This was first published on KSL.COM
I have heard from lots of people who are worried about family holiday gatherings and dealing with difficult relatives.
We all have some complicated family relationships that can trigger tension, defensiveness and fear because of what they do and say. During the holidays it is difficult to avoid these relatives, so it's helpful to work on becoming more resilient and "bulletproof" before these parties happen.
Note: The following advice is not advice for dealing with abuse or trauma. This advice is meant for people who have some annoying, rude and disrespectful relatives who say hurtful things or treat you in a judgmental way. If you are dealing with abuse, trauma or really toxic people, avoiding family gatherings might be the best call.
For the rest of your people-problem situations, I have one powerful truth that can help you to stay balanced around your challenging relatives and hurtful things they might say this year.
'I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts'
A Course in Miracles lesson says: "I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts."
This is a tricky concept that might take some thinking to understand, but it means it is not someone’s words that hurt you, it is the thoughts you have about their words that hurt you.
If someone makes a hurtful remark to you — something that triggers pain — it can feel like a poison dart fired straight to your heart. It will sting for sure, but how long it stings and how badly it stings is something you do have some control over.
Do you ever let a dart stay in causing you pain all day or all week? How often do you pull the dart out and throw it on the floor so you can move on, but then later pick it back up and stab yourself with it again and again — for months, years, or even decades? It’s over and it happened a long time ago, why do you still think about it when it just causes you pain?
When the event is over and you are still feeling the sting, it has become a self-inflicted injury. You have the power to stop the stinging if you can change the way you are looking at what the other person did. If you can change the way you look at it, you can change how you feel.
This is high-level emotional intelligence, and it might take some work to get it right. So don’t be discouraged if you are not here yet. The more you read, practice and learn, the easier it will get. This is not victim shaming, though, because the fault does lie with the other person; however, at some point, you have to process the situation and decide to stop letting it hurt you. You have to take your power back. You do this by thinking about words, thoughts and opinions that come from other people. What are they? What are they made of? What power do they hold?
They are nothing. They are wisps of ideas drifting through people’s minds and out their mouths. They have no form and no matter. They do nothing. They mean nothing. They have no power unless you give them power.
Your thoughts about what the person said or did are what create the sting, and you are so powerful you can create that sting from almost nothing. This is especially true if you have some deep negative beliefs about yourself in play — beliefs you have had since you were a child. These old subconscious beliefs are your open wounds; they are spots where others can barely touch you and it hurts.
I have a deep fear that says, “I am not good enough.” Because I have had this fear my whole life, it is my problem. It belongs to me. But just like an open wound, it's a place where it’s very easy for other people to hurt me.
These other people are completely responsible for any unkind things they say or do, but I am responsible for my original fear issue that makes their comments hurt me so much. I am also responsible for the thoughts I have that intensify and prolong the hurt.
Your ego thinks stabbing yourself with these old darts for decades is a good way to protect you from further pain. It thinks the constant stabbing will remind you to protect yourself from that person in the future, but the cost for this perceived protection is decades of pain anyway.
Instead of allowing thoughts that make mean comments hurt longer than necessary, practice the following:
1. Trust that your intrinsic value as a person is infinite and absolute.
Nothing anyone says or does can diminish your value. No matter what happens to you, you still have the same value as every other person on the planet. When anyone makes an unkind comment, remind yourself that it doesn’t have any power and changes nothing. You are still intact and fine. Imagine the dart bouncing off and landing on the ground. Then, leave it there.
2. Trust that every person around you is in your life for your own good.
Everyone who surrounds you is there for one reason: to help you grow and become stronger, wiser and more loving. Some of these people help you by pushing your fear buttons, to give you a chance to work on your insecurities and issues. When you see them as teachers in your classroom who are giving you chances to practice being strong and loving, you won’t take their comments as personally.
3. Remember that thoughts or words other people say about you are irrelevant.
These words mean nothing and do nothing. They are wisps of energy that are immediately gone and have no power to sting you. You can only have pain if you think about their actions stinging you. Instead, send them on their way with this thought: “Thanks for giving me a chance to practice being strong, but I am done with that lesson and moving on.” Send them on their way (figuratively) with a blessing and hope for their own growth and learning.
4. Focus all your energy on being the love in the room at your family gatherings.
Find others around you who need validation, love and support, and spend the whole party giving these things to them. Turn your party into a focused, giving love session instead of a minefield of offenses and insults. Go into it with a mission in mind and don’t let anyone knock you from that focus.
