This was first published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on adult children rejecting the parent’s religion and I agree with what you’re saying, however, my heart is still hurting. I understand my pain is all about me and that I need to just love them, but I can’t help resenting my son and his wife for causing me this pain. He is my only son and I resent his wife taking him away from the way he was raised. I find myself resenting them and not wanting to hang out with them. I don’t want to feel this way, but my heart is so sad that there will not be baby blessings, baptisms and temple marriages for my grandchildren. I'm just not sure how to bridge the gap, stop grieving and feeling so emotional about it. Thank you for any thoughts on this.
First, we want you to choose a perspective about why we are on this planet. Most people feel we are on the planet to do two things: 1. Learn, grow and become the best version of ourselves we can be and 2. To love and serve others and try to make a difference in their lives. We find these two ideas are consistent with most religions and life philosophies.
If you think these two ideas feel like truth to you, you might consider seeing life as a classroom. This philosophy means that everything that shows up in your life is there for one primary reason — to help you learn to love at a higher level.
We believe this experience might be in your life for that very reason. It has the potential to stretch you out of your comfort zone and teach you to love, forgive and accept people when it’s harder to do. It’s easy to love and accept people that are the same as us, it’s much more challenging to love those who are different. It’s especially difficult if their choices trigger fear of loss in you.
We want to make sure you really understand what a “fear of loss experience” is, as we define it. We believe there are two simple core fears which cause most of our suffering.
The first is the fear of failure and you experience this whenever you feel you aren’t good enough, or get insulted or criticized. This fear causes suffering, insecurity, stress and sadness as it makes us feel inadequate. This fear is easier to understand since you experience it to some degree every day.
Fear of failure experiences give you wonderful opportunities for growth. They can help you practice not caring what others think of you, getting your self-esteem from your intrinsic value instead of your appearance, or trusting that all human beings have the same value.
Fear of loss is also a wonderful classroom opportunity for growth. Loss is triggered whenever this moment or event (that you didn’t want to happen) is taking away from the quality of your life. If you get stuck in traffic, on the way to a big meeting, and you hate to be late — you are having a loss experience.
You can feel loss whenever people mistreat you or take from you, but you can also experience loss when life itself doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. You can feel robbed by life when you don’t get blessings or experiences other people get. Whenever you find yourself in self-pity around what you have been dealt, you are having a loss experience.
This is the most important part of this article we want to make sure you get this point – Life isn’t fair and no one gets the journey they wanted. They get the journey that fosters their growth best.
If we always got what we wanted, we wouldn’t grow, and that’s the point of the whole thing. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to throw all your expectations about how your life should look out the window now.
Life is not going to meet your expectations. It’s going to be messy, ugly, painful and even embarrassing at times. It’s going to include some wins and some losses and sometimes it’s going to pull the rug out from under you completely. If you haven’t had those experiences yet, they are probably still coming.
We are not telling you this to scare you, because life is also going to be rich, wonderful, sweet, beautiful, amazing and thrilling too. The point is it’s going to surprise you and if you stay attached to your expectations, about how it should look at each stage, this is only going to create misery.
Instead, we recommend that you choose to trust the journey, the universe, or your higher power that it knows what it’s doing. Whatever interesting twist or turn your life has taken, that you didn’t see coming or didn’t want, it has a purpose for being here, and that purpose is always to serve you.
Having your son leave your religion is definitely not what you wanted, but it’s not as bad as a lot of other challenges you could be having. Talk to some people who have a child with cancer, or a child that died, or people who have a host of other awful challenges that life can throw at people. The truth is that you still have much more to be grateful for than you have loss.
Here are some things you can do to feel better about your situation:
You can see yourself as at risk of having your life ruined, being taken from, robbed or deprived if you want to, but it will only create suffering. Or you can play with seeing yourself as whole, blessed and well. You could actually believe you can’t be deprived because the whole universe is conspiring to bless and educate you all the time. If it is always for your benefit, it’s not a loss. From this place of wholeness, it is a lot easier to love others unconditionally and let go of the pain.
Play with it and see how you feel.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I wondered if you had any suggestions for making Valentine’s Day less painful, after just going through a divorce. I’m sure there are lots of singles out there who find this holiday a painful reminder about the fact they are alone. Maybe you could give us all some ways to make this week easier.
For many people this holiday is a Single Awareness Day, not a celebration of love. The important thing to remember is that your experience or the way you think and feel about this week is completely dependent on your perspective, and you can choose your perspective. A date of the calendar cannot make you feel alone or unwanted. It is your thoughts about the date that create your feelings and your thoughts are in your control.
The problem is that most of us are quite used to letting our subconscious programming (that comes from our past experiences) drive our perspective and how we feel. We think we can’t help feeling or thinking how we do, so we just accept whatever ideas or feelings show up.
The first step in changing how you feel about this week, is owning responsibility for your feelings and accepting that if you feel upset or sad, you are choosing to feel upset or sad. If you own the power to choose your thoughts, you have the power to change them.
But understand, there is nothing wrong with feeling upset or sad, lonely or discouraged. These feelings are part of the human experience and you may need to let yourself feel them and work through them. Just own that you don’t have to live there. You have the power to change your story around this day, anytime you want to.
There will be a subconscious story that shows up in your head automatically about Valentine’s Day. This subconscious story might be a fear-based victim story or one of self-pity or sadness. You can take some time to experience the story that shows up, but then ask yourself if this story is doing you or anyone else any good?
If it isn’t serving you, creating growth or joy, then you may want to create a better, more positive story. You have the power to do that. This day will be whatever you decide to make it according to the story you tell yourself. Here are some ideas that might help you create a more positive story:
1. Valentine’s Day is mostly a commercial occasion driven by stores that want sales. Keep that in mind.
2. Not having someone in your life right now does not affect your value as a person. At all. People in a relationship are not better than those without one.
