,Many people tell me they struggle with faith and doubt God (or a higher power) when they see senseless death, tyranny, murder, and cruelty happen in the world. Maybe you have asked yourself questions like these, as you have watched the invasion of Ukraine happen:
Many of us are feeling pain, confusion, and fear, as the idea of a World War III becomes a possibility. We ask ourselves, “Could this actually happen”? If nuclear weapons are used, our planet and way of life could be destroyed. We are sickened by the thought and wish there was something we could do. All of these, are terrifying thoughts.
I’d like to share a couple ideas today that may help you fight the fear and find some sense of purpose or some solid ground right now. Here are some ideas to consider:
You only have two choices, trust or doubt, and you must choose one:
When horrific things happen, it is natural to doubt that the world is in God’s hands. It is normal to wonder if God is in charge, why He allows such things to happen? It’s normal to feel alone and unprotected, when you watch bad things happen to other people. But at the end of the day you have two mindset choices, you can trust or you can doubt, and what you choose matters.
Here are the options:
1) You can choose to trust God that nothing exists He did not create, for the purpose of our education. You can trust that if he allows bad things to happen there is meaning and purpose in them. You can choose to trust that though things look scary, He always has us safe in his hands and promises a perfect classroom journey for each soul. You can choose to see in tragedy we pull together and there is also an increase in love. You should never want tragedy to happen, and you should see it as horrible when it does, but you can still trust God to use this for our benefit in the end.
If you choose this mindset you will feel like you are standing on some solid ground and from this place, you will have more access to your love. You will have more to give others and you will feel stronger, wiser, and safer.
If you don’t consciously choose this mindset, you will subconsciously choose doubt.
2) Doubt says there is no purpose or meaning in what happens, that we live in a chaos state where we are not safe. If this is true you must worry about protecting yourself all the time, from threats. Doubt makes you believe that bad things just happen randomly and they have the power to take from our quality of life and make you lose the life you could have had.
If you choose this mindset (consciously or unconsciously) you will feel like there is no solid ground under you, and you will primarily be focused on protecting and promoting yourself. You will have less to give others, and you will feel vulnerable, deprived, and unsafe in the world. When you feel this way you can’t trust anyone and you have very little to give. You are too busy worrying about your safety.
Understand, there is no proof that either mindset is the true. So, whatever you choose, it will be a belief. You might even try both beliefs on and decide which mindset gives you a better quality of life and better relationships. In the end, you and you alone will determine how safe you feel in the world, what you trust, and what meaning you apply to your experiences. No one can make this choice for you.
In over 20+ years as a personal coach, I have watched many people process trauma, loss, and grief. I have seen them choose both options, and I can tell you, the overwhelming majority have created a better quality of life by choosing trust than doubt. But this is good time for you to think about what you will choose.
If you choose to see life as a perfect classroom and trust God that everything is here to teach us and grow us, here are some lessons we could be learning from war:
We love and value people we didn’t know we loved before:
Every time we watch tragedy hit a group of people in our world, our hearts go out to them and we discover that we love them. These are strangers we have never met nor loved before, but watching their pain, loss, courage, and strength, draws them into our awareness as brothers and sisters. We have a desire to help, stand up for them, and express our love and support in donations or in any way possible.
Think about any past disaster and you will see there is always an equal increase in love that follows it. These situations destroy and then they create love. These experiences connect us and remind us we are one with all our brothers, and that’s a beautiful and important thing to realize. I just wish we could hold onto it longer or find it without a tragedy happening. It would be worth our time to consider ways to keep a hold of these feelings from now on.
We clarify our values, when we see them disregarded:
There is nothing like having our deeply held values of freedom, democracy, empathy, kindness, and caring get trampled, to remind us how important they are. Suddenly we feel our values more deeply than we did last week. We are clear about what is right and wrong to us. We feel passion for what we believe and we seek for ways to live those values in a bigger way. Again, I wish it didn’t take tragedy to bring these to our values to our awareness, but we should take this chance to lock them in, and stand for them in a stronger way. You could use this experience to reaffirm your commitment to living your values and become a better person for them.
We are more connected than we think:
The pandemic taught us this lesson, that what happens to our brothers, far away from us, impacts us all. We are so connected it only takes weeks for a strain of Covid, in a village in China, to reach every corner of our world. When any of our brothers (even on another continent) are suffering, it is a world problem and one that we must all face together.
The invasion of Ukraine is about all of us. It’s a blow to our common values and it must be solved by us all coming together. I get a warm feeling when I watch other countries like Germany and Sweden step us to help Ukraine. I suddenly see them as my brothers too, and I love them for their commitment to peace in our world. It serves me to appreciate and honor their loving actions. These events make the world feel smaller and more connected in a good way. Viruses spread quickly, but so does love.
We all have the same worth, though we have different classrooms:
All the time, when I teach the principle of ‘all humans having the same value’, I get asked, “What about Hitler?” Everyone wants to know how I can see an evil dictator, who murdered millions of people, as having the same infinite value as the rest of us.
This is the thing, every problem on the planet can be traced back to belief ‘that some groups of people have more value than other groups of people’. This one idea has caused more human suffering than any other. It is what caused Hitler to do what he did.
Albert Einstein (one of the smartest humans that ever lived) said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So, we cannot solve the problem of human suffering by believing any human has less or more value than any other. We must adopt another belief, an opposite one. The idea that all humans have the same intrinsic worth, no matter what they do, is an interesting alternative.
This doesn’t mean that a person’s choices don’t have consequences. You are co-creating with God, your perfect classroom with every choice you make and Hitler made some horrific choices with some horrific consequences. I believe he signed himself up for some pretty hard lessons, which he is probably still learning from. But, we must still see all humans as the same in value, or we create a slippery slope of exclusion. We go from excluding Hitler, to that neighbor we don’t like, to our mother-in-law who is truly difficult, and you soon right back where you started.
Seeing all human souls as having the same infinite, unchanging value just creates a lot more love, compassion, empathy, and understanding, than it’s opposite.
There is no source of ultimate truth about the value of human beings though. So again, this means whatever you decide to believe and however you decide to determine the value of human beings, it is belief not fact.
I promise though, if you try both beliefs on, you will find that choosing to see all humans as the same produces much more happiness, confidence, and love in your life, than judgment ever could.
Attacking other people is never justified:
This is a really interesting lesson that is coming from this experience that we could all benefit from. We are disgusted, right now, about the unfair, unjustified, attack of Ukraine. We are horrified that this innocent group of people, should be needlessly attacked, but the truth is, we all attack people all the time.
Not to murder or physically hurt them, but to protect ourselves from mistreatment, defend ourselves from perceived slights, and stand up against what we see as wrong behavior.
Just the other day I had a woman yell and swear at me (attack me) saying I wasn’t handling something correctly. It was uncalled for, inappropriate, and rude. I immediately told the people I was with, about this woman and her behavior (attacking her character). As I look back on that experience I can see we both felt justified to mistreat each other and we all do this to people all the time. If they do something we see as offensive, we feel perfectly justified in attacking them.