Love works miracles because you cannot do love and fear at the same time. If you are focused on love for other people and yourself, you don’t have time to be offended.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
What should I do when my spouse gets mad at one of our kids, but becomes irrationally angry with yelling, arguing, and generally makes a "mountain out of a mole hill”. Should I support my spouse and whatever punishment and behavior they use with the kids, even though I don’t agree? Or should I tell my spouse to please walk away because they are losing it, and let me handle it (which will make them mad at me)? How can we have different parenting styles and not have conflict over them? I also worry that my kids like me more because I am more in control, and it’s made my spouse the bad guy. How are they not the bad guy, when they behave this badly?
So, what you are really asking is, “Is it more important to put up a united front in front of the kids or is it more important to stop my partner from parenting badly (with out of control emotion or anger) directed at our child?”
Obviously, both are important and doing both, at the same time, should be your goal, but if you have to choose one (in a tense moment), you should choose to protect your child, while never making your spouse feel small or bad. Below are some suggestions for handling these intervention moments with love and support.
Defuse the Situation:
You must learn how to defuse the situation in a respectful, loving, way towards your spouse, who is already upset and triggered. If you step into this situation from a position of anger, holier than though self-righteousness, or ego, you are going to create conflict and resentment. You must learn speak to your spouse as an equal, who is as equally flawed, because both of you are imperfect, struggling, scared, students in the classroom of life, who make mistakes. You cannot cast the first stone. You must speak to your spouse with love and compassion for their fears and pain in this moment. You must make them safe with you, while also making your child safe.
Create a time-out rule in your home:
Defusing the situation with love, means having careful, mutually validating, conversations (which I have outlined in previous articles) to pick a safe word or agree on a time out rule. This means both of you, will agree ahead of time, if either of you says that word or calls time out (which you will do if you feel the situation is being driven by fear not love), you both agree to stop talking and step away from the situation to cool down.
You both must agree to take some time and get your fear own triggers under control (your number one job as a human). You must learn how to choose trust in your infinite value and trust in the universe as your perfect classroom, to pull yourself together. Then, talk to each other about this situation and get on the same page before you talk to the child. Make sure both of you feel validated, heard, understood, honored, and respected for your feelings. Never talk down to your spouse or make them feel like the bad guy (you are equally as bad in other areas).
There will be times when you must act quickly though, and you don’t have time for all this communicating, so, in those situations, just use the safe word, as a clue to your spouse that they sound scared. You will use that safe word to love and support them, not to shame them.
Remember, their “out of control” parenting behavior is happening, because they are scared of failure or loss, not because they are a bad person or a bad parent. That is why you need a safe word. You need a word to remind each other that unsafe feelings and behavior are showing up and the real loving you may not come through. You both need to make sure it’s love, not fear, that is doing the parenting.
I highly recommend getting some coaching or counseling if reactive fear responses happen regularly. A good coach can help you figure out what your fear triggers are and teach you how to quiet them so you can parent at your best.
Dos and Don’ts in parenting:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My marriage is in trouble because of some major differences. We have always disagreed on politics, but recently my spouse has also decided to leave the church we attend together and is very vocal about his feelings that all religions are false. This is driving a huge wedge between us because he basically hates something that I love. Plus, he is very confident and I am more insecure, so he makes me feel small for being a believer. How do you maintain a strong relationship when you are polar opposites in so many ways? Can you have a good relationship if you are this different from each other?
Yes, you can. It is possible to have a good, healthy relationship even though you are very different and have different beliefs — if you both can work on the following things:
1. Learn how your partner is wired
I am a big believer in personality types, love languages and other tools that help you understand how your partner sees and functions in the world. They help you get below the behavior and understand the fears and values that drive their behavior. You need to take stock of all the ways you are the same and different.
Make sure you know what issues trigger bad behavior in your partner and strive to make them feel safe with you every day. If they fear they aren’t good enough, you should be sensitive to that, avoid criticism and give lots of validation. If they fear loss or mistreatment, make sure they know your intent and that you would never mean to offend or take from them in any way. If they get triggered and upset, remember all bad behavior is a request for love, safety and reassurance.
For detailed instructions on how to do this, read last week's LIFEAdvice article.
2. Work on your self-esteem so differences aren’t so threatening
Your No.1 job is making sure you like yourself and are happy. When you like yourself and feel safe in the world, you can then create a healthy relationship. Also, make sure you know the difference between ego confidence and real, fearless confidence. Ego confidence is overcompensating for low self-worth and trying to pretend you don’t have it by acting strong and defensive. Real confidence comes from knowing your worth is infinite and not being afraid.
3. Develop a healthy mindset about your journey in life
Life is a classroom and we are all here for one reason: to learn and grow. When you keep this in mind, it's easier to see every experience as the perfect classroom you need to grow today. You can see how your current situation is here to give you and your spouse a chance to stretch in your abilities to love. It’s easy to love someone who is the same as you because they trigger no fears. A person who is vastly different from you pushes all your buttons and gives you a chance to work on yourself, your self-control, your maturity and your acceptance of others. I believe you marry your perfect teacher and your marriage is the most important classroom of your life.
