haven’t read it.
I use this idea, of having a manual for a person to describe a situation when we have ideas or expectations about how another person should or should not act.
Generally speaking, those people don’t know about the manual. You know, because its just in our mind, we aren’t exactly giving them a fighting chance at a happy relationship. They are supposed to just know exactly how to act and what to do in whatever situation comes their way.
As I type this out, it sounds insane. We want someone in our life to respond in a particular way, yet we haven’t ever told them because we think they somehow already know.
If my husband loved me, he would take the trash out without me asking him to.
My mother in law should call my kids on their birthday and send gifts.
If my boyfriend really cared about me, he would make time to text me every morning.
This is probably the number one reason for problems in our relationships. You expect another person to do something or to act a certain way in a situation and when they don’t follow along with the ideas inside your head, you experience disappointment and hurt. The other person is often left surprised and unaware of what they did wrong.
In the case of my children, I expect my 8 and 10 year old to not cry so much. Really, I definitely wanted to be done with so much crying, as they are moving closer to the preteen years. Like I said, they don’t know anything about this desire and so, they actually cry a fair amount. And when I choose to focus on how they’re not following the manual and acting in ways that I don’t think are age appropriate, I experience inordinate amounts of stress and irritation. I now know that these feelings come directly from my thoughts about it all, as a result of the manual.
I’m thinking “they shouldn’t cry so much”, I feel stressed and so I look for all the ways in which they are acting less mature then they should.
Oh wait, look, they can’t clean up after themselves either.
Oh, and wait, they haven’t learned to share their toys!
And their toys are everywhere. They should definitely know how to clean up.
As it turns out, they’re kind of horrible and they’re probably not ever going to be able to hold down a job or be a contributing member of society.
Better go ahead and finish the basement, since they’re never moving out.
This is taking things to the extreme but I can’t say that I’ve never actually had this thought line in my head. All because of the manual I chose (at the time) to keep for my kids. What a terrible waste of energy and emotion and time.
I know better now (intellectually) and so I’m trying to let my brain catch up and realize that my kids are exactly who they should be right now and I love them no matter what. Nothing has gone wrong here. If they choose to show their emotions with tears and other outward reactions, my biggest job is to just love them. I can even choose to think that they are having the exact experience they are supposed to in this life. This thought is freeing and allows me to show up as the mom I want to be.
If you have manuals for the people in your life, you may want to evaluate if they’re serving you and your relationships. You can always always always just choose love and drop the manuals. You may find it to be much more pleasant than that old manual you’ve got lying around.