This was first published on KSL.COM
I have written extensively in the past about personality differences and about how we all have a tendency to believe that our way of being is the right way. I've written about different communication styles, different value systems and the different core fears that drive our behaviors to help you understand others and yourself better.
In this article, I want to share personality differences that influence how we show up in our spirituality, religion and faith. We often judge other people when they don't practice religion the way we do. The truth is, no other person will ever have your genes, your parents and your unique life experiences and lessons. So, no other person will view the world, life and spirituality exactly the way you do. We each have the right to be wired our way and see the world from our perspective because we literally can't see it any other way.
We must honor each person's right to be wired the way they are and allow them to be who they are. We must see the value of having different people with different value systems, strengths and weaknesses in our community and choose compassion and gratitude for them over judgment.
As I explain the six spiritual values personality types, understand that you do not fit just one type. You are always a combination of a few — and maybe you even have a little of each — but you will definitely lean a bit toward one or maybe two that dominate the way you practice your faith. As you read about each, think about people you judge because they do faith differently than you do. Remember, there is no absolute truth that says one way of being is inherently better or worse than another. Your value system may tell you that yours is the best, but that is only because you see the world with your value system.
The point in learning about these different types of people is to lessen our judgment, increase our compassion and tolerance, and help us choose love for the people who are different.
The six spiritual values personality types
The enlightenment seeker
These people tend to overvalue personal growth, spirituality and personal spiritual experiences. They often see them as not just the point of life's journey, but as even more important than serving the less fortunate, keeping commandments or being obedient.
Enlightenment seekers take the time to meditate, pray and connect with the divine. They often have amazing spiritual gifts, intuition, visions or dreams. They are always hearing messages and being guided by spirit. They love to share the wisdom they gain and make wonderful teachers or spiritual guides or healers. They serve and give to others this way instead of making casseroles or watching children.
Enlightenment seekers can irritate people who overvalue doctrine, rules, systems or service. Other types don't think they are obedient, service-focused or disciplined enough, but we need people who are like this. We need these seekers to share their spiritual insights and show us how to spiritually connect to the divine.
The servant of the poor
These people tend to overvalue service, especially for people who are struggling, poor, marginalized or in pain. They are highly empathetic and they feel the suffering of others and believe the most important thing one can do is alleviate the suffering of others.
Servants of the poor sacrifice personal time to connect with God, study religion and follow commandments for time to help those who need help today. They find self-esteem, joy and fulfillment in feeding the hungry and showing up for anyone who is down.
Many people assume this way of being is the best value system and the way we should all be, but we also need people who are different from this, who are good at running the systems (churches and religions) and people who take time to have visions and inspired ideas. Servants of the poor can irritate those who see the letter of law as critical because a they will always bend rules to show up for a person.
The do what is righter
These people tend to overvalue the tasks they feel their faith requires of them. They are subconsciously wired to feel their value is connected to their performance and doing all the things God asks. They are obedient (or trying to be), disciplined, and striving to do what is right. This may include a great deal of serving the poor, but it is driven from doing what's right more than feeling the pain of others, like the servant of the poor.
Do what is righters are constantly worried about checking all the boxes, and if they fail to do enough they can be hard on themselves. They also worry about what others think, how they are seen, and they are often people pleasers. Spirituality for these people can be a busy and stressful experience, but they are amazing and productive in all the good they do and how hard they try. They can irritate people who think they are more worried about earning their salvation than they are loving others, but they feel subconscious pressure to earn their value and please God.
The heaven on earth creator
These people believe God means for them to live abundantly and have joy. They strive to create a life of happiness and wealth and then share their blessings with others. They are driven and hard-working but don't much make time for spiritual experiences or studying doctrine. They leave the enlightenment, casserole making, dogmatic ideas and strict obedience to others.
Heaven on earth creators are often very generous and happy to share their wealth with the less fortunate, and without people like this focused on making money and willing to share it, the servants of the poor wouldn't have the means to help others. We need these people and their contributions to make churches, communities and neighborhoods function.
These people can irritate others who fail to see the contributions they make as vital as their own and people who overvalue spirituality and lack balance in their life. Heaven on earth creators understand the importance of balance and they don't let spirituality, religion or faith take over their life. There is nothing wrong with this way of being, but you may think so if you are a type that overvalues spirituality.
The steward of systems
These people are practical, organized and logical. They are the ones who organize and run churches, meditation groups, Bible studies and entire religions. They highly value systems and making organizations function and they understand the need for rules to make this happen. This is something enlightenment seekers, servants of the poor, and heaven on earth creators don't want to do and aren't good at.
Stewards of systems are the ones making plans, creating structure and instituting the policies and procedures needed to make things happen. They are often seen as systemic, letter-of-law and obedience-driven in their practice. They can seem to care more about obedience, repentance, keeping commandments, avoiding sin, and controlling people than they do about love, but that's not necessarily true.
These people see their way of being as loving, because they overvalue the idea that obedience is showing God you love him. They feel God's love for them as they follow the rules. We need these people to be in charge of doctrine, procedures and systems because none of the others want this job.
The knowledge seeker
These people tend to overvalue learning, understanding complex concepts and ideas, doctrine, research and history. They are the great thinkers, writers and seekers of greater knowledge and understanding.
Knowledge seekers love God by seeking to know him and his ways. They spend their spiritual time learning and teaching, and they believe that God wants us to do this. They feel obedient and fulfilled when they are learning and gaining a deeper understanding of God.
These beautiful souls are also needed, though people who undervalue knowledge may be critical of their ways. Knowledge seekers aren't usually as empathetic, giving, spiritual or connected to love as other personality types, but the things they learn and share, serve us all.