3. Decide to see all human beings as having the same exact value, no matter what they do or what their relationship status is. Make this a principle of truth about all people, across the board, and you will feel it is the truth about yourself too.
4. Understand that nothing means anything until you apply meaning to it. The date on the calendar doesn’t mean anything. The fact you are single doesn’t mean anything. Choose not to apply meaning to meaningless things. If you choose to apply meaning that makes you more depressed and sad, that is your choice, but own the choice and be responsible for it.
5. You will create a story around the day, one way or another. If you don’t create a story consciously, you might create a fear-based one subconsciously. I recommend you choose to create one consciously and choose a story that serves you and makes you feel strong, loving, valuable and worthy.
6. Remember it’s not being single that is the problem, it’s what you tell yourself it means that you’re single on Valentine’s Day. Tell yourself it just means there is still something you are meant to learn right now that requires singleness to learn it. It’s not because you aren’t good looking or a catch, it’s not that no one likes you, it’s just not the right lesson for you right now.
7. Take some time to account for all the benefits of being single. Remind yourself why relationships are difficult and can be a struggle. It will help you stay grateful for the blessings about where you are. Gratitude for everything that is good in your life really helps.
8. Plan something fun to do on Valentine's. Get together with friends and create a positive experience.
9. Make the day about pampering yourself. The great part about being single is all the time you can devote to taking care of yourself. What do you need to do for you, to be your own Valentine? Treat yourself great.
10. Make the day about service. There are always people in need, who have it worse than you. When you focus your energy on serving others, you take the focus off you and you will feel terrific about yourself.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She is a relationship expert and a popular life coach and speaker.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My life has been hard and I’ve made mistakes, I have a hard time forgiving myself and not feeling defined by my past. How do you not? How do I feel good about myself and as you say see my value as good enough?
Everything you feel comes from the way you are looking at the situation. Your perspective determines the story you tell yourself and how you feel about everything. The way you currently see your past and the feelings you have about it could completely change if you chose a different perspective.
Here are some ways you might change your perspective and look at your past differently. See if they help.
1. Choose to see life as a journey.
Imagine your life as a road trip. On this road trip there are high points and low points. Some of the experiences are fun, some are scary and others are miserable. Each of these experiences could be seen as a location on your journey through life. These experiences do not define who you are nor do they affect your value as a person. They are just places you've been. Just because you spent time traveling through Texas doesn’t make you a Texan. Texas was a location on your journey; it is not who you are forever.
2. See life as a classroom.
The thing you must understand about your past is that each experience — each location you have been through — has brought you to where you are today.
Each experience taught you things. Some experiences taught you about who you don't want to be. Some showed you options in human behavior and the consequences of those options. Each experience served a purpose in your life to help you become stronger or smarter. At least, you have the option of seeing them this way if you want to. You could choose to embrace what each experience taught you and remember that you are not there anymore.
You are a different person now. The person you are today wouldn’t make the choices you made then (though that is partly because of what you learned from making those choices before). You cannot change the past, nor should you want to. Your journey taught you important lessons. But you can refuse to let your past define you now.
3. Choose to see your value as infinite and unchangeable.
You have the option of believing every human being has the same intrinsic value and that value cannot change. This would mean that no matter what mistakes you have made, they don’t affect your value and you still have the same value as everyone else. You can see human value this way, by simply deciding to.
4. Let go of shame.
We define shame with the acronym: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. You are always a student in the classroom of life, so you can’t expect to have known everything, all along. That would make no sense. Shame is a waste of your energy. Instead, focus all that energy toward being who you want to be today.
5. Live in this moment, all the time.
There will never be a moment when it is not "this moment" and this is the only moment you have the power to make any choices. In this moment you can always choose to see yourself as good enough and let your past be experiences that taught you things and nothing else. Don’t waste time that could be filled with joy today, feeling pain over the past.
6. Focus your energy on what’s in your control.
Look at your current situation and write down what’s in your control and what’s not. Focus your time and energy only on what is.
7. Do something to metaphorically let the past go.
Write down the experiences you are having trouble letting go of emotionally. Then burn the paper, bury it, or tie it to a balloon and let it go, or rip it up and throw it in the trash.
8. Choose to trust life and the universe. Another option you have is to trust that your journey was the perfect one for you and that everything happens for a reason. Trust that you are on track and right where you are supposed and always have been. If you choose this perspective, it will change how you feel about yourself and your past.
9. Don’t worry.
Worry, guilt and stress do you no good. They will not prevent bad things from happening, and they just make you miserable. Choose to trust that good things will happen to you. Optimism may actually draw good things your way in the future because people will be more drawn to you.
10. Set aside a time each day to experience regret and guilt.
If you just can’t let the past go, choose a 15-minute block of time today to wallow in self-pity and shame. Dive in and immerse yourself in it during that time, but the rest of the day don’t think about it.
The key to a successful, happy life today lies in looking at the past, understanding it and learning from it, then, leaving it in the past and moving forward. Put the lessons you’ve learned to work by making better choices today. Choose to see the past as a location on your journey that taught you things and nothing else; do not let it define your value or who you are. If you see experiences accurately, you will be grateful for the lessons and even be empowered to be a better you.
You can do this.
Master Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders and creators of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com they are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America and iTunes.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I am about to get married for the second time and my fiancé and I both have children from our first marriages. I heard the odds of these second marriages are dismal and I’m wondering what advice you have for us, that might make it more likely to work out.
You are right, the odds are against you. The divorce rate for remarriage is 40 percent.
We believe in first marriages children are a more stabilizing factor, which can actually bind the couple together, where in second or third marriages, they can destabilize the relationship and in some cases purposefully undermine it. If the family has no education about the challenges of blending and enters these marriages unprepared for the difficulties, it is even more likely that children can disrupt the couple’s relationship.
