A manual is an instruction guide we have for someone in our lives, how we want them to behave so we can feel a certain way, usually happy and good. We normally don’t tell people what’s in our manual – we just expect them to follow it and when they don’t we are disappointed and mad. We may go further and try to control them, relying on our manual for them as a guide. Which usually they still don’t know about.
We may not even know we have these manuals. They are quite, thick and hidden in the back. BUT they are for virtually everything and person we interact with including ourselves.
Think about all the unsaid or unwritten expectations we live our lives by. Thousands, maybe even millions.
Here’s some examples of manual instructions for yourself:
- I should go to college and get a ‘good’ job with benefits
- I should stay home with my kids
- I should have dinner on table for my husband every night
- I should weigh what I did in college
- I should be nice to everyone I meet
- People should be nice to me
- I shouldn’t have any debt and not use credit cards
- I don’t need a fancy car
See the pattern here – word ‘should’ and some rule or rigid claim to how you should live your life. The issues come up when you want or desire something outside of the manual. It’s nearly impossible to achieve your goals if they violate your manual. For example you want to own your own business have an amazing idea or side hustle gaining steam BUT your manual will chime in and say – How could you quit your job, you’ll have no health care, you won’t have a steady paycheck, how do you know this would even work, John will never let me, I’m not at prioritizing anyway, I’m not good with numbers, it’s too scary, it will never work. And there you go… end of a dream in about 5 seconds.
Now if you know your manual, upper limits and ingrained beliefs you can begin to question them and see if you want to keep them. This is a pivot important part of coaching, life and business anything. Your coach will show you your thoughts, beliefs and manuals, they may pick up on patterns you don’t see and have perspective you don’t have that’s why it’s so vital.
Letting go of a manual: Answer these questions for a deeper understanding of a manual you have for another person and how it affects you and your quality of life. Worksheet from The Life Coach School
- Think about someone you want to change and write their name here.
- Write, in detail, what you would like them to do.
- For each item, write down why you want them to behave in this way.
- How do you think you would feel if they behaved this way?
- How would your thoughts about them change if they behaved this way?
- Do you want them to behave this way even if they don’t want to? Why or why not?
- What do you make it mean when they don’t behave this way?
- When someone wants you to behave in a certain way to make them feel good, what is that like for you?