I work in an office with mostly women and the drama is driving me crazy. Many of them read your column, so I wish you would explain what behavior is appropriate at work and how to stop overreacting, getting offended and causing problems. Also, because I don’t participate in it, I am often the one who is talked about behind my back. If I bring it up and complain, I’d be contributing to the drama so I just silently take it. How should I handle that?
Inappropriate workplace drama occurs everywhere you find human beings … and unfortunately (especially) women. I wish I could say this wasn’t true, but women do have a tendency to create more drama at work than men do.
I believe this happens because most women battle more internal fear (of loss and failure) than men do. Trust me, women have more fear-based thoughts than men. They tend to think too much, and these fears create the tendency for gossip, back-biting, being offended, casting others as the bad guy, being passive aggressive, complaining and blowing things out of proportion.
Let me explain how this happens in your head.
When you are battling a fear of loss, you can become controlling, bossy or overly protective of your territory. When you are battling a fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) you tend to subconsciously focus on the bad (or perceived bad) in everything and everyone around you to take the focus off you. You may not consciously realize you are doing this. You may subconsciously cast others as the bad guy to make you feel like the good guy and you may get offended way too easy.
When you are afraid you aren’t enough (on any level), you have an easy-to-trigger “sore spot” around being insulted or thought less of. You are then subconsciously on the lookout for any word, look or behavior that could be interpreted as disapproval or an insult. You will also feel the need to talk about these offenses to others to get reassurance and validation. This is a big problem at work because this behavior will hold you back in your career.
Here are eight common workplace behaviors that will hold you back or get you passed over for promotions. (Notice that most of them are fear problems.) You may want to check yourself for bad behavior.
If you have to deal with people who are behaving badly at work, here are a couple suggestions.
You can handle this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
I think the most amazing part of the Olympics so far, has been watching the losers. Maybe I relate to the experience of having things go wrong since my own life has been pretty messy, but I find myself watching closely to see how athletes handle it when their dreams fall apart.
I was glued to the TV when American figure skater Jeremy Abbott, not only made a mistake and fell, but he fell so hard he almost didn’t get up.
After lying on the ice for what seemed like forever, he slowly rose to his feet with a hand on his injured hip and the crowd went wild with applause. The fans were applauding his simple effort to rise after a terrible fall.
The whole world watched as he took a couple seconds to think about his options: quit, call for help or go on. It appeared that the cheers from the crowd helped him decide. He was going to finish, even injured, even though all his hopes for a medal were gone.
It was the most inspiring Olympic moment so far in my opinion. Because Abbott now had nothing left to lose and the pressure to be perfect was gone, he skated for love for himself and his sport and left everything he had on the ice. He was amazing!
I admire the skaters who deliver a flawless program and earn the gold medal, but I admire people like Abbott even more.
I also admired the way Shaun White handled his loss, and how Body Miller and Ted Ligety, who were also favorites, handled losing. Interestingly, their losses allowed Sandro Viletta, who was in 14th place to take the gold, showing us that sometimes life hands you an unexpected win too.
The classroom of life never fails to surprise.
Another amazing Olympic moment came watching Dario Cologna, my new favorite Olympian, who took gold in the 15km. This winner waited around for hours to congratulate and shake the hand of the guy who came in last, Roberto Carcelen, the first Peruvian to ever make it to the Winter Games. Carcelen was skiing with a broken rib and barely even made it to the finish line.
Cologna deserves more than a gold medal for being a person who honored the effort of the guy who barely made it. Carcelen deserves a standing ovation, too, because he is not a loser in my book, he is a champ. He showed the world what he was made of even more than the winners did.
Sticking it out, staying in the game when you really want to quit, hanging on even though you’re in last place and embarrassed by your performance, getting back up when you fall, that takes a lot more courage than winning. It’s the man who doesn’t stay down that really deserves the applause.