How often does this behavior show up in you?
This is a wonderful opportunity for us all to grow. If you are disgusted by Russia’s (and more accurately Putin’s) behavior, start by making sure you don’t justify attack in your world.
Make sure you see honor, respect, and love others, while maintaining healthy, respectful, boundaries. Respect is the only worthy response, towards any soul perfectly created by God. People will do things that bother you and hurt you, but you can always respond with humanity, empathy, and respect for whatever they are experiencing. It’s not easy, but it’s the behavior you would be most proud of later.
I am sure as this experience unfolds, there will be many more lessons on love that we can glean from it. The trick is to use every experience to make you better. There is not much most of us can do to assist our brothers being attacked on the other side of the world, but we can do this.
You can do this.
Coach Kim: My last LIFEadvice article
This was first published on KSL.COM
I have had the great privilege of writing close to 550 LIFEadvice articles over the past 11 years, but this will be the last in the Coach Kim series for KSL.com.
Most of the questions that have been submitted over the years have been about people problems or improving relationships. The following are my last and most important suggestions for understanding each other better and improving our relationships. I hope they help you.
Human behavior is all about seeking safety
You may think human behavior is complicated, but it is actually pretty simple. Most of our behavior, if you take the time to look, can be traced back to a desire for safety and security. Everything we do is driven by either our value system and what we love or by what we fear.
Unfortunately, a lot of our behavior is about fear. We buy new clothes because looking better makes us feel safer and helps us believe we are "good enough." We work hard at our job to gain security. We fight with our spouses because we don't feel safe and are trying to remedy that.
Human beings are constantly seeking safety from two simple foundational fears: the fear of failure and the fear of loss. I have written about these two fears extensively because they are key in our understanding of human behavior.
When you understand how fear of failure and fear of loss affect you, you will start to see yourself and the people around you — especially when they are behaving badly — as scared. People are not jerks, show-offs, gossips, aggressive or territorial; they are just scared human beings whose fear is bringing out their worst behavior.
Seeing human behavior this way will make you more compassionate toward the people around you, and that will improve your relationships.
We look for safety in all the wrong places
Human beings seek safety in the wrong places because we erroneously believe our value must be earned. We believe human value can change day to day, and that some people have more value than other people. We all erroneously believe our value comes from these five places:
The problem is no matter how hard you try to perform, look good, buy nice things or win approval from others, you will always find people out there who still appear to be better than you. This chase to find value will always leave you feeling like you aren't good enough and you still won't feel safe.
You must understand an important truth: You cannot find a sense of safety outside of yourself. A real sense of safety can only come from changing your foundational beliefs and believing that your value is intrinsic and unchangeable. If your value is infinite, you cannot fail nor be "not enough."
See all humans as having the same intrinsic value
Nothing will improve your relationships and your self-esteem faster than choosing to see all humans as having the same value as you. Choose to see life as a classroom, not a test. See it as a safe place where you don't have to earn your value. See it as a place of learning where the universe brings perfect lessons and your value is never in question.
This one change will take half the fear that drives your worst behavior off the table immediately. You will feel safe and good enough in the world and will find it easier to show up with love for the people around you. Changing this belief will require effort, though. You must constantly remind yourself that nothing changes or diminishes your value and that you always have the same value as everyone else.
Forgive everyone and everything
I have written 20 articles and one whole book on forgiveness because I believe it is the most important lesson we are here to learn. If we can't forgive other people, life, God, or ourselves, we will be miserable and scared our whole life.
The way out of this suffering lies in choosing to trust that everything that happens is your perfect classroom journey. Instead of resisting what is, we can choose to trust the universe knows what it's doing. We can see life as a wise teacher who is co-creating with us, bringing us the perfect classroom journey we need in each moment. This mindset creates strength, resiliency and a real sense of security. When you choose to trust the universe, you will also find forgiveness is much easier.
Forgiving others is the key to loving yourself
Every time you judge another person for their mistakes, you are giving power to the idea that value must be earned and people can be "not good enough." If you feed this belief, it will also drive the way you see yourself. If you see others as not good enough or not worthy, you will always see yourself the same way.
The key to loving yourself lies in choosing to love and forgive others. You must allow every human around you to be flawed, make mistakes and have faults, and still have infinite and unchanging worth. When you give every other human infinite value, you will start to accept it for yourself too.
The people you dislike can be the most important teachers in your life. They show you the limits of your love and help you to stretch. If you will work on loving these people as they are, with their faults, it will improve your self-worth and bring a feeling of safety to your life. I promise this works.
See everything that happens as your perfect classroom journey
Choose to believe the classroom of life has one main purpose: to grow you and make you more loving. Every experience in your life is here to stretch your ability to love God, yourself or other people. Every experience that shows up in your life is here to serve you.
Every time something happens, ask yourself this powerful question: "What is this experience here for? Is it here to help me trust God more, help me love myself more, or to love other people at a higher level? There is always one of these three lessons in play.
If you choose to see your life this way, you will experience real gratitude for everything that happens — the good and the bad — and this will make you feel safer in the world. If you want to have more access to your love, just choose to see the universe as on your side and constantly conspiring to serve you. This will make you feel safe and give you the bandwidth to show up for others.
Seek out professional help with your mindset
Having healthy beliefs, healthy thinking skills and tools for processing life is what ultimately creates happiness, success and good relationships. The problem is they don't teach these things in school. So, unless your parents taught them to you, you likely don't have the skills and tools you need to create healthy relationships. You are going to need to seek them out on your own.
Find a professional whose job it is to teach these skills, like a therapist or a life coach. This kind of help makes the work faster and easier. Getting professional help with your mindset, limiting beliefs, negative thinking and people skills is the most important and advantageous thing you could do for yourself and your family. Spend the money and invest in your mental health. It will be the best money you ever spend.
You can do this
For 11 years, I have ended every article with the phrase "you can do this." I did so because I want you to know that you have all the answers inside you. You are innately loving and good. You are meant to grow and learn through whatever is happening to you because that is the purpose of everything. You are, at your core, nothing but love. You were made by love, through love and as love. You are good enough as you are right now. You are right on track in your perfect classroom journey. You have nothing to fear.
You can improve and change things in your life, too. If you don't like the way your life is going, you can change it. You have the power to do this, you might just need a little help. Seek out the help and invest in yourself and your life.
I have loved writing for KSL and I deeply appreciate all the letters you have sent me over the years. I hope my articles have helped you in some way because they have sure helped me. If you want to continue to follow me, you can do that at coachkimgiles.com and claritypointcoaching.com.
Thank you to all my readers for your encouragement, appreciation and feedback!
Don't let Covid ruin your Christmas
Every year I hear from readers who are dreading the holidays, because it means dealing with their difficult relatives on a level they can avoid the rest of the year. Why is it so uncomfortable, threatening, and miserable dealing with these human beings you're related to? How has Covid made this even worse?
