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Ep #42

Great Expectations

I have a story for you all today and I want you to see if you can recognize yourself in it. We’re all guilty of having great expectations, of operating from a manual that constantly gives our power away. What if you ditched that manual?

We expect those we’re in relationships with to meet our needs and expectations without us actually saying what our needs and expectations are. Then, when they go unmet, we make that mean something about us. And we blame them for making us feel this way.

In today’s episode, I’m exploring how your manuals for how others should behave could be hurting your relationships and be giving your power away. When we believe that our feelings come from others’ behavior, our expectations for them get greater and greater. I’m sharing how to take your power back, let the adults be adults, and start meeting your own needs. Look at your relationships and see if you operate this way. Then, Renegades, the choice is yours.

What You Will Discover:

  • What a manual is and how you may be operating from one.
  • How to stop trying to control people and start connecting.
  • Why emotional blackmail is hurting you and others.
  • The coolest thing about being an adult.
  • Some examples of operating from a manual.

Resources Mentioned:

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So there they were, having an unexpected evening together. She had no expectations - well, except for the one that maybe one day they would be together, but tonight wasn’t about their future. He’s not available. She knows because he’s voiced it to her.

Tonight was just two fiends catching up. Laughing. Spending time together bonding over current and failed relationships. It felt good. Hearing his laugh. His voice a soothing comfort to what had been a very long few weeks.

It happened like it always does. A touch here. A long lingering stare there. When I felt his mouth breathing against my lips I thought, enjoy this kiss like its the last. And before you knew it I was in his arms listening to him tell me he loves and misses me. I, I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t say anything but instead only think, he’s my everything. This is it. And I held on as tight as I could while he made love to me that night thinking maybe our future starts now.

I was floating… for days. I could breathe in a way that I hadn’t in some time. I was less consumed with when he was going to text or call. What he was doing. He loves me. He’ll call when he’s not busy.

I have things to do any way. It’s nice to not wonder about us. When he’ll call. But I usually hear from him by now. I’ll call him. Voicemail. damn.
Hey, it’s me. Thinking about you. Still thinking about the other night. You must be busy. Call me when you have a minute… laaav, uh, talk soon, k bye.

Hey it’s me. Is everything okay? Are you okay? I mean, I’m kind of worrying. It’s been over a week… call me.

Seriously. What the fuck? I can’t fucking believe you. You and your same bullshit. You love me? You fucking love me? You can’t even return my god damn calls. I swear to god. I’ve had it.

Fucking had it.

Hey, sorry about that last message. I feel crazy. I’m sorry. Will you just call me when you have a chance. I need to talk to you.

And here she is. Weeks later and still no word. I can hear the pain and conviction in her voice when she says, I”m so tired of these calls being about him. I’m over it. How do I just get over it. This, he and I- it’s been going on for years. I don’t want to keep going on with it any longer. I can’t. I emotionally can’t.
I’m always wondering if he’s with another girl…

I don’t feel good about myself. I see myself spinning out of control - I get distracted from work and kids.

I would rather feel calm collected strong and confident.

I don’t need to deal with this shit, I’m better than this.

The way I’ve allowed men in my life over the years has programmed me to be this way.

If I wasn’t distracted by him I could focus on myself and work.
And AND what’s worse is that whenever he pulls away I start thinking I’ve done something wrong. I literally sit around trying to figure out what I did or said that caused him to pull away.

I asked my client, what if this is just who this person is in a relationship and this is how they love?
She said, I don’t like it- it makes me feel unimportant. Not special.

So why do you do it? Spend time with him?

Well, he’s the one who told me he loves me. Sometimes I don’t even say it back because I’m so surprised. But he tells me these things.

What does it mean to you when he says he loves you? It means he’s ready. I think it means he wants more. But then it’s like he gets scared and bails.

Is it possible he loves you AND doesn’t want more? That this is how he loves? This is actually who he is.

Before you answer that, tell me this;
In a perfect world tell me 3 things this person could do to make you feel better.
I would like him to communicate with me more
Engage with me and our friendship
Give us a chance.

Okay. How would you feel if he was showing up like this?
I would feel special. I would feel important.

What would you think to feel special?
I would think he is choosing me. That he wanted and loved me.

Okay. So what’s stopping you from believe that thought now? I’m chosen wanted and loved?

What do you mean?
Well, Can’t you think the thought I’m chosen special and loved now? And feel important and special?

I mean, yes but.
Now stay with me because I’m going to point out a few things;
1. You think if this person does these things, behaves in a certain way, that you will feel special but it’s our thinking that causes our feelings. Not a persons behavior. Our feelings always come from out thoughts. Not the circumstances.
2. Which leads me to this. You’re operating from a manual. A manual is in essence a guide book or better yet a rule book of expectations for the way people should behave in your life- how they should treat you and show up so that you can feel a certain way. most everyone is operating from a manual, but here’s what I find the most fascinating about my manual and your manual; we expect everyone to know what’s in our manual without telling them… and when they don’t know we just cannot believe this person doesn’t know us the way we thought. And we make it mean all the horrible things about who we are or what we mean to them or what the relationships isn’t.
And the minute someone isn’t treating you the way your manual describes in steps 1-5 you lose your shit.

When we are operating from our manual we are trying to control the people around us. Which is never any fucking fun - for anyone AND that leads us to

3. Abdicating responsibility for our emotions rather than owning and managing them. You really believe that if he tells you he loves you, you can be happy but if he doesn’t call you, you make it mean you’re unimportant. Not loveable. That something has gone wrong. You are using this person as a way to define your worth, your days, your mood- And you are giving up all your power in the process. You are responsible for your feelings. You get to decide what you believe or how you want to feel. You can believe that I like people who call and communicate with me daily but I don’t make it mean anything bad about me if that person doesn’t.
Some people like to talk on the phone. Some don’t. There is no right or wrong answer. The minute you make it mean something about you though, you are operating from your manual.