Most people think they will automatically be more successful the second time around, because of what they learned from the failure of their previous marriages. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be true. Most people make the same mistakes again and again, especially if they don’t get some coaching, training, education, skills or tools that they didn’t have before to help them do their new relationships differently.
Diane Sollee, a family therapist and director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education says, "It seems that people would be older and wiser, or learn from the mistakes of a failed first marriage. … But that's like saying if you lose a football game, you'll win the next one. You might, but only if you learn some new plays before you go back on the field."
Experts agree the one way to beat the odds is to get educated about step-parenting and blending families. Studies have shown that premarital education of some kind can substantially reduce divorce rates. Couples who seek out professional help and education about creating healthy relationships are more satisfied with their relationships and stay together longer.
Unfortunately, most couples don't seek help. So, we are glad you are seeking out information — that is increasing your odds of success already.
Here are our top tips for making blended families work:
1. Set realistic expectations.
A second or third marriage is much more complicated than a first, especially when children are involved. Everyone is coming into this new family with war wounds, baggage and issues from what went wrong the first time, so you are going to have to be even more patient, understanding and prepared for bumps and difficulties.
You must be realistic about the time it takes for children to bond with step-parents and step-siblings. Don’t expect them to feel like family right away. It takes a long time, and each person will get there at their own time. The older the child, the longer this takes, so don’t be surprised if older children take years or even a decade to get used to this new family arrangement.
2. Learn what the most common challenges are ahead of time, and make a plan to deal with them.
Here are some of the most common difficulties:
As a stepparent, you will never be the same as a natural parent. You must respect the natural parent’s role and adjust to a new kind of role yourself. Your stepparent role is more like that of a caring uncle or aunt who can be there to provide support, encouragement and even guidance, but always honor the natural parent's right to be the decision maker and the one to discipline their children.
4. Don’t expect or demand anyone to bond, but expect and demand everyone be respected.
It is not realistic to expect everyone in a blended family to like each other, but you should expect mutual respect. If your stepfamily is going to work, children and parents must respect everyone else in the home. This means listening to their thoughts and feelings and respecting their right to feel the way they do. Respect must happen in every interaction.
5. Understand blending takes time.
It will take longer than you think, probably years longer, and this blending process cannot be rushed. Everyone involved needs time to process their pain, guilt and confusion around this divorce and remarriage. Couples will often pressure children to love their new stepparent right away. This kind of pressure will hinder the process. Give each child the time and space to accept their new stepparent and adjust to the new arrangement on their own time. If you let them set the pace, they will have a more positive experience.
6. Work on yourself.
Don’t focus on finding a better spouse the second time; focus on being a better spouse this time, and things will go better. Work on being less selfish and more giving than you used to be. Get some personal coaching or counseling and work to repair self-esteem issues, trust issues or emotional issues you are still carrying from your first relationship. Because conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, better communication skills are critical. Learn how to set your opinions aside up front and ask about how the other person feels first. Listen and validate his or her feelings by honoring their right to think and feel the way they do, even when you don’t agree. Then ask if they would be open to hearing your thoughts, and speak your truth with love while looking for ways to create win-wins.
7. Face all problems as a team.
Try to step back from every conflict and look at it from a united perspective as a couple against a problem or challenge, not against each other. Even if a conflict is about one partner’s behavior, still work it through together as a team trying to make your marriage better. If you commit now to not let any challenge come between you, and communicate with love, you can work through anything.
8. Give your spouse room to learn and grow.
Your spouse has never been a stepparent before, or at least not with your kids. You both need some time to figure the whole thing out. Love is about letting someone be imperfect and in process. It’s about being patient and not expecting them to do everything right and right away.
You can expect children to try to sabotage the relationship, ex-spouses to be difficult and stepsiblings to not get along. These are all par for course, but committed couples can make it work. Just seek out professional help before and throughout the relationship to increase your odds of success.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches and relationship experts who founded www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com. They are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Thank you for all your wonderful articles. I love them all and the idea that life is a classroom, not a test, has really helped me. I'm wondering what insight you have on the suffering and horrible circumstances some people get in life, by no fault of their own, while others seem to have a classroom that is so much easier. I struggle to see how some trials will ever be a lesson and serve us, when they seem to be just pointless misery with no hope for growth or recovery, like those with horrible mental illnesses. I can see that the people around these people may learn and grow, but what about the people who get these horrible classroom journeys? It really grieves me for people like this and I can’t imagine why God or the universe would want innocent people to suffer so pointlessly. All I can come up with is that might trust, that at some point, probably not in this life, God will make up for the injustices people face. But I wondered what you might say about this.
This is such a good question, one that many wise men, clergy and philosophers have tried to answer for thousands of year. And the truth is, there is no absolute knowable truth on it. It is a mystery of life why bad things happen to good people and why is life often so unfair.
Because there is no ultimate truth on this, you get to choose which, of all the perspective options, would work best in your life and make you the happiest. We are going to give you some of the most common perspective options and explain which ones we like best and why.
Here are some of your options on why life is unfair:
1. You can choose to believe life’s challenges happen randomly to random people, for no real reason.
Stuff just happens. If you choose this perspective, you could decide to learn and grow from whatever happens to you and use it to make you better, but the universe itself doesn’t have a purpose in mind, nor does it influence events.
One of my favorite books on this perspective is Harold Kushner’s book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." He said, "I don’t know why one person gets sick, and another does not, but I can only assume that some natural laws, which we don’t understand are at work. I cannot believe that God 'sends' illness to a specific person for a specific reason. I don’t believe in a God who has a weekly quota of malignant tumors to distribute and consults His computer to find out who deserves one most or who could handle it best.