It is important you understand one critical thing about human behavior, we are all programmed toward one subconscious, evolutionary goal, to look for threats and protect ourselves.
Neuroscience experts say, from an evolutionary perspective, [our] ultimate goal is reproductive fitness. This means we have a subconscious tendency toward things like resource acquisition, self-protection, disease avoidance, social affiliation, status, and mate acquisition and retention.
In simple language, you are a walking, talking threat protection system, at work 12/7 to protect and defend yourself.
Experts say "this protection system is highly sensitive to fluctuating circumstances, and is more likely to be engaged when environmental cues signal that [you] are more susceptible to a threat." The Covid pandemic has done this to you. It has increased the perceived threat level that other human beings pose.
For two years, you have been told to stay six feet away, avoid contact, and protect yourself by wearing a mask, which puts a wall between you and others. You are more threatened by other people than you ever were before, and this could be negatively affecting your relationships.
In my opinion, Covid is making you more likely to get offended, feel more protective (selfish) and react more defensively. Add to this the current political divide and all the other divisive issues in play online, and you have a recipe for judgment, intolerance, defensiveness, division, and a lack of compassion and forgiveness. Do you find it harder to forgive others the last two years? Are you holding more grudges?
Covid is also making you more sensitive to loss or feeling taken from. If I asked you to make a list of everything you have lost the last two years (including quality of life, financially, and emotionally) it would probably be a long one. The loss you have experienced is subconsciously putting you on guard to watch for other losses. This means you might be feeling more protective of yourself than you ever have before. Are you more sensitive to mistreatment or more easily bothered by other people's behavior? You might be functioning in a fear of loss state, which is making you more protective than ever and this could negatively affect your family gatherings this year.
Evolutionary psychology also tell us that when we function in a fear state our emotions will drive our behavior more than our logic will. When you are functioning in stress (a fight or flight state) your frontal lobe actually shuts down, which means you are less logical, more emotional, and more defensive.
Take a minute and ask yourself, am I reacting to people with more defensiveness than I did two years ago? Am I quicker to be protective or get offended? Do I find fault, gossip, or talk about the flaws in other people more than usual?
If you can see a pattern of fear driven feelings and behavior in yourself, here are some things you can do to calm your protective tendencies and make your holiday more peaceful:
Remember that ultimately what other people think or say about you doesn't mean anything.
It doesn't diminish your value and it doesn't have meaning or power, unless you believe it does. You can be completely bullet proof if you just see yourself that way. Choose to see all humans as divine, amazing, scared, struggling students in the classroom of life, just like you. When they behave badly, choose to forgive it, because most of the time they don't intend to harm you. They are just functioning in fear.
Don't take anything personally
Everything other people do and say, is driven by their fears for and about themselves. It is never about you. As a matter of fact, all behavior is just a request for love and a sign that the person doesn't love themselves. It a relative says something offensive this year, let it bounce off and hit the floor. Don't let anything stick and whatever you do, don't pick it up and stab yourself with it later. You are in control of how much other people can hurt you.
The way you judge and value others, is the way you will judge and value yourself.
If you fault find and judge the mistakes or flaws in other people as making them less valuable, you will subconsciously see your own flaws as making you less valuable too. You can only love and accept yourself to the degree you love and accept your neighbors. Work on seeing their value as the same as yours, their mistakes and flaws as their perfect classroom and find love for them in spite of their negative qualities and you will find a new level of love for yourself too.
You aren't responsible for other people's happiness.
You are only responsible for your own choices, thoughts, words, and deeds. These are the only things in your control. Allow the universe to be in charge of other people and their behavior. The universe has their perfect classroom well in hand and doesn't need you to stress about it. Let go of feeling responsible for even the people you love. Focus all your attention on choosing your own positive feelings and behaviors, and allow others to be in their perfect classroom journey no matter what they are experiencing.
See whatever happens as your perfect classroom
This means you choose to see everything that happens as here to serve you. You choose to see everything that happens it a blessing in disguise to help you grow and become stronger, wiser or more loving. This means even when others say offensive things, gossip or judge you, it is nothing more than a chance to practice choosing to see yourself as bulletproof.
Be the question asker and give compliments
Instead of dreading the relative's questions, take the initiative and be the question asker at the party. Spend the whole time asking each person questions about themselves and their lives. This means you don't have to talk about yourself and your life at all, which is safer. It also means showing you care and are interested in knowing about and understanding others. Look for ways to compliment and validate others in the room. This creates an atmosphere of building people up instead of tearing them down.
Be the love in the room
Focus all your attention on making others feel important and valued. You cannot do both love and fear at the same time. If you are laser focused on giving love, you won't have the bandwidth to worry about yourself. Spend every minute of the party making others feel comfortable and accepted and your fears will go to the back burner.
Avoid controversial topics
I have a friend who puts a list on the front door of all the topics that are against the rules to bring up at her family gatherings. Politics, religion, vaccination, and the new Covid variant top her list. This takes all the hot topics off the table before the party even starts. Consider having a jar filled with safe "get to know you questions" that driven understanding, compassion, and love instead.
You can use Covid as your excuse to bow out of anything
If you don't think you can handle the family gathering and stay balanced, it's okay to bow out. You have the perfect excuse this year. Just say you might be feeling sick. But, this doesn't excuse you from the work of learning to love each person and yourself at a higher level. This should still be your goal, but if you need more time before stepping into the hot zone, it's okay to practice loving them from afar this year.
Even though you are subconsciously programmed to look for threats and protect yourself, you are also deeply programmed to love. I believe your love is really who you are. Focus this holiday season on being love and making others feel safer everywhere you go.
Notice that whenever human being face calamity, natural disasters, or tragedy, there is an equal upswing of love that follows. Hard times can bring us closer together and increase our capacity for love and understanding or they can bring out the worst.
You have the power to decide what is increased in you this year, more fear or more love. Will you become more defensive or more compassionate? Instead of letting your subconscious decide your response, consciously choose. Decide to make the pandemic increase your compassion and forgiveness this year. You can do this.
This was not published on KSL.com
In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares some tips for rebuilding connections with your teen.
My teen daughter is angry all the time. She is breaking rules at home and I suspect she is making bad choices when she is away from home. I am so sad that I don't have a better relationship with her, but if I try to enforce any rules she gets so mad and thinks I am the mean, awful one. She either won't talk to me or says she hates me. Every interaction with her is strained, and I don't know how to change this and improve our relationship. I don't know how to help her.
First, you need to understand that your child is scared and in pain. She most likely has low self-esteem and even even be harboring some self-hate, which she is projecting onto you. Whenever someone is angry, hostile, defensive or attacking, try to remember that it's hurting people who hurt people.
When someone is functioning in fear and pain, they often aren't very nice. They can be critical, defensive and attacking (meaning they will blame everything on you). Please understand, this is a self-protection strategy. They don't know a better way to protect themselves, so they are resorting to seeing you as the enemy and attacking you. This strategy feels much safer than working on themselves.
They often feel so worthless that they simply cannot handle the thought that they are wrong or at fault. They need to project the blame and shame on someone else to feel safe.
