This was first published on KSL.COM
Question:I admit I have high standards and expect my kids to excel and get really good grades, but I would feel like a bad parent if I didn’t. My husband and I are both over achievers who have post-graduate degrees, and we have been successful in business. Of course we want the same kind of life for our kids. A friend recently asked me if I think I put too much pressure on them and I guess I’m not sure. I think maybe there is a fine line between too much pressure and not enough, at least in my opinion. I also expect my kids to be pretty independent and responsible, but this friend made me feel like she thinks I’m there for my kids enough. I would be open to an outside opinion on what’s too much pressure, I really want to be a good parent and raise them right. Your articles have been helpful in the past so I thought I would ask.
Answer:The thing you must be aware of is more and more kids from affluent families, who have supportive parents, are suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and substance abuse, and these kids are the most at risk for suicide.
An article in The Atlantic magazine about the suicide rate in Palo Alto, California, showed how often kids from wealthy families end up stressed, miserable and suicidal. The author, Hanna Rosin, said the major factor for these kids is pressure from parents that leaves them tired, discouraged and feeling alone.
There is an interesting book called "The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids," which might interest you. Author Madeline Levine says there is a toxic combination that happens when there is too much pressure to succeed and not enough connection with their parents. Those two together create the risk.
She says parents are too often over-involved in some things while being under-involved in others. For example, they care a lot about grades but don't take time to listen and connect.
Here are some warning signs that your child may be at risk:
You must be realistic about the world you live in today; 5,400 teens take their life every year, and untreated or unrecognized depression is the No. 1 cause.
Seventy percent of teens today suffer from at least one episode of depression before adulthood. Academic stress, family financial struggles, romantic problems, peer pressure, divorce and traumatic life events are usually the catalyst, but a lack of good mental and emotional coping skills then turns into depression or anxiety.
Psychotherapist Karen Ruskin, Ph.D, says parents need to be supportive, not pushy. She says "the key is to be your child's biggest fan and nurturer” and make sure their mental and emotional health are your main concern. Many parents struggle to teach kids how to process emotions, because they don’t know how. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
Parents must upskill themselves first and become more mentally and emotionally resilient. Then, make it a high priority to teach children how to handle life and maintain confidence and self-esteem.
Here are a couple of other important things you must do:
1. Allow failuresThis means not overreacting from fear when they happen, and making sure a child knows their value as a person is not tied to their performance, grades, sporting events or anything else. Teach kids their intrinsic value is the same as every other person on the planet and nothing can change it. They cannot be less than anyone else and they can’t be better either.
When failure happen say, “Well the good news is that doesn’t change your value at all. How do you feel about it? Is there anything to be learned for next time? Is there anything I could do to help?” When you have failures, you must also model a healthy way of handling them.
2. Teach life is a classroom, not a testThis goes along with No. 1 — make sure they see every experience as an interesting lesson that showed up to help them grow, but doesn’t affect their value at all.
3. Teach and model good self careIt is your job to make sure you feel good and are creating a life you want to live in. Parents who model this behavior give kids permission to make life enjoyable and recognize when they are emotionally drained and what they need to do to get back up, Make sure you don’t call yourself stupid, live in constant stress and panic, and are unhappy most of the time. These behaviors teach kids all the wrong lessons. If you need help getting your own life and thinking on track, get some.
4. Teach kids to follow their own inner truth about what is right for themTeach them to make their own decisions by letting them. They sometimes need guidance and to learn how to stick to things that are hard, but teach them that they alone are entitled to choose what activities, sports and hobbies are right for them and honor their feelings.
5. Spend quality time asking questions and listeningThis is probably the most important thing you can do. Make sure they feel heard and understood and that you honor and respect their right to their own ideas and opinions. Respect and caring is a two-way street, and you must give it if you want it back.
You must remember the most important thing your child needs to make it in the world isn’t an ivy league education or perfect grades, it’s a good sense of self-worth.
Children who see themselves as capable, strong, smart and valuable rise to the top as adults wherever they go. Make sure instilling confidence and teaching healthy ways to process emotions is your first priority.
Give them lots of opportunities to solve their own problems (with you just asking smart questions to guide them), make decisions and experience the consequences from their choices. Saving them from loss or disappointment won’t prepare them for the real world. Be OK with some failures now, while they cost less.
If you need help to calm down your own perfectionism fears and high expectations, reach out to a good counselor or coach who specializes in overcoming fear. A little professional guidance can change things fast.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a friend who is driving me crazy with the way he knows more about everything than I do. Whatever I say, he knows better or has a different opinion, and I swear he would take the opposite view on anything, just for the sake of argument. I don’t want to quit being friends with him, but I wish there was a way to change his behavior and get him to stop being the expert on everything all the time. There is some great value I could offer this person, but he is not open to hearing what anyone else has to offer. Any advice?