"'What did I do to deserve this?' is an understandable outcry from a sick and suffering person, but it is really the wrong question. Being sick or being healthy is not a matter of what God decides that we deserve. The better question is 'If this has happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?' It becomes much easier to take God seriously as the source of moral values if we don’t hold Him responsible for all the unfair things that happen in the world."
Now, this is not your only option, it is only one, but many people think this makes sense to them based on their spiritual beliefs. It does not offer much consolation or sense of purpose or meaning in events, but if you choose a positive attitude and make the most of whatever you get, you could still turn challenges into human achievements, you could also face life with some peace and purpose anyway.
2. You can choose to believe in predestination.
This is the theory that our lives are all planned out by a wise higher power, who knows in advance what we will each choose and has a custom classroom experience in mind (ahead of time) for each of us. This makes some people feel like there isn’t freedom or purpose though. If everything is already known ahead of time then what is the point of playing it out?
The positive part is that you could choose to trust a loving higher power that it knows what it’s doing and that in the end, all will be well because he or it is in charge. You will have to see how this option feels to you.
3. You could choose to believe that there is a loving higher power in charge, who has created a universe to be your classroom with forces that work with your choices, moment by moment, to create the perfect classroom journey for each of us.
This would mean there is no predestination, but complete freedom to choose your path, but the universe in its perfect wisdom uses all of our choices to create the exact perfect lessons or opportunities each soul needs to grow and learn (what they are meant to learn here).
This would mean there is both agency, freedom, and also purpose and meaning in everything that happens. Many who choose this philosophy (including Nicole and I) find that it creates a sense of safety in the world, no matter what horrible challenges come, we can trust there is a reason, and that reason is always to serve us. (Though often we have no idea what the reason is.)
This mindset motivates us to rise to the challenges that come and try to make something from them. It also means when bad things happen to good, innocent people, things that make no sense to us, we can still choose to trust that (though we can’t see or understand the purpose) there is one.
We are not going to tell you which of these options (or maybe there are still others you can think of) you should choose. We encourage you to try them on and see what feels the best or most peaceful to you.
We love the story of Viktor Frankl in his books, where he explains his search for answers to this question. He pondered whether he ended up in the concentration camps during World War II, because of random bad luck, or if there was meaning and purpose in his having been captured and dealt with the way he was.
As a psychotherapist, he spent a lot of time watching his mindset and reactions to his situation and pondering what he believed was truth about the predicament. He also decided, at the end of the day, there was no way to know for sure what truth is around this age-old question, and that left him with the choice to choose his perspective.
He tried all the options on though and found when he chose to believe there was purpose, meaning, and reason why things happened (even if he had no idea what that meaning was) he did better mentally. He felt more hope and more inspiration to rise and do something positive with the experience. He went on to write a book about his experience there called "Man’s Search for Meaning" that has been named one of the most influential books ever written, and in which you could read more about his story.
We have played with these options ourselves, and we have found that the idea of seeing life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher constantly conspiring to educate and grow us, and has brought comfort and peace to us when our lives have been unfair.
People often say, in the comments to these articles, something to the effect of, "These coaches surely have no idea how hard and painful life really is." I want to assure you that our journies have not been easy ones. Many might say we have had more than our fair share of problems and pains.
So we can say, from experience, when life’s challenges feel terribly unfair, it brings great peace if we choose to believe the universe has delivered this problem for the express purpose of making us better, stronger or more loving in some way (or to help those around us to do the same). When we choose option three, life feels better.
When terribly tragedy happens to people around us though, and we watch others suffer, I don’t think we should ever feel OK or peaceful about their suffering. We should feel pain and sorrow for and with them, it would be wrong not to.
Imagine how wrong it would be to justify their suffering saying, "Oh that’s their perfect classroom, they are fine and this is perfect for them." We are supposed to feel horrified at the suffering of others and have great sympathy for them, pray for them, reach out to help and offer compassion. I think this is why — we aren’t supposed to know the ultimate answer to your question. If we did, we may no longer mourn with those that mourn and feel their pain.
We encourage you to play with your options above and find the one that works best for you, while at the same time continue to hold onto the beautiful empathy you feel toward all those who struggle.
You can do this.
Master Life Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are human behavior experts, coaches and speakers. You can learn more about them at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. Make sure you see their two amazing books here.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share some ideas for coping with the hardest challenges of life.
I have a very serious illness that no one has ever heard of and I find it extremely devastating and lonely. What can someone like me, in my position, do? I've struggled with this for over 30 years and this is impossibly frustrating and miserable. You have no idea. Do you have any advice for dealing with this?
Many of life’s challenges are impossibly hard and painful. Many of these problems have no answers, solutions or remedies. They are painful and they are going to stay painful for a long time. In this situation, with no escape available, your options are limited. For the most part, all you can do is work on choosing your attitude and mindset inside the challenge.
Vivian Greene said it best: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Here are eight suggestions to help you dance in the rain (and find joy and peace) despite an impossibly hard challenge:
1. Accept what is.
"It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering," Buddha said.(Read more about this concept here.) It is your wishing and wanting things to be different, that is the real cause of your pain. You have created, and attached your happiness to, expectations about how your life should look or feel. The problem is, life rarely meets our expectations, and more often it takes us in a direction we never saw coming.
So, now that you are here, how much time and energy are you going to waste wishing you were somewhere else? All this time and energy is wasted and it might be making you suffer more. You will suffer less, if you stop resisting and choose to accept this path as the right one for you. You are here for a reason and that reason is to serve you (read more below).
2. Trust there is order in the universe and purpose and meaning in everything.
Choose to see the universe as a wise teacher, who knows what it’s doing. Choose to see life as a classroom whose objective is your learning ad growth. This would mean every experience you have is here to facilitate learning and make you smarter, stronger, wiser or more loving in some way. This means things don’t happen to you, they always happen for you.
