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Ep #11: The Manual

Whether we know it or not, most of us have manuals that we have “written” for other people in our lives on what they should do and how they should behave. Most often these people are not even aware that these “rule books” exist, yet we expect them to follow the rules and get upset with them when they don’t.

It is important to understand that even though it is perfectly okay to have certain expectations of other people, we can get ourselves into big trouble when we start tying our emotional happiness to their responses to those expectations.

On this episode of The Life Coach School, you will learn how you can let go of all your rules and control attempts towards everyone you have manuals for and lead a life full of long-lasting and conflict-free relationships.

What You will discover

  • Why we can’t control another person.
  • Why we want to change other people’s behaviors.
  • How to handle situations when people don’t honor our requests.
  • How to handle both personal and professional relationships.
  • What you can start doing today to lead a happier life and enjoy your relationships more.

Featured on the show

Get the Full Episode Transcript:

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Life Coach School podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.Hey everybody what's up? So glad you're here. Going to rock your world today with a topic that so many of my students and clients love because of the way it gives them perspective on other people in their lives. We call this topic the Manual. It's because most of us have operating manuals that we've written for the other people in our lives. I noticed this really early on in my coaching career as I was coaching people. People have very thick and very long manuals for other people, myself included.
I started laughing and talking to my clients about this saying, this very thick manual that you've written for your husband. Have you even let him read this manual? Does he know what he's supposed to do in order to operate properly? Most of them would say no. Then they would use that as a reason for being very upset about so many things in their life. This manual is like this rule book on how the other person should behave.

A manual is basically an instruction book that we've written for somebody else. We've tied all of our emotional life to whether or not they follow it. Even though it may seem very justified to have expectations of other people it is also quite damaging and frustrating for ourselves to do so. We have these belief systems that if other people would just behave themselves the way that we would like them to behave, then we could be happy.

The problem is we don't even realize that we're doing this. We think that we have reasonable expectations of people in our life and that they should behave in a way that is reasonable. But what we think is reasonable and what other people think is reasonable is often times very different. One of the first things that I think is really important to remember is that adult people have the ability and freedom to behave however they would like. That includes you.

There is nothing you have to ever do and there is nothing that anyone else has to do for you. One of the, I think, the challenges with some of modern therapy is that therapists will sit down- this has happened with some of my clients, and say what are your needs. Let's make a list of what all of your needs are and then you need to tell those needs, what your needs are to this other person. Then, that person can try and meet your needs.

I think that's manual that is set up for disaster. I think we are responsible for meeting our own needs. When we're in a relationship with someone who expects us to fulfill their needs. We've all of a sudden gotten into this situation where not only do we have to take care of ourselves, but we have to take care of somebody else. If we're unfortunate enough to be in a relationship where I'm feeling like I'm responsible for someone else's needs and they're feeling responsible for my needs. Then you're in a real tight manipulating situation because I'm going to be constantly trying to control that other person so I can be happy. They're going to be constantly trying to control me and no one is ever going to win.

The truth is, first of all, you can't control another person. Second of all, there's nothing they could possibly do to make you as happy as you want to be. My suggestion is first of all, we acknowledge and realize that we do have these manuals for other people and we back that up and start taking responsibility for our own rules and our own operating manuals for ourselves. The truth is, most of us can't control or manage ourselves, and yet we want to control and manage other people. Which is somewhat ridiculous.

If we can't even control our own behaviors, how do we think we're going to be able to control someone else. Any of you who have tried to control someone else, and all of you have, you find yourself wanting, you find yourself frustrated. The first step is to have a look at the people in your life that you have manuals for. What is it you want them to do differently than what they're doing and why do you want them to behave that way.

I'm going to give you the answer. The reason why you ever want someone else to change the way that they're behaving is because of how you think you will feel because of their changed behavior. But remember, if we back up to the beginning of this when I first started this podcast, we have to remember that it's our thinking that causes our feelings, not another person's behavior. So what is actually happening is when they're following our manual then we decide to think they respect me, they like me, they care about me, then we get to feel good.

