This was first published on KSL.com
I work with many couples who are struggling to get along, handle conflict and feel safe with each other. When they tell me about the disagreements they have, I can always see some simple questions they could have asked that might have stopped the fight before it started.
It might help you apply this article to yourself if you could think back to a specific fight or conflict you have had in the past and replay it in your mind. Then imagine what might have happened if you had tried the suggestions below.
Conflict usually begins when someone says or does something that makes the other person feel insulted, criticized, taken from or disregarded. I call this the triggering incident. When these incidents happen, the other person then feels they must defend or protect themselves, and they often respond with a defensive response or counterattack.
The best time to stop a fight is right when the triggering incident happens — before you get defensive or make a counterattack. But it is difficult to stop and think clearly when you have just been offended.
Stopping at the triggering point is going to take some practice and some battling with your ego — because your ego always wants to react defensively or attack back. Your ego shows up to protect you any time there is a perceived threat, but it's important to remember your ego is fear-driven and not capable of love-driven behavior. If you let your ego respond from fear, you are always going to make the situation worse.
The other thing to keep in mind is that most triggering incidents are unintentional and driven by our own fears. When people feel unsafe they behave selfishly and carelessly, and most of the time it isn't really about you at all.
So here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you pause, get out of ego, get more information and respond to triggering events in a more mature, balanced way:
What am I feeling?
The moment a triggering incident happens, walk away, close your eyes, ask for a minute to get your head clear, or just pause and pay attention to what's happening inside yourself. What are you feeling? How did that trigger make you feel?
Don't stop asking questions here, though. You don't want to let your ego make these emotions bigger. Before you start ruminating about the offense, ask some more questions.
Am I applying meaning to what was said or done?
For example, maybe you're thinking: "My spouse making that comment means they don't care about me at all." Does it really mean that? Take the meaning away and just look at the content of the comment or action alone.
How am I perceiving this?
Ask yourself: Is there any way that I am hearing or perceiving this to be malicious while it wasn't meant that way? Do I have a tendency to feel insulted or taken from easily? This could mean I see offenses when they aren't really there; own it if this might be true.
You may want to ask the other person about their intent. Did they mean that to sound critical or judgmental, or is that just the way you are hearing it? Give them a chance to explain their intent. Ask this from a place of really wanting to understand the other person, not from a place of judgment where you are talking down to them.
Was it malicious?
Ask yourself: Do I think this person purposefully wants to hurt or offend me? Is there malice in their actions and do they intend harm? Or, do they love me and just say or do thoughtless things because they aren't paying attention?
What is going on with your partner at this moment? Are they tired, hungry, distracted or experiencing fear that might keep their focus on themselves? Could there be another reason they did this triggering behavior, one that isn't even about you and has no malice in it?
What do I want to happen?
Ask yourself: What do I want this day or night to look like? What kind of experience would I like to have with my partner today? Are there reactions to this triggering incident that will create what I want and others that would totally destroy what I want? Consciously choose a response that will create what you want.
How often does this happen?
Ask yourself: Is this kind of offense something that is happening often? Is the behavior creating fear about this relationship not working long term? Is that scaring me? If it is, then you must address the behavior, but you must do that the right way and at the right time. Think about the best time and place to have this sensitive conversation.
Then, make sure when the right time comes, you ask the other person if they are open to having a heartfelt conversation about the relationship. Get their buy-in to do this. Let them know that your intention here is to make the relationship stronger, not poke holes in it. You are not mad at them, and this isn't about attacking each other; it's about understanding each other better. Let them know you love them and give them some validation around all the things they do right.
Start the conversation by asking them questions about how they feel the relationship is going. Is there anything that concerns them or scares them? Is there anything you could do to show up for them better?
Spend time here listening to understand them, how they see things and how they feel. Honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. Ask lots of questions and stay here until they feel heard and understood. If you do this right, you will probably learn some things about your partner you didn't know.
Then, ask permission to share something that has been creating a little fear in you. Ask if they would be willing to listen and not get defensive, reiterating that your intent here is to strengthen the relationship and understand each other better.
Remind them that you love them, then explain the behaviors that are triggering you using "I" statements. Try phrases like "I feel," "when I hear this I experience this," "in my opinion," and "from my perspective."
Try to avoid "you" statements that feel like an attack. Tell them that when they say or do these things it triggers some fear in you and explain what your fears are. Own the fact that your reactions may be more about events in your past than they are about your partner in the present. Talk it through while staying focused on mutual understanding, respect and a desire to know each other better.
The people closest to you typically don't mean to intentionally offend you or put you down on purpose, but it does happen. If they intentionally meant harm, there are a couple of places it can go from there:
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
One of the most common people problems that companies bring me to solve is office drama that has gotten out of hand.
The problems often start with two co-workers who can't get along, who finagle the rest of the office to take sides. Sometimes just one gossip-prone person who likes to stir the pot can ruin the atmosphere for the whole office.
Your first responsibility at work is to make sure you aren't the problem. If you are a person who often dislikes co-workers, gets bothered or offended easily, or feels the need to voice complaints to whoever will listen, you might be the problem in your office and this kind of behavior will absolutely hold you back in your career.
Here are some ways you can deal with office drama going on around you and make sure you aren't the problem:
Refuse to participate in gossip
Don't gossip about your co-workers even if it feels justified and you really need to vent. Find someone outside the office with whom you can voice your frustrations.
It is OK to dislike someone, but it is not OK for you to talk about that at work or encourage others to dislike them too. Practice compassion for any co-worker you dislike and understand they are doing the best they can with what they know.
