This was first published on KSL.COM
My life has been hard and I’ve made mistakes, I have a hard time forgiving myself and not feeling defined by my past. How do you not? How do I feel good about myself and as you say see my value as good enough?
Everything you feel comes from the way you are looking at the situation. Your perspective determines the story you tell yourself and how you feel about everything. The way you currently see your past and the feelings you have about it could completely change if you chose a different perspective.
Here are some ways you might change your perspective and look at your past differently. See if they help.
1. Choose to see life as a journey.
Imagine your life as a road trip. On this road trip there are high points and low points. Some of the experiences are fun, some are scary and others are miserable. Each of these experiences could be seen as a location on your journey through life. These experiences do not define who you are nor do they affect your value as a person. They are just places you've been. Just because you spent time traveling through Texas doesn’t make you a Texan. Texas was a location on your journey; it is not who you are forever.
2. See life as a classroom.
The thing you must understand about your past is that each experience — each location you have been through — has brought you to where you are today.
Each experience taught you things. Some experiences taught you about who you don't want to be. Some showed you options in human behavior and the consequences of those options. Each experience served a purpose in your life to help you become stronger or smarter. At least, you have the option of seeing them this way if you want to. You could choose to embrace what each experience taught you and remember that you are not there anymore.
You are a different person now. The person you are today wouldn’t make the choices you made then (though that is partly because of what you learned from making those choices before). You cannot change the past, nor should you want to. Your journey taught you important lessons. But you can refuse to let your past define you now.
3. Choose to see your value as infinite and unchangeable.
You have the option of believing every human being has the same intrinsic value and that value cannot change. This would mean that no matter what mistakes you have made, they don’t affect your value and you still have the same value as everyone else. You can see human value this way, by simply deciding to.
4. Let go of shame.
We define shame with the acronym: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. You are always a student in the classroom of life, so you can’t expect to have known everything, all along. That would make no sense. Shame is a waste of your energy. Instead, focus all that energy toward being who you want to be today.
5. Live in this moment, all the time.
There will never be a moment when it is not "this moment" and this is the only moment you have the power to make any choices. In this moment you can always choose to see yourself as good enough and let your past be experiences that taught you things and nothing else. Don’t waste time that could be filled with joy today, feeling pain over the past.
6. Focus your energy on what’s in your control.
Look at your current situation and write down what’s in your control and what’s not. Focus your time and energy only on what is.
7. Do something to metaphorically let the past go.
Write down the experiences you are having trouble letting go of emotionally. Then burn the paper, bury it, or tie it to a balloon and let it go, or rip it up and throw it in the trash.
8. Choose to trust life and the universe. Another option you have is to trust that your journey was the perfect one for you and that everything happens for a reason. Trust that you are on track and right where you are supposed and always have been. If you choose this perspective, it will change how you feel about yourself and your past.
9. Don’t worry.
Worry, guilt and stress do you no good. They will not prevent bad things from happening, and they just make you miserable. Choose to trust that good things will happen to you. Optimism may actually draw good things your way in the future because people will be more drawn to you.
10. Set aside a time each day to experience regret and guilt.
If you just can’t let the past go, choose a 15-minute block of time today to wallow in self-pity and shame. Dive in and immerse yourself in it during that time, but the rest of the day don’t think about it.
The key to a successful, happy life today lies in looking at the past, understanding it and learning from it, then, leaving it in the past and moving forward. Put the lessons you’ve learned to work by making better choices today. Choose to see the past as a location on your journey that taught you things and nothing else; do not let it define your value or who you are. If you see experiences accurately, you will be grateful for the lessons and even be empowered to be a better you.
You can do this.
Master Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders and creators of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com they are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America and iTunes.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I am about to get married for the second time and my fiancé and I both have children from our first marriages. I heard the odds of these second marriages are dismal and I’m wondering what advice you have for us, that might make it more likely to work out.
You are right, the odds are against you. The divorce rate for remarriage is 40 percent.
We believe in first marriages children are a more stabilizing factor, which can actually bind the couple together, where in second or third marriages, they can destabilize the relationship and in some cases purposefully undermine it. If the family has no education about the challenges of blending and enters these marriages unprepared for the difficulties, it is even more likely that children can disrupt the couple’s relationship.