4. See people as the same — not better or worse, or right or wrong
This is the most critical piece. Make sure you see all human beings (including your partner) as having the same value, no matter what they do or believe. You can disagree with their views, but don’t let their views influence their intrinsic value. Ellen DeGeneres taught this recently in defending her friendship with President George W. Bush. She explained that friendship (or any relationship) should not be based on having the same views.
5. Honor one another's beliefs and values
Make a promise to honor your partner’s beliefs and values, and ask them to honor yours. If you feel dishonored, talk about that in a mutually validating way. I have written many articles about how to have these safe, validating conversations. If you feel like the conversation is triggering one of you and is headed into a fight, call a timeout. Both agree to walk away and get yourself back in balance (safe instead of in a state of defensive fear) and try again.
Differences in religion are hard because they trigger a great deal of fear (since many value them of eternal consequence). You must both remember that neither of you can absolutely prove your religious views are true so, in the end, you are both choosing beliefs that work for you. Honor your partner's religious beliefs and their value in his or her life.
No matter what difference in belief or value is, see your partner as an equal and make it a rule to never talk down to him or her.
One final suggestion: Read this article together and ask what you can do to make your partner feel safe, honored and respected, and let him or her know what you need from them.
We get into trouble whenever we see any person, or group of people, as less, wrong, bad, or off-base and see ourselves as better, right, good or accurate. Humans tend to divide ourselves into groups and adopt arrogant, ego-driven ideas about how we are better. This is a tendency we have to become aware of and stop because I believe it is literally the cause of all the conflict on the planet.
If we can master some of the above suggestions first in our own homes, and create peace and love despite differences, we might bring peace to the rest of the planet. But it has to start with you and me.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am often asked: “What can I do to make my relationship better?” In this article, I want to share some of the basic tendencies of human behavior, which will help you understand the dynamics involved in your relationships and how to improve them.
In other articles, I have written about the two core fears and the four basic value systems, that drive human behavior, and I use them with my clients. The two core fears are fear of failure (I am not good enough) and fear of loss (I am not safe). We all experience both of them every day, to some degree, but each of us has one fear that is more dominant than the other. Thus, we are fear of failure dominant or fear of loss dominant.
It will be a game-changer in your relationships if you understand your own dominant fear as well as the other person’s. When you know their core fear, you will understand their most sensitive trigger — the one that brings out their worst behavior — and what they need to feel safe with you.
Safety is the most important factor in the success of a relationship. If you don’t feel safe with the other person, you cannot show up authentically and you cannot fully love them or yourself. If you don’t feel safe, the other person will always feel like an enemy, at some level, and you will often be at odds. When someone feels safe, they need nothing and have more to give.
2 core fears
Here are the two core fears, and how to make a person who is dominant in each fear feel safe:
Fear of failure dominant
If a person is fear of failure dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel criticized, judged, insulted, unwanted or abandoned. These experiences make them feel they aren’t good enough and put them out of balance.
When you have some feedback for these people, you should deliver it gently. You should also make sure they feel secure about how you see them. To make them feel safe with you, you must give them lots of validation and reassurance. If you can do this — and they see you as a cure to their fear, not a cause of their fear — they will thrive in the relationship.
Fear of loss dominant
If a person is fear of loss dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel taken from, mistreated, disregarded, or that people aren’t showing up for them the way they should be. These people need a certain amount of control over their environment to feel safe.
You must make sure they feel heard, respected and appreciated, and let them be in charge as much as you can. To make them feel safe with you, you should let them be the boss as much as possible, reassure them things will be OK, and take their advice without feeling criticized by it. Understand when they give suggestions or advice, they are only trying to help.
4 value systems
Understanding the other person’s core fear is only half the equation, though, so let me explain the four value systems and what people from each group value most.
Values people and connection: These people fill up by socializing with others, and they get most of their self-esteem and safety in the world from connection and relationships. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to communicate and spend time with you. They need more of your time and affection than you would, and they need you to listen to them, be affectionate and let them have lots of socializing with other humans to keep their bucket full. If they get these things they will feel good and have more to give you.
Values tasks: These people fill up and get self-esteem from getting things done. They need to accomplish and finish tasks, and have good performance in those tasks, to feel safe in the world. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to work and get projects finished. They treasure time alone to get their work done, and they need you to notice and validate what amazing workers they are. If they get tasks done and feel accomplished they will feel better and have more to give you.
Values things: These people get their sense of self-esteem from what they create, build or own. They are artists, inventors, business builders and beauties, and they highly value appearance and how things look. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their need to look good or create amazing things. This may require time away from you, but if they get the time to create things or make themselves look amazing they will have more to give you.