For your own spiritual practice: You might want to see the six types in terms of where you are stronger and weaker. Ideally, balance is best and we should strive to be a little of each. If you are deeply entrenched in just one type, you will be overvaluing specific things and undervaluing something else. Could you focus more on areas you undervalue? Would this serve you if you did? Also, acknowledge your strengths and accept those traits and the beauty in them.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
This time of year, our attention returns to back to school and teaching children the skills they need to make it in the world. They obviously need math, reading, writing, history, science and technology, but there are also critical soft skills your child needs that are often overlooked.
Social skills help us create and maintain healthy relationships. These soft skills can greatly affect a person's happiness and success in life, which is why teaching them to children should be a priority.
Here are some signs that your child or teen is struggling with their soft social skills:
Social skills are best taught by example and by finding teaching moments all day, every day to model and point them out. But you can't give what you don't have, so many parents must work on these skills themselves first.
Essential soft skills and tips for teaching them
Self-trust and independence
This means using your own creativity instead of just following directions. Look for opportunities to not help your child accomplish something while supporting them in finding the answer themselves. Ask smart questions that prompt them to gather information, identify their options, and work through obstacles. Remind them they are smart and resourceful and they can do this on their own. Allow them to struggle a bit, so they learn to sit in frustration and learn to keep going anyway.
Handling unfairness, disappointment and mistreatment
Show this by example and make sure you handle these things with maturity, grace and grit yourself. Let them see you handle mistreatment maturely and think through whether this is something to bring up and resolve or let go. Children need to see you talk yourself through disappointment, the process of forgiveness, and having boundaries to care for yourself.
Don't respond positively to temper tantrums or fits. Make sure those behaviors are never rewarded. Instead, look for situations where your child feels unfairly treated or disappointed and talk them through the emotions that come up and what their options are in dealing with them.
Cooperation and compromise
This means learning to be flexible and not always getting your way.
Help your children understand there has to be give-and-take in every relationship. If you give to the other person, they want to give and compromise with you. Let them see you bending and giving up what you want on occasion and at other times asking for what you need.
When they get stubborn and insist on their way, help them to see the pros and cons of this behavior. If they choose to be demanding right now, what is the cost of that behavior? How does it affect the relationship? If they were flexible and giving, what would that create?
Healthy conversations and conflict resolution
This means asking questions to clarify what the other person is experiencing, wants and needs. You can teach this best by modeling the behavior with your children in every conversation you have with them, which will have the side benefit of making them feel valued, seen and important too.
Help them walk through validating conversations with siblings or friends when there is conflict. Show them how to speak their truth in a respectful way and work out a compromise. You can also role-play these kinds of problems or watch for situations in movies or TV shows, then pause the show and talk about a better what to solve the problem.
Processing of emotions and self-control
Show your children that it's OK to have feelings without stopping or stuffing them. It's OK to feel angry, but it's not OK to lash out and hurt others. It's OK to feel disappointed, but it's not OK to have a meltdown or fit. Instead, show them other ways to process their emotions, sit with them, and feel what they are saying.
When these big emotions come, it's important to ask: What could the emotions be here to teach me? Is there a better way to express the feelings, like drawing a picture, going for a bike ride, punching a pillow? What response would help create good relationships?
When a child struggles with self-control, it's usually because they are having emotions or energy that isn't being released. Help them find ways to release these and care for themselves in a healthy way.
Patience and being a good sport
Look for opportunities to make your children wait for things or practice losing a game with a positive attitude. Don't let your child win games or replace everything that gets broken; they need to experience loss and learn to deal with it. Allowing a child to go without even if they are really upset, prepares them for adulthood.
Insist that your child earns the money before they buy something and teach them to deal with cravings (the desire for things they don't have) and not be miserable. You can choose to be happy or you can be miserable. Either way, you don't have the thing. How do you want to live?
Look for examples in movies and TV of people being a good sport and handling loss, and point them out. Practicing patience and being a good sport are essential elements of emotional intelligence they must have to function as a healthy adult.
Teach them good manners
Make sure you say "please" and "thank you," open doors for others, give up your seat for an older person, and treat others with respect and compassion. Don't let them hear you judging, criticizing or gossiping about others. They learn kindness and respect from what you do, not what you say.
Think before you speak
This means before you make a comment ask yourself: Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind?
Teach your children that some things are better left unsaid; and if you are uncertain if something is appropriate, err on the side of saying less. Teach them that words can hurt people and the way we speak to others determines the quality of our relationships. Kind, respectful communication can work through any issue.
Positivity about self and life
Teach your children that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value and no one has more value or importance than any other. The world teaches them daily the opposite, so this is something you must talk about a lot. The world teaches them it's OK to look down on some people and even mistreat them. To counter this, you must constantly teach your children to be respectful and kind.
Also, teach them that their value can't change. No matter what they do, they have the same value as everyone else. Teach them that they are good enough right now and always because their value doesn't change and life is a classroom, not a test. This is probably the most important thing you can give them.
Hopefully, this article gets you started thinking about the relationship and social skills you and your children might need. Just start today looking for teaching moments. You can do this.
This was first published on KSl.COM
This week I want to share some interesting things about human behavior that will help you understand yourself and your loved ones and why we behave the ways we do. I have been teaching people skills and coaching people through relationship problems for over 25 years, and in that time I've come to realize that whatever bad behavior you are seeing in another person (or yourself) it is being driven by their (or your) fears.
If you read my column regularly you've heard that before, but today I am taking it a little deeper because there are some other important truths about human behavior and fear that might also help improve your relationships. Here they are:
Fear always wins
What I mean is you subconsciously make decisions from your fears, way more often than by love or values. Your need for safety is your most basic need. Maslow didn't agree with me on this when he created his hierarchy of needs though. Maslow put food and water as the most basic need and then safety after that, but I think he got it wrong.