Most people think they will automatically be more successful the second time around, because of what they learned from the failure of their previous marriages. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be true. Most people make the same mistakes again and again, especially if they don’t get some coaching, training, education, skills or tools that they didn’t have before to help them do their new relationships differently.
Diane Sollee, a family therapist and director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education says, "It seems that people would be older and wiser, or learn from the mistakes of a failed first marriage. … But that's like saying if you lose a football game, you'll win the next one. You might, but only if you learn some new plays before you go back on the field."
Experts agree the one way to beat the odds is to get educated about step-parenting and blending families. Studies have shown that premarital education of some kind can substantially reduce divorce rates. Couples who seek out professional help and education about creating healthy relationships are more satisfied with their relationships and stay together longer.
Unfortunately, most couples don't seek help. So, we are glad you are seeking out information — that is increasing your odds of success already.
Here are our top tips for making blended families work:
1. Set realistic expectations.
A second or third marriage is much more complicated than a first, especially when children are involved. Everyone is coming into this new family with war wounds, baggage and issues from what went wrong the first time, so you are going to have to be even more patient, understanding and prepared for bumps and difficulties.
You must be realistic about the time it takes for children to bond with step-parents and step-siblings. Don’t expect them to feel like family right away. It takes a long time, and each person will get there at their own time. The older the child, the longer this takes, so don’t be surprised if older children take years or even a decade to get used to this new family arrangement.
2. Learn what the most common challenges are ahead of time, and make a plan to deal with them.
Here are some of the most common difficulties:
As a stepparent, you will never be the same as a natural parent. You must respect the natural parent’s role and adjust to a new kind of role yourself. Your stepparent role is more like that of a caring uncle or aunt who can be there to provide support, encouragement and even guidance, but always honor the natural parent's right to be the decision maker and the one to discipline their children.
4. Don’t expect or demand anyone to bond, but expect and demand everyone be respected.
It is not realistic to expect everyone in a blended family to like each other, but you should expect mutual respect. If your stepfamily is going to work, children and parents must respect everyone else in the home. This means listening to their thoughts and feelings and respecting their right to feel the way they do. Respect must happen in every interaction.
5. Understand blending takes time.
It will take longer than you think, probably years longer, and this blending process cannot be rushed. Everyone involved needs time to process their pain, guilt and confusion around this divorce and remarriage. Couples will often pressure children to love their new stepparent right away. This kind of pressure will hinder the process. Give each child the time and space to accept their new stepparent and adjust to the new arrangement on their own time. If you let them set the pace, they will have a more positive experience.
6. Work on yourself.
Don’t focus on finding a better spouse the second time; focus on being a better spouse this time, and things will go better. Work on being less selfish and more giving than you used to be. Get some personal coaching or counseling and work to repair self-esteem issues, trust issues or emotional issues you are still carrying from your first relationship. Because conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, better communication skills are critical. Learn how to set your opinions aside up front and ask about how the other person feels first. Listen and validate his or her feelings by honoring their right to think and feel the way they do, even when you don’t agree. Then ask if they would be open to hearing your thoughts, and speak your truth with love while looking for ways to create win-wins.
7. Face all problems as a team.
Try to step back from every conflict and look at it from a united perspective as a couple against a problem or challenge, not against each other. Even if a conflict is about one partner’s behavior, still work it through together as a team trying to make your marriage better. If you commit now to not let any challenge come between you, and communicate with love, you can work through anything.
8. Give your spouse room to learn and grow.
Your spouse has never been a stepparent before, or at least not with your kids. You both need some time to figure the whole thing out. Love is about letting someone be imperfect and in process. It’s about being patient and not expecting them to do everything right and right away.
You can expect children to try to sabotage the relationship, ex-spouses to be difficult and stepsiblings to not get along. These are all par for course, but committed couples can make it work. Just seek out professional help before and throughout the relationship to increase your odds of success.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches and relationship experts who founded www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com. They are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Thank you for all your wonderful articles. I love them all and the idea that life is a classroom, not a test, has really helped me. I'm wondering what insight you have on the suffering and horrible circumstances some people get in life, by no fault of their own, while others seem to have a classroom that is so much easier. I struggle to see how some trials will ever be a lesson and serve us, when they seem to be just pointless misery with no hope for growth or recovery, like those with horrible mental illnesses. I can see that the people around these people may learn and grow, but what about the people who get these horrible classroom journeys? It really grieves me for people like this and I can’t imagine why God or the universe would want innocent people to suffer so pointlessly. All I can come up with is that might trust, that at some point, probably not in this life, God will make up for the injustices people face. But I wondered what you might say about this.