We appreciate these moments because we relate. We all make mistakes and fall once in a while. Sometimes they are even big falls and we go down hard in front of everyone we know. Often we are ashamed by our stupidity and weakness and we could let these failures affect us.
We must learn three lessons from the Olympic athletes who don’t make the podium:
1. Mistake experiences don’t define you
They don’t diminish your value as a human being nor make you unworthy of love and admiration. These experiences show up in your life for one reason: to teach you things. They are lessons in the classroom of life or locations on your journey and they probably serve you more than winning does. Winning doesn’t give you the chance to trust that your value is infinite and absolute in the face of proof you aren’t good enough. It doesn’t put that trust to the test and require you to stretch. It is these magic moments when you get to decide to let go of your shame and claim your infinite and absolute value as a one-of-a-kind human being. If you choose to value yourself this way and you cannot be “not good enough” no matter how you perform.
2. Failure experiences are just part of the process of life
Keep in mind that life is a classroom not a vacation. You are to learn and grow and the process is not going to be an easy one. Most of the time, your life is not going to meet your expectations and will be disappointing. The question for all of us when things go wrong is, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do with what you have left? This is where you get to decide who you are going to be: a quitter or a guy like Abbott, who trusts that this losing experience is his perfect journey for some reason, and gets back up and keeps fighting no matter what. These moments do define you. They say more about your character than winning ever could.
3. Mistake experiences make you a better person.
Losing can make you stronger, it will also give you empathy and compassion towards the people like Carcelen who finish last because you know what it feels like. Losing on occasion makes you less judgmental. Losing on occasion turns you into someone like Cologna, who values the guy who finished last. If you won all the time you might turn into a critic.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is the not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without err and shortcoming…who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails, while daring greatly.”
Brene Brown wrote a wonderful book on this topic called "Daring Greatly." I highly recommend it.
Today, I salute the losers of the Olympic Games who were in the arena and dared greatly. I salute all of you, too, all of those whose lives have been difficult and disappointing, who have fallen, failed, stumbled and sometimes hit the ice hard. I salute you for sticking it out and staying in the game even though it was embarrassing. I salute you for using these failure to make yourself better not bitter. I salute you for getting back up and trying again.
As a writer, I also win some and lose some. Some weeks I get accolades for my brilliantly written column, other weeks I get torn apart on the comment boards for my poor advice. This has given me some interesting opportunities to experience failing and choosing how to process that.
It has, at times, tested my courage to continue. It is scary being vulnerable and facing the critics. Every time you put yourself out there in the public eye and try anything, you take a great risk. Other authors have quit writing for KSL because the negative comments became too much to bear. (Keep this is mind when you choose to criticize those who are doing things you aren’t brave enough to do.)
I also got to experience losing on national TV when I was voted off "Good Morning America" in an advice guru contest back in 2010. After a few moments of humiliation when I didn’t make the top seven, I decided to see this experience as a win. I was voted one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country right before I was voted off. I was a winner even though I was a loser and didn’t get enough votes to continue. (Click here to read my old blog post about getting voted off GMA with some more tips on losing.)
To be honest, I have been a loser most of my life. In junior high and high school, I ran for office, tried out for cheerleader countless times, and always lost. I lost so many times my dad started calling me Abraham Lincoln. He thought that was funny because old Abe lost eight elections, didn’t get accepted to law school, failed twice in business and spent the rest of his life in debt. He even had a nervous breakdown at least once before becoming one of the greatest presidents in our history. (I know in the end he also died, but we all die in the end.)
The point is that losing is not the end and failing doesn’t make you less of a human being. They are just a beautiful part of the human experience called life, though not your favorite part. They give you a chance to find out what you are made of, like Abbott, and stand back up and keep going.
They give you a chance to understand you have value above and beyond your performance or appearance. They force you to let go of your need for outside validation and stop worrying what other people think of you. They give you the chance to claim your right to choose how you will see yourself. They help you to discover your love, your compassion and wisdom.
Failures also give you the chance to understand and experience the real point of living – to learn and love, and especially to learn to love yourself and others as we are, in our imperfections.