When they don't follow our manual, we make it mean something quite negative and then we feel bad about that. We're not taking responsibility for how we're feeling because we're giving all of that away to that other person based on their behavior. Which we've gotten very confused. Whenever we think someone else's behavior causes our emotions, we have not only set ourselves up to feel negative emotion, but we've also set ourselves up to be completely powerless because the only way that we can then feel better is if this other person changes.

If you guys are anything like me, I've acted crazy trying to get other people to behave the way that I want them to behave. When I remind myself, the only way I'm trying to get this person to behave this way is because I think I'll feel better when they do it and I can remind myself that that's not even possible. Someone else's behavior can not determine how I feel; it's only what I think about their behavior.

Then I can take a deep breath and stop trying to control them so much.

Think about the people in your life that you have manuals for. Think about whom you really want to change and what you want them to do on a regular basis. It's a little bit different if you have children because your job is to help them write their operation manual for chores around the house and stuff like that. If you're a boss, there are some things you need to do in terms of your expectations of them being an employee. This is very different than a manual. Because the manual says if you don't behave this way, I'm going to feel something. It's like, I'm going to be very upset if you don't behave this way, or I'm going to be very angry.

That's very different than saying to a child, for example. If you don't clean your room, there will be a consequence for you, that's very different than, you hurt my feelings because you didn't make your bed and that makes mommy feel very upset. That's emotional blackmail, is what we call it. It's really important to separate those 2 things out and to remember that making requests of people and not tying your emotional life to them is very expected in a normal part of life.

Clients will come to me all the time, you're telling me I shouldn't tell my husband that he shouldn't take out the garbage or I shouldn't tell my husband that he should be home on time, or I shouldn't tell my husband that he needs to show up for family outings. I say, absolutely. You can make all the requests you want for as many people as you want. But when you tie your emotional happiness to whether they respond or not, that's when you get yourself into big trouble. When you start banging your head against the wall and trying to manipulate them so they'll behave in the way you want them to behave so you can feel better. That's when you're going to get yourself into a spiral of negativity. That's the manual.

That's this heavy book of rules that you have and what you make it mean when someone doesn't follow them.

The alternative is, you make a request and if they don't honor the request, you take responsibility for how you feel about that. This also doesn't mean that you stay with people who don't have values in line with your values or don't live in the way that you want to live and are constantly doing things that are against your values. I'm not suggesting that at all. But what I am saying is that trying to change them to be more like you want them to be, rarely ever works. In fact, makes you into a crazy person.

You get to decide what you're going to do with your time and how you're going to respond and when you are thinking about making changes in your life. You need to make sure you're thinking about those changes and what you want based on what you have control over. And you do not, I promise you, have control over anybody else in your life and how they behave. Let's talk about an example with friends.

Let's say you're friends with someone and you want them to call you once a week. You say, good friends should call me once a week and they should especially call me back when I call them and they should absolutely call me on my birthday. Maybe this is the manual you have for friendship and often, more times than not, you won't tell this person this is your request, this is your expectation. You'll just expect them to know it. Then, when they don't honor it you get upset because you have this manual for them then you maybe will tell them it hurt your feelings when they didn't call you or when they did.

It sets you up for such frustration. The other alternative is that you have a friend and you let them be who they are. If they want to call you, they call you, if they want to call you back, they do, there are no rules set up. You could just love on this person and enjoy this person and not have any kind of manual for them. You could make requests of them just to let them know, I would love this and that and this and that. But knowing that whether they decide to honor those requests or not has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with them. And you can enjoy them as a person anyway.

I have found that this sets people up to have very enjoyable, long lasting, conflict free relationships. I have many relationships like this in my life where I will tell someone, we had plans, you didn't show up, I was bummed out about that, I would really appreciate it if next time you would give me more notice. It doesn't mean that I'm then going to blame them on going for how they behaved. It may mean that I won't expect them to show up on time next time. I'll just work around that. But I'm not going to hold them to the fire and expect them-

For example, if being on time is really important to me, that doesn't mean that it's really important to someone else. It also doesn’t mean that they don't respect me or my time; it means that they have a hard time managing their schedule. If I have someone that I know is consistently late, I can say to them, we're all going to meet up at 4:30- I actually do have a friend that I do this with. I say we're going to meet up at 4:30, you're pretty consistently late and I'm going to expect you there around 5:00 but if you're not there at 5:00 we're going to leave.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you and we're meeting at 4:30 and if you're not there by 5:00 we're going to leave. That doesn't tell her that she has to be there on time. It lets her know what I'm going to do if she doesn't show up on that time. In another podcast I'm going to talk about boundaries some more and we're going to go through them. But in this situation, it's I'm going to make a request, but I'm only going to take responsibility for me.

