Coach Thought of the Week: Manuals for Others

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Monday, August 01, 2022
By Emy Fernandez, MBA, Life Coach

After eight years as a Life Coach, I recently completed a second Life Coach Certification.  This time with The Life Coach School. One of the concepts I learned from Brooke Castillo, Life Coach and Founder, which really has been a game changer for me in my own personal happiness and relationships is “Manuals.”   It has been so powerful in my life, I’ve been using it with my clients and I wanted to pass it on to you in the hopes that it will be a game changer for you too. Enjoy!

As humans with a human brain, we have instruction manuals for others on how they should act so we can be happy. But, most of the time, we don’t even realize we have these manuals or expectations.jh

We just do.

The rub is we have internal freedom of choice. We all have the freedom to live as we want and see fit. So, our way is our way, but it’s not necessarily the way for others.

The problem then becomes that we can live years unhappy and unsatisfied because how we feel is tied to others following what we expect of them. And, when we wave our instruction manuals at others, we will always, always be disappointed because they have their own manuals too.

When you subscribe to manuals, you put your emotions or feelings in the hands of others. If the Manual is not followed, we are guaranteed to have negative feelings about it.

And, when we have certain expectations of others so we can be happy, we give all our power away.

As parents, we can teach our kids to be kind, generous, and grateful. As children, they are expected to do as we say. However, when the children become adults, we can offer recommendations from a life lived and lessons learned. But, they will choose what makes sense for them. The rest they will discard as the independent humans they are. Do we really want our happiness to be dependent on the choices our kids make in their life?

The same holds true for spouses, friends, siblings, and colleagues. We want others to perform, as we believe they should.  As THE way to do things. And if THE instructions are not followed, we get frustrated or angry. But, the only reason we get emotional, is because we allow ourselves to do so. The good news is we can control how we feel because our feelings and emotions are driven by our thoughts. And, we are the only ones that can control our thoughts.

You may be thinking, “But shouldn’t I have expectations or boundaries on how I want to be treated or how I want to be seen?” Yes, absolutely.

But there are a couple of problems if we are not careful.

  1. Most of the time we expect others to just know what is expected. A common manual instruction that comes up is “He should take out the garbage without having to be asked.” Another one is “She should always pick up the phone when I call her.” We then get angry or frustrated because others are not doing what we expect of them, but they don’t know you expect it of them. I know…crazy right?
  2. Another problem is that the only thing under our control is setting the expectations and boundaries of how we want others to treat us. Ultimately, even if we do tell them, we do not get to decide whether they will follow our expectations or not.

Interestingly, we have manuals for others so we can have power over our emotions. But, I offer that the opposite is true. In order to get back control over our emotions, we must throw away our manuals for others. We are the only ones who can control how we feel.

So, what do we do to fix this?

Throw away the manuals you have for others, harness your power and take back responsibility for how you feel regardless of the behavior of others.

Acting from a feeling of power will inspire actions that truly lead to the happiness and results you want in your life.

P.S. Do you have obstacles keeping you from moving forward and taking action? Are you looking for a change? Do you want someone to guide you through your journey instead of DIYing it? Join me and get started. Learn how thinking differently creates different results. Reach out to schedule a consult and learn how we can work together. Contact info: (office) 305-445-0477, (cell) 786-623-8344, or