Kyo Shiodaira said, “Rather than the strength it takes to not lose, it’s the strength to stand back up after a loss that is sometimes more valuable.”
When you get your turn to lose, which you surely will once in a while, remember Abbott, hold your head high, remember your value wasn’t on the line because life’s a classroom not a test. Don’t let it define you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
I have so much noise in my head it’s ridiculous. I over-think, doubt, worry and imagine terrible things which are probably not real. I know I worry way too much about what other people are thinking and this causes a lot of my stress. What can I do to quiet the noise in my head?
If you spend an unreasonable amount of time in your head, and often get stuck going round and round with stressful (and mostly unproductive) thoughts, you are an over-thinker. This subconscious habit is most likely draining your energy and distracting you from the situation at hand.
Over-thinkers often waste energy rehashing their past mistakes (which they cannot change), over-thinking meaningless small issues in their present, or creating imagined scenarios that could (but probably won’t) play out in their future.
Thinking problems through logically is a wise course of action, but over-thinkers spend an unreasonable amount of time with doubts and fears, which get in the way of good problem-solving and can create analysis paralysis. Over-thinking can also contribute to depression, anxiety and co-dependence.
I will not address over-thinking, which accompanies these kinds of conditions, because they are out of the scope of my training. (Due to some questions from my last column, I’d like to clarify this.) As a life coach, my advice is not meant to treat, diagnose or advise those in need of a licensed mental health professional.
There is a great book on over-thinking by Susan Nolan-Hoeksema, Ph.D, called "Women Who Think too Much," which I highly recommend.
Hoeksema says the first thing you must do to change over-thinking is “to recognize that over-thinking is not your friend. It is not giving you deep insights. Instead, it is stealing away your power over your own thoughts and feelings.”
I agree, you cannot continue to let your thoughts control you, you must learn to control your thoughts — and they are controllable, though it may take some work and practice to learn how.
Here are some tips for getting control of your thinking:
1) Don’t take your thoughts so seriously. Just because it popped into your mind doesn’t make it true, meaningful, real, or worth the time to think about. The first question you must ask yourself is “Does this train of thought serve me in any way?”Does it do me any good to waste time and energy here?
2) Look at the big picture. Does this issue or idea really matter? In the long run, big picture of my life, does it even matter? Most of the things you lose sleep over aren’t.
3) What is this thinking distracting me from? Who am I missing showing up for because I’m lost in my own head? What am I not paying attention to that would serve me more?
4) Set aside a small amount of time to spend on this (that isn’t right now). This is a great technique that works for me. I pretend there is a closet in my head, I throw these negative, fear-based thoughts in there and slam the door. I then decide to spend 15 minutes on this concern later tonight, but until then I will leave them in the closet. If they sneak out during the day, I just throw them back in and lock the door. When the appointed time arrives that night, I set a timer for 15 minutes and really dwell on over-thinking the issue. I dive in and soak in the fear. I also use the technique below.
5) Get productive about it. Is there something I can do about this issue? Get out some paper and write down all your possible options in response. Include what you think the outcome of each option might be. If there is something positive and constructive that can be done — do it. If there is nothing you can do — decide to trust the universe that however it turns out, it will be your perfect journey.
6) Remember that you are more bulletproof than your mind thinks you are. No one can diminish who you are. No matter what they do or say, you are the same you. Your value is not on the line here either because life is a classroom, not a test. This means everything that happens to you is a lesson, but your value is infinite and absolute and doesn't change. (At least you have the option of seeing yourself this way if you want to.)
7) In every moment of your day, you get to choose your inner state and this is a simple choice because there are really only two options: fear or trust and love. To beat over-thinking you must start using your power to consciously choose trust and love. Trust that your value is infinite and your life will always be your perfect classroom, this means there is really nothing to fear. (At least you have the option of seeing your life this way if you want to.) Or you can choose fear. stress, over-thinking and create unnecessary suffering.
