Manuals and Heavy Backpacks

We all have manuals for the people in our lives.  A manual is simply a set of rules that we want another person to follow because we think we will feel better if that person follows our manual.

The closer we are to the person, the thicker the manual is.

So, the manual you have for your ex is very, very thick. . .

and very, very heavy.

That manual is like a heavy backpack. . .

that you're carrying around every day. . . 

and you keep putting more rocks in it, so it is getting heavier.

It's time to put down the backpack, friends, by following these steps.

Step 1 -- Recognize that you're carrying a backpack.  You have a Manual for your ex.  (Yes.  You do.  I'm talking to you.)

Think back to the last time you felt anger, resentment or frustration about something to do with your ex.

What was going on?

What was he doing or saying -- or not doing or saying -- that resulted in you feeling that negative feeling?

Be super-factual about this -- for instance, if he said some words to you or to the kids, do your best to remember the exact words he said and write those down.

Step 2 - Look inside the backpack.  Now let's identify what the real problem is.  (Hint - it's not what he did or said, and that's such freaking great news.)

Think about what you wanted him to do differently.  Write it down in detail.  For instance, what exactly should he have said or done that would "make" you feel better?

Be super-factual about this, too.  Just like you did in step 1.

You've just identified one of the rules in your manual.  It's something like, "he did this, and he should have done that."

That one rule in your manual for your ex is like one of the rocks in your backpack.

That's why the backpack is so heavy, because you have many rules for him.

And you think you feel a certain way when he doesn't follow those rules.  That's been a lot for you to carry around, right?

Step 3 - Put down the backpack.

Take those rocks out and look at them.  Not with judgment, but with curiosity.

What would you be thinking about your ex if he did the thing exactly the way you’ve written it down in Step 2?

What if you just decide to think that now, no matter what he does?

What he is doing or saying is not creating your feelings, I promise you.

It is your thought about what he "should" be doing or saying that is creating your feelings.

And every time you think he should be doing something differently, you put another rock in the backpack.

And you are more and more weighed down.  He's not carrying that backpack -- you are.

What if you decide you're not going to carry this backpack around anymore? 

Did you know you can just drop that manual that you have for him?

Just put it down, and walk away.

I want to hear your questions and thoughts about your manuals, my friends.  Just click here to email me and I'll respond personally.

Talk to you soon.