Versus, saying to her, listen, you have to be on time. It is really important to me. And if you're not on time I'm going to be very upset with you. That's a very different story right. I'm going to allow my girlfriend, if she wants to be late, that's up to her, I'm not going to try and control her behavior. But I'm also not going to set my own expectation that she's going to be on time knowing that she's not going to be on time.

There are a lot of other people in our life that we have manuals for. There are- mainly I would say our most significant other. We have ideas on how we would like them to behave and who we would like them to be. It comes from this idea that if they were more like we wanted them to be, that we would somehow be happier. This is true for bosses and coworkers and people in our life that we think, God if we have a better boss or a better husband, we would be so much happier.

I think it's important to remember that your happiness comes from you and it doesn't matter who your husband is or what he does when it comes to your own emotional happiness. Husbands that are compatible with us are going to make it easier for us to have positive thoughts around them but it doesn't mean that they have to change in order for that to be true. I really want to give you this suggestion that it is possible to let go of all your rules and all your regulations and all your control attempts on everyone in your life, on the people that you have manuals for in your life.

Consider letting them go and making requests of these people if you want to but with no strings attached and genuinely noticing what people do when you don't try to control them. If you only focus on trying to control yourself and your response to how other people behave, what do you imagine your life would be like?

If you're a boss at a job or you have someone that works for you. You can set very clear expectations and you can provide feedback to them. If they don't honor your request and they don't follow through on what you have asked them to do, then you get to decide whether to keep them working for you or you put them on some kind of probation or whether you just let it go. But the truth is that you don't have to be upset about it. You don't have to be angry about it. That's totally up to you.

In fact, you can manage people from a space of nonviolence towards yourself. You don't have to get so angry with people don't comply with what you want. In our personal relationships, it's much easier to let go of the manuals because when we start letting people, quote unquote, letting, people be who they are and we notice what they do without us controlling them, without us trying to change who they are. First of all, we'll notice that we're a lot calmer if we don't make their end action mean something negative.

But we can also really hear them out. We can get their perspective on things and hear their side of the story and why do or don't do what they want to do. Versus pounding our own fist on the manual of how we would like them to behave. I have done this in my own life. An example that I use often was when I first got married to my husband I had this image of how it was supposed to be at night time. I felt like, we're married now, we should go to bed at the same time, we should both get in bed, we should read books or cuddle or snuggle or watch TV together. That should be our time to be together.

I would go to bed and I'd ask him, husband, Chris, come to bed with me. He would be like, I don't really want to. I would make it mean all of these things like he didn't love me and he wish he hadn't married me and he doesn't want to do what I want to do and he doesn't care and he knows how important this is to me and he doesn't want to be cuddling at night. I would go to bed in such a rage and so frustrated all of the time.

I was constantly berating him and sometimes he would come to bed, unwillingly just to not have to hear me and my wrath about it. One day I decided, instead of being so demanding and making it mean all these horrible things, I asked him, why don't you want to come to bed with me at night when I want to go to bed and have a cuddle. He said, that's my only time in my entire day that I have to be with myself. It's really important that I have that time to unwind that I can chill out and just be with me.

As soon as I understood that from him perspective, I realized it had nothing to do with me. It wasn't like he didn't want to spend time with me; he didn't want to come to bed with me. He just wanted to be with himself. That changed everything for me. Just getting his perspective. It sounds so obvious now when I say it but I will tell you, it was not obvious then.

It was this huge source of contention. I've worked with so many clients on this with silly things like turning out the lights or taking out the garbage or being on time. When we release all of those rules and expectations, and we listen to the other person and hear what's going on for them and let go of what we want them to do, our relationships can change with them. We can start understanding them from a different perspective that isn't clouded by our own thinking and what we want to have them do.