Values ideas: These people get their sense of self-esteem from knowledge, principles, morals, doing things right and knowing answers to problems. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you need to validate their knowledge and expertise in the subjects they are passionate about. This will mean listening to them a lot (even if you aren’t interested in that topic) and giving them the control to make sure things are right. If they have the chance to share, teach or learn more about what they care about, they will be happy and they will have more to give you.
Working with fears and values
The magic happens when you put these ideas together and figure out your partner’s core fear and value system.
For example: If they are fear of failure dominant and value tasks most, they are someone who needs validation about the work they do. Don’t compliment this person on their appearance; tell them how productive, brilliant and hard-working they are. Allow them to be task-focused, have time alone to work, and don’t ever make them the bad guy for being wired this way. Honor the fact that this is who they are and see them as amazing, and it will pay off big.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and task-focused, they need control much more than they need validation. Let this person have some things they can control. Understand that if you don’t get tasks done or if you do them wrong, they could feel mistreated or taken from.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and ideas focused, they need control and to be right as much as possible. They need you to listen to their ideas or knowledge and validate that they know their stuff. Make sure if you think they are wrong, you handle that gently and validate how smart they are.
Are you starting to see how the fears and values go together? When you understand the other person at this level, you will understand their wiring and it will be much easier to make them feel safe.
By the way, having the same fears and values doesn't necessarily make a relationship more successful. The success of a relationship really comes from how mindful, emotionally intelligent and in control of their own fears the parties are. If both people are working on their personal fear triggers and learning how to make themselves feel safe, they won’t expect their partner to do that for them.
No one can cure your fear issues but you, and you have to stay responsible for your inner state and happiness. If you are both learning how to stay balanced, happy, and out of fear, you can work through most issues maturely and will get along great.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Have you noticed in yourself (or others) a never-ending pursuit to change your situation and get something better? Do you find yourself believing if you could just get “there” or have "that," you’d be happy? But when you get “there” you realize you are already wishing you were somewhere else even further along?
The truth is, as long as you believe “better” is somewhere else, you will never be truly happy or present.
As I mentioned in last week’s article on dissatisfaction, humans naturally seek change and improvement because it ensures evolution and the human race continuing. You’re wired this way for a reason, but it doesn’t always serve you. The good news is when you become mindful of this subconscious instinct, you can stop believing that somewhere else is always better than where you are now.
You must understand that where you want to go or what you want to get isn’t necessarily going to be better; it often just gives you a different set of problems. Think about the young woman who says, “I am finally getting married, and all my problems will be over.” Every married person can attest that her problems aren't really over, just replaced by different problems.
This is the nature of life: No matter where you are or what you have there will also be things you don’t have that you wish you had. Likewise, there will be things you do have that you wish you didn’t have. This might be a letdown for you because your subconscious mind really believes in a magical future where everything is right. But don’t worry, I’m going to explain how to get your happy back today.
In my work as a human behavior expert, I have come to believe there are 12 types of people in the world and four value systems we can be wired for. Understanding these four systems can show you what you subconsciously believe you need more of to be happy. Remember, seeing your craving behavior is the first step to changing it. Which of these value systems resonates with you?
People-focused people: If you are this type of person, you tend to crave more friends, better or deeper connection, influence, adventure or comfort, and a better love interest. If you are this type, you don’t like to be alone and are often seeking more time with your current friends or new humans to be in relationships with. You believe once this happens, then you will be happy.
Task-focused people: If you are this type of person, you crave solutions to problems, things being right, projects completed and jobs done. You get frustrated with jobs like dishes and laundry, which are never finished. You don’t feel safe and satisfied until jobs are done and off your plate, but your never-ending to-do list means you can’t ever get there. You seek accomplishments, money that is a reward for hard work and better performance. You believe once these goals are met, then you will be happy.
Things-focused people: If you are this type of person, the things you own are the scorecard of your worth. You can’t get enough, newer or nicer things. You could have high standards and need the right labels or brands, You could be a shopaholic or a collector. If you could just build, create, buy, or own something better than exists now, then you would be happy.
Ideas-focused people: If you are this type, you crave solutions, change, order, better systems, more knowledge, learning around an obsessive hobby, or just being right and making sure people know it. You seek change in the world and better behavior from other people, then you will be happy.
Does one of those groups sound more like you? Take a minute and own what you are currently seeking that your happiness depends on. Sit in your craving for that and consciously decide how much happiness you are willing to give up today, for that craving. What if you chose to be happy right now without that thing? The truth is, if you can’t set aside your cravings or need for something else and choose to be happy now, you never will be.