This is such a good question, one that many wise men, clergy and philosophers have tried to answer for thousands of year. And the truth is, there is no absolute knowable truth on it. It is a mystery of life why bad things happen to good people and why is life often so unfair.
Because there is no ultimate truth on this, you get to choose which, of all the perspective options, would work best in your life and make you the happiest. We are going to give you some of the most common perspective options and explain which ones we like best and why.
Here are some of your options on why life is unfair:
1. You can choose to believe life’s challenges happen randomly to random people, for no real reason.
Stuff just happens. If you choose this perspective, you could decide to learn and grow from whatever happens to you and use it to make you better, but the universe itself doesn’t have a purpose in mind, nor does it influence events.
One of my favorite books on this perspective is Harold Kushner’s book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." He said, "I don’t know why one person gets sick, and another does not, but I can only assume that some natural laws, which we don’t understand are at work. I cannot believe that God 'sends' illness to a specific person for a specific reason. I don’t believe in a God who has a weekly quota of malignant tumors to distribute and consults His computer to find out who deserves one most or who could handle it best.
"'What did I do to deserve this?' is an understandable outcry from a sick and suffering person, but it is really the wrong question. Being sick or being healthy is not a matter of what God decides that we deserve. The better question is 'If this has happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?' It becomes much easier to take God seriously as the source of moral values if we don’t hold Him responsible for all the unfair things that happen in the world."
Now, this is not your only option, it is only one, but many people think this makes sense to them based on their spiritual beliefs. It does not offer much consolation or sense of purpose or meaning in events, but if you choose a positive attitude and make the most of whatever you get, you could still turn challenges into human achievements, you could also face life with some peace and purpose anyway.
2. You can choose to believe in predestination.
This is the theory that our lives are all planned out by a wise higher power, who knows in advance what we will each choose and has a custom classroom experience in mind (ahead of time) for each of us. This makes some people feel like there isn’t freedom or purpose though. If everything is already known ahead of time then what is the point of playing it out?
The positive part is that you could choose to trust a loving higher power that it knows what it’s doing and that in the end, all will be well because he or it is in charge. You will have to see how this option feels to you.
3. You could choose to believe that there is a loving higher power in charge, who has created a universe to be your classroom with forces that work with your choices, moment by moment, to create the perfect classroom journey for each of us.
This would mean there is no predestination, but complete freedom to choose your path, but the universe in its perfect wisdom uses all of our choices to create the exact perfect lessons or opportunities each soul needs to grow and learn (what they are meant to learn here).
This would mean there is both agency, freedom, and also purpose and meaning in everything that happens. Many who choose this philosophy (including Nicole and I) find that it creates a sense of safety in the world, no matter what horrible challenges come, we can trust there is a reason, and that reason is always to serve us. (Though often we have no idea what the reason is.)
This mindset motivates us to rise to the challenges that come and try to make something from them. It also means when bad things happen to good, innocent people, things that make no sense to us, we can still choose to trust that (though we can’t see or understand the purpose) there is one.
We are not going to tell you which of these options (or maybe there are still others you can think of) you should choose. We encourage you to try them on and see what feels the best or most peaceful to you.
We love the story of Viktor Frankl in his books, where he explains his search for answers to this question. He pondered whether he ended up in the concentration camps during World War II, because of random bad luck, or if there was meaning and purpose in his having been captured and dealt with the way he was.
As a psychotherapist, he spent a lot of time watching his mindset and reactions to his situation and pondering what he believed was truth about the predicament. He also decided, at the end of the day, there was no way to know for sure what truth is around this age-old question, and that left him with the choice to choose his perspective.
He tried all the options on though and found when he chose to believe there was purpose, meaning, and reason why things happened (even if he had no idea what that meaning was) he did better mentally. He felt more hope and more inspiration to rise and do something positive with the experience. He went on to write a book about his experience there called "Man’s Search for Meaning" that has been named one of the most influential books ever written, and in which you could read more about his story.
We have played with these options ourselves, and we have found that the idea of seeing life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher constantly conspiring to educate and grow us, and has brought comfort and peace to us when our lives have been unfair.