How do you want to experience this moment?
In my book, "Choosing Clarity," I recommend that you make some official personal policies or rules about what goes on in your head. Here are some policies relative to your thinking that would cut down greatly on your stress and worry:
Make a policy against worrying about what other people think.
What other people think of you is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean anything and it doesn’t affect you (unless you let it.) Opinions have no power. Their opinions don’t change who you are. Negative thinking is just a chance to practice choosing to trust in your real value.
Make a policy against worrying about how you look.
Who you are has nothing to do with how you look. Your value is not based on your appearance. Your love is who you are. Spend some time every morning trying to look your best, then go get them with your love. Your love is what people remember and care about anyway.
Make a policy against worrying about past mistakes.
The past is dead and gone, you cannot change it and it doesn’t define you or determine your value (unless you let it.) Past mistakes were just locations on your journey through life, they were classes you signed yourself up for, but they don’t mean anything about who you are now. Let go of the idea of SHAME that you Should Have Already Mastered Everything. You are a student in the classroom of life and a work in progress, and you are good enough right now.
Terry Josephson said, “No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head.”
The good news is that you get to control the weather there.
You can choose peace anytime you want, though this may take some work and practice if you are really practiced at over-thinking fear. Start with trusting you are good enough, because your value is absolute. Then practice trusting that your life will always be the perfect classroom for you and that everything happens for a reason, to serve your process of growth.
These two choices bring peace.
“Being content is perhaps no less easy than playing the violin well; and requires no less practice.” — Alain de Botton
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
I have been reading your marriage articles on KSL. But the main problem in our marriage is that my wife has almost no interest in intimacy. She will give it to me if I ask but always requests that we do it quick and get it over with. This is obviously a deep disappointment. She thinks something is wrong with her because she just isn’t into it. I’m frustrated and feel rejected because I want it to be part of our marriage. What can we do to fix this?
Before I can explain how to fix this part of your relationship, I want to make sure you understand the objective here. What you really want is happiness, joy and to feel loved and wanted. I want that for you too, and I believe the universe wants that for you. But you are not unconditionally entitled to joy and happiness, love and acceptance.
Joy, happiness, love and acceptance happen through growing and becoming the best version of yourself you can be. Real joy comes from learning to rise above fear, selfishness, defensiveness, neediness and resentment you are experiencing and choose love.
If you want to experience real joy (and a better sex life in your marriage) you must remember that life is not a vacation or a sightseeing trip, it is a classroom.
We are here to learn and grow, and especially we are here to learn to love. Learning to love is the true purpose of your journey.
This means that everything you experience in your life (without exception) is here to facilitate your education on love. You were attracted to this person because the universe knew this flawed, imperfect person, with his or her specific set of issues, could teach you the exact lessons you need to learn. Your spouse will be your greatest teacher.
You could give up on this relationship and try to find someone less flawed, who might make you happier, but trust me, if you didn’t learn the lessons about love and forgiveness this relationship was meant to teach you, you will just repeat the lesson until you do. You can’t run from the classroom of life. It goes with you wherever you go.
You are meant to grow and become better. You are meant to learn to forgive at a deeper level. You are meant to let go of your insecurities and fears of loss and rejection and rise above them.
The problems in this relationship are here to teach you, stretch you, try you and sometimes rip you apart, so that you can become better and get the joy and happiness you are after. But you won’t get the happiness until you learn the lessons and grow. So, you are going to have to step it up.
The path to the joy, love and intimacy in your marriage lies in you becoming a more loving and forgiving person than you ever thought you could be. Trust me. I’ve been where you are and it’s taken a long time to get this lesson. But this is truth.
In the last four articles, I outlined ways that you can work on yourself and your fear issues. You must do this because they are the one thing you have control over (and they are, in fact, the solution). You might want to read and re-read these five articles until you get what your lesson is. I have a printable version of all five articles on my website.