When you have a loved one who is acting out, picking fights, or pushing you away, it is important that you see this as scared behavior, which is really a request for love. They desperately need to feel important, good enough, safe, appreciated, seen and loved. The problem is their behavior doesn't make you want to give them love or validation at all.
It also sounds like you have reached the stage where she is exercising her freedom to choose whatever she wants, so the days of trying to control her behavior are over. The more you try to control her, the more she will pull away from you emotionally.
You should have rules and boundaries, but they need to be renegotiated. You need to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation where you concede that she is going to make her own choices, no matter what you say or do. Every child reaches this stage as part of growing up, but many kids claim their freedom long before their brains are developed enough to make good choices. This is what scares us as parents.
What works best at this stage is to become a "side-by-side" partner in figuring life out with your teen. The key to creating this connection and collaboration is to respect them, trust them and give them a heavy dose of unconditional love and validation. If you can do these things, your child may decide to let you be a partner and even talk to you.
Shefali Tsabary, author of "The Conscious Parent," says, "If our teens are failing at school or are unmotivated, it's because they are trying to tell us something is wrong … if you respond with control or dogmatism, you will only push them further away. The less rigid you are with them, the more likely they are to maintain a relationship with you. If you are overbearing and possessive, this will only serve to catapult them further into negative behavior. … At this point, we have to remove ourselves from any illusion we can control their life. The only way to gain access to them is through rebuilding our lost connection."
Here are some ways to rebuild your connection — and these same suggestions also work with your spouse to create a better relationship.
Accept them as they are right now
This is not about accepting her bad behavior; it is about accepting her as a human being right on track in her perfect classroom journey. You must set aside your expectations for how you wanted her to be and show her that who she is now is good enough for you. You must show that her bad behavior doesn't scare you because you know she is so wonderful, loving, smart and good on the inside, and she will figure the rest out in time.
Focus on their intrinsic qualities more than their performance or behavior
Commit to seeing the divine in every person. Be in awe of every human soul and their goodness, potential and intrinsic value. We are all one-of-a-kind, powerful, unique, irreplaceable, amazing, infinitely valuable beings, even if we are not acting like one right now. You are truly lucky to have this amazing soul in your life. She is in your life to teach you and help you become better, wiser and more loving. No matter her current behavior, she deserves your admiration, appreciation, love and acceptance as much as you or any other person on the planet does.
Tsabary recommends even saying things like:
You can still talk about performance and behavior in terms of what she learned from each experience and might do better next time, but make sure she understands her performance isn't tied to her value and that every day you see the amazing goodness in her.
Trust God and the universe that she is safe, as are you
Life is a classroom, and though the journey may be a rough one and your child may suffer and learn some things the hard way, in the end, everything is going to be OK. God has your child and their perfect classroom well in hand and you both are safer than you think When you trust God and the universe about this, you will have less fear and a better connection with the people in your life.
Trust them to make good choices (even if you are afraid they won't.) You will do this because they are going to choose whatever they want anyway. But, if they can feel you don't trust them or think they are a bad kid, it further damages their self-worth and your connection with them. It's always better to trust and be wrong than to distrust and be wrong. If your child can feel that you trust her abilities and believe she is smart and strong enough to make it in life, she is more likely to believe in herself and make good choices. If she feels you don't trust her to make it, she is more likely to live up to that too. (If they have proven you can't trust them, you still have no control, so telling them you trust them anyway won't hurt and it may motivate them.)
**Respect them. **This means honoring their right to choose their own path and be their own person. It means listening more than you talk and actually respecting what they think and feel. It means asking permission before you give advice or make suggestions. It means creating a safe place where they can talk to you about anything with being talked down to, lectured, or shamed. If this is hard for you to do, you may need to get some professional help to work on your own fears first. Just remember that respect is a two-way street, and if you want to get it you must give it.
**Unconditional love is what they need most. **Your child needs to feel that you are on her side regardless of her performance, grades, appearance or religious standing. They must feel unconditionally loved where they are right now. What most parents don't realize is that a deep fear of inadequacy is the real problem most of the time, and the cure is not criticism or punishment for bad behavior (which was only a cry for help). They need boundaries, but they also need to feel your unconditional love, admiration, respect and trust, because this helps them to feel their intrinsic worth. When they feel these things, changes in behavior always follow.
Let go of your expectations and let them be their own person. Accept and celebrate the ways they are different from you or what you expected.
Teach them how to process emotions. Teach them to experience their emotions in a healthy way and process them instead of self-medicating or distracting from them. Make sure you both know how to process and feel your way through your experiences.
Don't panic or react badly when things go wrong or they make mistakes. Don't react in fear. Take time to rebalance yourself in trust and love, before you respond. Show them how to calmly talk things through and find solutions. If you don't know how to do this, work with a coach or counselor and up your own skills.
Teach them to listen to their intuition and trust themselves to make decisions. I wrote an article on this here.
Parenting is a life long journey of growth, for you as much as your child. See whatever situation you are in with your teen, as your perfect classroom and trust that you will both get through it. I also highly recommend some professional help to up your skills and give you additional tools.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares a few suggestions for changing the cycle of offense and blame and making your relationship richer.
I love your advice on KSL and it's helped me a lot, but my question is how do you stop feeling offended when people disregard you or make you feel unimportant? My spouse says our problems are my fault because I get upset too easily. I think our problems are his fault because he is so often thoughtless. We keep having the same fight again and again because of this issue. I know I get offended often, but I think it's his behavior that needs to change and he thinks I just shouldn't get mad. If I don't get mad, though, he will keep treating me this way. I feel stuck in this cycle and we can't get out. Any advice on this?
Almost all relationships get stuck in a fear and blame cycle at some point. It becomes like the chicken and the egg question: which came first and who is to blame? Did he start it with his rudeness or did you start it by getting offended?
The truth likely is that you are both equally responsible for allowing the relationship to become a place of fear and distrust instead of one of safety and love. It is going to take both of you to turn it around. You both must commit to changing yourself, not each other. As long as you are both pointing fingers, nothing will change.
To focus on changing your own behavior, ask yourself: How can I step it up and be more forgiving, loving and kind? How can I take responsibility for my unloving behavior? Your spouse must do the same in committing to work on himself and change his "selfish" behavior.
You must work on your triggers and figure out what beliefs you have that are making you feel unsafe (offended). There is usually a pattern to it, and it's tied to some foundational beliefs you adopted in childhood. You may want to consider working with a coach or counselor to process these beliefs; it's faster and easier with help.
Here are some things you can do to start the process:
1. Figure out what your beliefs are and where they come from
Think back to some of your earliest memories of being upset. Can you remember what you thought or felt at that time? Did you feel unloved, unimportant, worthless, unwanted, mistreated, distrustful toward someone who was supposed to protect you?
Write down your thoughts and feelings about how these early experiences. Did you draw any conclusions from these experiences? Some might include: "People can't be trusted," "I am all on my own," "It's safer not to talk," "I must defend myself because no one else will," "I am not good enough," "I am not safe," or "I don't deserve love."