People often say, in the comments to these articles, something to the effect of, "These coaches surely have no idea how hard and painful life really is." I want to assure you that our journies have not been easy ones. Many might say we have had more than our fair share of problems and pains.
So we can say, from experience, when life’s challenges feel terribly unfair, it brings great peace if we choose to believe the universe has delivered this problem for the express purpose of making us better, stronger or more loving in some way (or to help those around us to do the same). When we choose option three, life feels better.
When terribly tragedy happens to people around us though, and we watch others suffer, I don’t think we should ever feel OK or peaceful about their suffering. We should feel pain and sorrow for and with them, it would be wrong not to.
Imagine how wrong it would be to justify their suffering saying, "Oh that’s their perfect classroom, they are fine and this is perfect for them." We are supposed to feel horrified at the suffering of others and have great sympathy for them, pray for them, reach out to help and offer compassion. I think this is why — we aren’t supposed to know the ultimate answer to your question. If we did, we may no longer mourn with those that mourn and feel their pain.
We encourage you to play with your options above and find the one that works best for you, while at the same time continue to hold onto the beautiful empathy you feel toward all those who struggle.
You can do this.
Master Life Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are human behavior experts, coaches and speakers. You can learn more about them at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. Make sure you see their two amazing books here.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share some ideas for coping with the hardest challenges of life.
I have a very serious illness that no one has ever heard of and I find it extremely devastating and lonely. What can someone like me, in my position, do? I've struggled with this for over 30 years and this is impossibly frustrating and miserable. You have no idea. Do you have any advice for dealing with this?
Many of life’s challenges are impossibly hard and painful. Many of these problems have no answers, solutions or remedies. They are painful and they are going to stay painful for a long time. In this situation, with no escape available, your options are limited. For the most part, all you can do is work on choosing your attitude and mindset inside the challenge.
Vivian Greene said it best: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Here are eight suggestions to help you dance in the rain (and find joy and peace) despite an impossibly hard challenge:
1. Accept what is.
"It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering," Buddha said.(Read more about this concept here.) It is your wishing and wanting things to be different, that is the real cause of your pain. You have created, and attached your happiness to, expectations about how your life should look or feel. The problem is, life rarely meets our expectations, and more often it takes us in a direction we never saw coming.
So, now that you are here, how much time and energy are you going to waste wishing you were somewhere else? All this time and energy is wasted and it might be making you suffer more. You will suffer less, if you stop resisting and choose to accept this path as the right one for you. You are here for a reason and that reason is to serve you (read more below).
2. Trust there is order in the universe and purpose and meaning in everything.
Choose to see the universe as a wise teacher, who knows what it’s doing. Choose to see life as a classroom whose objective is your learning ad growth. This would mean every experience you have is here to facilitate learning and make you smarter, stronger, wiser or more loving in some way. This means things don’t happen to you, they always happen for you.
During times of intense suffering, it is difficult to believe your pain is here for a positive reason and I cannot prove to you it is (though you can’t prove it’s not, either). Choosing to trust there is a purpose in your pain, does make you suffer less. I first learned this from reading about Viktor Frankl, who during intense suffering in the concentration camps of World War II, found if he chose to believe there was meaning in his suffering (that it was here for a reason) he not only suffered less, but also felt motivated to rise and get through in the best possible way. He wrote: “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning.”
If you choose to see the universe as a loving teacher that is on your side and working for you, not against you, and if you choose to believe every experience is therefore the perfect classroom journey for you — you will find more peace and joy in the difficulty. This might be one you have to play with and try before you believe me, but I promise it's truth.
3. Focus on this present moment only.
If you try to process the weight of all the coming years of loneliness or pain, it will crush you. It is too much, too scary and too discouraging. So set that weight down.
Focus only on this present moment or hour. Get through this hour choosing to be as positive and happy as possible. What can you do at this moment for yourself to relieve pain, create joy or just distract yourself?
You have great power in this moment to choose your mindset — it is actually the only time you have the power of choice at all. Use that power to choose loving feelings towards yourself and others. Choose gratitude and count your blessings. No matter how bad things are, there are still things to be grateful for. Choose to create a life of happiness, kindness, service, joy and fun, one moment at a time. Don't worry about what will or won't happen later at all.
4. Find a passion project.
During times suffering we can often find ourselves unproductive, stuck and useless. It helps if you can find a passion project of some kind that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and accomplished. Even if it is just a journal or blog, a puzzle or a scrapbook. What could you do with your time instead of wallowing? Find something productive you can do.