This is because, if you are starving but at the same time you are being chased by a tiger, you wouldn't stop to eat. Your safety comes first. Once you were safe, then you would worry about food and water. This makes sense if you are being chased by a tiger, but it doesn't work well in your personal relationships, when you are choosing between fear and love.
When your spouse offends you, you will automatically react from fear and protect yourself before you will respond with love. It's your natural programming to do so. I wish this wasn't true, but your subconscious fears will almost always override your love, values and intentions, unless you consciously choose otherwise.
Behavior driven by fear is inherently selfish and void of love
This is because you cannot do love and fear at the same time. Fear-driven behavior is all about protecting yourself and seeking safety. It is not about the other person and what they need. All bad behavior is driven by fear for ourselves and this selfish, loveless behavior creates a divide in relationships.
When you show up in fear you trigger the other person's fears, too
When you show up in a relationship in fear (instead of love) you trigger fear in your partner. They can feel that you don't love them in that moment and that scares them. They feel unsafe and they automatically respond back in fear, to protect themselves. You will then feel this lack of love in their response and you will be triggered further.
This is the vicious cycle I see in almost all relationships. Can you see it in yours? One person gets scared and responds in fear and this triggers the other to respond in fear and soon, there is no love showing up?
We can change our fear-driven bad behavior and choose love
This fear-driven behavior is something we can work on and change, but it takes a great deal of mindfulness, awareness and practice. Everything I write and teach comes down to recognizing when fear is driving, choosing to feel safe in that moment, and choosing to show up in love not fear. I will be the first to say that it isn't easy, though, because we are subconsciously wired for fear. We do have the power to watch our behavior and thinking for fear reactions though, and consciously choose love-driven responses.
Here are some examples of how fear over love reactions happen:
Example 1: A child loves his parents and wants to make good choices for himself, but he also fears not being accepted by his peers. He might be fear of failure dominant, which means he needs acceptance and validation so badly, he might choose to follow his friends and make poor choices in order to feel safe and accepted. His fears around acceptance will drive his choice, and he will choose safety over love for himself.
The parent loves this child but also fears losing them and failing them. When the child makes a bad choice, the parent gets fear triggered. They react badly, yell, scream, ground the child for a year, or punish them in whatever way will make the parent feel safer again. They might become controlling, if this feels safer. Their parenting behavior is fear-driven though and it is all about them, not what the child needs right now. The parent will put safety before love, the same way the child did.
The answer here is to help the child build their self-esteem and have less fear of rejection, so they don't need approval from their friends so badly. He needs help making choices that are love driven for himself. The parent needs to learn to trust their child's journey and see life as a classroom, not a test. They need to have less fear and more trust in their value and journey. This will help them parent from love and wisdom, doing what's best for their child, not what feels safer for themselves.
Understanding each other's fear-driven behavior brings compassion for why they did what they did though. We understand it because we have the same fears and they drive our bad behavior too.
Example 2: A husband loves his wife, but he has a great deal of fear around losing or wasting money. When he sees the wife has spent money on food that didn't get eaten and went bad, he gets angry and upset with her, even treating her badly. He subconsciously thinks being angry and unkind to her will teach her to be more careful with money, which will make him feel safer. This is fear-driven bad behavior, and he is obviously choosing to act from fear not love.
The wife loves her husband but has a deep fear of failure and feeling attacked and criticized triggers her badly. She doesn't at this point feel safe with her husband. So she pulls back, gets silent and stays away from being close to him. This is also a fear-driven bad behavior that means she is choosing fear over love. She thinks she is safer pulling away.
The husband feels his wife pulling away from him and not wanting to be close to him. This fear-driven behavior of hers triggers more fear of loss and anger in him. Instead of showing up with love at this point, he gets more angry, because that subconsciously feels like it's protecting him. This further triggers her. This vicious cycle of choosing fear over love can continue until there is no love left in the relationship.
The real answer here is for the husband to get help around his fears of loss, waste and money. He most likely has fear issues around being mistreated and disregarded, and these are his fear issues to solve and manage. He must learn to see loss and recognize that acting from fear won't create what he wants in his marriage. He has to learn how to handle situations with love and respect, if he wants love and respect back.
The wife hopefully can see why her husband behaves the way he does and understands that when he lets fear dictate his behavior, it's not really about her, it's about his own fear of loss issues. She must learn to manage her fear of failure issues, so when she is criticized, she can see it's about his fear and not take it personally. She must learn to make herself feel safe so she can show up with love and forgiveness when he is scared.
Here are the core principles from all this:
This was first published on KSL.COM
I absolutely love your KSL articles. They are so real, helpful and interesting. I am married to an amazing man who is divorced, and I was widowed. We are very happy together. We each have three children. They are all married, some with children of their own. We get together probably once a month, but here's where I need help.
My husband gets lots of love, attention and affection from my kids, whose dad passed away when they were young. We were alone for 12 years, so my husband is a godsend in many ways. However, I feel poorly treated, unappreciated and mostly would rather not spend time with his kids. They ignore me, treat me like a second-class citizen, and at the end of the activity I get a hug and a very fake "love you" (at least it feels fake to me).
I feel like I try so hard but still feel rejected every time we are together. Even after all these years as their stepparent, they don't really know me or like me. I would love some insights on this subject and how to shift this so I can feel better. Can you help?
Blending families is complicated business because there are complex emotions in play for all involved. If you understand these dynamics, it can help you to take things less personally and have more compassion for each member of the family. I can't possibly explain every possible dynamic for every parent, stepparent and stepchild in this one article, but see if you can identify the dynamics in play with your blended family.
