First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares the different ways we argue, forgive and apologize — and how to honor each other's needs.
According to Gary Chapman, the author of "The Five Love Languages," each of us have a specific way we give and receive love. Likewise, we have a way we apologize and forgive best.
In my book, “The People Guidebook: For Great Relationships,” I explain how your unique values and fears make you different from other people and drive your behavior. In putting these different ideas together, I discovered there are four different ways we argue, forgive and apologize in communication with other people.
Read the “fighting styles” below to figure out the style that works best for you so you can see the pros and cons of it. You may also want to figure out the fighting style of your spouse, another family member or friend, as this will help you to resolve conflict and have difficult conversations in a way that works for both of you.
The 4 fighting styles
1. Long communicators with connection needed
These people are long talkers and always have lots to say, so they can argue or converse about a problem for a long time. This is fine, unless they are fighting with someone who is a short communicator (who can get easily overwhelmed or worn out by long talkers).
Long talkers often have a tendency toward a victim mentality and sometimes struggle to accept any blame or responsibility for a problem. They usually see themselves as the injured party. These people can get mean and ugly if pushed in an argument (which can be scary for less passionate and/or quieter people).
These people usually have lots of friends and highly value their connections. They often cannot resolve something and move on until they feel a close, caring connection has been restored. It’s easier for them to accept an apology after the person has taken responsibility for the slight or asked for forgiveness, or they have received validation about their feelings and feel cared for and reconnected again
2. Long communicators with restitution needed
These people are long talkers who need a person to restore their loss before they can let things go. They are very good communicators who can keep arguing for a long time. They are so good with words that they can twist the other person’s words around and use them against that other person.
These people tend to be very opinionated and stubborn. They have very black-and-white, right-and-wrong thinking styles, with no room for gray area. They are also very logical and practical (meaning not very emotional and sensitive) in how they see things. They can struggle to understand another person’s feelings if those feelings don’t make sense to them.
These people struggle to accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from.
3. Short communicators with validation needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out arguments, so don’t subject them to hours and hours of conversation. If you talk too much, they will start to shut down and will often say anything they have to just to make the conversation stop. If it doesn’t stop, they will pull back or leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people don’t like mean, ugly, personal attacks or fighting that is loud and scary. These are quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Angry criticism makes these people feel very unsafe. They need lots of positive validation before and after anything negative is mentioned.
The secret to engaging with these people is laying the ground rules before you engage. Tell them three things: how long this conversation will last (i.e. “30 minutes and no more, I promise”), how painful this is going to be (i.e. “I promise this is not an attack and you will get to give me feedback here too”), and what you are going to ask for in the end (i.e. “In the end, I am only going to ask you to change one little thing”). If you set up rules of engagement and stick to them, short communicators are more likely to stick with you and work things out.
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has given them some positive validation about how good they are. If they feel like a failure at the end, they will struggle to forgive you.
4. Short communicators with restitution needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out fights or arguments because they don’t have the patience for them. They are more likely to tell you off and then leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people can get mean, ugly, loud and scary, but they won’t stay in that emotional state for a long time. They will explode and then cool down. This behavior can scare quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Sometimes it will work best if you will let them explode and be mean, and then let them cool down before returning to the issue.
The secret to engaging with these people is to establish rules of engagement. Tell them the same three things from above: how long this conversation will last, how annoying or emotional this conversation is going to be (try to stay logical and practical), and what you are going to ask for in the end (let them know it won’t be asking for much).
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from, apologies won’t matter until the loss has been restored or they see you have really been acting differently.
This information might be a game-changer in your relationship, because arguments and difficult conversations are only productive when both parties feel respected, heard, understood, and honored for their right to be them. You want to practice the Platinum Rule to treat people the way they want and need to be treated (not the way you want to be treated).
Don’t assume that the way you show up and handle yourself is the right way. It’s just a different way. Everyone has the right to be wired the way they are wired. Respect that and honor their differences and you can easily resolve most problems.
You can do this.
first published on KSl.COM
My marriage is struggling, and over and over one of us gets defensive and we give each other the cold shoulder for days. It is so hard to get back to love and feeling good when we feel offended, insulted or mistreated so often. Once those walls go up it’s so hard to get past them. What can we do to stop this cycle and end the constant offending and fighting?