My first question for you is “Are you sure you aren’t also a little attached to your own ideas and your need to be right?”
You seem very bothered by your friend's egotistical behavior, and usually we are most bothered by behaviors that also show up in us. That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. There is a law in the universe I call “You Spot It You Got It.” It means other people serve as a mirror for you, and you often possess the very behaviors you love and appreciate or are irritated over in them.
Whenever you find yourself in judgment of another person, you need to step back and look for that same beam in your eye. It’s highly likely you do the exact same thing to some degree. Bossy people are always bothered by bossy people, and "know it alls" are always bothered by EOEs (experts on everything).
There is a valuable You Spot It You Got It worksheet on our website that can help you check yourself to see if this is happening for you.
Take an honest look at your own need to be right, because we all get overly attached to our ideas, ideals, beliefs and opinions on occasion. We all are guilty of some projection too, where we see our fears and judgments in others. We also tie our ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings to our value as a human being. This means if someone doesn’t agree with us, we subconsciously think they don’t value us.
This isn’t true, but it feels like truth.
After being brutally honest with yourself about how attached you are to your ideas and opinions, you must also be honest about how teachable you are and how much your ego or pride get in the way of learning from others. Ask yourself the following questions:
Bruce Lee said, “The usefulness of the cup is it’s emptiness”
It is only when we are empty that we can be filled with anything new. Being open and teachable means realizing there is always more to learn and being humble enough to embrace that when around other people.
With your EOE friend who struggles with this, you have three options.
1. You could have a mutually validating conversation where you ask questions about how he feels about your friendship first, then ask if he would be open to an observation if it came from love and wanting the friendship to be better. Then, using mostly “I” statements like: I have noticed … I feel … It would mean a lot to me if you would listen and try to respect my opinions a little more moving forward. Would you be open to that? There are worksheets on our website with more specific instructions for how to have these conversations.
2. If you don’t think you’d be comfortable addressing this directly or if you think he’d get defensive or mad, you could just decide to ignore it and love him as he is.
3. Or you could try what I call the “Encouragement Technique” and every chance you get mention how much you appreciate what a great listener he is, and how he validates, respects and honors everyone’s opinions. Even though this isn’t really accurate yet, showing someone the good behavior you know they are capable of often makes them want to be what you see.
This works because most people will want to live up to your highest opinion of them. Telling them they are the person they have the potential to be encourages them to choose that behavior.
If nothing you do changes your friend though, it might be a chance for you to grow in maturity, tolerance and love. Just choose to understand this is where he is and love him anyway.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" Nicole Cunningham is a master coach who works with teens and parents.
I have had some pretty negative feedback in my last review at work and I’m totally at a loss on how to fix it. They say I lack soft skills, communication and people skills, but how do I suddenly start to do better there? What’s the best way to change or improve on those levels? I admit that I don’t always show up great at work because I have a lot of difficult stuff going on at home. I probably bring those feelings to work and they make me harder to deal with. What do I do about that?
Did you know that 85 percent of your career success depends on your people skills? New research has shown that many employers believe interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills are even more important than your hard skills or education.
Mark Murphy, who wrote the book "Hire for Attitude," says 46 percent of new-hire employees are let go within 18 months because their soft skills are inadequate or they have bad attitudes. Much has been written recently about millennials and their severe lack of people skills in the workplace, but the reality is we could all improve in this area. People skills are a definite must if you want career success.
The problem is they don’t teach these skills in school, and if you came from a family with low emotional intelligence, you probably picked up a lot of immature, fear-based, emotional and reactive tendencies. You may not be naturally good at getting along with, motivating or negotiating with others. You may not know how to be emotionally resilient, handle conflict or keep a positive attitude when things get rough. These skills are so important, if your company doesn’t provide training or personal development, you might have to go get some on your own.
Here is a list of some of the most important people skills employers are looking for and ways to improve yours:
The art of not making everything about you:This is really about social-awareness and understanding human behavior. Social-awareness means having empathy, being able to give presentations that are focused on the needs of the audience, not your desire to impress, and being able to anticipate how others might feel in any situation. It means knowing when a comment is appropriate and when your input really contributes and when it isn’t necessary. It means being a good listener, not interrupting others and not taking things personally.Many employers say the majority of their office drama comes from a few people who lack this skill and tend to make everything about them. They seem to lack a social filter and can’t see how their behavior comes across to other people. If you have this tendency in your subconscious programming, a good executive coach can guide you through this and help you understand human behavior at a deeper level. There are also many personal development seminars that facilitate this kind of work. You will have to become open to some serious feedback though, even if it hurts.