In his song "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." You can still have goals for the future and strive to achieve them, just choose to see where you are today as your perfect classroom too. Don’t waste too much time wishing you were somewhere else or you will miss the amazing sunset, fulfilling moment, or precious time with loved ones today.
A gratitude practice that might help is making a list of everything you are grateful you don’t have and everything you are grateful you do have, and choose to focus on those.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
A coaching client recently asked me, “What does it really mean to have high self-esteem or low self-esteem? When is high self-esteem arrogance? And how do you have high or good self-esteem but make sure you aren’t arrogant?”
Self-esteem has been defined as how you generally feel about yourself and your value as a human being. In my opinion, it goes deeper than that. Your self-esteem also shows how emotionally healthy, mature and self-actualized you are.
Are you growing and thriving, or stuck and floundering? People with low self-esteem tend to function in fear and are more ego-driven, while people with high self-esteem tend to function from fearlessness and are love-driven.
Arrogance is an ego-driven judgment that sees some people as less valuable, good, or worthy than other people. I find arrogance to show up more often in people with low self-esteem. That may come as a surprise, but as I explain what low self-esteem is, you will see that only people who doubt their worth need to see others as less than themselves.
People with high self-esteem have less fear of failure and, generally, feel safer in the world. One of the hallmarks of high self-esteem is the ability to acknowledge your flaws and faults, and then take on the work to improve them. You can only do this if you have a solid sense of intrinsic worth that doesn’t change.
After almost 20 years in personal development, I have found only one thing that raises a person’s self-esteem: seeing their intrinsic value as a person (and the value of all human beings) as unchangeable, infinite and absolute.
Below, are my observations of common characteristics found in people with low, medium and high self-esteem. See if you can tell where you function most of the time.
People with low self-esteem:
People with medium self-esteem:
People with high self-esteem:
I find that when people have low self-esteem and are always scared they aren’t good enough, their ego steps in to compensate for that with all kinds of immature, self-absorbed, needy, attention-seeking behaviors. If this is you, thank your ego for trying to protect you but let it know it’s services are no longer needed.
Remember, your value can’t change and you are safe. No matter how you perform or look today, you still have the same value as everyone else. The more you practice this and choose it as your belief or rule on human value, the higher your self-esteem will go — but you won't be arrogant because you'll see everyone else as the same as you. This is the beginning of real self-worth.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a popular local executive coach and corporate people skills trainer. She is the CEO and founder of www.claritypointcoaching and www.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSL.com
When you get triggered by someone or something that makes you feel mistreated, taken from, insulted or unsafe, your body automatically shifts into a sympathetic nervous system response. This is the way your body prepares to flee or fight danger.
In this state, your vision narrows, your heartbeat rises, and your frontal lobe (the part of your brain that is logical, practical, wise, and mindful) shuts down. This happens, because you need all the energy your body has for fleeing.
The problem is that narrow vision and frontal lobe shutdown may have served our ancestors because their troubles were trying to chase and eat them. But today the things that make you feel scared or upset are often just people problems, arguments, or conflicts — all of which would go better if you used logical, practical and wise thinking.
When you are in a fight-or-flight state, your subconscious programming and stress — not your conscious brain — drive your behavior. You aren’t thinking clearly enough to make a thoughtful decision about your words or behavior. You are just reacting, and this type of reaction is not always wise or loving. You are more likely to say something stupid you will regret later.
It's my experience that when people get mad, upset or fearful, they also get selfish. This happens because they are afraid, and fear is all about you. Think about the last time your child did something wrong that made you freak out. Chances are you were feeling fear of failure as a parent and fear of loss around your child’s life and safety. In this place, you might have triggered your fight-or-flight response. This means your entire focus was on saying or doing anything that would make you feel better or safer.
As long as you are a fear-driven, fight-or-flight state, you can’t see anything but your own need to feel safe again. As a parent, you might, therefore, punish the child in whatever way makes you feel safer. You will completely miss what your child needs at this moment. This happens because your fear made you selfish.
You need to learn how to get your brain, logic, love and wisdom back before you respond to any situation or problem. Here is a procedure to follow that should help you avoid acting stupid or selfish when you are mad:
1. Call a timeout
Set up a rule with the people in your life who most often trigger you: Agree that if either of you calls a timeout, you both agree to stop talking and walk away, for about 10-15 minutes, so you can calm down and handle the conversation in a more balanced, logical and unemotional way. As soon as you can tell that you or the other person is getting unbalanced and upset, call a timeout. Use this time to do some of the suggestions below.
2. Do some diaphragmatic breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing means taking slow, deep breaths and pushing your stomach out (as fat as you can) on every in-breath, and sucking in your stomach while you breathe out. Do this for 5 minutes or until you feel calmed down.
3. Focus on personal value and belief
Remember that your value is infinite and absolute. No one can diminish you. You are the same you, no matter what anyone says or does. Remember that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you and every experience is a perfect lesson.