Here are a few common blended family dynamics.
Dynamics of stepchildren
Stepchildren dynamic 1
Some stepchildren view their stepparent as a wonderful person who is making their family whole again. When they lost their natural parent (to divorce or death), they were left with a gaping hole in their lives, which the stepparent has stepped in to fill. The stepparent won't ever really replace the loss, but he or she has made it less painful. Stepchildren who are experiencing this dynamic are easy to bond with and they make the stepparent feel safe and accepted.
Stepchildren dynamic 2
Some stepchildren see their stepparent as the symbol of all they have lost. The stepparent literally represents all the pain that has come from having their family ripped apart. Every time they see the stepparent, they are reminded that their family isn't whole and the way it "should be." The stepparent represents all that is wrong with their world. These stepchildren struggle to see their stepparent as a person with feelings. They feel resentful toward him or her, as he or she is standing where their real parent should be. They try to accept and appreciate the stepparent, but their subconscious mind is always screaming that he or she shouldn't be there.
It is important that you not take this personally. It really isn't about you at all; it is about the child's feelings of pain and loss. It isn't that they don't like you as a person, and you are right: they probably don't even know you, and that doesn't feel fair. Many of the dynamics in stepfamilies aren't fair, but they are what they are. These are real people processing painful emotions. The bad news is it can take them decades to work through these feelings and they have the right to be experiencing them for as long as it takes.
If your stepchildren are this dynamic, it's best to allow them to be here. You can choose to honor and respect their right to be triggered and experience pain and loss around you being in their lives. It's OK for them to feel that way. They lost the family they wanted. It's just what it is.
The more you resist this dynamic, wish it wasn't here, and push the children toward accepting and loving you, the more they will resist doing so. The best thing you can do is allow them to be where they are. Decide to treat them with love and respect anyway, and do it for you and your spouse — not because you are getting anything back.
If you consistently show up with love and compassion, allowing your stepchildren to be wherever they are, they will soften over time as their pain dissipates. But the older they were when you joined the family, the longer it takes to get here. Be patient and trust that the way things are is creating a perfect classroom experience for all involved.
Stepchildren dynamic 3
Some stepchildren are in such acute pain over the divorce, it causes them to act out, lash out and misbehave, even trying to destroy the relationship between their parent and new stepparent. They often get encouragement to do this from the other natural parent who is also vengeful about the new marriage. These kids are in a horrible position because if they like the stepparent at all, they are betraying their natural parent. They are forced to hate the stepparent, and all these emotions of unfairness, betrayal, conflict and confusion can create difficult situations for all involved.
These kids also deserve compassion and understanding for the difficult situation they are in. If you are the stepparent here, you have to get really thick skin and understand, again, this isn't about you. All the advice above applies here, but you may have to accept that they will never accept you and that's OK, too. You must know that your value isn't tied to what they think of you.
As long as your marriage is good, you can weather the storm and raise these kids, even with them not liking you for much of the time. Let go of your expectations and allow this situation to be what it is. This will make it less painful for you.
Dynamics of stepparents
Stepparent dynamic 1
Some stepparents are impatient in wanting their new family to look and feel like heaven on earth. They expect everyone involved to see how great this new family is and be excited about it. When this doesn't happen, they are disappointed and frustrated. They even feel mistreated, which means they can start resenting the family members who are resisting this union.
These stepparents can behave immaturely, get dramatic, emotional or upset whenever they aren't treated the way they think they should be. This makes it harder and harder for the natural parent, who feels stuck between wanting to support their children and their new spouse but can't do both and is often forced to choose, which never goes well. Most of these relationships don't make it.
Stepparent dynamic 2
Some stepparents understand that blending families takes time and patience. Everyone involved is processing a deep sense of loss and mourning the family they wanted to have. This means complex emotions are in play that require more understanding, allowance, compassion and maturity. These stepparents know it takes years, if not decades for some members of the family to work through their feelings of loss and accept this new situation.
This means the stepparent must have thick skin, not take mistreatment personally, and be extra patient and understanding when they are treated unfairly. This is not easy to do, but they keep trying. They know they must allow each member of the family to be where they are and not push or rush them.
These stepparents work hard to show up with kindness, respect, love and patience at every family gathering — no matter what they are getting back — and constantly remind themselves that their value isn't tied to being accepted. They are safe and fine even if their stepchildren can't love them yet. Of course, they can't maintain this perfectly all the time, but they keep reminding themselves that their sense of safety comes from knowing their value can't change and this family dynamic is providing perfect lessons for all involved. You can be this kind of stepparent by just deciding to be and working at it.
There are many wonderful books on stepparenting and blended families, and I honestly recommend you read them all. The divorce rate for second families is 66%, and 75% for third, according to The Stepfamily Foundation. So, the odds are basically against you. I only mention this to motivate you toward reading and learning every skill and tool you can for making it work.
I have found couples who are committed to this work, read books together, get outside help and keep learning and growing can thrive and create blended families that thrive. You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My spouse and I read your article last week about understanding the fear behind our behavior, and it's really helping us see what's going on when we fight. But we both are prone to getting offended way too easily. People often disregard us or are disrespectful, and we both tend to be bothered and frustrated with a lot of people. This also means we are mad at each other a lot, too. I think maybe we need to learn how to let things go and not take things personally, but do you have any advice for doing that?
I have actually
Here are some common qualities of people who get offended too easily:
If this sounds like you, here are some things you can do to stop getting offended so often.
Trust the journey
Choose to see life as a classroom, and that the universe and you together are co-creating the perfect classroom journey for you every day.