5. Allow yourself limited pity party time.
It is natural during times of suffering and challenge to feel self-pity, sadness and grief. You should feel and experience these emotions, and not try to suppress them all the time. It is actually important you give yourself time to feel these feelings and have a good pity party or cry every once in a while, just don’t live there.
If you feel these emotions coming up today, give yourself a limited amount of time (like an hour or 30 minutes) to deep dive into the negative emotions and cry if you need to. Giving yourself this time is an important part of the lesson this experience is here to teach you. You will also find you actually feel better after a good cry. It gets some of the pain out so you always feel better after.
6. Lower your expectations.
When you are going through an impossibly hard experience at least half your brain power and energy are being used to process the trauma of the situation. This doesn’t leave you with enough bandwidth for all the other tasks or interests you usually do.
Go easy on yourself and expect less. Give yourself permission to have a messier house or get less done. Be realistic with the energy you have and say no to things you know will wipe you out. Give yourself permission to lower these expectations without any guilt.
7. Give up envy and wishing you had someone else’s life journey.
It is really easy to find yourself in a place of envy when your life is hard. It does seem unfair that other people get lives that seem easier than yours, but dwelling on this does you no good and in fact, will make you feel even worse.
Remember, their journey isn’t over yet and all of us will face some challenges sooner or later. Remember, this journey, though painful, is the right one for your soul, or you wouldn’t be here. Trust the universe knows what it’s doing and that growth is its purpose. There are amazing lessons, knowledge, and strength to be gained from your journey, and though you would rather not go through this or gain them, there will be a benefit down the road.
8. Use this experience and the unique knowledge (on the human condition and suffering) it is giving you, to bless the world in some way.
Your misery can often become your message. If you suffer with chronic illness you could show others how to cope in a positive way. If you are a single mother, you could help newly divorced women handle their new reality with more joy. If you lose a loved one, you can be a resource to others who are suffering grief. There is always a way to use what has happened to you to make a difference in the world.
At some level that is why I write this column every week. My journey has not been an easy one at all. I apparently signed up for many hard classes in the classroom of life, and have experienced suffering on almost every level. I tell you this only because using my challenges to help others, helps me. Most of these articles are full of practical ideas that I have really used to get me through my hard times. When you can make your suffering useful to someone else, it helps.
There is nothing I could write that would take away the pain of your suffering, but I do believe you can lessen it (at least to some degree) by using these eight ideas. Every day is another chance to practice the power of choice, choosing joy, peace, happiness and laughter, and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just keep making progress.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches and the owners and founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com - They are sought after authors and speakers on human behavior and healthy relationships.
This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Each January for the last seven years, I have written an article recommending one New Year’s resolution that would have a great impact on the quality of your life. This year we recommend forgiveness: total unconditionally forgiveness for yourself and others.
Here are some principles that will make forgiving yourself and others easier:
1. The secret to forgiving yourself lies in forgiving others.
We believe this is a profound and life-changing truth: the way you choose to see, judge, condemn or attack others also determines the way you see, judge, condemn and attack yourself.
If you are quick to see faults, flaws and mistakes in other people and you let those mistakes determine their value, or you see them as bad guys, you are giving power to the damaging idea that people can be "not good enough" and that human value is changeable and can go up and down.
If you give power to this idea, it will also affect the way you see yourself and your own value. You will also see your own value as changeable and in question, and you will constantly be afraid you aren’t good enough.
But it is human nature to subconsciously look for the bad in others, gossip and judge to make ourselves feel better. If they are the bad ones, we think we are the good one. But the more we put down, criticize or gossip about others, the worse our own self-esteem becomes. There is no escaping this cause-and-effect cycle once you start judging. But you don’t have to live this way.
You could decide to let all your and their past mistakes go, and see life as a classroom, not a test. This means letting everyone be a struggling, scared, amazing, divine, infinitely valuable, and innocent being who is doing the best they can with what they know at each moment. It means giving them and yourself the freedom to be a work in progress and not expect perfection from anyone.
You have the power to choose a compassion mindset where we are all innocent, silly, sometimes stupid, learners, whose value is (fortunately) not in question or changeable. You could decide to see all humans and their value as infinite and absolute and see every human being as having the same value. This mindset will make you feel better about yourself, and you will also treat other people with compassion. But you must give up judgment and criticism to claim this.