Think about that person in your life and think of three things that you want them to do. Think that it would be so awesome if they would do this. I wish my husband were more romantic, it would be so awesome if he would write me love notes or he would bring me flowers all the time or if he would plan vacations and surprise me and whisk me off to wonderful enchanted places. Or maybe it's your friends. Like I wish my friends would call me more often, I wish they were more available to me. Or maybe it's your relationship with your mother or your father. I wish they would offer help or I wish they were more interested in the kids, or I wish they were less interested in the kids and less interested in me. Whatever it is.

Think about those requests that you have of a person in your life. Try and write down things you think it would be awesome if this person would do. Then take the time to think about, what would you feel, what do you imagine you would feel if they voluntarily did all these things with so much pleasure. What would you be thinking? Remember all of your feelings come from your thinking. What would you be thinking if this person behaved in this way that you want them to behave? Think about that. Do you have that thought available to you now? Can you think that about this person without them having to do all those things?

If the answer is yes, you scored. You don't have to go around changing other people in order to feel better. What you can do is feel better on your own accord. You can decide that I'm not going to make my life about what I believe I'm entitled to from other people and their behavior. In fact, I'm going to start believing that I'm not entitled to have anyone behave any other way than the way they behave. The only thing I'm entitled to is taking care of my own emotional life and my own brain to make sure I'm thinking thoughts that serve me.

If I really want something done and it's really important to me to make sure that it's done. Asking myself why I'm not willing to do it. And do I really want someone else to do something that they don't want to do? I can hear one of my clients right now talking to me in my ear. She's like, I don't want to clean up the dog poo and neither does he, so why should I have to do it? The truth is, and this is what I told her. You don't have to do it. The truth is, you want to do it because you don't want dog poo in the backyard. But expecting your husband to do it when he doesn't want to do it either and he doesn't care if there's dog poo in the backyard has gotten you into this really stressful situation with your husband that you've made mean that he doesn't care about you and he doesn't want to contribute and he's not an equal partner.

You've made this all mean something so much more. Now, instead of having a problem with dog poo in the backyard. You have this problem with being frustrated and aggravated with your husband. Which of course is compounded the problem. Now you have 2 crappy things in your life instead of just one. I asked her, how often does it work out that he cleans it up when you ask him over and over again. And even when he does clean it up do you feel better or are you frustrated and mad that he didn't do it automatically?

How could you approach this problem differently without affecting your marriage in such a negative way without having this manual? Again, it doesn’t mean that you don't make that request of your husband, but if he doesn't do it are you going to make it mean something so horrible that then you can't even enjoy your relationship with him or the backyard. Because now the dog poo is all over the backyard and it's all over your relationship with your husband. Really think about the things you want to have done and how you want other people to behave.

Think about how you think it will feel if they do those things for you. Then you decide to feel that way anyway. You get to feel however you want no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do. If you throw away your manual you may end up doing things that you don't want to do but your relationships will improve dramatically. The truth is, you just like other people in your life, don't have to follow your manual. You don’t have to do anything you don't want to do either.

Take some time to consider this idea. Are you willing to give up your manuals? Are you willing to let go of your expectations that are based on what you want in your life and focus all that time and energy on yourself and creating the best life that you can, for yourself, that isn't dependent on anyone else's behavior and in fact is only enhanced by being around people who genuinely are only doing things they want to do. Not doing things because you are emotionally manipulating them or requiring them to behave in a certain way.

I promise you, it's a game changer. Try it out. Until next time, I'll talk to you all later. Peace.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School podcast. It would be incredibly awesome if you would take a moment to write a quick review on iTunes. For any questions, comments or coaching issues you’d like to hear on the show, please visit us at http://www.TheLifeCoachSchool.com.

22 Comments

  1. Hi Brooke!

    Loving the podcast, especially “The Manual” episode. Boy did I need to hear that one, and I need to remember it. 🙂 This episode contains ideas that might be difficult for people to wrap their head around, but I believe they’re relevant and that they can lead to a calmer and happier life as you mentioned.

    On an extra note, I’d like to be a wellness coach one day, and I feel like I can gain a lot of knowledge from your podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable content.