4. See the equality
Make sure you see this other person as the same as you. They are also a work in progress, just like you. Don’t talk down to them or see them as wrong or bad. You might not have done what they did, but you have other faults.
5. Think of the other person
Can you see what the other person is afraid of? Are they afraid of loss or afraid they aren’t good enough? Understanding the fear driving them right now will tell you what they need. Are they tired, hungry or incapable of mature behavior because they haven’t had the opportunity to learn a better way? What has happened in their life, that affects their current behavior?
6. Develop a plan
What are some possible responses to this situation? Think of many, and write next to each option what you think the outcome of choosing that option would be. Figure out a fear-motivated attitude in each response, as well as a love-motivated attitude.
For example, if one option is not to say anything about the offense, a fear-based attitude would be to not bring it up because you are scared to do so. A love-motivated attitude might be to see the other person's fears and realize the offense isn’t about you, then just forgive them and let it go. Which would be healthier? Cross out all the fear-based options and choose a love-based response that feels healthy to you.
The next time you find yourself in a fight mode or feeling angry or upset, ask for a timeout to get balanced, calm and smarter before you continue. Then pull this article out and run through every step. Once you have done this a few times, it will start to be your go-to procedure for smart responding. Fighting smart (instead of emotional, selfish and stupid) will be a game-changer in all your relationships.
Still, you cannot control other people. Sometimes their fear keeps them in fight-or-flight mode, and you can't fix that. Giving them lots of validation and reassurance may help quiet their fear enough that you can have a productive conversation with them. However, if they are badly fear-triggered and can’t get themselves under control, or are abusive or mean, enforce a boundary and don’t communicate with them until they can do it respectfully.
You can do this.
I love your column and appreciate what you say about fear being a problem, but isn’t there some fear that motivates us and keeps us safe? I can think of some fear situations that help me avoid danger or be more motivated. (I) just wondered what you would say to that.
Fear of being physically hurt can prompt behavior that makes you safer, and fear of failure can motivate you. The question is, can you be too afraid of danger and does motivation require fear? Is being fear-motivated healthy? Would being passion- or love-motivated be better?
I will concede that fear for your safety serves to protect you on occasion, but you don’t want to live there. That would be miserable. Being in fear can be motivating, but I believe being motivated by love and passion is better. Sometimes fear is more paralyzing than motivating. However, there is another way that some fear serves you and ensures the survival of the human race.
I write often about seeing life as a classroom and how this mindset helps you to see every single situation, emotion, challenge, process or feeling you experience as existing to serve your growth in some way (and this includes feeling fear). Fear is in your life to serve you.
I actually believe fear is biologically necessary, even critical to our growth because it keeps us in a constant state of dissatisfaction and insecurity — which motivates us to keep growing, innovating, evolving and striving to survive. If we didn’t have any fear, we would get too content and might stop improving, growing and evolving, which could lead to the decline and eventual end of the human race.
That might seem a little extreme, but growth, change and improvement are what push our species forward. We must stay somewhat dissatisfied and insecure so we will do the things necessary to grow. If you were totally satisfied with where you are and who you are, all growth would stop. This might be the reason that as soon as you get comfortable, the universe throws a curve ball your way. The classroom of life requires challenges to keep us growing.
But too much fear is also a problem. Too much fear can have the opposite effect and might hold you back from taking risks, pushing your limits, and reaching new goals because it simply feels safer not to. You might, at this very moment, feel safer playing small in some area of your life.
Too much satisfaction means you are drifting
In his book "Outwitting the Devil," Napoleon Hill says drifters are people who are neglecting growth and mindlessly reacting to life with the same old patterns over and over. He claims that 98% of us fall into this category at times in our lives.
“Those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his own mind. … A drifter accepts whatever life throws in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He doesn’t know what he wants from life and spends all of his time getting just that.”
The universe doesn’t want you to be too satisfied with the status quo. It wants you to learn and grow and keep changing your life. That is what you are here for.
But too much dissatisfaction is also a problem.
Too much dissatisfaction makes you anxious
You could get caught up in a never-ending pursuit of perfection or getting something else. You may develop the mindset that if you could just get this, or get that thing, or accomplish that goal, and get there, then you would be happy. This leads to a life of stress, controlling others, and pushing everything and everyone to meet your expectations.
This type of action is hard on your relationships because your focus is selfishly on you and getting what you want or need to feel better. This is also a miserable way to live. The problem with too much dissatisfaction is as soon as that goal or task is accomplished, you already need something else.