Start today and eliminate judging others from your life. Forgive them (whoever they are) for all their mistakes. Focus on the lessons each experience taught you, and let a higher power (or the universe) be in charge of your and their classroom journey from here. Forgive them and move forward without any anger, hurt or pain around what happened. Bless them on their way.
Of course, sometimes you have to still associate with the person. Just remember, just because you forgave them, doesn’t mean you have to trust them again or want them in your life. But you can choose to see their value as the same as yours, because you don’t want your mistakes to affect your value, either.
Forgive yourself for all your past mistakes. They were just lessons and they don’t define who you will be moving forward. Use them to become a better version of yourself in the future and let go of shame and guilt.
2. You alone are responsible for how long you stay in pain.
When a painful event happens in your life, it is normal to feel pain and suffer for a while, but eventually, you must decide how long you will live that way. No situation or person can cause you pain forever, because it is your thoughts (about the situation) that are continuing to cause the pain, and you do have control over your thoughts.
Sometimes when an offense is fresh, you will need to feel the pain and can't expect to choose your way out of it yet. But eventually, you will have the power to decide how miserable and for long you want to feel that way.
In the end, no one can take away your peace or give you peace. No one can make you feel terrible or make you feel better. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You have the power to choose peace, joy, confidence and forgiveness in any moment. Owning this truth gives you the power to not continue to hurt over an offense or feel like a failure because of a mistake.
3. Remember your family (spouse, children and relatives) are your greatest forgiveness teachers.
Your family is your primary forgiveness classroom. This is especially true because the people closest to you are the ones you allow to hurt you the most.
When you see your family life this way (as your classroom) you will finally be seeing them accurately. Every fight, offense or disappointment that shows up is a chance for you to practice seeing human value as infinite and practice forgiveness toward yourself or others.
Your family, and especially your spouse, provide you daily opportunities to stretch the limits of your love and work on forgiveness.
4. Understand how pointless shame and guilt are.
We teach our clients that "SHAME" is an acronym that stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. If life is a classroom though, shame is ridiculous. You are a student in the classroom of life, there is no way you could have known it all, all along.
Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. You are learning and growing, and have much more to learn. You are on the path of self-improvement, and wherever you are at this point is good enough for right now.
You will do better in the future, but guilt, shame and beating yourself up for months or years does you no good. It doesn’t fix the past nor create a better a future. It makes more sense to focus your energy on working to be a better person today.
5. What other people think doesn’t matter, but what you think does.
Remember, the opinions of others are just thoughts and ideas in their heads, which have no power, mean nothing, and can’t hurt you, diminish your value, or change you in any way. They may influence events in your life, but if you trust the universe is a wise teacher you won’t worry about that because you know it only brings the experiences that are right for you. Don't worry about losing out or not getting the life you wanted, and see the opinions of others as irrelevant.
But what you think of yourself and your past matters a lot.
If you see life as a classroom and your value as absolute (and forgive yourself) you will show up with confidence and love, and everywhere you go people will feel that in you and respect you in spite of your past mistakes. Even if you made BIG mistakes in the past, if other people can feel that you have learned the lessons, moved on, and you now know your value isn’t affected by them, they will tend to follow your lead and let your past go too.
If you cannot do this, however, and continue to beat yourself up, carry shame and guilt around, and feel you are less than other people, other people will feel this too, and they will also have trouble forgiving you or letting your past go. Whichever stance you claim, they will follow.
6. Write down the positives each negative experience has or is creating.
We believe forgiving works best if you shift your perspective and look at your life in trust that it has always been your perfect classroom. Trust that every offense or mistake happened, because it could teach you something. See if you can name 10 positives that making the mistake (or being hurt in that way) has created in your life. This will help you see your life as your perfect classroom journey. When you no longer resist what happened, but embrace or accept it as something that served you, you will find forgiving gets much easier.
Focus on being the most forgiving person you can be this year, toward yourself and others. This powerful choice will take pain and suffering off you, and bring the light back in. If you still struggle to let mistakes go, check out another KSL article I wrote about the benefits of not forgiving. It might help you to see why you are still holding on.
If you make this a year of forgiveness, it will also be a year of more joy, more progress and more peace.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master executive coaches and the founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com You can download free forgiveness worksheets on www.12shapes.com in the Resources Section.
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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.