I know that your spouse has issues too and those issues are hurting you. I know if your spouse would fix his or her issues, it would make all this much easier on you, but apparently that is not your perfect journey. Apparently you are meant to work on yours first.
If you want to repair your marriage, you must stop fretting over your spouse’s behavior and lack of love for you. That is not the issue. The issue is you learning to see yourself, your spouse and each situation you are going through clearly and accurately. You must start seeing that you are both the same. No one is the bad guy here. You are both amazing, infinite, absolute, perfect souls who are currently struggling, scared students in the classroom of life doing the best you can with what you know (but not knowing near enough). You must stop keeping score and looking for offenses to justify your ego’s opinion that your spouse is the problem.
You must see that every fight, moment of rejection or unkind word between you is a lesson. Each of these moments is a beautiful opportunity to practice rising above fear and choosing love. This is not a complicated thing to learn to do but it will require some work and practice.
It comes down to this one choice (that you must make over and over): In every moment of your day, you are responsible for choosing how you are going to experience this situation and this is not a complicated decision, because you have only two choices: fear or love.
It helps me to see the choices laid out this way.
Fear or love
Fear of not being enough/trust in my value
Get offended/see experience as a lesson
Imagine the last time you were bothered, hurt, offended, rejected, insulted or felt taken from, in that moment you had two choices. What did you choose? What would have happened if you had chosen love? Who do you want to be?
Every time you choose fear, defensiveness, distrust, hurt or anything on the left side, you are not being the person you are meant to be. These moments will produce nothing good, and the pain, anxiety, discouragement or low self-esteem you will feel is there to show you that fear doesn’t work. It never produces anything good.
The quality of your marriage (and the joy in your life) is totally determined by how you make this choice and how often you do it. I know that it’s difficult to choose love at times (a lot of the time.) I know that your automatic subconscious response is fear and it almost feels like you can’t help reacting the way you are. But that’s a cop out.
You can help it. It’s just going to take some work.
For many of you, choosing love will mean showing physical affection to your spouse on a regular basis even though you aren’t in the mood or interested in it. You must do this if you want to live from a place of love and experience happiness.You must do this because you want your spouse to feel loved and wanted. They deserve this. Everyone does, and if you want to be cherished, adored and cared about, forgiven and treated with kindness, then be the kind of person who makes your spouse feel loved and wanted every day.
That is your number one job as a married person. Instead of worrying about protecting your own interests, how can you make your spouse feel loved?
Working on this will help you become the best version of yourself you are meant to be, which will create real joy.
This won’t be an easy battle, but you are meant to get this, and you can do it.
When you start consistently choosing love, an amazing thing will happen. Your spouse will gain respect and admiration for you. Your spouse will also appreciate your forgiveness so much (because they know when they don’t deserve it), it will break down the walls that have kept you apart. They will feel safe with you and they will want you to feel appreciated and loved back.
(Most of you are married to rational people who will respond positively to real love given without strings. But if your spouse still isn’t able to give back to you, you may feel guided to move on and the lesson may be over. But until you have grown and changed at a deep level, you aren’t there yet.)
If you want your marriage to work, you must focus on your behavior. (That is why I don’t let couples do coaching together. It defeats the purpose and encourages finger-pointing. I insist they each work on themselves.)
Your job is not to police your spouse’s ability to choose love and complain when he or she doesn’t do it. If you are policing, you are in the wrong, because in the very moment you are accusing your spouse of not being loving, you are not being loving either.
Fear, suspicion and blame also make you unattractive. I addressed in the previous articles that confidence, strength, wholeness, gratitude and encouragement are what make a person attractive. Neediness, resentment, anger, disappointment and frustration are not.
Givers are attractive, encouragers are attractive. People who are mainly focused on getting the love they want and being disappointed with their spouse aren’t. If you want love, you must stop trying to get it and commit to being a giver. But you must give with no strings attached. You must give the gift of love and forgiveness because it’s the kind of person you have decided to be.
This kind of person is very attractive.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The path to fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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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.