During times of intense suffering, it is difficult to believe your pain is here for a positive reason and I cannot prove to you it is (though you can’t prove it’s not, either). Choosing to trust there is a purpose in your pain, does make you suffer less. I first learned this from reading about Viktor Frankl, who during intense suffering in the concentration camps of World War II, found if he chose to believe there was meaning in his suffering (that it was here for a reason) he not only suffered less, but also felt motivated to rise and get through in the best possible way. He wrote: “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning.”
If you choose to see the universe as a loving teacher that is on your side and working for you, not against you, and if you choose to believe every experience is therefore the perfect classroom journey for you — you will find more peace and joy in the difficulty. This might be one you have to play with and try before you believe me, but I promise it's truth.
3. Focus on this present moment only.
If you try to process the weight of all the coming years of loneliness or pain, it will crush you. It is too much, too scary and too discouraging. So set that weight down.
Focus only on this present moment or hour. Get through this hour choosing to be as positive and happy as possible. What can you do at this moment for yourself to relieve pain, create joy or just distract yourself?
You have great power in this moment to choose your mindset — it is actually the only time you have the power of choice at all. Use that power to choose loving feelings towards yourself and others. Choose gratitude and count your blessings. No matter how bad things are, there are still things to be grateful for. Choose to create a life of happiness, kindness, service, joy and fun, one moment at a time. Don't worry about what will or won't happen later at all.
4. Find a passion project.
During times suffering we can often find ourselves unproductive, stuck and useless. It helps if you can find a passion project of some kind that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and accomplished. Even if it is just a journal or blog, a puzzle or a scrapbook. What could you do with your time instead of wallowing? Find something productive you can do.
5. Allow yourself limited pity party time.
It is natural during times of suffering and challenge to feel self-pity, sadness and grief. You should feel and experience these emotions, and not try to suppress them all the time. It is actually important you give yourself time to feel these feelings and have a good pity party or cry every once in a while, just don’t live there.
If you feel these emotions coming up today, give yourself a limited amount of time (like an hour or 30 minutes) to deep dive into the negative emotions and cry if you need to. Giving yourself this time is an important part of the lesson this experience is here to teach you. You will also find you actually feel better after a good cry. It gets some of the pain out so you always feel better after.
6. Lower your expectations.
When you are going through an impossibly hard experience at least half your brain power and energy are being used to process the trauma of the situation. This doesn’t leave you with enough bandwidth for all the other tasks or interests you usually do.
Go easy on yourself and expect less. Give yourself permission to have a messier house or get less done. Be realistic with the energy you have and say no to things you know will wipe you out. Give yourself permission to lower these expectations without any guilt.
7. Give up envy and wishing you had someone else’s life journey.
It is really easy to find yourself in a place of envy when your life is hard. It does seem unfair that other people get lives that seem easier than yours, but dwelling on this does you no good and in fact, will make you feel even worse.
Remember, their journey isn’t over yet and all of us will face some challenges sooner or later. Remember, this journey, though painful, is the right one for your soul, or you wouldn’t be here. Trust the universe knows what it’s doing and that growth is its purpose. There are amazing lessons, knowledge, and strength to be gained from your journey, and though you would rather not go through this or gain them, there will be a benefit down the road.
8. Use this experience and the unique knowledge (on the human condition and suffering) it is giving you, to bless the world in some way.
Your misery can often become your message. If you suffer with chronic illness you could show others how to cope in a positive way. If you are a single mother, you could help newly divorced women handle their new reality with more joy. If you lose a loved one, you can be a resource to others who are suffering grief. There is always a way to use what has happened to you to make a difference in the world.
At some level that is why I write this column every week. My journey has not been an easy one at all. I apparently signed up for many hard classes in the classroom of life, and have experienced suffering on almost every level. I tell you this only because using my challenges to help others, helps me. Most of these articles are full of practical ideas that I have really used to get me through my hard times. When you can make your suffering useful to someone else, it helps.
There is nothing I could write that would take away the pain of your suffering, but I do believe you can lessen it (at least to some degree) by using these eight ideas. Every day is another chance to practice the power of choice, choosing joy, peace, happiness and laughter, and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just keep making progress.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches and the owners and founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com - They are sought after authors and speakers on human behavior and healthy relationships.
This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Each January for the last seven years, I have written an article recommending one New Year’s resolution that would have a great impact on the quality of your life. This year we recommend forgiveness: total unconditionally forgiveness for yourself and others.
Here are some principles that will make forgiving yourself and others easier:
1. The secret to forgiving yourself lies in forgiving others.
We believe this is a profound and life-changing truth: the way you choose to see, judge, condemn or attack others also determines the way you see, judge, condemn and attack yourself.
If you are quick to see faults, flaws and mistakes in other people and you let those mistakes determine their value, or you see them as bad guys, you are giving power to the damaging idea that people can be "not good enough" and that human value is changeable and can go up and down.
If you give power to this idea, it will also affect the way you see yourself and your own value. You will also see your own value as changeable and in question, and you will constantly be afraid you aren’t good enough.
But it is human nature to subconsciously look for the bad in others, gossip and judge to make ourselves feel better. If they are the bad ones, we think we are the good one. But the more we put down, criticize or gossip about others, the worse our own self-esteem becomes. There is no escaping this cause-and-effect cycle once you start judging. But you don’t have to live this way.
You could decide to let all your and their past mistakes go, and see life as a classroom, not a test. This means letting everyone be a struggling, scared, amazing, divine, infinitely valuable, and innocent being who is doing the best they can with what they know at each moment. It means giving them and yourself the freedom to be a work in progress and not expect perfection from anyone.
