Change your expat life
Do you know what’s in your relationship manual?
Our cars come with manuals. Our phones come with manuals. Every appliance in our lives comes with a manual. But did you know that we have all developed personal manuals that we use to process human dynamics, too?
That’s right. We read every relationship we’re in and every interaction we have through the lens of a specific set of expectations that we have developed over our lifetime — whether we realize it or not.
Over the course of this month, I’ll be tackling this fascinating facet of relationships.
Are you ready to join me?
Can unspoken rules hijack your relationship?
As humans, we tend to have a lot of thoughts and ideas about how other people should be and about what they should do to make their — and our — lives better/easier/happier, etc. These ideas tend to come out in the form of advice we give or receive, like, “your marriage would be happier if you and your spouse spent more quality time together” or “I would feel better if you did the laundry more often.”
These are the often-unspoken rules we have developed through our own experiences, observations, and expectations, and they are part of what can best be understood as our personal relationship “manuals” — the instruction guides we hope and expect the people in our lives to abide by. This concept comes from Brook Castillo’s coaching methodology, and it’s an incredibly useful way to start thinking about our expectations for other people’s behavior and how they impact our general wellbeing and happiness.
But here’s the big problem: we often don’t tell the other person in our relationship what’s in our manual — in fact, we generally don’t even realize that we have a manual!
In part, this is because the ideas we have in our heads about how people should behave in relationships come from our culture and our social conditioning as much as they come from an organic self-assessment of what we want.
In short, even though our manuals are typically a complex assortment of internally and externally developed ideas about how we want to be treated and how we think others should behave, we tend to just think that the other person “should know” what to do.
Moreover, when we tie our emotional happiness to someone else’s behavior, it can cause enormous amounts of frustration and anger, especially when our expectations haven’t been clearly identified, assessed, and communicated.
If humans were mind readers, of course, this all might be easier. But we’re not! So, instead, we need to do the work of exploring what expectations we’ve built into our manuals and examine whether and how they are actually serving us in our relationships.
That’s what this month is all about over here at Girafe Coaching.
Tune in to the Love Your Expat Life Podcast to learn all about how your unspoken — and perhaps unexamined — relationship manuals can help or hinder real connection with your loved ones.
Ready to ring in the new year with a deeper level of self-awareness and understanding? Me too.
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