Life’s Little Instruction Manual Part 1: THE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
Wouldn’t it be nice if people came with instruction manuals? For that matter, it would be nice if we came with our own instruction manual! If you had a manual do you think you could have a more positive relationship with yourself and those around you? You might be surprised to learn you don’t need a lengthy manual, only a couple index cards of information.
Its basic information that unfortunately most people are not taught. Consequently, most of humanity wanders around with blinders preventing them from experiencing a more fulfilling life. The end result is attempting several ways of doing things with often minimal positive end. For example, the person who when angry gives the silent treatment to the person they feel responsible for their anger. This solves nothing, gains nothing and puts a chip in the relationship. With each chip, the relationship becomes more dysfunctional. Despite seeing this happen, the angry person continues to give the silent treatment and is surprised when the relationship sours. Why would a person do this? Because they don’t have those index cards I talked about.
So, here is your first card:
- 1. People can only act and react (thinking, feeling, and doing) based on what they know.
Sounds simplistic but it must not be. Every day we expect others to act and react the way we do or we want them to based on the information we have.
Expectation Comment: “If you loved me, you would have brought me chocolate donuts with sprinkles.”
Reaction Comment: “I brought you flowers. I thought that meant I loved you. How was I to know chocolate donuts with sprinkles meant love?”
Expectation Comment: “You should know better than to leave the house with the oven in clean mode. Everyone knows it can cause a fire!”
Reaction Comment: “I didn’t know the oven could catch fire in clean mode! I’ve never cleaned the oven before, how would I know that?”
Expectation Comment: “Can’t you do anything right? Do I have to do everything around here? Can’t you even put the dishes in the dishwasher correctly?”
Reaction Comment: “Is there a correct way to put the dishes in the dishwasher? Fine, you can do it. I was just trying to help. See if I do that again.”
Do you want to be shocked and amazed? Spend one day really paying attention to the number of times you expect a person to act and react to information you have and assume they should too. While you are at it, spend another day paying attention to how you act and react when someone hits you with the same assumptions.