Just remember we all have the same intrinsic worth no matter what, and your need for some people skills doesn’t diminish your worth as a person.
Situational awareness and problem solving:This is the ability to see situations accurately and find solutions. It includes being able to prioritize and see what needs to be done first and who the right person is to do each task.Situational awareness is a hard soft skill to learn, but some experts think that doing puzzles, problem-solving games and even video games that include teamwork and strategic thinking may help. Many of these games require you to scan a situation and respond quickly and accurately. Millennials, who employers find lack many people skills, are often strong in this area. Maybe you need to start playing some strategy games and, even better, get your co-workers to do it with you.
Self-awareness and the ability to control your emotions:Can you process situations and how they make you feel clearly and accurately? Can you step back and calm yourself before reacting? Can you recognize what are facts and what are stories or meaning you have inaccurately applied?Self-awareness also includes the ability to know how much personal information is appropriate to share, clarity about your own strengths and weaknesses and the ability to own your mistakes, apologize and learn from them. If you can tell you aren’t self-aware enough, you may need to find an expert who can teach you mindfulness and show you how to process emotions in a healthy way and help you to see your strengths and weaknesses more accurately. We have a free assessment on our website that shows your subconscious tendencies on paper you may want to try. It’s a good start to understanding which areas you need work on.
Resilience:This is your ability to bounce back from challenges or failures, have flexibility with change and remain calm under pressure. This also includes your ability to manage stress, stay cool in a negative situation, and reduce your negative emotions when they show up.We believe a lack of resilience is a fear problem (because you fear failure and loss). We work specifically on reducing your subconscious fears in our coaching program because when those go down, your ability to be resilient goes up. Find an executive coach that specializes in eliminating the fear of change, rejection, setbacks, failure and loss. When you become resilient you will become bulletproof and in high demand at work.
Being proactive, not reactive:To reach your highest career potential, learning to be proactive is a must. You must learn to be responsible for your emotions, thoughts and reactions and gain the ability to self-monitor and regulate them.This is really about emotional maturity and the ability to respond to situations appropriately and at the right time. It means having long-range plans and not just putting out fires, and the ability to prioritize what is urgent and what is really important. It requires self-awareness and the ability to manage your impulses and prevent distractions. If you struggle with these, download our free paper on 14 ways to reach your potential at work. This gives you practical suggestions for rising above average.
Treating people with respect and showing up happy:There is a strong correlation between how happy you are (with yourself and your life) and the way you treat others. If you are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, failure or disappointment in life, or if you have personal problems at home, you may subconsciously look for people to criticize or disrespect at work. When you find negatives in other people to focus on, it often distracts you from your own fear or pain.If you show up at work grouchy and treat people with disrespect, it is going to negatively affect your career. If you are discouraged or depressed with yourself or your life — do something about it. Again, I recommend working with an executive coach who can help you gain the skills to improve your mindset and learn to handle conflict with kindness.
If your personal relationship issues are causing problems with your behavior at work, own that and do something. Most people let negative situations go on way too long, mostly because they don’t know how to solve them. But there are answers and people who can help you … you just have to ask around to find them.
Don’t let any negative situation, feeling or pattern stay in your life. If you don’t know how to fix it, ask 10 people what they would recommend and find an option that works for you. The first thing you need is a change in perspective or mindset. Albert Einstein said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."
You must gain a different perspective and look at the problem in a new way if you want to create change. We find most of our coaching clients experience major shifts in thinking with only one session and they feel better fast. But you can’t do better until you know better — so get out there and learn.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
Many of us didn’t learn mature communication skills or how to process emotions with clarity from our families, and they don’t teach these skills in school or at church. Many people never have the opportunity to learn a better way or how to think positively unless they seek it out on their own. You cannot just sit back and blame your parents though, you must take personal responsibility for your lack of skills and find someone to help you. There are many courses, seminars, coaches and experts who can help improve your communication skills and gain tools to help you handle yourself better. And the truth is - You can’t do better, until you know better.
In this article I will show you five common bad “people skills” habits, with some suggestions for changing them. These come from Patrick King’s book People Tactics:
#1 Not being fully present in conversations:
You may think more about what you want to say next, than you really listen, or you might be thinking about something else altogether and not listening at all. You may give people the impression you don’t care about them or wish you were somewhere else. You are going to have to work on changing this if you want good relationships. If a conversation is boring you, you must own it’s partly your fault, because you aren’t engaged in making it meaningful by asking questions and getting to know this other human being.