    Cheers, Melissa

  2. Hi Melissa,

    Thank you so much for listening. I am glad you are enjoying it.

    The manual can definitely be a game changer.

    Coaching is the best profession on the planet!

    Brooke

  3. Hi Brooke…

    Like many other people out there, I am really enjoying and benefiting from your podcasts. I am now looking forward to Thursdays when you will release another and I’m re-listening to previous episodes in the meantime.

    This episode gave me an “ah ha” moment so I needed to share. I actually paused the podcast to write the names of two people, the things I want them to start/stop doing, and the feelings it would bring me. When I turned the podcast back on and you asked about whether I could feel those things without the person changing or doing anything other than just being them going along their business, I was shocked! I have never even thought that before and it’s so possible. Game. changer. (In your words!)

    Also have to let you know that I’ve tried going to many different therapists, battled depression and many co-dependencies including alcohol and men. Let me tell you none of the painful therapy sessions and thousands of dollars come close to what you’re doing for me.

    Thank you SO much 🙂

    Rachel

  4. Hi Brooke
    What a fantastic episode. I love it. Brooke , I just wanted to let you know that you have changed my life. Im a Radiologist by profession & recently turned weight loss coach as well. I have struggled with my own weight for years until I got hold on your book that completely transformed my life. I have tears in my eyes when I write this. You are a gift, absolutely magnificent !
    Today’s distinction is super powerful. I got so much value out of it when I got present to my should-ing on my parents, husband etc. Amazing. I’m constantly experiencing peace & calm around them with no crazy urge to advise them to make amends according to my manual. Thank you so much

  5. Hi Anu!

    Thank you so much for posting here!

    I really appreciate your kind words.

    You are a great demonstration of what can happen when you apply these lessons. Well done.

    Brooke

  6. Hi Rachel-

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

    I really appreciate your kind words and am thrilled you are applying the podcasts.

    I have also had my share of therapy and although it can be useful, nothing has helped me more than these tools as well.

    Here’s to you, mama! Keep it on.

    Brooke

  7. Hi Brooke!
    I have been listening to your podcasts at the suggestion of a friend, and I am so happy that she helped me to discover you!
    I am really working on observing my own thoughts changing my thought patterns and wow- it’s a lot of work! Great work, but very challenging. My comment on this podcast is that I feel a little confused. Not on the idea of the manual- that I really love, and find incredibly freeing. However, I wonder about kids. I have two teenage boys, and I am having a hard time deciphering what are the non negotiables and what are my expectations that are just about making myself feel better? Any words you have on that would be super.
    Can’t wait for your next episode.
    Thank you!
    Courtney

  8. Hey Courtney-

    This is a great question. When it comes to kids, we do have manuals for them because they are dependent. We do have expectations and consequences that are much different than with other adults.

    They way to distinguish is to ask yourself why you want the behavior to change. Is it to make you feel better and why? The intention behind it will reveal if it is a need to control to feel differently or a neutral instruction based on parenting.

    I can help you with an example if you want to post one here.

    Brooke

  9. Hi Brooke!
    Thanks for your response! I would love to share an example. My kids love to play computer games. Sometimes I feel like that’s all they want to do. I have experimented with different ways of setting limits- time limits, time of day limits, etc. These limits have had two effects that I have noticed. First, I become the time keeper and it creates a lot of conflict. The other conflict that it creates is that when something has potential to interfere with the time of day limits- say we make plans to do something during the window of time known as ‘computer time’ the kids will resist because they see it as usurping their ‘time.’ The past two weeks I have been playing around with trying to let them go- and see what happens. There is a night time cutoff, but other than that I have been using all my effort to try not to control their behavior. They get their homework finished, and do their chores, so those things are not neglected, however the computer time has not reached a place that I would call ‘balance’ yet.
    I have been looking for my motivations, and I think that I have several. First, I like to spend time with them and don’t love playing computer games so it seems that there is less time to do things together if they are spending time on the computer. Also, I would like for them to be doing other things. However, I wonder what that motivation is? I would like them to be creative, however the main game that one of my sons is playing is very creative- so I wonder why I think that is less creative than something creative in the physical world?
    This is something I have been struggling with for a long time! I am looking forward to getting some insight from you! Thank you again- still LOVING the podcasts- my new favorite is the one dealing with negative emotions. Fabulous!
    Courtney

  10. Hey Courtney-

    First, let me just say that your self awareness is so good. I love the way you keep asking yourself why. Understanding your motivation is so important when parenting.