This means the people who offend you today are perfect teachers, giving you a chance to grow, be more mature, or see your fears and work on them. When you trust your experiences are the perfect classroom for you, you aren't as offended by them. (Note: I am not talking about abuse here, just garden-variety slights that aren't degrading or abusive.)
You have probably married your perfect teacher, too. He or she will teach you by pushing all your buttons to bring your triggers to the surface so you can heal them. Trusting that your life is a classroom also makes you feel safer; it means life and the universe are on your side and their intention is to always serve you.
Trust your value
Choose to see all humans — including yourself — as having the same infinite value that isn't in question and doesn't change. This means we are all students in need of more education. When you see people this way, you can release the need for judgment and give them all permission to be a work in progress just like you.
Allow others to be different
Allow other people to react, behave, think and be wired differently than you are. They were raised differently and they haven't had your life experiences. Therefore, they have the right to function differently, too.
Give others the room to be the way they are without letting it take anything from you. You both have the same value no matter what, and you have the right to be where you are. Stop expecting everyone to think and act like you.
Learn something from this
If someone criticized you, could it be constructive and could you learn something from it? Life is a classroom and that is why you are here. What could you gain from this criticism if you chose not to take offense?
Flip the insult to see if it's still true
If someone has "disrespected you," write that on a piece of paper. Then write "I disrespect me" and ask yourself if it's still true.
If it is true, consider that your own disrespect of yourself might make you feel others are disrespecting you when they really aren't. Is there any chance the way you see yourself has been projected onto this other person? You do this more than you might think. If you don't like yourself, you will also project that and believe others don't like you either.
Double-check their intent
Ask yourself: Did this other person really intend to do me harm, insult or disregard me? Or is there any other meaning their actions could have? Usually, the other person was focused on their own issues and missed what they did or said completely.
If they didn't intend harm, is harm done that can't be let go? We hold onto intentional hurt because we believe it protects us, but unintentional hurt is best let go. Also, give the benefit of the doubt that that other person didn't mean to offend.
Let go of the need to be right
Sometimes it's OK to let another person think they are right even when they aren't. If it improves the relationship, why correct them? Choose your battles and try to allow others to do things their way as much as you can.
Forgiving is not pardoning bad behavior; it is changing the way you see the bad behavior so you can change the way you feel about it. It's about letting negative emotions and feelings go and trading them for peace and happiness. When you see an offense as a perfect classroom and the person as having the same value as you, and you choose to see growth and learning in it, it becomes much easier to forgive.
If this is hard for you, start a forgiveness practice journal and work on it daily. Choose an offense or a mistake you have made every day and process it to forgiveness. Choose the positive feelings you want to experience around this and practice choosing them.
Consider your options and possible outcomes
What is the outcome you will create if you choose to be offended or hurt by this? What kind of behavior will you exhibit in response? What will that create? Is this what you want?
What are some other options? What would you choose if you knew you were safe and good enough? What would a love-driven response look like? What would that create?
If you are still having trouble being offended often, consider working with a coach or counselor who can help you establish your own sense of safety in the world so you can feel more bulletproof. A professional who knows how to do this can help immensely.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
We all have faults, flaws, bad habits or features we don't like, and these make us feel we have less value than other people. We might put ourselves down, use self-deprecating humor, or often comment about how overweight, stupid or unsuccessful we are.
Many of us learned as children that we might not be good enough, and this belief has stuck with us. Even if we become successful, fit or more attractive, we always battle this same deep subconscious belief that we aren't quite enough. I believe every person on the planet battles this belief to some degree every day, but some people experience negative thoughts about themselves to the extreme and even suffer from self-hate.
After 20-plus years as a master life coach working with people to improve self-worth, I have found three things you can do that will make a significant difference in your ability to love yourself. They are:
Change how you determine human value
Many people have a subconscious belief that human value can change. Think about this. Do you believe if you could look better, perform better, or make more money, your personal value would go up? Do you also believe that if you make mistakes, gain weight, or lose money, your personal value goes down? If so, this is why your self-esteem changes from day to day: you subconsciously believe human value must be earned and therefore can change.
But this is not true.
Many of us subconsciously accepted this belief as a child because the world promotes it. Still, it's not a fact — and it's often what is making us feel like we aren't good enough all the time. If you find yourself in this belief system, the good news is you have the power to change this belief any time you want.
Instead, you can choose a belief that all human beings have the same infinite, absolute, intrinsic value that cannot change. No matter what we do or how we look, we still have the same value as every other human because that's how this system works. Of course, this is also a belief, not a fact — but it's a belief that will improve your life, so I recommend choosing it.
To internalize this belief, you must do two things
Choose to see life as a classroom
Because of a subconscious belief that human value can change, many of us have also, subconsciously, seen life as a test or place where you can fail. But again, this is just a belief. It's not a fact.
You have the option to choose a new belief here, too. You could choose to believe that life is a classroom. The difference is that in a test your mistakes diminish your value (or your grade). In a classroom, the focus is on learning not earning a good grade. If you choose to view your life as a classroom, you get to see every experience as a learning opportunity that allows you to experience something and learn from it without affecting your value.
You can start doing this today. Choose to trust the universe that it knows what it's doing and that your classroom journey is serving you. The more you trust the universe that it's on your side and conspiring to grow you, the less stress you'll experience and safer you will feel. This will greatly impact your feelings of self-worth and take failure off the table.
Commit to a forgiveness practice
Make a few lists
The trick to using forgiveness to increase your self-worth lies in forgiving three different groups of people.
They show you there are faults or dark parts that you believe make people unworthy; and as long as you see other people's faults as making them unworthy, you will also see your own faults as making you unworthy.