You have the power to choose a compassion mindset where we are all innocent, silly, sometimes stupid, learners, whose value is (fortunately) not in question or changeable. You could decide to see all humans and their value as infinite and absolute and see every human being as having the same value. This mindset will make you feel better about yourself, and you will also treat other people with compassion. But you must give up judgment and criticism to claim this.
Start today and eliminate judging others from your life. Forgive them (whoever they are) for all their mistakes. Focus on the lessons each experience taught you, and let a higher power (or the universe) be in charge of your and their classroom journey from here. Forgive them and move forward without any anger, hurt or pain around what happened. Bless them on their way.
Of course, sometimes you have to still associate with the person. Just remember, just because you forgave them, doesn’t mean you have to trust them again or want them in your life. But you can choose to see their value as the same as yours, because you don’t want your mistakes to affect your value, either.
Forgive yourself for all your past mistakes. They were just lessons and they don’t define who you will be moving forward. Use them to become a better version of yourself in the future and let go of shame and guilt.
2. You alone are responsible for how long you stay in pain.
When a painful event happens in your life, it is normal to feel pain and suffer for a while, but eventually, you must decide how long you will live that way. No situation or person can cause you pain forever, because it is your thoughts (about the situation) that are continuing to cause the pain, and you do have control over your thoughts.
Sometimes when an offense is fresh, you will need to feel the pain and can't expect to choose your way out of it yet. But eventually, you will have the power to decide how miserable and for long you want to feel that way.
In the end, no one can take away your peace or give you peace. No one can make you feel terrible or make you feel better. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You have the power to choose peace, joy, confidence and forgiveness in any moment. Owning this truth gives you the power to not continue to hurt over an offense or feel like a failure because of a mistake.
3. Remember your family (spouse, children and relatives) are your greatest forgiveness teachers.
Your family is your primary forgiveness classroom. This is especially true because the people closest to you are the ones you allow to hurt you the most.
When you see your family life this way (as your classroom) you will finally be seeing them accurately. Every fight, offense or disappointment that shows up is a chance for you to practice seeing human value as infinite and practice forgiveness toward yourself or others.
Your family, and especially your spouse, provide you daily opportunities to stretch the limits of your love and work on forgiveness.
4. Understand how pointless shame and guilt are.
We teach our clients that "SHAME" is an acronym that stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. If life is a classroom though, shame is ridiculous. You are a student in the classroom of life, there is no way you could have known it all, all along.
Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. You are learning and growing, and have much more to learn. You are on the path of self-improvement, and wherever you are at this point is good enough for right now.
You will do better in the future, but guilt, shame and beating yourself up for months or years does you no good. It doesn’t fix the past nor create a better a future. It makes more sense to focus your energy on working to be a better person today.
5. What other people think doesn’t matter, but what you think does.
Remember, the opinions of others are just thoughts and ideas in their heads, which have no power, mean nothing, and can’t hurt you, diminish your value, or change you in any way. They may influence events in your life, but if you trust the universe is a wise teacher you won’t worry about that because you know it only brings the experiences that are right for you. Don't worry about losing out or not getting the life you wanted, and see the opinions of others as irrelevant.
But what you think of yourself and your past matters a lot.
If you see life as a classroom and your value as absolute (and forgive yourself) you will show up with confidence and love, and everywhere you go people will feel that in you and respect you in spite of your past mistakes. Even if you made BIG mistakes in the past, if other people can feel that you have learned the lessons, moved on, and you now know your value isn’t affected by them, they will tend to follow your lead and let your past go too.
If you cannot do this, however, and continue to beat yourself up, carry shame and guilt around, and feel you are less than other people, other people will feel this too, and they will also have trouble forgiving you or letting your past go. Whichever stance you claim, they will follow.
6. Write down the positives each negative experience has or is creating.
We believe forgiving works best if you shift your perspective and look at your life in trust that it has always been your perfect classroom. Trust that every offense or mistake happened, because it could teach you something. See if you can name 10 positives that making the mistake (or being hurt in that way) has created in your life. This will help you see your life as your perfect classroom journey. When you no longer resist what happened, but embrace or accept it as something that served you, you will find forgiving gets much easier.
Focus on being the most forgiving person you can be this year, toward yourself and others. This powerful choice will take pain and suffering off you, and bring the light back in. If you still struggle to let mistakes go, check out another KSL article I wrote about the benefits of not forgiving. It might help you to see why you are still holding on.
If you make this a year of forgiveness, it will also be a year of more joy, more progress and more peace.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master executive coaches and the founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com You can download free forgiveness worksheets on www.12shapes.com in the Resources Section.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am going through a divorce and it’s really depressing to be here over Christmas. I haven’t even had it in me to put up the tree. It’s the worst time of year to feel alone. Do you have any advice for how to make this a Merry Holiday when I’m lonely?
That is a hard situation to be in, but you must decide now if you are going to give into the sadness story or reject that thinking and choose to focus on the positive. You may have to make this choice every five minutes, as the sadness might creep back in, but you can do it and it gets easier with practice. Here are fourteen ways you can make your holiday season easier to get through.
1. Focus on what you do have — not what you don’t have.
How you feel is directly tied to how you're thinking about your situation. Focus on gratitude for everything you have every day. Take some time and write them in a journal each day if necessary.
2. Focus on self-care.
All that time and energy you would be spending on someone else, you can now spend on loving and caring for yourself. Take advantage of this and treat yourself extra good. Take bubble baths, get massages, buy great lotions and some fresh clothes (use the money you would have spent on presents for a significant other).
3. Don’t create a story around loss or victimhood.
And don’t dwell on the fact that you don’t have anyone to kiss under the mistletoe. That depressing storyline is an attitude option, but it’s not your only choice. You could choose to feel whole, happy and fulfilled. You really can. The one thing you always have power over is your thoughts. Think happy, whole, fulfilled thoughts about how great your life is. If negative story comes in, thank it for showing up with an opinion, but no, thank you.
