April 5, 2022

Episode 33: The Manual

What if your unpleasant feelings in relationships were caused by the half-conscious expectations you have on other people? Let’s explore this possibility today with a powerful tool from The Life Coach School’s arsenal.

What you will discover

  • The Manual that we all have in our head
  • 3 questions to identify your manuals
  • 6 application examples


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

rate, review and follow the podcast

“I love the Excellent Rider podcast!”

If that sounds like you, please consider reviewing the podcast.

It helps more people just like YOU find it and learn how to create the motivation, flow and clarity that they long for.

On Apple Podcast or Spotify, tap to rate with 5 stars, select “write a review” then let me know what you loved most about this episode! 🤗

Episode Transcript

Hi, welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again, and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo.

Today before we start I’d love to thank Kerry JD in the USA who wrote a review on Apple Podcasts and Kerry said: “Must listen if you’re stuck or need tools to do great things! Excellent Rider is full of quick, actionable tools to help you through any challenge. I have consumed a lot of self-help content over the years, so a few of the concepts are not new, but Mélanie’s approach makes them feel fresh.

There are also many new and original ideas and tools. She gives excellent examples to bring the concepts to life, and it feels like she is talking directly to me about my current situation. She is also very believable because she has also used these for her situations in addition to coaching others. No fluff, just good stuff to do today!”

So thank you so much Kerry for leaving this very kind review, and I will definitely be thinking of you today when I record the podcast.” We continue this series on emotional responsibility, which is knowing that your feelings are created by your thoughts and not by the situation that you're in or the behavior of the people that you're with.

And today, I want to look at a very painful and time-consuming consequence of thinking that our feelings are created by other people's behavior and how to counter it. So if you think that your feelings are created by other people's behavior, you're going to spend a lot of time trying to control other people so that you can feel good.

It makes a lot of sense. If you really think that another person's behavior is what makes you feel bad or makes you feel good; of course, you're going to do your best so that they behave in a certain way and not in another. If you don't want to hurt your feet when you walk, it makes sense to cover the entire surface of the earth with leather.

Or you could also just cover your feet with leather, which would be emotional responsibility. And today I'm going to give you a tool to create your own emotional shoes. And this is where the analogy is with shoes will stop because we're just going to jump into another type of image. When you buy a kitchen appliance, you get those big white manuals that explain how the appliance work.

Well, I want you to imagine that you have a manual for every single of the persons in your life. So you have a big thick book full of rules that describes how you need that person to behave or how you want that person to behave so that you can feel good. So in your manual for a specific person are all the specific expectations that you have on them so that you can feel about them, about the relationship or about yourself in this relationship.

So I'll give you a few examples of rules that you might have in your manuals. So for example, in your manual for your colleagues at work, you might have a rule that says that they need to answer quickly to your emails; because if they don't, you will start to think that they don't care about you or about your work.

In your manual for your boss, you will have a rule that says that you want your boss to tell you that you're doing a good job; because if they do, you're going to feel good about yourself. And if they don't, you're going to start to second guess your work, etc. etc.

You have a manual for anyone who is speaking to you with anger That says that, people who are angry should speak to you in a controlled tone of voice, because otherwise you're going to feel bad about yourself or bad about the situation.

You have a manual for your husband that says that he should think of taking out the trash in time. Because if he doesn't, you start to think that he doesn't care about you or he doesn't care about the house or something like that.

You have a manual for your kid, for example, that says that your kid should always put away their clothes when they come into the house. Maybe you have a manual for your friends that says that your friends should call you regularly and ask how you are. And all of these rules, they're probably very unconscious for you.

You probably think, “That's very normal. That's what everybody thinks. That's what everybody expects. That's just a very normal expectation to having this kind of relationship.” And what I want to tell you is that in my experience as a coach and in my experience also of having lived in many different countries, there is no such thing as a normal expectation.

Everybody's expectations are very unique and what you think is very natural, it might be natural for you and the few people around you; but I can tell you, it is not a natural thing for everybody in the world. So these are just expectations that you have on a good, on what you call a good quality relationship.

And so you want these expectations to be met so that you can feel good about the relationship. And that's very natural, right? That's very normal, very human. But the problem is that when you are expecting other people to behave according to the rules in your manual, you keep yourself in emotional immaturity.

You're not taking responsibility for your feelings. You need them to behave a certain way so that you can feel good without going without going to the the shortcut of managing the way you are looking at the situation so that you can directly feel good, regardless of whatever they are doing; however they are behaving; whether they are following the rules that you have set for the relationship or not.

And by the way, I just want to point out also that very often the expectations we have on a good quality relationship - so the rules in our manuals - we usually don't share them with the other people. So we are evaluating the quality of the relationship based on a set of rules that we have never shared with the other person whose contribution is being evaluated that way.