First of all, I need to clarify that the answer in this article is for the person asking the question above, and in their relationship there is no abuse happening. The fighting is garden variety offenses and grouchy behavior where they trigger each other and get bothered on a regular basis. Obviously, if your partner is abusive, the mistreatment needs to be addressed and stopped immediately, and I encourage you to reach out for professional help.
If you and your partner get defensive all the time and often feel like the other person is the enemy, this article is for you.
People tend to get defensive when they feel mistreated, insulted, criticized, taken from or unvalued by the other person. These experiences make a person feel unsafe and threatened; in this state, a person tends to believe he or she has to defend or protect themself from the threat. But a sense of safety with one’s partner often has more to do with what he or she believes about themself than it does with how their partner treats them.
If you get defensive easily and often, you may feel unsafe in the world generally. You might have started feeling unsafe long before your partner showed up in your life. It might also be helpful to check for the following behaviors, which are signs of living in a subconscious fear state all the time, which means you might have a tendency to get defensive faster than the average person:
If you function in a fear state — always looking for slights — you cannot make your partner solely responsible for you feeling defensive. You can still bring up and discuss slights, but you should first run through the process below to make sure you are seeing the situation accurately. You should also seek out some coaching or counseling to work on your fear-based programming.
The 10-step process
When you feel slighted, insulted and/or defensive, follow these steps:
1. Own that you are feeling defensive, which means you don’t feel safe. Remember that your sense of safety with your partner may have more to do with what you believe about yourself and your life than you think. This means you must acknowledge that no one can make you feel unsafe without your participation at some level. Just be willing to own that your fears of failure and loss could be in play.
2. Ask the other person if they feel unsafe and defensive, too. Acknowledge that you understand that feeling and feel the same way. Acknowledge that this will be harder to resolve while you are both unbalanced and fear-triggered.
3. Agree that you are both safer than your feelings and your subconscious programming may believe. You both love each other and you both want this relationship to work.
4. Decide to be two people against the problem, not two people against each other. Agree to approach the problem by listening to how and why your partner feels the way they do. Commit to being willing to listen and really understand instead of trying to win.
5. Recognize your own fear trigger. Have you been fear of failure triggered — where you feel insulted or attacked by something, making you afraid you aren’t good enough? Or have you been fear of loss triggered — where you feel mistreated and/or taken from, ming you afraid you aren’t safe? Which are you struggling with right now? Knowing this will help you get balanced again.
7. Now you are ready to talk about the issue that started the defensiveness. Be willing to ask questions about what happened and how your partner feels Listen for the purpose of understanding them. Keep asking questions and listening (without sharing your thoughts) until you can tell they feel really heard and validated.
8. Ask if your partner would be willing to listen to you and give you time to explain your thoughts and feelings without interrupting you. If he or she agrees, then go to step 9. If he or she doesn’t agree, tell them you respect that and maybe the two of you can continue the conversation later when they feel more able to show up for you.
9. Carefully share your thoughts and feelings. Avoid "you" statements because they can feel like an attack. Use "I" statements and talk only about your perspective, your feelings, your triggers and your observations. Also, make sure you’re focusing solely on future behavior and don’t waste time talking about the past, which your partner cannot fix or change. Ask if, moving forward, they would be willing to do this or that differently.
10. Repeat. At this point, your partner might have more to say. Go back through steps 7-9 again. Keep doing this until you can reach an agreement or compromise.
Remember, your spouse isn’t ever a jerk, selfish, mean, or careless; he or she is more likely scared, and it is their fears that drive jerky, selfish, mean or careless behavior. We behave badly when we are worried about protecting ourselves. Reminding yourself that you are safe, is critical to the process of working through a fight maturely.
These 10 steps show you how to have a mutually validating conversation without letting fear triggers make you both defensive. This may take some practice to master, but you will be amazed at the clarity it gives you both, when you recognize the fears and why you are feeling defensive.