    So here is the thing…

    My kids play video games on the weekend only.

    At first there was a lot of “conflict” and complaining. It was theirs to have. I did not let it affect me.
    Now, they know and so there is no conflict around it. Non-negotiable.

    So the real issue being revealed here is when you say…

    I become the time keeper and it creates a lot of conflict.

    Conflict takes two.

    If you set the boundary and they know its non-negotiable, then they can complain and get upset, but so what?

    What is that brining up for you?

    Brooke

  11. I was listening to this podcast in my car. As I was driving I noticed you were talking really really fast. I was like, dude, she had too much coffee that morning, why is she racing through this podcast? Does she have to pee? And as my anxiety was going up because you were talking so fast I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my phone (at a stop light of course) and looked at it only to notice I had it on Speed 1.5. Oopsys.. my bad. Now it’s fixed and I loved the podcast. Thanks again for your amazing teaching style and content. Have a Rockin’ Day at 1.0 speed. 😉
    ~B~

    1. Hey Brandy-

      That is so funny! I already talk fast so that must have been hilarious.

      I sometimes listen to podcasts on 1.5 speed just to get the information faster.

      It does require a lot more attention!

      Brooke

  12. Brooke,
    This is hands down MY FAVORITE TOOL THAT YOU TEACH, which is why I’ve probably listened to this podcast a half dozen times over the past few months. oNE tHING i’M CURIOUS ABOUT IS THE mANUALS WE HAVE FOR OURSELVES. fOR EXAMPLE, i HAVE A HUGE MANUAL IN MY HEAD ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A GOOD MOM AND WIFE. Some of those “Rules” are helpful in Pushing me to be a better mom and wife but I also know some of them Cause Pain and Conflict for me.

    If the Manuals we have for Ourselves aren’t helpful, How can we go about changing them?

    Ashley

  13. Hi Brooke,
    I’ve been kind of a silent listener on your podcast for a while now, internalizing things and self-coaching to the best of my ability. However, I’m dealing with something now where I feel lost and need your wisdom as I can’t seem to find it myself. I’ve been married 2 years and am pregnant. So far, our marriage has been wonderful, although it has taken a lot of hard work. Recently, I noticed that my husband has been really flirty with one of my coworkers (who happens to be beautiful and tiny, meanwhile I’m growing larger and larger). He’s been texting her a lot lately and when I confronted him about it he just said that he’s a flirty person and he likes the attention. He let me read the texts and he was super flirty and sent her kiss face emojis. He’s sad that he ever thinks I’d cheat on him. I told him I thought was he was doing was cheating and he disagreed. We had one big fight blow up. I listened to the manual podcast (again) afterwards and told him that I can’t control him. I requested that he not text her anymore, but know that I can’t force him to do anything. I know I need to focus on my own self-esteem and confidence, but this is making it 10x harder. He told me yesterday that he and are going to start taking art classes (they’re both graphic designers) and he hopes I’m ok with it. When I told him that emotionally I’m not, he was upset. I want to be at a point where I trust him and know that only I can give myself the feelings I want – I shouldn’t depend on him for that. This morning I checked his phone because I wanted to see if I was overthinking their relationship (which I get is not a good thing) and noticed that he deleted their text history off his phone (assuming that I will read it). They obviously text each other as I asked him if I could read it before (and her name was his top recent contact). Now my mind is wandering into all the dark places of where their relationship is going. Ultimately, if he is going to cheat on me, I don’t want to have to work so hard and freak out to prevent it. I don’t want to be with someone who would cheat on me. But how am I supposed to work on my self-confidence when I feel such doubt for his feelings toward me? In a perfect world, I’d be confident and happy on my own and have a husband to have fun with and have a life with. Do I just accept that he’s not the person I thought I married and move on? But I love him so much, I just wish he would love me too.