So it's just a little side note, but it's quite funny when you start to notice that. So your colleague might take 10 days to answer your email or maybe never answer, and you don't have to feel bad at all. You can decide to take action if you want to, in one way or another, but it doesn't have to be fueled by an unpleasant feeling.

And that's what we talked about last week. You choose what meaning you want to assign to your colleague’s behavior, and it doesn't have to be something negative about you, about the relationship or about your colleague even, or about your chances of success and ease in the situation. So what I want you to do is really to notice your manuals, notice the rules that you are expecting your partners in each relationship to follow so that you can feel good about the relationship.

And I want you to throw them away. Throw away your manuals. And the best way to throw away your manuals is to learn how to take responsibility for your feelings.

So I’m going to take a few examples now and walk you through what it means to take responsibility for your feelings in those situations. And thereby throwing away the manuals that you have, throwing away the expectations you have that the other person should behave a certain way so that you can feel good.

You can feel good regardless of how the other person is behaving. So let's take the example of your colleague who has not answered to your email in three days. So let's say that you have sent an email to your colleague and you are asking for some information that you need to pass on to a client for example. It was three days ago and they still haven't answered.

So the first question you want to ask yourself is how do you think you would feel if they did answer within 24 hours, for example? And perhaps you would feel comforted. And so the next question is why would you feel comforted if they answered within 24 hours? Well because, I would think that I have all the information I need to do a good job.

So I want you to notice that this is the belief you have. This is the thought you have in a situation that creates the feeling. So in the situation where your colleague answers within 24 hours, you believe “I have the information I need to do a good job”. And when you believe that you feel comforted. And so the question is, why can't you believe “I have all the information I need to do a good job” right now when your colleague has not answered?

And so probably you're going to answer “well because they didn't give me the information I need”. And I just want you to notice that you can still believe “I have all I need to do a good job” and you can feel very good about it and do the best you can with the information that you have, or you can manage the situation in the best way without feeling bad.

So, for example, if you did believe “I have all I need to do a good job” even when your colleague does not answer your email, that would probably make you feel relaxed or comforted, again. And from that place of feeling relaxed and comforted, then you would do the best that you can do with whatever you have.

And so for example, maybe you would try to call your colleague or maybe you would try to find the information in a different way, but you would not make it mean that you're not going to do a good job and you would not start to stress about not having the information. You would try to do your best and just assume, okay, reality's like this, I'm not getting this information from that source.

What are my options? And my point is you don't need your colleague to do anything particular for you to believe “I can do a good job here”. You just wish your colleague would answer because then it would be easier for you to believe “I have all the information I need to do a good job”.

But you always have all the information you need to do a good job because the world is not meant to be perfect and all the information you need available at all times. Sometimes you need to figure out information. Sometimes you need to act without some piece of the information. And the more you do that, the better you become at your job. So you just wish your colleague would answer, because if your colleague would answer, you wouldn't have to put any energy in finding evidence that you can believe that thought right now, without their answer.

I'll give you another example. Maybe you want your boss to tell you that you're doing a good job and your boss is not even answering the email in which you sent a report to them. So the question always, why do you want them to tell you that you're doing a good job? Well, because if my boss told me that I did a good job, I would feel proud.

And next question, why? Why would you feel proud? What would you believe? I would believe I did a good job. So find reasons to believe that you did a good job, right now, without the answer from your boss. If you want something, go and create it instead of not being happy that the world is not creating it for you.

Be autonomous, be independent. It might be something that you don't want to do, it might be something that you wish you didn't have to do, but it's possible for you to do it. And that's my point. If it's possible, go and do it. Create the feelings that you want to create and you will you'll feel great.

That's the whole point. You don't need anybody else to do anything for you to feel amazing. So if you want to believe “I did a good job” in spite of the fact that your boss has not commented anything on your work; you can for example notice that you were very thorough when you did the work, or maybe you worked faster than last time, or maybe you double-checked with the supplier some numbers that you put in the report, whatever, right?

And based on all of that evidence, you're going to start notice that Oh yeah right, I did a good job and you can feel proud about yourself regardless of whether your boss is answering or not. Another example, maybe there's a person who got upset at you and they're speaking to you with a very agitated tone of voice.

And in your manual for people who are not satisfied with you, you want a person who is angry at you to speak in a controlled tone of voice. So the question is how would you feel if that person would speak to you in a controlled tone of voice?

Maybe the answer is that you would not feel afraid. Maybe you would feel focused, perhaps. Try to find the feeling, not the absence of another feeling, but try to find the exact feeling that you would feel. If a person would be not satisfied with my services, but speaking in a controlled tone of voice, I would probably feel focused. I would listen to them.