Finding the sweet spot mindset
You must find the sweet spot in the middle, where you are dissatisfied and driven to keep growing while also feeling satisfied and at peace about where you are now. The key to finding that spot is managing your fear instead of letting it manage you. Here is how:
1. Choose the mindset that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you all the time. Understand that every experience is here to serve you because your purpose for being here is growth. This will help you to set aside any anxiety around things not being done or right. It will eliminate the excessive dissatisfaction behind your anxiety and let you feel more peaceful and content. It will help you let go of your expectations and feel satisfied because where you are is perfectly where you should be at this moment. You can still set goals and strive to change and improve the future, but where you are now is perfect for now.
2. Choose the mindset that your value can’t change. No matter what you do, you will always have the same intrinsic value as every other person on the planet. This means you can take risks, try new things, speak up, stretch yourself and risk failure while at the same time feeling safe. This mindset takes failure off the table. You were drifting because you thought it was safer; with this new mindset, you can take risks and still feel safe. You can engage in the classroom and shoot high without fear.
So, fear, dissatisfaction, and insecurity do serve you, but only in that sweet spot where you push yourself to take risks to grow. At the same time, know your value and your journey are perfect, so fear doesn’t take over and make you anxious. It’s all about balance.
I still believe you can protect yourself from physical danger using wisdom and love for yourself instead of fear, and you will be more motivated by love and passion than fear ever made you. But I will concede that some fear is useful for our evolution and growth because, without it, we wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn to rise above fear and choose trust.
You can do this.
I read your recent article about how to tell loved ones you are leaving the family religion. I am having a hard time understanding how my family thinks if someone leaves their religion they are automatically going to be a bad person, who will end up in Hell. What is it about religion that makes people judge others and determine their worth or worthiness, instead of the kind of person they are? And how come we tend to see people with different beliefs as the wrong or bad ones, and think ours are the only right?
It will help to understand some things about human behavior. All human beings (without exception) struggle with some fear that they aren’t good enough. We all compare ourselves with others, worry, and stress about our appearance, property, and performance. Since we naturally struggle with insecurity, our subconscious minds have been working, since we were children, to figure out ways to quiet our fear and feel safer in the world. Here are some of the ways we do this:
Psychologists call this practice of creating “us” versus “them” groups, othering. We see us as good and those other people as bad. This requires us to see the world in a very binary way. There are only two options, us and them, black and white, good and bad, righteous and evil, taller and shorter, or thinner and fatter. This binary, black and white thinking forces us to remove the grey area (where we might not be enough) and clearly put ourselves in a good group. By yourself you might not be good enough, but this group is good enough, even though you only think that because you are seeing the other guys as worse.
The dangerous thing about this human tendency is, it can be used against us. Advertisers know if they can present a cool identity that you could claim just because of the cool people who use their product, you will buy it because you need the self-esteem boost.
Any organization that wants to keep you buying it’s products or in its ranks, can subtly use this tendency to make you see them as the only good one and everything else as bad or evil. The truth is no person is ever all bad or all good (except maybe a few like Hitler, I will give you that). The rest of us are all grey, and purple, or blue striped, and totally diverse and different from everyone else. So, though othering (dividing yourself and joining groups) can provide a temporary boost to your ego, and quiet your fear, there is a cost.
The cost comes to your relationships. It’s hard to have mutually validating, safe relationship, if you tend to see everyone outside your group as bad or wrong. But that is what you need to do to get the self-esteem boost that being in the group provides.
This is the catch. How can you get the benefits of being in a special, elect, amazing group, yet be able to interact with “them” and not make them wrong, bad, un-elect or evil? There is a way, but let me explain about religion first.
The reason religion creates more fear than any other type of grouping is the beliefs are of eternal consequence (at least thats the belief) and God himself is involved in it. Religion makes us more scared and in this fear state, we are going to be less loving, tolerant, and open and more threatened. The more the other religious group insists they are right, they are obviously saying you are wrong, and that makes them a threat.
What you didn’t ask me was, How can you have safer, less threatening conversations and relationships with people, who have different religious beliefs or who see your beliefs as wrong?
The answer lies in removing the fear. Here are some ways to do that:
You can do this.
Coach Kimberly Giles is a sought after human behavior expert and speaker. She is the founder of 12shapes.com and claritypointcoaching.com and provides corporate team building and people skills training.
This was first published on KSL.com
Many couples who are having problems in their relationship get stuck because they are both holding onto resentment over past wrongs. This resentment can build up for years around a long list of slights, offenses or mistreatment. Even if you both learn new relationship or communication skills and start behaving better, the long-held resentment can still trigger your ego to keep some distance.
Your ego rises up to protect and promote you; that is its job. It thinks it’s helping you by holding onto anger or past hurts. It thinks this resentment protects you from further mistreatment, but it’s actually making things worse. When you get stuck in resentment, you are creating a relationship that is distant, passive-aggressive, divided, lonely and cold. This is not the relationship you want.