4. Plan activities with family and friends.
Don’t sit home. Plan things you want to do and invite people to join you. Schedule in all your down time with activities you enjoy.
5. Do service.
When you focus on others, you forget about your problems. There are lots of wonderful places to volunteer and donate time around the holidays or you might pick a cause to work or gather donations or gifts for them.
6. Make sure you get lots of exercise, eat well and sleep.
These three things help all of us have more balanced mental and emotional health. If you feel down, go for a walk, get outside and move, or make yourself a healthy meal. These are important areas of self-care that make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and life.
7. Get a great book to read over the holidays.
Getting lost in a wonderful adventure or interesting storyline, keeps you from dwelling on your own life too much.
8. If family gatherings help you, then go.
But if they make you feel worse, don’t go. Don’t attend anything from obligation.
Instead, go out with upbeat friends or plan a party and invite everyone (who has nowhere to go or feels awkward) to join you. Some people call these “A Misfit Toys party”, but we would rather think of them as “Celebrate your perfect classroom even if it’s nonconventional parties”.
9. Create brand new traditions.
If the old ones don’t work right now, don’t create a sad story around that. Decide to create new interesting traditions and decide they will be just as good, just different.
10. Limit the alcohol.
Even though it can numb sad feelings, in the end it will leave you feeling more depressed. Eating healthy and working out would serve you more. Plan fun activities and get high on life, being with friends or having adventures.
11. When the inevitable questions begin about what you’re doing and are you dating, have a response ready that is positive and happy.
You might say you have decided to focus on loving yourself right now and it’s been really good for you. Or have a joke planned and then quickly start asking questions about them and keep them talking as long as possible. If you keep the focus off your life completely by asking questions about everyone else, the parties will be easier.
12. Buy yourself some awesome presents that are just what you wanted.
Get out of town. Sometimes the best way to handle the holidays is to plan a trip and skip the whole thing all together. Go on a fun adventure, a cruise or trip and focus on pampering yourself while you’re there.
13. If tears come, let yourself have a limited amount of time to cry it out.
Cry really good and loud and let all the pain out. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.
14. Watch funny movies, comedians or YouTube videos.
Laugh as much as possible! This really helps you stay upbeat, especially after that good cry.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are relationship and human behavior experts, authors and speakers. They host Relationship Radio every Thursday on VoiceAmerica.com Empowerment Channel.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was recently blindsided finding out that my spouse has cheated on me, something I never saw coming. This is the last straw though, in a long line of other problems with him and so I have decided on divorce, which I know is the right path for me. But I’m seriously heartbroken, angry and really devastated that he was unfaithful while I loved him so much. The pain of this betrayal is intense and I would love some advice for moving on and recovering from this kind of heartbreak.
The pain from betrayal is one of the roughest life experiences there is, and recovery is going to be a process and take some time. The most important thing is to be patient and kind to yourself and allow whatever emotions come up to be there. You will experience shock, anger, self-pity, shame, despair, sadness, and devastation, and these emotions will ebb and flow, coming in and out for a while.
There is no normal in trauma recovery, and the processing is different for everyone. Just don’t add any additional guilt or shame to it, by thinking you should be doing better at any point in time.
Here are some things you can do that will help you move forward:
1. Get the information and answers you need, because you do need to know what happened, how and when. Then, after you have these answers, cut off all contact, of any kind, with the other person.
Continuing contact, even through text or following them on social media, will add to the pain and can lengthen the recovery process. It is better to cut off all contact (as much as possible) and start getting used to not having them in your life. What they do now is none of your business and what you do isn’t theirs. Every time you open that door you are taking a step backward in moving on.
2. Don’t seek revenge.
It might seem like a good idea at first, but in the long run, you will be happier if you take the high road and be a person you are proud of.
3. Understand what is normal in dealing with betrayal and loss.
Searing emotional pain, exhaustion, sleeping too much, not being able to sleep, loss of appetite, comfort eating, anxiety attacks, brain fog, and even dizziness are all normal. Don’t worry this will pass (it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.) You will survive this and the pain won’t last.
4. Make your home or space fresh, new, more organized, or different or consider moving.
You need to reclaim your space as your own and remove anything that reminds you of your ex. You might repaint, rearrange furniture, clean out closets, sell your old stuff and buy new used stuff, anything to create a fresh, new feel and to move towards your new life.
5. Focus on self-care.
Put all the energy you used to put into loving them, into loving you. During this time, you need to give yourself permission to pamper yourself. Do things that fill you up and make you feel good and cared for. Plan time with friends, take bubble baths, get massages, take a vacation, exercise, eat healthy food, anything that is caring and compassionate towards yourself.
6. Make time for emotion processing journaling.
This can be the best therapy and it’s free. Spend time writing all your feelings and thoughts. There is a free worksheet of journaling topics at this link.
7. Make time to relax.
Your stress level is high at this time and meditation, yoga, listening to music, deep breathing, feeling the sun on your face, or enjoying nature will help.
8. If you must go back to work right away, create an imaginary room in your head.
All day when the sad, angry, grieving feelings show up, put them in the room and lock the door. Don’t deal with them now. Then each night, give yourself a specific amount of time to go into that room and feel them all. This might be a good time to journal too.
9. Start a long bucket list.
We recommend one that has at least 150 things on it. List out everywhere you would like to travel, everything you want to learn, every adventure, activity and person you would like to meet.
10. Take a break from your normal routine.
If you were ill or had a death in the family you would take some time off, but with emotional trauma, we don’t allow ourselves to have that. You are going through trauma and you may really need some time out of the rat race to recover.
