I have been doing a lot of work in a program called Self-Coaching Scholars with Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School This stuff ain’t easy, y’all. Every month we have a different focal point, or target area of our life, to spend time diving into our self-work. I have daily and weekly homework, and it is wonderful to have a support system through her organization to fall upon when I need guidance or have questions.
A couple months ago, the focus was on the relationships in our lives. We had the opportunity to choose a different personal relationship to work on each week of the month. The relationships chosen don’t have to be messy or difficult. I could choose any relationship I wanted, as long as it was one I wanted to improve. I don’t believe I have many difficult, tumultuous, or challenging relationships in my life; so I chose four different relationships that I cherish and adore. I concluded that I can improve every relationship in my life, at least on my end of it.
Yo, this was such a challenge! I am not going to get into the details of the daily work I did while focusing on each relationship at a time. However, I want to share with you my realizations and what I learned from doing this work. Let me just say, the value I got out of this relationship homework was profound and life changing.
My biggest take away is the recognition that the people I am closest with are my most reflective mirrors. In others, I see qualities, tendencies, and behaviors that are within me. I spent time thinking about all the things that annoyed, frustrated, irritated, and flat out pissed me off about these amazing humans. I wrote them down, and admittedly felt like a total butthole for thinking this way. But what smacked me right in the forehead was the fact that all these messed up thoughts I had about my loved one’s actions or personalities were also true about myself.
You see, when we recognize something we don’t like about another person, it is because we dislike that very same thing about ourselves. The same is true for what we love about another person - we share those same qualities as well. And we love those qualities about ourselves. In this way, our relationships with others can teach us so much about ourselves. To be honest, it made me realize that I have much to learn about myself, specifically my shadow side.
I love what Brooke Castillo has taught about our ‘manual’ for others; it totally resonates with me. Most of us have expectations for the other in each of our relationships. We expect them to behave a certain way, treat us a certain way, or represent themselves a certain way in regards to their interactions with us. Essentially, the manual is like a rule book for other people in our lives. There are a couple problems I noticed with our manual for our friend (or lover, family member, co-worker, total stranger, etc.). Some of us leave our manual unspoken, leaving the other person at a disadvantage. Also, they will never be able to live up to our manual. But, why?!
I believe the answer to that question is that our manuals for others have nothing to do with them. They are all about us: how we want to be treated and how we want to feel when we are with/around that person. They are rules and guidelines that we have made up to make us happy, feel safe, and thrive in any relationship. I believe it is up to me to fulfill my needs; it is not the responsibility of my wife or friends. I’ve got news for you: you are the one responsible for meeting your needs, and it is your choice to feel however you want about your life - and your relationships. To top it off, the other people in each of our relationships likely have their own manuals as well. I can damn near guarantee their manuals are not the same as yours.
People behave how they want. People show up how they want. People do what they want. And guess what, they have every right to do so.
I realized that I have a different manual for each relationship in my life, because each relationship I have is unique. It really hit me that my loved ones might never live up to my manual for them. What really sunk in though, is that even though they might not live up to my manual, they are still 100% amazing people.
I might not ever give my friends and family the chance to live up to my manual because I probably haven’t told them what my manual is. Have you ever sat down with a loved one and told them every single expectation you have of them? Shoot, I don’t even think I know how my full manual for someone even reads! Letting go of expectations and dropping the manual for relationships means you can just meet others where they are at and enjoy their company.
I now have a better understanding of how I show up in the relationships in my life. I now feel more comfortable with some of my more challenging relationships. I am in control of how I show up for my wife, friends, and family. I get to decide, and I get to satisfy my own needs without relying on another to do it for me. With that release of control and expectation, I can more easily make the choice to just enjoy being in others’ presence.
Do you have any difficult relationships in your life that have been a challenge or struggle for you? Does it help to look at others as mirrors for your life, or to sit down and put into writing what your manuals for your relationships are? Please share a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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