    1. Hi Bea,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Brooke will address your concerns in an upcoming episode, so stay tuned.

      Carina

  14. Brooke,

    I love this podcast and the one about boundaries, but I have a simple question I hope you can address. If we are always working to change our own thinking about scenarios and we also establish healthy boundaries, how do you know when it’s time to walk away from a friendship/relationship? Theoretically, if we were to establish those boundaries AND change our thinking, nothing would ever bother us.

    Because I tend to be someone who is either “all in” or “all out”, I’m unsure how to behave with people who won’t honor my boundary, or people who continue to cause me to adjust my thinking. Do you “cut people out” of your life or just pull back?

    This applies to our children as well. How do we tell them what to do when a friend is consistently hurtful or unkind? Walk away or be cautiously aware?

    Thanks so much. Hope this makes sense!
    Rhonda

  15. Hi Brooke,

    I know you posted this years ago, but a friend suggested your podcast a month ago and I’ve been listening to one or more episodes of yours a day since. I feel like your podcast has changed my life already, and can see there is a lot more work to be done. You really speak to me because you are so logical in the way you lay things out which really works for me. I recently went to get counselling (more on that soon) and found that there was no teaching, no insight – simply asking me questions which made me come up with the answers. So thank you.

    I think the heart of my problem is that I have a manual for my mother. I’m in my 30’s and have four young children. My manual for how I’d love my mother to behave is so ridiculously long and is based on my observations of what my friends’ mothers do for my friends. My manual, if printed out, would start on page one with her calling me once a week. (She calls me on average once a year.) Or wanting and planning in advance to do something with me – alone. (This hasn’t happened since I left home many, many years ago.) I feel so abandoned by her. I think she thinks everything is fine or at least she pretends it is, even when I’ve told her it is not and I miss her and wish she would make time for me and my children.

    Is a manual for your mother one of the exceptions that it’s OK to hold onto, or should I chuck it out? I think that even if she started doing all the things in my manual, I’d feel such hurt for a long time that I don’t think it would make me happy. I struggle when people talk about how wonderful their moms are and how much help they are to their kids. I feel very rejected in practical terms, but when I see her for a family get together she makes it seem like everything is perfect.

    How do I get past this manual for my mother problem? Imagining how I feel if she were the mother I wanted is so hard for me.

    1. Hi Viv,

      Thank you for sharing how the “manual” you have for your mother has impacted you and the challenges you are facing at this time. Brooke will address this for you in an upcoming Questions & Answers episode.

      Carina

  16. Hi Brooke,
    I’m fairly new to your podcasts (a friend recently introduced me to them) and I have been benefiting greatly from the information you share. As a Behavioral Health professional, it is often something I am familiar with but need to be reminded of.

    This particular podcast was the first time I found myself disagreeing with you. I have spent a significant amount of time and attention studying the new science of adult attachment in relationships. Two of the sources I have found very helpful are the books ‘Attached’ by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, and ‘Love Sense’ by Dr. Sue Johnson.

    From these and other resources, like Dr. John Bowlby’s research on attachment, I have learned that the most secure and satisfying relationships occur when both partners are able to be emotionally available and responsive to each other’s needs. The notion that we function better when we are self-sufficient and independent is not scientifically supported. We are biologically hardwired for connection and Community and we have emotional need of each other. When our emotional needs are met by a secure attachment figure such as a partner, we are better equipped to face the world with inner strength and confidence.

    People in happy, basically secure relationships accept their need for emotional connection and speak those needs directly in a way that helps their partner respond lovingly and supportively.

    Dr. Sue Thomas says, “We have a wired-in need for emotional contact and responsiveness from significant others. It’s a survival response, the driving force of the bond of security a baby seeks with its mother. This observation is at the heart of attachment theory. A great deal of evidence indicates that the need for secure attachment never disappears; it evolves into the adult need for a secure emotional bond with a partner…
    Although our culture has framed dependency as a bad thing, a weakness, it is not. Being attached to someone provides our greatest sense of security and safety. It means depending on a partner to respond when you call, to know that you matter to him or her, that you are cherished, and that he will respond to your emotional needs.”

    Thank you for allowing me to share a different perspective on having needs that are met by others in our life. Namaste

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