It is highly likely that these thoughts and conclusions have become your beliefs and that these beliefs are making you feel unsafe a lot of the time. It's not really your spouse who is making you feel this way; you have programs in your subconscious mind that already believed these things before your spouse was even in the picture. You have had these beliefs and thoughts for so long, they are now just easy to trigger and bring out. This is your problem, not your spouse's.
2. Get ready to do the work
Remember, a relationship is a place where two imperfect, scared people come together to work on improving themselves. Your relationship is not a picnic, a dream come true, or a vacation. It is school and it's going to take work and dedication to stay in it and make it work. You both must commit to seeing your relationship — and your disagreements — as perfect classroom material and dedicate yourself to self-improvement.
3. See your spouse as an amazing teacher in your life classroom
As your significant other, your husband is in a unique position to trigger your deepest fears and bring them out so you can work on them. No one can trigger your very worst behavior better than your significant other. No one has more power to hurt you. No one else sees you at your worst and knows the faults that you hide from the world. Because of this, these relationships are often hard and painful, but they can also be the richest part of your life if you are both committed to creating that.
That being said, if you are physically, emotionally or psychologically unsafe in your relationship, you should seek professional help immediately. You might need to leave the relationship until the other person does some work on their side. If you suspect that you might be experiencing abuse, contact a mental health professional and get some support.
When your spouse says or does something that triggers you to feel angry, mistreated or insulted, step back and ask these questions before you respond:
4. Remember, nothing can diminish you
Your value is infinite and absolute. You have the same worth as everyone else, regardless of what others do or say. So, you can choose to see yourself as bulletproof. You could decide to let this offense bounce off. But if you feel you must address this offense with your spouse, do so with the understanding that your value can't change and this is a perfect lesson for you. This will make you feel safer and allow you to show more love for them.
5. Choose to take control and responsibility in this situation
You get to choose how you will experience each situation. You are going to tell yourself a story about what happened and add meaning to it, one way or another. You can choose to be hurt and offended, and have self-pity or righteous anger story. You can use it to cast the other person as the "bad guy" so you can feel superior. You could use this to play the victim. But if you choose any of these scenarios, you will be giving your power away and inviting division into your relationship.
In every interaction with your significant other, you are adding either fear and distrust or love into the relationship. If you snap, criticize, insult, are harsh or insensitive, you are adding fear to the relationship. If you are reacting badly to your partner's behavior and getting offended, you are adding fear. If you keep choosing to protect yourself over showing love to the other, you are adding fear. If you both keep adding fear all the time, there will soon be no love left in it.
You must be responsible for what you are adding to this relationship every day. What can you do to add love into the relationship at this moment? Ask yourself after every interaction: Did I add fear or love? Was I more about protecting myself or loving them? This is the key to making your relationship a safer place for both of you.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I've heard from quite a few people this week who are stressed about the quarrels and family drama that so often accompany Thanksgiving dinner.
So, here are a few things to think about that might help you experience more love toward your relatives this year.
Who and what are you?
This is one of the most important questions you will answer in your life. It's important because your beliefs about your creation, your nature and your intrinsic worth create the lens through which you see the world. You literally see the world as you see yourself. Every choice, reaction and emotion reveals how you feel about yourself. What is your worst behavior saying about who and what you think you are?
Where does your value come from?
Right now, you subconsciously believe your beliefs, ideas, appearance, property and accomplishments determine your value. You likely believe your value must be earned, which means you also believe some people are better or worse than you. This belief is the reason you might see yourself as not good enough, but these are all just beliefs. They are not facts, which means you can change them any time you want.
You could choose to believe that your value is not tied to anything you have done or achieved. It is not based on how you look or what anyone thinks of you, and your performance and mistakes can't change it. You could choose to believe your value is tied to only one thing: your perfect, irreplaceable, divine creation by God or the universe.
Stop believing you create your own value
You didn't and don't create yourself, nor do you decide or determine your value, nor is it affected by what other people think of you. The only opinion that matters is the one who created us. This higher power gave all humans the same divine, infinite value, which doesn't change and isn't in question (at least you have the option of believing this idea is truth).
Robert Perry in his writing about self-esteem said, "If you were a homeless person without a penny, dirty and disheveled, forgotten by everyone, all of this limitless self-worth would still be yours. It has nothing to do with anything particular to you. In this sense, nothing particular about you matters. Your special talents, your special traits, your special place in the world—none of them can increase your self-worth one bit. It is already infinite. For you are the son (or daughter) of God."
Choosing to see people this way could change everything.
You aren't powerful enough to diminish your value
You could choose to believe that you were created by divine love, through divine love and as divine love, and that your value comes from this alone, is innate inside you and never changes. You could choose to believe your achievements, behavior, intelligence, appearance and popularity have no effect on your Identity or worth. While they might change your extrinsic value as the world sees it, they cannot change your intrinsic worth at all.
This means all your efforts to earn your value through your appearance or performance are futile. Think about this: God, or the universe, did not give you the power to diminish his creation (you) or make it worthless. He didn't give you the power to ruin yourself or discount his creation. Nothing you do or don't do can usurp his valuation of you.
When you start to internalize this truth, you will also begin to gain compassion for the imperfect humans around you. They, just like you, are perfectly created students in the classroom of life and their value is not in question either. They, like you, are here in life school to learn to love themselves and other people at a higher level. They, like you, are struggling with fears that get in the way and create bad behavior.
The way you see other people is the way you see yourself
If you harbor any hate or negative feelings toward any other person, it is a sign to you that you lack love for yourself. If you want to learn to love yourself more, you must stop attacking others and seeing them as worse or less than. The way you love yourself is often a reflection of the way you see other people and vice versa.
The Course in Miracles says, "When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself."
Choose love toward the people who bother you most
This doesn't mean you have to hang out with abusive, hurtful or negative people and spend time with them. You can have healthy boundaries and stand up for yourself, but you can do this from a place of strength, wisdom and love. You can choose to see everyone that God has created as a perfect part of your perfect classroom journey. You can see them as infinitely valuable human souls, even if you don't want to spend time with them.
You could choose to believe that nothing exists in your life that wasn't created to educate and grow you. You could choose to see the people in your life as perfect teachers, whose behavior is always serving you, even when they are driving you crazy. These teachers push your buttons and offend you to give you a chance to practice standing firm in your value, knowing you cannot be diminished, trusting you are here to learn and grow, and choosing love toward yourself and others even when it's hard. This is actually the purpose of everything you experience.
Bad behavior is often a request for love
You might approach family gatherings this year as a chance to work on loving yourself and others more fully. You will do this because you want to increase your love and compassion for yourself. In order to love yourself more, you must stretch the limits of your love and choose to see the humans around you as divinely created, struggling, infinitely valuable students in the classroom of life — just like you.