If you have felt defensive and unsafe with your partner for a long time, you may need some professional help to work through forgiveness and making some big changes in behavior. I recommend getting professional help sooner than later. Someone who knows how to help relationships heal can make the process much faster.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Along with being a life coach, I also provide people skills training to companies and organizations. I have been thinking lately about some of the bad workplace behaviors that can annoy co-workers, ruin the atmosphere at work, or even sabotage your career.
Here are 10 common annoying workplace behaviors to watch for:
1. Do you have trouble accepting feedback?
In the workplace, it is critical that you are open to any and all feedback that could help you learn and grow. Feedback cannot diminish your value as a person (because nothing can). You are the same you with the same value as every other person, no matter what feedback you get. Great employees accept constructive feedback and even ask for it. Being confident enough to receive good feedback can even launch you forward.
2. Do you complain about the company or organization?
Do you have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong in everything around you? If you aren’t happy with yourself, you might tend to focus on the bad in others to distract yourself from your own faults or misfortunes. If you don’t feel safe in the world, you will also be on watch for anything that doesn’t seem right. If this sounds like you, get some help to work on your self-esteem and your sense of security in the world. Then fight the urge to verbalize everything you think. Try talking less, listening more and focusing on the positive.
3. Do you hesitate to speak up and take risks?
Both a fear of failure and a fear of loss can cause you to keep your ideas to yourself and just do the minimum to stay under the radar. This tactic might feel safe, but it won’t open doors for you. Also watch for feeling entitled to promotions just because you’ve been there awhile. Promotions are given to those who take initiative, stretch out of their comfort zone, and go above and beyond the call of duty.
4. Do you lack confidence?
If you don’t believe in yourself and are afraid you don’t cut it, others will pick up on this and won’t believe in you either. If you can tell this is your challenge, seek out some professional help to change the way you determine your own value.
5. Are you overly dramatic, emotional or unprofessional at work?
If your insecurities cause tears, breakdowns, yelling or other emotional scenes at work, this can also hold you back. This behavior is unprofessional and makes people lose respect for you. If you bring your personal problems to work, you may need to get some professional help to work on this. Don’t expect your co-workers to be your therapists.
6. Do you struggle to get along with other co-workers?
Your ability to create good relationships is what drives your value at work. If you create people problems or always end up in the middle of them, this diminishes your value to your employer. If you lack people skills, I suggest you seek out some training to improve them. Improve your communication skills and learn how to handle tough conversations with kindness. A good life coach or counselor could help you.
7. Are you late or undependable?
If you are always running behind, your co-workers could start to see you as irresponsible and someone they cannot count on. If you struggle with this, set your watch, phone and other clocks ahead of the actual time and be committed to becoming punctual.
8. Do you get bothered or offended too easily?
If you are on the lookout for mistreatment, even at a subconscious level, you will find it. We always find what we are looking for. Great employees have thick skin and can let a lot of small offenses and irritations go. They learn to not take things personally and understand that most of other people’s behavior is about their own fears and not about you.
9. Do you take credit for other people’s work, or are you a know-it-all?
Be someone who is quick to give credit where it is due, show gratitude, and let other people shine. Employees who don’t need the spotlight and can encourage others are more likely to be promoted. Watch yourself for being a know-it-all and talking too much. Don’t dominate conversations or always "one-up" another person’s story or comment. These behaviors can drive co-workers crazy. Make sure this isn’t you.
10, Do you create more problems than you solve?
If you create more problems than you solve, your days as an employee at your company could be numbered. Your employer can’t afford to keep you on staff if your drama affects productivity. If you want to rise through the ranks, focus on what you are giving and contributing to productivity on a daily basis. Be a problem solver, not a problem creator.
A few other really annoying behaviors include spending work time on your cellphone, calling for pointless meetings, eating smelly food at your desk, stealing food that doesn’t belong to you from the office fridge, being messy, or trying to sell co-workers your latest MLM products. These are annoying behaviors you definitely want to avoid.
If you can see any of these behaviors in yourself, I strongly encourage you to change them. If you have to deal with annoying coworkers who are behaving badly, here are a few suggestions.
