Why Can’t They Just Do It?
You get home and the kitchen is a mess, there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be washed, there are batches of clean clothes that won’t just fold themselves and everyone’s crap is laying around the house.
And they are watching TV or playing a game. I’m talking about your spouse or your “old-enough” kids.
You feel yourself getting annoyed or even angry and think “I know they can see this mess. Why am I the only one around here who can do laundry??”
“Why can’t they just do it?!”
Now, you find yourself in a horrible mood.
I’ll let you in on a secret that has literally changed things enormously for me and brought me so much more peace.
The reason we get so upset over these things is because of the manual we have for other people….we have a manual for our spouse, our kids, our co-workers, even the lady at the drive-through window at McDonald’s.
Our manual for others is just a set of beliefs about how other people should behave in order for us to feel better.
Think about all the things in life that come with a manual…appliances, smartphones, our car, a computer. These manuals tell us how to do something…how to put it together or how it should run. When we follow the manual, we expect things to work the way they’re supposed to work. That’s what they are for.
People, on the other hand, don’t come with manuals. Manuals don’t work on people. Wouldn’t be amazing if they did?? But we have these unspoken manuals for what people should do or say or how they should behave. These manuals are just in our heads.
Something Must Be Wrong
Our manuals sound something like this…
“He should hang up the laundry.”
“She should pick up her clothes off the floor.”
“He should help with cleaning the house.”
“She should listen to me when I tell her the first time.”
“He shouldn’t be working so much.”
“She should not before she enters my office”
“Can’t she see that coke is dripping down the entire cup?”
“He should answer my email.”
You get the idea. Why don’t they just behave according to our manuals?
Why Don’t They?
Well, to start with, most of the time they have no clue that this manual for them even exists. We haven’t even shared it with them and just assume they should just know. We are expecting them to just know what our needs are and how they should meet them.
Here’s a tip…share with them what you need. I’m not talking about nagging…that’s actually counterproductive and not likely to work. When you keep your manual to yourself, it’s impossible for them to follow it. Share with them what you would like to have happen, but just know that they can decide what to do with that information. It’s entirely up to them.
You Can Only Control You
Here’s the deal. We can make requests all day long, and share our manual but we can’t control another person’s behavior. They get to choose what they will and won’t do. Sure, you can have consequences for your kids if they don’t do what you’ve asked but they can still choose not to do it and take the consequences.
So What Can I Do About It?
Here is my best suggestion. Consider letting go of all of your manuals for other people. Sure, make requests of them but with no strings attached…and then notice what people do when you’re not trying to control them. You’ll be amazed!
Instead, focus on controlling your own thoughts and your response to how they behave. If they don’t follow through with what you asked of them, YOU get to decide what you will think about it. You can decide not to be angry about it at all.
I’m not saying to not have expectations of your kids or to not make requests. You can make requests all day long. Just don’t hang all your emotions on whether or not they follow them.
When we allow people to just be who they are, we feel a lot better. What if you just let them be the most them that they can be? What a relief for both you and them! Instead of getting upset, we can go to a place of curiosity rather than taking it personally or making their behavior mean anything about us that it doesn’t.
Imagine how much more peaceful your life would be if you just dropped all the manuals?
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