Choose to see their unloving behavior as a reflection of their lack of love for themselves. They are most likely projecting their lack of love for themselves onto you, though they can't see this. They are probably in fear that they aren't good enough or safe. These fears encourage them to attack others in order to see others as beneath them, get defensive, or show off because they believe they must do these things to be safe. But none of these behaviors is about you.
It helps me to believe that humans are only capable of two things: being loving and requesting love. This means all bad behavior is a request for love. Bad behavior is a sign they aren't OK. People who create family drama and conflict are never the ones with solid self-esteem, inner strength and wisdom. They are the ones who are blinded by fear and need love most, even though they are often the hardest to love.
Use family gatherings as love practice
This year, you might choose someone who you struggle to love and focus on seeing them more accurately. See their divinely bestowed and permanent value (which is the same as yours) and look for the fear that is preventing them from being loving. Are they scared, insecure or hurting? Allow them to be where they are in their unique classroom journey. Choose to see them as doing the best they can with what they know. They just can't see what they can't see. Try to tune into God's love for them and see if you can feel it.
If you must, limit your interactions with these difficult people to protect yourself; that's OK. You can practice loving them from afar, maybe from across the room or from the safety of your own home. Just practice choosing a mindset of love and accuracy toward them and it will still improve your self-esteem and make your holiday more positive and thankful.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares ways to bridge the differences of opinion and handle conversations about vaccination.
What if you are a person who has mostly conservative viewpoints and is opposed to vaccination while your partner has liberal viewpoints and promotes vaccination, and these different views are clashing and causing conflict? Everywhere I go lately, this debate comes up and there are strong feelings on both sides. Any advice on this, especially when it hits close to home?
Many people are experiencing conflict in their homes and workplaces due to differing opinions about COVID-19 vaccines. One friend has refused to communicate with her mother or see her at all due to her mom's refusal to get vaccinated. Another has had employees walk away from their jobs to avoid vaccine mandates, and this debate is only heating up.
In this article, I'd like to give you a couple of things to think about regardless of which side you're on.
Labels like 'crazy anti-vaxxers' or 'sheep' are not helpful
While there are people who refuse vaccines, experts say many of the unvaccinated are just vaccine-hesitant and may still change their minds. Get away from labeling people and understand that medical decisions are scary and many people are just trying to make up their minds. The truth is, many of the people getting the vaccine are doing it with hesitation, too. They are also nervous about their decision. It happens on both sides.
It will not help your relationships or the world if you see other groups of people as bad, wrong, less than or evil. We are all human beings with the same value, the same fears and the same love. We are just expressing it all differently. We are all trying to make the best choices we can with what we know and understand.
It's best to stay the course of compassion, allowing tolerance and acceptance toward all people who are different from you.
We have more in common than you think
The reason many people have chosen to get the vaccine is that they are afraid of getting sick and having long-term problems or even dying from the virus. The funny thing is that most people who are choosing not to get the vaccine have the exact same reasons. Many are also afraid of long-term medical problems and they believe they are protecting themselves and others by taking a stand against the vaccine.
We are all fear-motivated and trying to make the choice we feel is safest. We just disagree about what that course is. When you tune into this truth, you can have more compassion for the other side.
Confusion makes people freeze
There is so much information coming at us from both sides it is not surprising many people are stuck. A very common reaction to confusion is to not make a choice at all. Many people are just refusing to make a decision until they can figure out what they believe and what would be best for them. We should see these people as the undecided.
Conspiracy theories make some people feel safe in the world
I heard an interesting interview recently featuring Karen Douglas, a professor of social psychology who appears on the "Speaking on Psychology" podcast. Douglas said there are three reasons some people are drawn to conspiracy theories.
Arguing doesn't change anyone's mind
Fighting, debating or arguing only makes people dig into their current position even deeper. They tend to get defensive and become less open to change. You will never win — or help anyone — by fighting with them.
Don't push, just listen
The best thing you can do if a friend or family member brings up the subject is more listening than talking. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Honor all human beings
Never make anyone feel dumb, misinformed or ignorant. Never act like you are better or smarter; always honor and respect them. They have the same value and the same right to their own journey that you have. The world needs us to honor and respect each other. Hate is responsible for all the war, racism, discrimination, crime and conflict on the planet. The world does not need us to use vaccination as another way to vilify another group of our fellow human beings. It needs us to come together.
Understand both sides value freedom
In the United States, freedom is a principle we all value. The downside to freedom is it always allows people to disagree with you, but this is a consequence that is worth the cost. Freedom is worth protecting even if it means protecting the people with whom you disagree. If you can't honor their views, then focus on honoring their freedom — it also guarantees yours.
No information source is truly unbiased
Unfortunately, this is the reality of our world. All the news outlets, social media and everyone spreading information around the world operate with some sort of bias. COVID-19 has actually become more about political lines than about health, and it is being used to divide us. People on both sides of the issue are being influenced, not just "the other guys." Keep this in mind and remember that we are all in the same boat, just paddling on the opposite side, and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
The bottom line is: We are all in this together, scared about the future and worried about what will happen next. Let's try to remember we stand as one in these thoughts and feelings.
We can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Do you know you have a system you use to determine the value of human beings?
You do. However, you might not realize it because it might be largely subconscious.
This system is determining who you like, who you don't like, who you judge, and how you feel about yourself. It plays into how you react to situations, when you get bothered or offended, your resilience level, and even your personality.
If you are unaware of your system and therefore haven't consciously chosen it, then it's likely you have subconsciously accepted the system that the world teaches.
The world's value system
The world teaches us that human value must be earned through our appearance, performance, property, opinions and what others think of us. It says that value is changeable and goes up and down daily, based on these five factors. It also says that some humans have more value than other humans. This system for determining human value creates discrimination, racism, hate, wars and all the conflicts in the world.
This system is also a no-win, hopeless, vicious cycle of judgment, guilt and shame that makes all of us feel inadequate at times. If you believe human value must be earned and can change, you will almost always suffer from low self-worth.
Now, here is the good news: You can choose a better system any time you want, but will take repetition and effort to integrate it and replace the old system you have believed in your whole life. Becoming aware of the system you currently use to determine human value is the first step.
Here are the most common things you use to earn or determine human value. We all use all of them, but we usually focus on one or two. See if you can see which things play a part in how you value yourself and other people.
1. You might value appearance most and use it to determine human value.
This means you are trying to earn value by looking good all the time. You care a great deal about your clothes, your house, your body and how you are seen by others. You might stress when you don't look good enough and judge others if they don't look good. You might see people who don't care about their appearance as less valuable.
You might ask questions like, "Do I look OK in this?" and stress about what to wear too much. You might even believe you have to look perfect or you have no value at all. Because you can always find people who look better than you, you will feel like you aren't good enough a lot of the time.
2. You might use performance, tasks and getting things done most to determine human value.
This means you value hard work, productivity, responsibility, achievement and doing good work most. You stress about doing a good job, getting things done, and impressing people with your achievements. You might see your income as the scorecard and need to be appreciated for what you do a little too much.
You are probably overly focused on your work — at home or in a job — and you might judge people who don't value this. You might see people who don't perform as less than you.