The way you judge others is always tied to the way you judge yourself. You must shift your mindset, which is what forgiveness really is – a change of perspective that eliminates pain and hurt — if you want to love yourself more. You must work on loving and forgiving others, seeing their life as a classroom and their value as infinite. The more you do this, the more you accept these truths for yourself, too.
Process your lists
Take some time every day to process through one of the people, faults or experiences on your lists. You can process them by writing about their darkness and why you have felt justified to dislike this person or this part of yourself. Then, write about your other options and how you could choose to see and feel about them. Write about how it would feel if you chose to see their value as unchanging and infinite, and your life and theirs as a perfect classroom. How could you choose to see them or yourself with love and compassion?
Again, this doesn't mean you are going to hang out with or trust this person, it just means you are going to change your feelings to eliminate pain, hate, guilt, shame or anger. Instead, you'll choose to live in trust, love, compassion, peace, and acceptance.
The more you choose compassion and give infinite value to others, the more compassionate you will become toward yourself. Take all the time you need and just keep working on one person, fault or experience each day. Turn them over to God and allow him to handle the justice. Remember, nothing exists God or the universe did not create for the purpose of our growth.
I believe that forgiveness makes a bigger, faster difference in a person's self-esteem than any other practice. But, it might take some time and consistent effort. There are also books, journals, resources, coaches and counselors that can help you in this process. Just make it your goal to become more compassionate, forgiving, and trusting toward yourself and others. Try to avoid judgment, criticism and speaking ill of them. This will pay off in a greater capacity to love and accept yourself.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
It doesn't matter what the cause of the trouble is. It could be long-term relationship issues, loneliness, health or financial problems, or anything else that doesn't have an easy solution and means long-term angst or pain. How do you cope, stay positive, move forward and make the best of these worst situations?
I was thinking about the answer to this question this week as I had the opportunity to ride up and down the Hiawatha Bike trail in Montana, which means riding through a train tunnel a mile and a half long. If you have never had this experience, I highly recommend it. You actually ride over numerous suspension bridges and through nine different train tunnels. This experience brought the idea of "light at the end of the tunnel" to life in a powerful way for me.
In these tunnels, you quickly lose sight of the end — there is literally no end in sight. It is pitch dark and all you can see is about 6 feet in front of you, as that is all your headlamp illuminates. There is nothing to reflect light off straight ahead, so all you can see is the ground in front of you.
There is also water dripping on you from above and mud splattering you from the front and rear tires. It can be disorienting and a bit scary. It's only the voices up ahead of you that assure you others are making it through this, and you can too.
This experience reminded me of some great ways to hang on, stay positive, and get through when things in life are dark:
Only focus on the present moment
I recently visited with a man who battles a nerve disease that causes constant and severe pain, and it will most likely continue for the rest of his life. He told me that if he tried to carry the weight of all the days, months and years of pain that he faces ahead, it would crush him. The trick is only to focus on what's right in front of you today.
Get through this hour or this 30 minutes with as much joy, laughter and grit as you can. Don't think about the days, months or years ahead. Stay present and be in the moment. It's just like me in the actual tunnel, where 6 feet was all I could see: I had to keep a laser focus on that small part because the rest of the darkness was overwhelming.
Whatever you are facing, take it one small moment at a time.
Choose joy as much as possible
Find the small blessing and beauty in each moment. Look for the positive in every single moment. Listen to music, watch the sunset, appreciate the things you do have. Choose joy over something in every moment you are alive.
Joy is a choice, it's not an experience. You have the power to find reasons for joy all the time.
You've heard the saying, "Things could always be worse." You might think of ways this is true.
Don't compare yourself with people who have it better than you do. That will only bring grief and loss. Instead, try comparing yourself with everyone you can think of who has it worse. This will help you spend your time in gratitude for what is right in your life.
You are certainly entitled to a full-blown pity party on occasion, but do not live there. Sit in the feelings of loss, unfairness, self-pity, anger or grief. Let yourself have the emotions that come, then decide that you aren't going to live there. You are going to focus on the blessings, small as they may be.
Find support and people who understand
It helps immensely to find people who have been in your shoes or are still there. They get what you are experiencing at a level no one else can. Seek these people out and befriend them. Start a support group and reach out to others who are suffering that you can help.
Choose to trust that there's purpose in your pain
We cannot prove this is true, but you cannot prove it isn't true either. The one thing I know is that people who choose to trust there is purpose in their experiences suffer less. It helps to think that at least this experience is benefiting them in some way, teaching them and making them stronger, wiser or more loving.
Viktor Frankl, a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II, said, "In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning." I choose to believe that life is a classroom (not a test) and the purpose of everything is to grow us and teach us. I find that believing this as your meaning makes the hard parts feel a little easier. You will have to see if it works for you.
Choose to see everyone in their perfect classroom journey
Choose to believe that if others have life easier than you, there is a reason for that, too. Every single person is here to learn different lessons than you are, so their curriculum won't ever look like yours. Stop comparing. Decide to trust that others will get the hard parts of their lessons at a different time or in a different way, but everyone gets the perfect classroom for them.
I don't believe that God sent this trial to you though; I believe God created a universe to be our teacher and there are forces at work here that work with our choices to create the perfect classroom for each soul. But, again, I can't prove this is true. It is just a belief. I just find this belief helps.
Get some help from a coach or counselor
Find someone you connect with and feel safe with. Having someone to support you during this time makes a huge difference. Working with a professional who can help you process emotions in a healthy way, find coping strategies, and just listen makes all the difference in how you handle the rough stuff.
Distract yourself from the pain
Find activities that fill you up, bring you joy, or entertain and distract you from thinking about the problem. Don't ignore the problem, stuff your feelings and just watch Netflix to get through. Get help, find support, talk to a coach or counselor, and make sure you are learning and growing from the experience. Then, keep yourself busy doing things that bring you joy and fill you up as much as possible.