NOT PUBLISHED ON KSL
Watching the protests and riots across the country this weekend, I have been reminded of an important truth, which may help us understand anger and what is behind it. The truth is, anger comes from feeling threatened, unsafe, or unloved. When someone is angry or hurt, it is usually because they feel mistreated, taken from, or not cared about on some level. Watching the riots and looting can distract us from hearing what the anger is really about. Protesters are trying to express the pain they feel from long standing systemic racism and they are requesting love and fairness.
Before I explain how we need to listen and understand other people, it is important to understand what racism really is. In the book, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, she explains that we have been taught to see racism as "intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals". If you define racism this way, then most of us are not racist. The problem is that socialized racism is much bigger, more widespread, and more ingrained in each of us than this definition covers. An entrenched culture of racism in this country has made a large group of us feel rejected, disrespected, and unloved for a very long time. People of color are trying to tell us that they don’t feel valued, seen, appreciated, cared about, nor safe. They are in a fear state all the time and are tired of expecting mistreatment every time they leave their house. This is something that as a white person, we cannot even begin to understand, but we have to try and we have to listen.
The pain and anguish that people of color feel, includes rejection, inferiority, hate, shame, and anger at not being seen as the precious, infinitely, absolutely, and equally valuable beings they are. They are children of God made in His image, by Him, and of Him, though they rarely feel treated as such. It is important to understand that these angry emotions are a desperate request for love, acceptance, equality, kindness, respect, and brotherhood. The anger is not born of hate, it is born of love, and a hope that the world will finally love them in the way they (and all humans) deserve.
We need to listen and understand what their anger is saying and we need to listen at a deeper level than we are used to going. Most of the time when you listen to another person, you are primarily listening to help you formulate what you are going to say back. Rarely are you open enough to hear, understand, validate, and even change your opinions, based on their thoughts and feelings. Most of the time you don't listen to understand and learn something new. Our ego's are not comfortable with this level of listening, because it opens us up to being wrong.
The time has come for better listening to other people and this means setting down our defensiveness and even be open to attack, guilt, and shame for our ignorance and selfishness (something all white people are guilty of, simply because the problems of racism don’t affect us. We haven’t cared enough to change, because life the way it is, is comfortable for us and doesn't cause us pain.)
Instead of defending ourselves or speaking about our moral views and opinions, we need to stop talking and really listen. We have to look behind their anger so we can understand what drives it. We must also understand that anger, acting out, and lashing out are, at their core, a plea or request for love. We know this because all behavior is either loving or a request for love.
If you will really think about the last time you got really angry, you will see that you also felt unloved, unappreciated, or unvalued at some level. Your anger was a request for love too.
Obviously anger and violence is not the best way to request love, but we all request love this way. When you and I feel unloved or mistreated we lash out too, and the other person we are angry with, often sees our anger as an attack against them. They very rarely can see the bad behavior as a request for love. Nevertheless, that is exactly what it is. I am not going to tell you it is easy to see anger accurately though. It takes wisdom and maturity to see behavior as coming from fear of not being loved (respected or cared for), but we can do it with practice.
Our brothers and sisters of color want us to see them. They want us to see their hearts, their struggles, their pain, worthiness, glory, divinity, goodness, godliness, and worth. They want us to understand no person exists that God did not create. No one exists who is not worthy of respect, honor, and love. When you look at any human being, you must see God in them and you must be open and willing to listen and understand them. You must validate their right to feel mistreated, and remember that you cannot begin to understand what life in their shoes has been like.
So, what can you do?
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
Question:In your article on forgiveness, you mentioned that there are some situations in which we should forgive but definitely not let the person back into our lives. What does that look like to have boundaries? How do you handle that if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker? Why do I have to forgive if they aren’t sorry and aren’t going to change?
Answer:You asked a few different questions, so let me answer them one at a time.
Why do I have to forgive even when the person isn’t sorry and won’t change?
I could give you the usual answer — that you forgive so you feel better — but the truth is that your ego feels pretty good about staying mad. Instead, I encourage you to change what forgiveness is for you. Forgiving in the traditional sense meant you had to pardon someone for their mistake, because staying angry or hurt causes you more stress and unhappiness than it does the other person. So, you tried to do this for yourself, even though the person didn’t deserve it. This kind of forgiveness is hard and it’s the reason most of us struggle.
