Whenever we get a new appliance, I hear the same question. “Did you read the manual before you started to use that _________________ oven, blow-dryer, refrigerator? You’ll find it will work better for you if you understand how it works.”


Me: “It’s a TOASTER! SHOULDN’T it act like any other toaster?”


Joel: “You never know. I always find that I learn something useful when I understand how it’s designed to work.”


Of course, he’s right. My washer works so much better now that I discovered the default “economy mode,” aka, the default setting that keeps my clothes from actually getting clean.


Why do I resist the manuals for the THINGS in my life, which are actually useful? Hmmm.


Well, maybe it’s because my “manual shelf” is already full of manuals. Manuals for the PEOPLE in my life, manuals that I write, not manuals that come from the manufacturer.


MANUAL: An instruction guide we have for someone in our lives about how we would like them to behave so we can feel good and be happy. We don’t tell the other person what’s in our manual, and we usually don’t even realize we have it or see the pain it causes us. We feel that the other person should just “know” what to do and how to treat us. While it may seem justified, it can be very damaging when our emotional happiness is directly tied to their behaving a certain way. A manual for someone you love looks a bit like this…


•He should remember my birthday, tell me that he loves me, be more organized, and throw stuff away.

•He should come home on time, bring me flowers, and take out the trash without me asking.

•She should be kind and understand when I am frustrated.

•She should write me a thank you note, listen when I need a friend, and invite me when she has a party.


Do yourself a favor. Take your people manuals off the shelf and drop them off at Good Will. Actually, BE “Good Will” and drop them in the trash. Sure, make requests. Be inspiring. Share your vision and your possibilities with others. When they don’t respond in the way that you want, let it go. Leave the past behind.


Why hand over your power to someone else? Let go of emotional childhood, self-pity, and unnecessary suffering. Love feels so much better and is always an option.