It's never fun to go through hard things or dark times, but these suggestions may help you get through those parts of life until the light at the end of the tunnel finally comes into view.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
In many of my KSL articles, I have written about the two core fears we all have: fear of failure and fear of loss. These fears drive many of our choices and behaviors, but they aren't everything. Your core values also influence every decision you make. There is great power in finding and claiming your unique core values, as doing so could make a significant difference in your life.
Your core values, whether you know them consciously or they play out subconsciously, form the basis of your self-esteem, the kinds of relationships you choose to be in, how fulfilled you are in your work, and your general sense of purpose and happiness.
If you highly value connection but have a job that means working alone in a cubicle all day, you might not be very happy in your career. If you don't have many friends, that could make you feel like a failure and lower your self-worth. But a person who values hard work more than connection might be very happy in both those situations, for example.
If you don't consciously know what your core values are, you might find your life lacks meaning. You might be living by rules or values that other people have either given or pushed upon you. If you live like this, you might feel like you're betraying yourself all the time and you probably won't feel satisfied. You might also be choosing relationships or partners that aren't right for you.
Why should I define my core values?
Here are some of the benefits that come from consciously defining your core values:
How do I define my core values?
Now that you understand the benefits of knowing your core values, I will give you a process for finding your values and claiming them. This will require some journaling and some uninterrupted time, but it will be worth the effort. Take time to really think about and answer the following questions and follow the process to the end.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Many of us were taught as children things like "make others happy," "be nice," "be unselfish," and "sacrificing yourself for other people is righteous." We were taught to be afraid of what others think of us and to avoid conflict at all costs.
Were you accidentally or intentionally taught these things as a child?
See if any of the following sound like you:
The following are suggestions for what you can do to start changing yourself to become more authentic and in control of your life.
Don't commit to anything on the spot
Make it your rule that you always say, "Can I check my calendar and get back to you?" Then step back and ask yourself, "Do I really want to do this, or am I saying 'yes' out of guilt, obligation or a fear of rejection or judgment?" If you can say "yes" because you truly want to do it, say "yes." If you are saying "yes" because of fear, you must say "no."
Practice saying 'no'
Look for every opportunity to get more comfortable with saying "no." You are not selfish or a bad person if you occasionally choose your own happiness and possibly disappoint others. Watch for opportunities to show kind assertiveness. Kindly say, "No, I don't want to do that right now. Thanks, though." Practice saying "no" with no explanation about why so the other person can't try to persuade you.
Try saying 'I don't' instead of 'I can't'
When some people hear the words "I can't," they become committed to changing your mind on that. They try to solve the problem for you so you can still do the thing they want you to do. But using the words "I don't" declares a firmer boundary.
Practice saying things like, "I don't have time for that," "I don't do those things," "I don't want to talk about that right now," or "That doesn't work for me." These phrases are more assertive and powerful, yet they can be said with a kind tone.
Learn how to be both strong and loving at the same time
Somewhere in childhood, many of us got the idea that you can either be strong (mean and selfish) or loving (weak and scared), but we can't be both. You will find your power and your courage when you realize you can do both at the same time. You can disagree, but do it with fearless, loving kindness.
I find the trick to finding this place lies in trusting there is nothing to fear. At the end of this interaction, you will still have the same value as every other person and your life will still be your perfect classroom. So, you are basically bulletproof. Focus on your loving kindness for the other person and respond with strength and love.
Learn the trick to strong boundaries
Everyone tells people pleasers to have strong boundaries, but how does one do that? I wrote a previous article on this topic you might want to read. I find the key to good boundaries is knowing what your priorities and values really are so you can say "no" to things that don't match up. If you haven't defined them, you don't know how to make good choices for yourself.
Define what your core priorities and values are
What is most important in your life? Sit down and make a list. You might value things like:
Give yourself permission to be you
It's OK to be different from others and have views they won't agree with. Have a unique style or way of being and do this from a place of trust that no judgment from others can change your value. Consciously choose to not worry about what others think of you. Their ideas have no power and don't mean or do anything.
Get more comfortable with conflict and anger
You may be so afraid of anger that you avoid conflict at all costs — and the costs can be high. To change this, you need a new official policy: "Conflict happens all the time, but it is nothing to fear."
Anger doesn't mean anything except that a human is having some emotions. Those emotions don't mean you aren't good enough or are unsafe. Anger is not something you need to fear.
You can get more comfortable with anger by slowly subjecting yourself to situations where people might get angry and practicing being OK and choosing to feel safe anyway. Do some things like sending back a meal that isn't cooked right, spending a long time at the ATM when people are waiting, saying "no" to someone, asking someone to stop doing something that is annoying you, or purposely not doing something you were asked to do.
Then you get to manage the ensuing conflict or anger with strength and love at the same time. Or instead of creating conflict, just watch out for natural opportunities to practice.
Practice putting your needs first
Putting your needs first may make you feel horribly selfish, but I promise you aren't. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's wise and healthy. You should have an equal balance between giving to others and taking care of yourself.
Understand that avoiding conflict doesn't promote growth
Most of the growth in relationships happens in times of conflict. Those are the moments when we are asked to become more aware of our behavior, our words or our thinking. We have to stretch and put ourselves in the other person's shoes.
When you avoid all conflict, you avoid the best learning opportunities you are going to get. Try to see each conflict experience as being in your life to serve your growth. Don't avoid it. Jump in and see what you and the other person can learn and how you can become better.
Stop saying 'sorry'
People pleasers apologize way too much. Sometimes they come across as feeling sorry they exist and that their breathing causes any inconvenience to others. You deserve to exist and sometimes cause inconvenience to others, as they will do the same to you.