All right. So what would you believe? Why? Why would you feel focused? Well, because I would believe that “this person wants me to do something differently” and so I would be interested to listen.

And the next question is, what can you do to believe right now that this person wants you to do something differently in spite of the fact that they are yelling? And yeah, when I see it that way, it's obvious that this person wants me to do something differently and so much so that they are very vocal and very agitated about it.

So it's actually quite easy to believe that, immediately when I describe it to myself like that. It's just that in this situation, I started to feel that this person doesn't respect me or this person is going to hurt me or something like this.

And when I was thinking of that, of course I felt afraid. But when I start to notice that this person wants me to do something differently, then I can feel focused and I can listen to them better. And probably that if I'm listening to them better, they will calm down because they will feel heard. Right.

So it also has very good consequences in this situation. Let me give you another example. You want your husband to take out the trash. So how would you feel if they did? I would feel trusting and loved. Okay. Why? What would you believe that would make you feel trusting and loved? Well, I would believe he cares about me.

So how can you right now believe that he cares about you in spite of the fact that he's not taking out the trash? And perhaps you can notice all the other ways that he does care about you. And maybe you can notice that he's not avoiding the trash on purpose to spite you. Maybe his love for you has nothing to do with household chores.

Right? So you can, you can investigate that. Another example, maybe your kid came into the house and just threw their jacket and their socks and their shoes all over the hallway. And you really want your kid to put away their clothes.

Okay. So why? How would you feel if they did? I would feel relaxed. Why? What would you believe that makes you feel relaxed? Well, I would believe that “my house is nice and clean”. And so the next question is how can you believe that right now in spite of the way that they are behaving? Well, my house is nice and clean; it's just that there's a couple of jackets and socks in the hallway.

And maybe I can think that “my kid is learning how to keep the house nice and clean”, and it's a trial and error process. And so sometimes there will be errors and my kid will come into the house and they are tired and maybe they, they just want to get to their room as quickly as possible.

And so they don't really think of the consequences on other people. And it's an opportunity for me to show them that. And when you're going to start to think that way, probably you're going to feel less agitated about the clothes in the hallway. And you're probably going to be able to make your request to your kid in a less annoyed tone of voice.

And if the kid is a teenager, if you're speaking in an annoyed tone of voice, of course, you know what the consequences are going to be. And a last example now, you want your friend to call you regularly and to ask you how you are.

And when they don't, you don't feel very good. So how would you feel if your friend did call you regularly and ask you how you are? Well, I would feel connected. All right. Why? What would you believe that would make you feel connected?

Well, I would believe that my friend wants to spend time with me. So the question again, how can you believe that right now, in spite of the fact that your friend has not called you in three weeks? She does want to spend time with me, but maybe not right now, or maybe she might have other things on her mind.

Maybe she thinks the same as me and she's waiting for me to call her. Something like that. Right. And when you start to notice things in this different way, you're going to start to feel completely differently in spite of the fact that your friend still has not called you in the past three weeks.

So the point I'm trying to make here with all of these examples is that to stop following your manual about someone you need to ask yourself those three questions. How would I feel if this person behave the way I hope they would? Why, what would I believe then? And how can I believe that right now, in spite of the fact that they are behaving in a way that I don't like.

So try these three powerful questions and write to me to let me know how it feels to let go of your manuals. And you can reach me as at melanie@excellentrider.com.

I hope that you found this episode helpful. If you did, and you want to help me reach other people who need to hear this, the best way is to share it. You can tip a friend and you can leave me a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And if you want, the transcript is on my website excellentrider.com/podcast.

Thanks a lot for listening today. And remember that even when you can't get yourself to do what you want, even when you're stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops. And even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it, you're not broken. You're not flawed. And you're definitely not jinxed. You're just learning how to be an excellent rider. There are no bad horses, only untrained riders.

download the Episode Notes

You like the written version but can’t be bothered to scroll through the transcript to get the main take aways?

The episode notes are made for you! It’s an actionable, structured document that contains the episode’s messages without all the verbal fluff.

I’ve also boosted it with illustrations and additional exercises that are not featured on the audio version.

Thank you! Check your mailbox for the episode notes!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

I use your email to know what topics are of interest to you. I will only email you when I offer webinars or similar events related to this topic.

Unsubscribe any time!

You know that I normally disapprove of eating instead of embracing discomfort, but in this specific case we’ll actually go for cookies...

Find out more about how we process your personal data and change or withdraw your consent at any time by clicking the cookie icon to the bottom left side of the screen.  Read our Privacy Policy for more information (link in the footer of each page).