You are also your own worst critic and judge your own performance harshly. You might even believe you have to be perfect or you have no value at all. This will leave you feeling like you aren't good enough a lot of the time.
3. You might use your property to determine the value of human beings.
You might think the one who dies with the most toys wins. You might compete with the Joneses and believe your value lies in your house, cars, boats, clothes, watches, shoes or other things. You might feel like a failure if you haven't been able to own these kinds of things.
You might find that shopping makes you feel better or safer in the world. You might be overly focused on your home or collecting things. You might think that people who live in big houses are better than those who live in apartments. Because you can always find people who have more than you, it will leave you feeling not good enough a lot of the time.
4. You might use the opinions of other people, your popularity or approval from others to determine the value of human beings.
You might stress and fear what others think of you, count your social media likes or attention, and need validation from others to feel good about yourself. You might stress and struggle with decisions because of your fear of judgment. You might lose yourself trying to be what you think others expect of you. This can start to dominate your focus and can even become an approval addiction.
The problem is that you will always have some people who don't like you, so this will leave you feeling not good enough a lot of the time.
5. You might use opinions, ideas, education and intelligence to determine the value of human beings.
This means you will overly focus on what's inside a person's head as what determines value. You might look down on people who are uneducated, unintelligent, careless, don't have strong values, or those who disagree with you on any issue. You will believe your views are the right ones and anyone else is just wrong and therefore less. You might be overly opinionated and quick to share those opinions. You will also see education as a scorecard toward a person's value. Your ideas and opinions can become your solid ground and what gives you great value.
People who rely on these things to determine value, often feel they are good enough at first. But, they often see other people as less than them and this will damage their relationships, which in the end, still leaves them feeling not good enough.
A better system
Can you see which areas you use most? Can you see the ways you are trying to earn value yourself and why you judge and look down on certain people?
This information tells you a great deal about yourself and why you behave the way you do. But notice, there is one thing they all have in common: None of them work.
In the end, they all leave you feeling not good enough. This is because they all see human value as changeable. If you choose a system that sees human value as changeable, you will always see some humans as having more value than others, you will always find people who seem to be above you, and you will always see yourself as not enough at times. You cannot win if you see human value as something we must earn.
Many years ago, I discovered an amazing system that will totally change your self-worth and your life. It is simply the belief that all human beings have the same intrinsic value that cannot change no matter what they do, how they look, what they own, or how they think. All human beings have the same value because we are all one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, divine souls and creations of God. These facts never change, and therefore neither does our value.
Believing this makes you bulletproof and gives you a real solid ground to walk on. It means that nothing you do, nothing anyone else thinks or says or does, and no life situation can change your value or diminish you. You will always have the same value as everyone else, which means you are safe.
The catch is in order to claim this system for yourself, you also have to give it to everyone else. You must give up all judgment of others, and allow everyone to be on their unique classroom journey, learning different lessons, but with the same value as you. The more you give this infinite value to others, the more you will believe it and accept it for yourself. The more you forgive others and stop judging, gossiping, or criticizing them, the better your self-worth will be.
Seeing people this way is the greatest gift you can give your child, but, you can't give something you don't have.
If you are struggling to make this change, seek out a professional counselor or coach to help you in changing your subconscious beliefs. Then, ask your children to help you integrate this truth. Every time you make a mistake, ask them to remind you that the mistake didn't change your value. Make this part of the language in your home. When they win or lose a game, remind them it didn't change their value at all.
When you see people on the street who have more or less than you, talk about how that doesn't affect or change their value. The more you talk about it in your home, the better. It will be a lifelong effort to shift this mindset because your old-world belief is so deeply ingrained, but it will get easier and easier as your practice.
You can do this — and it will change everything.
This was first published on KSL.com
We have all heard the saying "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." But for many, knowing this truth is not helping them change and react to life in a more positive way so they suffer less.
Many of us struggle to change the meanings and stories we apply to the situations in our lives. We keep having the same belief-thoughts and negative ideas that keep making us miserable. These go-to perspectives and beliefs are deeply ingrained, which makes them easy and natural to keep using. Stepping back from situations and choosing a different perspective is hard work.
Here are some things you can learn and do to shift your perspective and change your reactions to what life throws at you.
Nothing means anything
The events, situations or happenings of your life are the facts of your life. For example, someone cuts you off in traffic; your husband forgets your birthday; your child gets a bad grade in school; your mother-in-law says something negative about your parenting; you say the wrong thing and offend someone; your friend doesn't call you back all week; you don't get the promotion you wanted. Events like these happen all day, every day. It's important to understand that by themselves, they don't mean anything.
The problem — or negative feelings about these facts in your life — occurs when you immediately apply meaning or "a story" to the events. Whatever that meaning is, is what makes you miserable. In truth, you have the power to sit back and see what happened as just an actuality, without applying any meaning or story around it, or you can choose a story that serves you and is healthy.
There is an infinite number of reasons why something might happen, but you won't see the world of possibilities unless you first acknowledge that nothing means anything without you applying meaning to it. Every time something happens, sit back and say to yourself, "This doesn't mean anything. I must be careful about the meaning I apply to this. It could mean something very different than I think."
You give everything its meaning
Your perspective is everything. It creates how you think, feel and act around everything in your life. It's also important to understand that perspective is flimsy, loose and changeable. You can look at something from one angle and think it means one thing; but if you looked at it from another angle or perspective, it may look and feel totally different.
You have given everything all the meaning it has. You have either consciously or subconsciously applied ideas, assumptions and fears to each actuality, and it is these stories that cause your suffering.
Most of the stories you create come from your fears of failure and loss. You often apply meaning like "I am not good enough" to everything that happens, and this makes things feel more personal than they are. You might be quick to assume whatever happened was a shortcoming or fault in you, or you might have a belief like "I am not safe and can't trust others," which always makes things feel like someone else's fault. The trick is you have to take your thoughts less seriously.
Your thoughts don't mean anything
The subconscious belief-thoughts you adopted in childhood often determine the kind of stories you create. As a child, you might have experienced something that made you think "I am not loved," "I am not good enough," "I am not safe," or "I am not smart"; now you could be applying these belief-thoughts to every situation you encounter.
Watch for a pattern in your stories and see if they all end up in the same place. These could be thoughts like "people always let me down," "I am just not enough," "I am on my own," "no one cares," "people can't be trusted," and "I have to protect myself." The problem is these belief-thoughts are not facts; they are just story options, and there are always many other options that might serve you better.
Here is an exercise to help you find some of your ingrained belief-thoughts:
You are never upset for the reason you thinkYou think you are upset because of the actuality or event. Let's say your spouse said something negative about your cooking, for example. You think you are upset because of their rude, hurtful comment. But what is actually making you upset is the belief-thought that you aren't good enough, which is a belief you may have carried with you since childhood. If you didn't already have this belief-thought, you probably wouldn't be so upset by their comment. It is your belief-thoughts about yourself that drive the stories you apply.