However, if you completely change your idea of what forgiveness means and, instead of pardoning people, make it all about changing your perspective about the incident and life in general, you can totally change how you feel about the situation. This can be done easily, even when someone doesn’t deserve it or isn’t sorry.
The most interesting perspective shift to try is to decide to see life as a classroom and this person and their mistake as being something that will ultimately serve you and make you stronger, wiser or more loving. This means that the hurt they caused can be used to bless and serve you in the long term. If you see the difficult person as a teacher in your classroom and their behavior as something that is serving your growth in some way, you might find you don’t even need to forgive. You can just let it go.
How do you handle forgiving if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker?
Forgiving and changing your perspective does not mean you have to associate with or have that person in your life. You can and should limit contact with people who are a negative influence, a drain on your energy, or makes your life harder or more miserable. But you can still have forgiveness and even compassion for them and how miserable it must be to live that way.
You can love them from afar. This means you don’t harbor hate that would keep you in a miserable state. You can release all that negativity and choose to trust God and the universe that you are OK and let this person go in peace, while also choosing to stay away from them.
You must give yourself permission to make your needs important. Taking care of yourself and making sure you are balanced and happy is actually your No. 1 job, and that isn’t selfish. Your job is to make sure your needs are met and your bucket is full so that you have something to even give other people. This will often mean limiting the contact you have with people who make you miserable and drain your bucket.
Ultimately, it would be great if you could get to a place where you could be around this person (when necessary) and not be negatively affected by them, but that doesn’t come easy. In the meantime, you should stay away from them and protect yourself from further abuse or mistreatment.
What does that look like to have boundaries?
If you cannot limit contact and are forced to associate with the difficult person, then you need to define and enforce some boundaries. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you figure out what boundaries are needed to make this relationship work:
It is important to make some new rules and write them down. Just deciding in your mind is not nearly as powerful as putting them on paper is. When you write the new rules on paper, there is a different commitment level that happens in following them. Remember though, boundaries are rules you enforce on yourself to save yourself from your own weakness. Write down which behaviors you are no longer going to allow and how you will enforce it.
The most important part of having boundaries and enforcing them is not letting other people’s reactions to your boundaries bother you. Chances are, they won’t like your new rules and they will make you feel guilty for having them. That is not your problem and, on some level, it isn’t even your business. You are in charge of your own behavior, thoughts and feelings; you are in charge of being the best, strongest, most loving version of yourself you can be. Focus all your energy on that and let other people deal with their own feelings or issues themselves.
Giving yourself permission to have boundaries is the hardest part, especially if you have been a lifelong people pleaser. This may take some time to give yourself permission to make your needs important without feeling selfish.
If you are dealing with a really toxic, difficult person, you might want a coach or counselor to help you process the emotions and learn to be easier on yourself. Be patient with yourself and just keep working on it.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am struggling with my brother who did something really inconsiderate, and I can’t seem to let it go. I know that it’s probably causing me more pain than it’s causing him, but I just can’t forgive him yet. My whole family is bugging me to forgive him, but it’s not that easy. Any suggestions to make this easier?
There is a reason most of us struggle with forgiveness: There are very real benefits to staying mad or hurt. Here are some possible reasons you might not want to forgive someone:
Choose a mindset
Forgiveness may feel near impossible right now, but changing your perspective and looking at the issue a different way might make you feel completely different. In this situation, you have two perspective options and you must choose one of them. If you don’t consciously choose a mindset, your subconscious mind will choose for you — and it is usually going to let your ego drive.
Option 1: A judgment and condemnation mindset.
With a judgment and condemnation mindset, you believe life is a test and we (human beings) must earn a sense of value. Here, any mistakes you make count against your value, which means some people inevitably end up seeming better than other people. With this mindset, you see human value as changeable and based on our behavior, appearance, property, etc. In this place, there is judgment, criticism, attack, gossip, guilt and a constant fear that you aren’t good enough. This fear-driven mindset makes you focus on the bad in others and cast them as worse than you so you can feel like the better person. This mindset creates anxiety, insecurity, and fear of failure. If you choose this mindset, you will always struggle to forgive others because you must condemn them to feel safe and good about yourself.