Take a minute and think about the kind of relationship you do want. If you got to design it and create any dynamics, feelings and behaviors you wanted, what would it look like? Would it be safe, full of trust and love, unselfish, giving, kind and understanding? Would it include both parties forgiving quickly and letting the other be a work in progress? How would you handle disagreements and conflict? Take the time to write down on paper what your dream relationship would look like.
Now, remember you are creating a fantasy and real-life can’t ever live up to that, but you also can’t create something better if you can’t see. So, figuring it out is the first step to creating it.
Next, what kind of behaviors would you need to adopt if you wanted to create this? How would you need to show up differently? You don’t have control over the other person, so you have to start by changing your own behavior. You may want to ask a friend, coach, or counselor to help you figure this out if you can’t see it.
Here are some suggestions for making that happen:
1. Remember life is a classroom and your romantic partner is your greatest teacher
You have attracted this person into your life to help you grow and become smarter, wiser and more loving. Their job is to push your buttons and trigger your fear issues, giving you opportunities to see them and work on them. That is why every relationship is a perfect storm of fear. Your fears create behaviors that trigger their fears, and their fears trigger behavior that triggers you even more. Around and around you can go, getting more distant, unsafe and divided.
When you see your relationship as your perfect classroom, you will see “perfect lessons for you” in every past mistreatment. Those weren’t slights; they were triggers to give you a chance to improve yourself. How did you do? Did you react badly and further damage the relationship? What could you have done differently to turn their fear-driven bad behavior around and stopped the cycle? If you focus more on your own past bad behavior and work on fixing that, you will get a lot farther than you would by holding resentment about theirs.
2. See every moment as your chance to forgive and grow
When you see your spouse’s bad behavior as your own school class, you harbor less resentment and handle situations better. You will also feel more motivated to rise to the occasion and take the high road — because the issue isn’t really about mistreatment; it’s about your growth.
I have written many articles on forgiveness for KSL.com. You should look some of them up because every really good relationship is made of two people who are good forgivers. If your relationship is full of resentment, you aren’t forgiving. You might hold onto past hurts because you think it punishes the other person or protects you from future pain, but this isn’t true. It actually creates less love and more mistreatment. Your partner feels the wall you have up, and this makes them afraid for themselves, so they put their wall up.
You will always create exactly what you fear. In focusing on protecting yourself, you are giving no love and you won’t get any back. When you set aside resentment and forgive, and start giving love (even if it’s undeserved), your partner will genuinely want to love you back.
3. Take responsibility for your fear issues
You must take responsibility for your bad behavior in the relationship. Your insecurities and fears (and the bad behavior they create) are your jobs to fix. Try to name your fear triggers when they happen. Are you feeling fear of failure and not feeling good enough? Do you feel taken from or mistreated (which is fear of loss)? Can you tell which fear your spouse is battling? When you can name them, you will also know what you and they need (validation and reassurance).
When you get triggered, instead of either shutting down or exploding, you can say, “I need you to reassure me and love me through the insecurities this has triggered in me. Could you do that?” Or ask, “What do you need right now to make you feel safer with me?” If you can learn to quiet each other’s fears, the relationship will improve fast.
Your partner probably needs you to listen, honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. They also need you to own your past bad behavior and apologize for it. Even if you think they behaved worse, own your part and say sorry. Being vulnerable and humble creates a safer space where they are more likely to own their bad behavior too.
If you get angry and fly off the handle (regularly) you are, again, having a fear issue and it is your job to fix it. You only get angry or offended when you fear failure or your fear of loss and feel either insulted, taken from or mistreated. If anger is an issue for you, identify the fear trigger that gets you most of the time and start practicing getting a handle on it, all by yourself. Choose to trust your value cannot be diminished by anyone or anything. If your spouse gets disappointed or frustrated with your behavior, there might be some good lessons there, but you still have the same intrinsic value as everyone else. If you see yourself and your value as unchangeable you won’t get angry as often.
Then, choose to trust the universe that you are safe all the time and can’t fail or lose anything unless it serves you to lose it as part of your perfect classroom. If you choose a perspective of fearlessness and safety, your spouse will no longer be a threat, and you won’t get angry or offended as often.
Resentment is by far one of the most dangerous emotion in your relationships. It can build walls and create disconnection that can even become permanent. Instead of worrying about the past, focus today on showing up with love and kindness, quiet your spouse’s fears with lots of validation and reassurance, show them you see their goodness more than their faults, and be quick to own and apologize when you do wrong. Nothing erases resentment faster than a sincere apology.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a human behavior, people skills expert. She is the CEO and founder of 12 Shapes Inc and provides Team Building and People Skills Training for companies and individuals.
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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.