One of the best new people skills you can practice is making every human being you talk to feel valued, by asking about and validating their ideas, opinions and stories. Choose to see every human being as having something important to teach you. Ask more questions, listen and give them all your attention. This will create rich, caring, respectful relationships. Choose to be more curious about other people, ask more questions about them and show they matter. Drop or set aside your concerns and opinions. Really focus on the person in front of you. Don’t just listen, but really hear them, especially the people closest to you. Echo back what they say and honor and respect their right to think or feel different from you. This takes commitment, but you can do it.
#2 Your world is black and white:
This means you believe your ideas, opinions or feelings are right and anything else is wrong. You also see the world with a strong moral compass, where there is no grey. Patrick King says, “This habit is particularly toxic because people who have this mindset are very judgmental.” They have a tendency to see themselves as better or smarter than others. If people sense this tendency in you, they may avoid conversations with you or avoid you altogether. If this is your spouse or child that isn’t engaging with you anymore – that is a big problem.
The way you can change this habit is to first, change the way you see the value of all human beings. You must choose to see all people as having the same value and that value doesn’t change – it is infinite and absolute. Choose to remember that though someone thinks or acts differently from you, they still have the same value. Remind yourself that your perspective is one perspective (it is not truth). Also understand the more opinionated and stubborn you are, the less connected you will be with others.
When you insist on being right and making others wrong, they feel you don’t value them as a person. This happens because most peole have attached their worth to their ideas and opinions. You must remember this and resist the need to be right all the time, so people will feel valued and like you. Choose to tell people you respect their right to their views and way of doing things (even your children). For some people with certain Psychological Inclinations, this black or white viewpoint takes a lot of work to change. If you’d like to know more about Psychological Inclinations check this link out.
#3 You are a conversational narcissist and dominate conversations:
Do you love to hear the sound of your own voice and like to talk about your opinions too much? Do you realize after a conversation that you didn’t leave room for anyone else? Usually this need to talk too much comes from a deep fear of not being good enough. This fear drives your need to talk so you feel validated or you are trying to prove how smart or important you are.
To fix this bad habit you need to do some work on your own sense of intrinsic value. Choose to see every person as having the same value, and you will soon realize that counts for you too. The more secure you get the less you will need to talk about yourself. Challenge yourself to spend every conversation asking questions and listening instead of talking, because it’s the kind of person you really want to be. Showing up for others and making them feel important, will in the end, make you feel better about yourself than talking does.
#4 You give unsolicited advice or opinions:
Be honest with yourself. Is this something you do? Do you honestly mean well and want to help others, but accidently come off as a know it all? You must understand unsolicited advice is an insult. It makes others feel small, dumb or helpless no matter how well intentioned it is. If this is something you do, make a new rule you never give advice unless you ask permission first. “Are you open to some advice on that?” This is a great way to make sure you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes. If they say no, honor that. Often people bring up a topic because they want to process out loud, more than they want your opinion. They need listening, more than input most of the time. Ask if they want help solving the problem, or just a listening ear? Then honor what they say. If they aren’t open to advice, respect that and let it go. It takes maturity and self-control to be this respectful, but it pays off big in most relationships. This one alone could completely change your relationship with your kids.
#5 Assuming you already know what someone feels and thinks:
If you haven’t asked questions and listened (today) then you don’t know where they are. One of the biggest insults in conversations is assuming you know what someone feels, thinks, does or did. Even if you were there, you don’t have any idea what went on in someone’s head or heart. To honor and respect other human beings, you must ask questions and listen to them, before you ever take action or say anything. Don’t assume anything.
If you want good relationships, you must listen more than you talk. You must work on controlling your fears, so you don’t let your emotions create dramatic reactions. I have written many articles on overcoming your fears and there is a great free e-book on processing emotions on my website that might help. You may also want to take our free Clarity Assessment because it will show you (on paper) your subconscious tendencies toward being right, talking too much or not listening to others.
If you are not creating the kind of relationships you want, or are getting consistent feedback that your reactions and behavior are out of control, immature or dramatic, own it and do something about it. I don’t know how to change – is no excuse. Life is a classroom and you are here to grow, so you must be actively looking for ways to improve yourself. Coaching is a great place to start, to gain new skills and have some support to get there.
You can do this.
Each January for the past four years, I have written an article for you with my best advice for a New Year’s resolution, which would make the biggest difference in your life. Here are the links if you’d like to read them:
When the kids mess up the house, if you see it as today's lesson to make you stronger, wiser and more loving, you will handle it much differently than you would if you saw it as just an aggravating event.
When you struggle at work, but you see the challenge as your perfect classroom, you spend less time complaining and more time working to solve the problem.