Option 2: A trust and forgiveness mindset
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, you believe life is a classroom where humans are meant to learn and grow. In this classroom you can erase any mistakes and try again, and no mistake affects your value. With this mindset, everyone has the exact same intrinsic worth, and that worth cannot change no matter what bad choices we make. Bad choices just sign us up for some interesting lessons and create educational consequences you then get to work through — but, you always have the same value as everyone else.
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, insults and mistreatment happen to make us stronger, wiser and more loving, and you can believe there is purpose and blessings that come from them. Here, you can see the positives that each negative experience creates, and you are grateful for the strength and wisdom you gain from them. With this mindset, you don’t need to condemn others to feel safe because you believe you are safe all the time. With this mindset, you understand your value is infinite and absolute, and so is everyone else’s.
Forgiveness is easier here because you trust that you can’t be diminished, or have your journey ruined, because it is always the perfect classroom for you. When you trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing, it is easier to let offenses go and forgive.
The question you must ask yourself is: How do you want to live?
Choosing a trust and forgiveness mindset means you don’t hold onto offenses or mistakes. You let yourself and everyone else be a work in progress or a student in the classroom of life with much more to learn. You give forgiveness to others because you want to feel good enough yourself.
More tips to help you forgive
Here are a couple of other tips to make forgiveness easier:
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself, and life will be more peaceful and happy.
You can do this.
SALT LAKE CITY — Have you noticed the way the coronavirus pandemic is making you feel wary and unsafe around other people?
You may be seeing other humans as a huge threat to your well-being. Though this sensation is especially noticeable right now, this is a tendency of human nature that all of us experience (to a lesser degree) every day, and especially with the people we love most.
As a master life coach, I teach people are haunted by two subconscious fears, the fear of failure (that you are not good enough) and the fear of loss (that you aren’t safe). Every human on the planet is fighting these same two fears/beliefs every day, and this means we all function in a fear state most of the time.
A fear state means you feel generally unsafe in the world, and this feeling makes it seem like every person around you is a threat. These people could take from you, mistreat you, take from the quality of your life, and/or make you feel like a failure, and this is especially true about the people closest to you.
Your relatives, children, and spouse or partner have more power to hurt you more than anyone else. They know your faults and flaws and the shame you have around them. They know how to push your buttons. You also care what they think of you, which means insults or slights can hurt worse than if the same offense happened with a stranger. You are much more prone to take slights from loved ones personally.
Assess your relationship
Feeling unsafe with a family member can be a great obstacle to your happiness. You cannot have a close, rich, fulfilling, intimate relationship with someone you don’t feel safe with. Ask yourself these questions to check the safety level in your relationship:
(Note: The suggestions in this article are for dealing with garden variety unsafe feelings in your relationships, not situations that involve abuse. If you feel unsafe because you experience emotional, mental or physical abuse, you must seek help and not settle for the suggestions below.)
Here are some tips for increasing safety in most relationships:
Difficult people and the lessons they facilitate can bless you, educate you and help you grow. Life is a classroom and everything that happens here can be a springboard to amazing growth, even the really hard things.
Think about some people who aggravate you, try your patience, irritate, anger or upset you. We all have some people who push our buttons, and the first step to resolving these difficult relationships is to recognize they are here as perfect teachers. When you see them as such, and you embrace your experiences with them as lessons, you will be surprised how much less aggravating they become. (Note: In this article I am just addressing how to deal with garden variety difficult people, not situations that involve abuse.)
Pick one of these difficult people to think about as you read this article. Ask yourself these simple questions:
Viktor Frankl, who wrote "Man's Search for Meaning" after being a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II, said, "In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning." If Frankl could choose to find meaning in his horrible suffering, I believe we can do it too. He also encourages us to see the difference between necessary suffering and unnecessary suffering. He said, "Unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic." When pain becomes self-inflicted, because the event is long over, growth happens as you let it go.