This is not excusing your spouse nor their accountability for being rude, nor am I saying that you should accept and allow abusive behavior. My point is that in everyday situations like this, you will suffer less and give other people less power over you if you understood that you contribute to the problem with your thoughts. In other words, if you recognize that it's your thoughts about what happens that make you upset, you can change the story you are telling yourself and choose a perspective that serves you more.
For example, when your spouse says something negative about your cooking, you might choose a story that says you are bulletproof and what others think or say about your cooking doesn't change your value or diminish you in any way. With this perspective, you can let insults bounce off. You might also choose to address the problem with your spouse, but you will now do that from a strong, loving place — not a hurt, victim place. This will lead to a better conversation.
Everything is a lesson
After 20 years as a master life coach, I have found that my clients do better if they universally apply the belief-thought that everything that happens is a lesson showing up in their life to serve them in some way. This is not a provable fact, of course. There is no source for ultimate truth about why things happen, but we each must choose a belief-thought about the nature of our life journey. If we don't consciously choose one, we will subconsciously choose one.
Try playing with the belief-thought that the universe is on your side and constantly conspiring to serve and grow you. Choose to believe the universe uses everything that happens for your good, and every negative event can be a blessing in disguise to make you stronger, wiser or more loving.
Also, play with the belief that all humans have the same unchanging value and nothing can diminish you. This belief-thought will make you feel safer in the world and change your reactions to everything.
Changing your stories and meanings will take time and work, but you can start today by playing with these new beliefs and applying them to each situation. If you struggle with this because your childhood belief-thoughts are so strong and your reactions too fast when triggered, I recommend seeking a professional coach or counselor to help you shift your beliefs. This can make a huge difference faster than you think.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Most of the questions submitted to me from KSL.com readers are about getting along better with family members. When your relationships with your spouse, children, parents, in-laws and siblings are struggling, or there is disappointment, anger, resentment or distrust in the mix, it is terribly painful and can suck the joy from your life.
Most relationships that are in trouble started out with just minor issues, but over time the resentment and distrust have grown. Now that there has been a lot of bad water under the bridge, fixing the problem is much more difficult. Most people wait until a problem is huge before they seek help; they get therapy or life coaching as a last resort before splitting up instead of seeking help at the first sign of trouble, when a problem is easier to fix.
This also applies to your relationships with your children. Parents often tell me how they used to be close to their child and now their child won't talk to them. Most of the time, what has happened is a slow decline in trust, respect, validation, listening and communication. The change can be so gradual you don't realize the relationship is in trouble until it's almost too late.
There are things you can do to avoid these problems and/or address them earlier, but you have to first recognize a problem is happening. The following health checks can assist you in recognizing issues earlier.
Check the temperature of your relationship
Are things 'too hot' with conflict?
Is either of you feeling angry, defensive, confrontational, volatile or bothered? Is there conflict and fighting every week? Does someone get offended a few times a week? Even if this happens once a month, it is a sign that there is a problem that requires attention.
Heat in the relationship often means there is a fear of loss, mistreatment or feeling deprived in play. It could mean you or the other person is struggling with not feeling safe. They might be on the lookout for offenses in order to protect themselves. This is a big sign of trouble, but it's not hard to fix if addressed early.
You might show your partner this article and say, "I think we run hot. What do you think?" Ask questions about how safe they feel in the relationship and just listen. Don't defend yourself or try to fix it; just be willing to listen to how they feel and validate their right to have those feelings today. You could say "I can understand how you might feel this way. Thanks for sharing with me. Would you ever be open to getting some relationship help with this before it gets any bigger?"
Don't be afraid that things will get worse, scarier or more complicated if you seek help — it won't. Learning new skills and tools can actually turn things around quickly. Heat in a relationship is something to watch closely and remedy as soon as you can. Reassure the person that you are on their side and have their back and want this relationship to thrive. Seek some professional help and get some skills and tools to help you resolve conflict in a calm, mature, less emotional way.
Are things 'too cold,' meaning quiet or distant?
Is there distance between you? Do you feel there is a wedge of some kind in play? Is something dividing you? This is something you want to address right now, while the distance is narrow. If you let this issue fester and grow, it can become as large as the Grand Canyon, making it almost impossible to cross.
If one of you has the habit of getting cold and quiet when bothered, this is not healthy relationship behavior. It could mean you don't have the skills and tools necessary to talk about the issue or you don't feel safe enough with your spouse to try talking about it. Either way, you need to learn how to make yourself feel safe so you can address issues and problems in the moment, and not stuff them.
Again, I recommend you seek professional help on communication, strength and self-esteem. Don't wait for years of coldness to pass by and freeze the relationship up.
As you know, a healthy body temperature is on average 98 degrees Fahrenheit. But even a tiny three-point increase means you have a fever of 101 and are really sick. It doesn't take much to knock your relationship out of balance, too.
A healthy relationship temperature is one where both parties feel safe with each other and there is mutual love, respect, admiration and appreciation. Check the temperature every day and don't let heat or cold continue untreated. I have written many articles on solving specific relationship problems in the past that you can find searching KSL.com
Take the relationship blood pressure
What direction is your relationship pressure going? If it is not rising/improving, then it is going down. Just like blood is constantly on the move in your body, your relationship is always moving. It is either getting stronger or it is weakening.
What are you doing to move it forward and improve it right now? Are you reading books together, engaged in life coaching or counseling, spending quality time together, asking questions and listening, validating each other, doing nice things, planning dates, making time for intimacy, or showing that you admire, respect and appreciate your partner? Check your blood pressure and make sure you are doing something each day to keep the relationship rising. See if your partner is on board to work on this together.
How much does this relationship weigh?
Is your relationship heavy or light? Is it a place that feels sluggish and weighted down or is it light, happy and fun?
You might have gone through some heavy stuff together, and this adds burden and strain to your relationship. If this is the case, you may need some professional help to give you skills and tools for coping, being resilient and bouncing back.
In the meantime, commit to bringing more joy and fun into the relationship. Make it fun and light to be with you. Plan fun activities together, watch funny movies, go outside, have some adventure, and start choosing some joy every day. If you or your partner are struggling with depression and this sounds nearly impossible, get some help with this. Don't let the heaviness become a permanent thing.
Check for investment in your relationship health
For any relationship to be healthy it requires investment. It might require you to invest some money — for dates, activities and fun together — and it will absolutely require an investment of time and energy.
Your time is your most limited resource and there are many things competing for it. You have many responsibilities and demands that make it easy to lose track of what is most important, but your relationships with the people you love, in the end, will always be the thing that matters most. Ask yourself how you can invest in making sure your relationship is healthy.
There are many options that don't cost a lot. You can read relationship books from the library. You can go on free dates like hikes or picnics. But all of these require you to invest some time and energy into it. I promise it will be worth it.
All your relationships require investment to maintain, and even more investment if you want them to thrive. This applies to spouses, partners, children, parents, in-laws and friends. You can health check all these relationships daily to help you see where extra TLC or attention is needed.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.