This idea came from the great Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II. In that horrible situation he found himself pondering on a powerful question, “Is it just random bad luck I am here in this place or is there meaning, purpose and reason in my being here?”
He eventually realized there was no way to know for sure which was truth. That left him with an interesting revelation … we get to and have the power to decide which perspective we want to have.
He also realized that believing things had no reason and were just random bad luck made his suffering worse. But choosing to believe there was meaning and purpose in our experiences and suffering lessened the suffering and made him want to rise to the occasion and turn whatever was happening into a human achievement.
He said, “Suffering ceases to be suffering, the moment it finds meaning.”
You can bring this powerful principle into your life too, so you can suffer less and have more joy. Each day you will be faced with situations, many which will disappoint, frustrate, anger or hurt you. When these show up, you can experience loss and feel cheated, wronged and mistreated by life, you can complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can choose to trust the universe that though this situation is rough, it is here for your benefit.
You can choose to see the universe as a wise loving teacher, who is constantly conspiring to educate and bless you. You can see life as on your side. Choosing to believe this is truth will completely change how you feel about your life and yourself for the better.
The only other option you have is to resist an experience, be bent out of shape by it, complain about it and refuse to learn from it. This attitude does nothing but magnify the suffering and discourage you. It may also make you less motivated to change and improve. Why work at things if they don't mean anything anyway?
When you choose to see a bad situation as a perfect lesson, you will always come through with more strength, wisdom and love, and you get to choose how you want to live. It is totally up to you.
If you are ready to embrace this idea and have more joy and less suffering this year, join us in a fun, life-changing exercise to record what you learned every day in 2017. Get yourself a fresh journal where you will record the lessons your unique journey provides every day. Each night before bed take a minute and write what your classroom taught you today.
Master coach Nicole Cunningham and I have both committed to this practice this year, and we also plan to leave room on the margins of each page to write the topic of each post so we can flip back through the book and find topics we want to read about again and again.
You could also do this on your Facebook wall, blog or in an electronic file (though don’t make this about showing off to others). Keep this as an exercise about you and your growth, and not about getting validation.
Take some time today and take stock of the ways you were stuck in fear or bad behavior last year, and make 2017 the year you learn your way out of it. I say “learn your way out” because "you can’t do better until you know better."
Make this the year you recruit some outside help and start creating the life you really want. Every coaching client I’ve ever had has said, “I wish I had learned this stuff sooner.” And they could have, but most wait until things get really bad, before they ask for help. Don’t wait.
There are resources and experts all around you that can make changing your life, relationships or results easier and faster. Sometimes we are afraid to seek help because the known (even if it’s bad) seems safer than the unknown. This is why we stay in abusive relationships or continue to put up with an unhealthy marriage or a bad job.
Please hear me on this: The problems in your life are easier and less painful to fix than you think, especially if you have help. You may already have a hunch about what help you need and how to find it, but you aren’t acting on it. Take action.
The universe will always guide you to the answers you need. It gently nudges you and drops hints so you can’t miss the path you are meant to follow. Life just waits for you to be brave enough to choose yourself and grow. It will not force you through your classroom, though it may hit you with a two-by-four, if the gentle nudges aren’t working.
Be honest with yourself today about the ways you may be hiding from growth or avoiding a class you need to take. Are there problems anywhere in your life you are ignoring, distracting yourself from or pretending aren’t there?
Are you keeping yourself busy or self-medicating with work, hobbies, TV, pornography, romance novels, alcohol or other interests, instead of working on fixing your life?
It may be time to admit you don’t know how to fix what is broken. That is the first step to change, and remember it’s not weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength. Ask for help.
There are some great worksheets and tools on our website to help you work through your problems and find solutions. My favorite is the Clarity Questions Worksheet, and you can access it here.
Choose to make 2017 your best year yet in personal growth. Choose to stretch out of your comfort zone, gain some new skills and tools and create a richer life. Making this happen isn’t as scary or as hard as you think.
You may have noticed I end every article I write with the phrase “You can do this.” I end this way because most of us have subconscious belief that says, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard and I’m not good enough” but that’s not truth. You are meant to do this, grow, rise, solve problems and succeed. You can use the power of conscious choice (in every moment) to choose to believe you are safe, on track, ready and perfectly able to succeed in your classroom … whatever it brings.
Make sure you join our mailing list by texting "Claritypoint" to 71441 (and get a free e-book by Kim Giles too) or follow us on social media this year, as we provide you with tips, skills, tools and advice and help you to suffer less and have more joy.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and a corporate trainer. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach for families, parents and teens.
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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.