The important thing is to recognize that difficult experiences in your life have the potential to bless you. Here are some possible benefits or blessings that come from dealing with difficult people:
When you feel threatened or defensive around someone, this is your clue that there is a part of you that needs reassurance that you are safe and loved and that other people can’t diminish you or your life. They can only teach you and help you grow. At least, you have the power to see them this way, with this perspective, if you want to.
When you choose to see difficult people as teachers (not jerks), you will find you have the answers and the power to rise above the fray and deal with them in a confident loving way.
You can do this.
SALT LAKE CITY — Being a lifelong student of human behavior, I was curious about why we shout "jerk" (or something worse) when someone cuts us off in traffic, even though they can’t hear us. Why do we scold ourselves about a mistake even when no one is around to hear it? If you walk into a room and realize you forgot something, why might you say out loud, "Oh shoot, I forgot to get the widget, darn it"?
Why do we find the need to say these kinds of things out loud and narrate why we are behaving as we are?
In one of his books, Aaron James, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irivne, says you can lash out at people and use words like "aha, bleh, eeww, goody, humph, oh, oops, phew, whee, yikes, or yuck" to narrate your experiences, but it might serve you to understand why. There is a payoff you get by vocalizing your experiences and emotions, and I call it the self-elucidation payoff.
What does elucidate mean?
The word "elucidate" comes from the Latin word "lucid" which descends from the verb lucēre, meaning "to shine." So, elucidation is about shining some light on something to clarify or explain it. Self-elucidation is clarifying the situation you are having because you deserve to be acknowledged or understood in it, even just for or by yourself.
James says a person who knocks over a glass might be a klutz, but if he says whoops, then at least he knows he didn’t intend the outcome and didn’t do it intentionally. This is our way of clarifying or elucidating that we aren’t a clumsy or careless person. We are just having an unintentional experience that should not be a reflection of who we are as a person.
The funny part is we need this so badly we even do it when we are alone. We need our experiences to be acknowledged because it validates our worth and makes us feel safer.
... yelling at the driver who cuts you off (even though he doesn’t hear you) is elucidating the situation and basically defending yourself by announcing to the world (and yourself) that 'it was not right to treat me that way.' This validates your worth and makes you feel a bit safer.
For example, yelling at the driver who cuts you off (even though he doesn’t hear you) is elucidating the situation and basically defending yourself by announcing to the world (and yourself) that "it was not right to treat me that way." This validates your worth and makes you feel a bit safer.
There is nothing wrong nor necessary about doing this, but it could be an interesting practice to allow yourself to have experiences without the need for clarification. Instead you could just sit with the experience and notice why it feels unsafe without some vocal elucidation.
What would not clarifying this moment out loud give you? If you let go of the need to elucidate this, what could that teach you? Does it matter how you respond?
The benefits of not talking
Years ago I attended a meditation retreat that included 10 days of total silence. There were incredible lessons that came from not talking for 10 full days. The most profound thing I learned was that 90% of what I wished I could say was simply explaining my behavior. It was frustrating to not be able to elucidate, avoid judgment, explain my intentions, or validate myself. Instead, I had to allow people to think whatever they were going to think, risk being misperceived, and practice knowing I was safe without clarification.
This experience gave me a different level of love and compassion for myself. I highly recommend trying it.
It may also serve you to think about why you say things like this:
It can also be a way to project responsibility away from yourself, which also makes you feel safer. The reality is that you didn’t watch where you were walking, you weren’t careful about spilling, and you were careless when you dropped the glass. You were responsible for all of these experiences, but saying “oops” is your way of saying, "I didn’t intend to be careless, so the experience is not my fault." You subconsciously want to believe this was bad luck so that it doesn’t diminish your value.
What might serve you more?
What if you owned responsibility for all your experiences and saw each as a perfect lesson that was there to bless you in some way. You could choose to trust that every experience happens to educate you and help you grow, so there is no lack or deprivation.
Instead of swearing at the person who cut you off, you might just acknowledge that you do deserve better treatment — but without a fear-driven need to attack the other human involved. This would validate your worth and rights, and it would be a love-motivated response instead of hate-motivated one.