Your relationships should have give and take, and sometimes you will be the taker. Consciously watch for the desire to say "I'm sorry" and instead say "thank you" for their patience or accommodating you this time.
When you do something that really injures someone, still don't say "sorry." Asking "Could you forgive me?" is much more powerful and means more.
Find activities that increase your courage and confidence
I find that doing adventurous things, challenging myself and accomplishing goals helps me become mentally strong. Even lifting weights and being physically being strong helps me to feel more emotionally strong — there is a correlation between the two types of strength. Become stronger all the time.
Change your belief about your value
People pleasing is a deeply ingrained tendency that comes from a fear of not being good enough. Because you don't see yourself as enough, you believe you need approval from others to give you value. The biggest thing you can do to change this behavior is to choose to see all humans — including yourself — with the same infinite, unchanging value as everyone else. The more you see your value as unchangeable the less validation you should need from others.
Changing this will take practice, effort and time. The first step is recognizing you need to work on this and committing to the work.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Our regrets can haunt our present and cause us to miss opportunities to show up today. We also fear that bad decisions mean we weren't good enough, and we grieve the lost opportunities down the roads we didn't take.
But, we can't change the past. Worrying and stressing over past mistakes just robs today of its potential joy.
It is interesting to note that a recent study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people experience more regret over the things they didn't do than the things they did. Is that true for you? Do you regret the chances, trips and opportunities you didn't take or try?
Either way, every second you spend agonizing over the past, you are missing opportunities to be present, connect with people around you, or do things that matter now. If you spend time in regret on a regular basis, here are some suggestions for ways to let go of the past.
Make sure you have experienced the grief and painWhen you lose opportunities or make mistakes it is natural to feel some regret and grieve for the loss. You must allow yourself to feel these emotions and sit with them. They are part of the human experience, and it is healthy to allow yourself some time to feel disappointed, but you don't want to live there.
You might give yourself a limited time — like one week or one hour — to fully feel the pain and regret and then be done with it. Decide that it doesn't serve you in any way to live there, so you are going to chose to be present and make good choices today.
Stop asking 'what if' questions
You cannot change the past, so spending time imagining how things could have been if you had made different choices doesn't serve you at all. Instead, ask yourself "What will happen if I keep regretting this decision for the rest of my life? What is regret giving me? What is regret going to create in my life? What would life look like if I let regret go?"
The best way to forgive yourself for past mistakes is to choose the belief that human value is unchangeable, infinite and equal: all humans have the same value. This means your mistakes were interesting lessons that taught you things, but they don't mean anything about who you are and they don't change your value.
If you choose to see your past choices as the perfect classroom for you and believe they served you in some way, it is easier to forgive yourself. Everyone makes some mistakes and you are not worse or less than because of yours. They are nothing but lesson experiences.
Spend some time writing out all your regrets and disappointments. Make a list of all the times life didn't go well for you, you lost or were mistreated. Then make a list of all the things that went your way. Write all your wins, good-luck experiences, and positive turns of events. Make sure you write down all your blessings and the positives in your life. Understand that the nature of this journey is that life is filled with both good and bad experiences and they all are meant to teach you things.
See life as a perfect classroom
Whichever road you took, it taught you things your soul needed to learn. That's how the universe works. You never miss the perfect classroom experiences for you because the universe knows what it is doing.
The amazing Eckhart Tolle said, "Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." If you believe this and trust the universe, you will see that it is always conspiring to teach and grow you. Even the losses can be lessons and blessings.
See mistakes as locations on your journey
What is a mistake anyway? Is there such a thing? Maybe all your choices were the perfect classroom choices for you and not mistakes at all. You could choose to see mistakes as locations on your journey, not a reflection of who you are.
I went through a series of bad relationships. Those were life experiences that taught me many things, but they didn't change my value and they didn't define who I am. They were just things I experienced. I have traveled through divorce, being a single parent, experiencing financial troubles, etc. These experiences were interesting parts of my journey, but they aren't about my value.
Do a regret exercise
Make a list of the choices you regret. Then write down 10 positive things that each of those choices has brought into your life. This is an exercise Viktor Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning," recommended to his patients. If you can see the positive impact those wrong choices had on your life, you will feel differently about them. Seeing the lesson will lessen the sting.
Often those choices taught you important things about the kind of person you don't want to be. They made you less judgmental of others. They helped you become who you are today. Thank yourself for making those choices and choosing those beautiful lessons. You were right on track in your perfect classroom journey (or you can choose to see it that way if you want to).
Forgive other people for their mistakes
The way you feel about your own mistakes and the way you judge or criticize others for their mistakes are intricately tied together.
If you are quick to judge others and see their faults as making them unworthy, you will likely also see your own flaws as making you unworthy, too. If you decide to give everyone the infinite, unchanging value I mentioned earlier, you will find that you feel your unchanging value, too.
You love yourself the same way you love others, so a powerful way to feel better about yourself is to forgive others and let them be worthy despite their mistakes, faults or flaws. Make this a daily practice. The more you see them as worthy and love them where they are, the more you will also love yourself.
Life is School
Understand that your life isn't a test where you have to perform well and earn your value. It isn't a contest that compares your performance with others; it is a school where you are here to learn and experience things that will help you become smarter, stronger and more loving.
Stop comparing yourself with others. They are in a different class. You are the only one in your class.
The classroom of life requires you to experience wins and losses. It wants you to get to experience regret, guilt, shame and pain so you can fully understand the human experience. But these experiences don't determine who you are or they don't change your value, and they definitely don't define you. Let the past go. It is over and gone. Be present today and show up with trust and love. Keep your focus on the good you can do in the world today.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.