When you ditch your manual you give the people around you so much freedom to be themselves and it brings you closer to them.

Rather than controlling them you get to connect with them.

This concept can get tricky for a lot of people especially couples because you think your partner should meet your needs and you meet theirs and you will be so happy. We live in a culture that cultivates this belief that in order for you and I to have a happy healthy successful relationship we have to meet one another needs.

I can’t count how many times I used to say to my husband I need you to do this and then I will be happy. You need to work like this. You need run with me. You need to dress this way… oh my god. And guess what? When they didn’t do the things I thought I needed I made it mean they didn’t love me. I wasn’t worth them changing for. Making time for. OR they would do all the things AND I found out I was still miserable. So I raised the bar! And they were resentful. No one was happy. It’s a viscous cycle.

I remember when my husband wouldn’t leave work at a certain time. I would be fuming. He’d come home. Dinner would be cold. I’d be even more pissed. We’d argue. You don’t put the family first. You don’t care about what I need. It went like that a couple of times a month our entire marriage. I’d feel enraged, sad and then exhausted.

What I never figured out was that him coming home late had nothing to do with me. He was living according to his manual. Work needed to get finished before he could come home. I could have easily sat down and had dinner with the kids and put his plate in the microwave. But instead it was all the drama. In my guidebook EVERYONE KNOWS YOU ARE NOT LATE TO MY TABLE. This means you don’t love me.

Thank God I figured this out. It turns out a lot of people, myself included, want to meet their deadlines and it has nothing to do with wanting to make other people feel bad or unloved.

I think this is what you call emotional blackmail. If you don’t do this you will make me feel…

This doesn’t mean you don’t share with your partner or the people in your world the things you like or don’t like. You just don’t make it mean anything if they don’t subscribe. You learn how to meet your own needs. You learn self -responsibility.

For example, when I’m hosting dinner I communicate… Dinner is at 8. If you aren’t sitting at the table we will start eating without you. ZERO drama. I don’t take it personal if they aren’t sitting with us at 8.

When you drop your manual you take responsibility for yourself and you let the other adults do the same. There will be so much less friction between you and the other humans when you are focused on meeting your needs and they meet theirs and you stop blaming them for how you feel. Instead you can just show up and support one another.

To be clear a manual doesn’t have to do with boundaries or terms of engagement. Boundaries are our hard no’s - If you’re going to yell at me I’m going to hang up the phone. If you have an affair our marriage is over. These are more extreme; others might be, no smoking in your house or you’ll ask them to leave. If someone comes over without calling first you aren’t going to answer the door.

Having a manual is more about expecting people to behave a certain way so we can feel a certain way. This goes for all our relationships, Renegades.

A friend of mine was venting about her lady pals dating life while telling me that this friend should hire me - she desperately needs a dating coach she said.

You know those people who have their shit together; they are the greatest at everything in life, but when it comes to dating they just can’t figure it out? My friend doesn’t date to find a best friend but instead is looking for someone who will be able to provide her financially. I keep seeing her pick the wrong guy over an over and it’s hard to watch.

But what my friend hasn’t considered is that her best friend may not share the same belief about dating. Her friend doesn’t see anything wrong with who she is picking and why. That’s a priority for this woman in finding a life partner.

My friend operates from a manual that says you should date to find a best friend to spend your life with. Not for financial security.
This causes her frustration in her friendship plus a lack of intimacy or connection.
I asked her why it wasn’t okay for her friend to date for money?
What are you making it mean about her? How do you think you’d feel if she was dating for a best friend?
Can you choose to feel that now? What would you need to believe about your friends dating life?

We think we want the best for people- that our hearts are in the right place, but we are trying to have them operate like us - do what I do and the world will be right. I won’t have to question you or myself. I will feel comfortable.

This never works.
When we are operating from our manual we are not connecting with the people around us. We are oscillating between trying to control them and get them in compliance with our manual.

Which is the worst. How do you like it when people try to tell you what to do ? It’s not fun. For anyone. We want people to be able to be themselves- with their different beliefs and behaviors. Be human. I can’t even imagine a bunch of me’s running around. Let the adults be the adults.

If we aren’t paying attention we are operating from our very own manual. Let me give you some examples of a Manual:

Dishes should be done
We should have dinner as a family every night
You should send me flowers
If I call or text you should drop what you’re doing and get back to me.
You should work out more.
My partner should make more money than me.
You shouldn’t drink without me.
You workout should be done when it doesn’t interfere with family time.
You shouldn’t have female or male friends
You shouldn’t date for money
You should get married and have kids

Rather than trying to get everyone to comply with us and control their behavior we let them do as they do. Show up and enjoy their company. Support them.

I want to invite you to look at a relationship you have - ask yourself What are your expectations of them? What do you most want them to do, and why? Let yourself go to a perfect world where they do exactly what you want them to do and when you want it. Be specific and be outrageous. No one is going to see your thinking…

Now think about what you would be thinking and feeling if they did all these things perfectly.

Notice that you can think and feel these things anyway. Literally, you are thinking and feeling it right now. The brain is such a sucker!

Allow them to be who they are meant to be. Who are they? What do they do? How do they act? What are they consistent in? When you aren’t trying to control who are they in their actions?

Why do you imagine they do these things and are this way? What do you imagine their thoughts are that are driving their actions?

In what ways are you like them?

It says that only one person in a relationship needs to do the work. Do you believe me? That the other people can be late for drinks, not take out the trash and you could not be affected by it emotionally? Give it a whirl. Can’t hurt. Look at your manual then decide if you want to operate that way.

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