Try having compassion for yourself the next time you spill on your shirt, but see if you can have the experience without explaining or scolding yourself out loud. You don’t need sympathy around this because this is your perfect classroom journey. Expressing compassion and love for yourself is all the self-elucidation you need. Your value is infinite and unchangeable no matter what you experience, and you are always safe — or at least you can choose this perspective if you want to.
You can do this.
SALT LAKE CITY — The truth is, we all have a shadow side that encourages ego and bad behavior.
You are a nice, kind, caring person, but there is also a part of you that is selfish, petty, lazy, controlling and angry. You have this dark side because there has to be opposition in everything (the ying and the yang). Knowing this and understanding your two sides can actually help you to become a better person.
What psychology teaches us
Sigmund Freud taught that all humans have three sides: an id (our dark side), a superego (our higher thinking, moral side), and an ego that tries to manage and balance the other two in a way that will make other people like you. Carl Jung, who was the first to use the term "shadow side" said it is made up of all the qualities and behaviors society taught us are unacceptable.
We were taught as children that a “good person” functions only in their Superego — being nice, kind, proper, composed and self-sacrificing all the time. We were taught that taking care of our own needs is selfish and giving in to improper thoughts makes us a bad person. This isn’t necessarily true, though. If you do nothing but sacrifice yourself for others, you will soon have nothing left to give, and there is a high cost when you are too nice all the time.
Dark or improper thoughts don’t go away either. Sometimes the more we try to suppress them, the more insistent they become, whispering and nudging you to be selfish, take care of your needs, seek pleasure or be petty or mean. You fight this nudging and work to suppress that negative voice, but maybe you need to listen to it and make note of what it’s saying.
All human emotions teach you something
You are on earth to feel every aspect of the human experience firsthand for what these experiences can teach you. This means feeling joy, happiness, acceptance, love, success, empathy, sympathy and humility. But it also means feeling shame, guilt, anger, superiority, failure, hate, desire, passion, selfishness and jealousy. These are all the fabric of being human. If you try to suppress any part of this, without processing the emotion or the experience, you are suppressing part of who you are and missing part of your classroom.
Dark and negative emotions and thoughts are there to teach you lessons, and if you never allow yourself to process them, they will keep coming back until you do or they might get bigger. How can you work on changing or shifting negative thinking or behavior, if you never look at it?
Try shadow journaling
I often recommend to clients — especially those that are trying really hard to be nice and loving all the time or who are really fighting with negative thinking — to start a shadow journal (or do shadow journaling on paper) that you will destroy after writing, because this will not be for your grandchildren to read one day.
This is a place to process your emotions in. When someone triggers a negative emotion or thought in you, get this journal or some paper out and write down every dark thought and impulse that shows up. Write down the awful ideas and responses your shadow side comes up with. Write about the jealousy or the anger you have toward this person. Write everything that you wouldn’t want anyone to know you actually thought. Let yourself be your worst self — that is the point of the exercise. Go where you usually would not allow yourself to go. Be petty, immature, angry, or full of self-pity.
Then, sit back and look at what your voice of fear/ego had to say. Process this by asking yourself these questions:
Some experts, like Dr. Aziz Gazipura, believe not processing your negative thoughts can lead to health problems down the road. In his book "Not Nice," Gazipura said, "Avoiding your shadow side creates a host of problems in your life, ranging from depression to physical pain. This is because it takes a great deal of energy to keep something down and out of awareness. The more we avoid it, the more scared of it we become… while befriending it gives you greater self-control and radically increases your self-esteem. It turns out your shadow is your greatest source of power."
Just like pain is an indicator that something is wrong that needs attention, negative emotions and dark thoughts also have something to teach you. Processing them and getting real about what they say, and the behavior they recommend (instead of hiding it away) gives you the chance to fix underlying beliefs and fears. For example, If a great deal of hate shows up toward a specific person, this is something you really need to explore. There is something in that hate that is tied to how you feel about yourself. You need to figure out what that person triggers in you and how that is your fear issue to solve.
You may want to find a coach or counselor, who can help you process these thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. If what shows up really scares you or is tied to addiction, abuse or mental illness, find a licensed mental health professional or program to assist you.
You can do this.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
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.