Cut back to the bare essentials and don’t expect yourself to perform at normal standards. Your thinking will also be slower and you may have less bandwidth to deal with your life. That is normal and won’t last forever. Be patient with it.
11. When you are ready, create a new social life and get out there, have fun, go on adventures and create a life that is joyful and fun.
Find some new friends, look for meetup groups around things you are interested in, find fun things going on in your community and get out there.
12. Don’t jump back into dating too soon.
You are recovering from a major loss and will have some trust issues for a while. Give yourself time to get your balance, confidence and strength back before you’re ready to take on new relationships.
13. Find a support system of people who can help you process loss in a healthy way.
Beware of friends whose comments pull you further into despair or self-pity. Look for friends who validate you, but also help you to feel optimistic about the future.
14. Don’t use substances or food to deal with the pain.
Pain like this has to be processed and felt. If you numb out now, you are only delaying it. At some point, you will have to go through. It’s better to feel it now and move forward sooner.
15. Consider talking to a coach or counselor.
If the pain or despair gets too much reach out to a mental health professional or a coach who can give you skills and tools to process your way through.
There is no easy way through this, unfortunately, but doing these things will help. Know in the end nothing that happens can change your value. You have the same value as everyone else, no matter what.
Don’t worry about what anyone thinks about you either — this experience doesn’t define you or mean you are broken or not enough. It’s just a lesson and can end up serving you in some way if you choose to look for the positive.
Hang in there — you can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches with 30 combined years experience in helping individuals and families create healthy relationships and learn the skills and tools to get through life.
I got divorced years ago and since then I have been working on my self-confidence and self-worth, and I have become a happier, busier woman. My parents keep asking me if I am ready to find another man. They don’t seem to like my answer that I’m happy being single. I’m sick and tired of the online dating and the way it’s done now. The bottom line is I’m done with dating and I don’t know how to tell my parents that and get them to support me. How would you recommend I tell them (again)?
Before I recommend a way to get your parents support for your choices, I want you to understand how social norms or unwritten cultural rules can drive our thoughts, feelings and behavior, and how we all allow these socially accepted beliefs to create cognitive dissonance and suffering in our lives.
From the moment you were born, you have been gathering data about yourself, others, and the world around you. Everything you saw, heard or experienced helped you create conclusions about the rules in your family and community. You learned which behaviors earned you love, attention or approval. You learned what to do to avoid suffering or rejection. Your whole life you have been creating subconscious policies and procedures about living in your world.
The problem is many of these ideas, policies or rules are just ideas and many of them are not serving you either. Many of these beliefs are not even based in fact or reality: they are simply thoughts that have gained more power than they should. But they have been with you for a long time, and you have followed them simply because you didn’t know there was another option.
The following are some examples of these unwritten rules you might have adopted:
Here are 5 ways to challenges your unwritten policies and start consciously choosing new beliefs:
1. Remember you are the only one entitled to know the path through life that’s right for you.
Never let anyone tell you how you should live, what you should want or what you should do next. They are not in the same classroom as you, so their truth isn’t going to be your truth. Give yourself permission to explore many mindset options and choose the way that feels right to you.
2. Be unique.
Own that no one else on the planet will ever get the same journey as you. No one will ever have your genetics, your body, your family, your upbringing and your experiences. We believe this means your perspective and your truth are unique to you, and no one else can see the world the way you see it. This is why you must choose your own way and not let others make your choices.
3. Trust yourself.
Trust you have an inner guidance system (an inner GPS) that will always guide you toward your perfect classroom. It will nudge you and pull you toward the experiences you need to grow and learn in the ways you need. If you ask others for advice, do so because you want to research the options, not because you trust their judgment more than your own.
Once you clarify your options, write each one on an index card and place them in front of you on the table. Then one by one take an option off the table and throw it away, listening to your gut about which you should ditch. Do this until there is only one option left. This kind of exercise helps you practice listening to your own inner guidance system.
4. Let everyone else be unique and trust themselves too.
We all have a tendency to think everyone should see the world the way we see it. “What’s wrong with them that they can’t see what I see? It’s obvious.” They can’t see the world the way you do, because their unique journey has fashioned a unique perspective that you can’t possibly see.
You must give everyone permission to be on their perfect classroom journey. The more you do this, you will also be empowered to claim your journey. Refrain from any judgment about their choices; honor and respect their right to be where they are, and feel what they do.
Remember though, that though we are all very different, we have the exact same intrinsic worth and that cannot change.
5. The amazing and unique souls around you, who choose a vastly different path than yours, are often in your life to teach you tolerance and stretch your ability to love.
It’s easy to love people who agree with you and live like you and by your rules, but it’s much more challenging to love someone who is different. When you choose to see these people as different, but equal in value, and allow them to even teach you something, there will be an amazing richness in your life. They will give you fresh viewpoints and broader understanding of the human experience. Embrace them as they are and let their different choices teach you something.
Once you claim the right to live by the dictates of your own conscience, values, beliefs and preferences, and allow the people around you to do the same, you can then ask the people in your life to honor you, too.
We recommend you sit down with your parents and ask them some questions about why they feel so strongly about you dating and finding someone to love. Really listen to them and honor their right to think and feel the way they do. Spend some time here, and let them know you can understand why they might feel that way. Then ask if they would be willing to let you share what you feel about it, and if they would be willing to honor and respect your right to choose the right path for you. We think you will be surprised how supportive they will be if you share your feelings and ask them to support you moving forward.
We agree that for many people living as a single person can still be a rich, beautiful, happy and fulfilled life. Happiness does not require marriage or a life partner, though many people find great happiness that way. We think you should focus on building the life you want to live — you only get one shot at this life so be true to yourself and live big.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches and the creators behind Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com They host Relationship Radio every Thursday on Voice American and on iTunes.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and 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.