Stop and get some clarity before you react to anything
Your immediate reaction to most situations will not be clear-headed. Calm down and take some time to determine the outcome you really want and the response most likely to create that outcome. If you need to respond, do so calmly and respectfully.
Give people the benefit of the doubt
You don't need to immediately assume negative intent. Most offenses aren't intentional or done with malice. Strive to be hard to offend.
Avoid people who start or spread ill-will
If someone in the office is prone to gossip or drama, stay away from them or walk away when it starts. This could make adversarial co-workers turn on you, but that's better than being part of the problem. Higher-ups can usually see who is causing the problems, and it won't be you.
Ignore most bad behavior
If it is a problem you can't ignore, have a mutually validating, private, kind, respectful conversation to address it. But for the most part, try to let most things roll off.
Don't take sides
If people are closing ranks around two co-workers, refuse to join either side. Encourage compassion toward all involved.
See everyone as having the same value
Everyone has the same infinite value on a unique classroom journey. Let them be where they are and hold back judgment. You have no idea what has happened in their life to create the place they are in now. Assume they are wounded too and that all involved deserve compassion.
Do not allow others to disparage, disregard or mistreat you, but hold these boundaries the right way with respectful conversation or by taking the problem to the right superior. Quietly document inappropriate behavior if necessary.
Don't react negatively to negativity
If you hear people are talking negatively about you, don't negatively react. This is a chance to either learn something and grow or practice knowing it doesn't matter what others say. If the negativity continues and needs to be addressed, have a private, respectful, conversation. But most of the time, just working on being the best you is the best response.
'When they go low ... go high'
Follow former First Lady Michelle Obama's advice: "When they go low, we go high." Keep taking the high road and showing compassion, maturity and respect to everyone, regardless of how low they go.
Remember: what other people do and say doesn't change your value
Another's dislike of you or the things you do doesn't change who you are. You are more bulletproof than you realize. They may try to ruin your reputation, but your best defense is to live so no one would believe them.
If a conversation becomes necessary, make sure you do it right
Find the right time, in private, and start by asking questions about how they feel and listening to them fully. Let them have room to fully share their point of view and honor and respect their right to that perspective.
Then ask if they would be willing to let you share your perspective and do it without being disrespectful or harsh. Know ahead of time what changes in behavior you are going to ask for moving forward. Ask if they would be willing to handle things that way in the future.
Take stock of your own behavior
We all must watch ourselves for inappropriate behavior at work. Watch for your ego's need to talk about other people or complain, and then choose to stay quiet. Strive to be a person who builds co-workers up, encourages them, and has compassion for their struggles instead of tearing them down.
If you are stuck in a job where inappropriate behavior and office drama abounds, consider recommending some people-skills training or executive coaching for the whole office to the higher-ups. If solutions still aren't coming, update your resume and start looking for a healthier workplace.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Believing your own views are right is a troublesome tendency that we each must watch out for. It shows up as an overattachment to our own ideas and opinions and the tendency to see other perspectives as wrong.
When you get overattached to your opinion, you also tend to look for reinforcement confirming that you are right. It's called confirmation bias and you are drawn to shows, articles and books that confirm your current opinion over things that challenge it. You subconsciously seek this confirmation because it has a positive effect on your self-esteem.
Feeling like you are right doesn't actually increase your value; it just temporarily makes your ego feel better than other people whom you see as wrong.
If people struggle to see value in themselves, they often seek what I call "group self-esteem." They align themselves with a group of people who see themselves as superior to another group, and because they are a member of this superior group they get a little self-esteem boost.
The temporary benefits
But again, thinking you are right is only a temporary ego boost because being right doesn't actually give you more value than the people on the other side. Many people believe their ideas, opinions and beliefs do make them the "good guys" and more valuable than people with different views and beliefs. You can see this happening all around us.
People need to believe that their opinions make them better than others for two reasons:
1. They need the self-esteem boost that comes from feeling superior to others
This often happens when they don't get enough self-esteem from their appearance or performance. So, taking a strong stand on their views becomes their "thing" that sets them apart and makes them feel valuable. These people will talk about and share their views liberally because it reinforces their sense of value. They are overly committed to being right because it makes them feel better.
2. They get a sense of safety from their strong opinions and ideas
Feeling sure about their views gives them a sense of solid ground to stand on. Their opinions and views can make them feel in control and provide some stability. Beliefs can create our sense of security in the world; the problem is that when we rely too heavily on our opinions for security, we can become stubborn and stop learning, growing or experiencing people and ideas outside of those views.
There are some benefits to being overcommitted to being right, but there are also some troublesome consequences from being this way. Here are a few of them:
1. You only see life from your own perspective
You cannot help seeing the world through your own lens — a lens that was created from all your past experiences and knowledge. Yours is a very unique lens, too, because no other person on the planet will ever have your upbringing, your family, and your life experiences. You are literally the only one who can see life through your lens.
This is important to understand because your lens is also not accurate. It is all you know and can see, so it feels accurate, but it is — and will always be — just your perspective. There is an infinite number of other perspectives from which things look totally different. This is why any number of witnesses can watch the same event and see it very differently. This is why witness testimony can be unreliable. People always see the world through their skewed lens.
Recognizing this and understanding that all you can ever see is your own skewed opinion, perspective, and views means being open to honoring and respecting other people's right to see the world from their perspective. It is also all they can see, and from their perspective things will look very different from yours.
There is great wisdom and compassion to be gained when we step out of judgment and our need to be right and experience, listen to and learn from other people's perspectives. If you only watch your perspective's news program and read books that support what you already believe is the truth, you will miss out on the richness of the human experience and all its diversity.
2. You don't learn anything
A funny thing happens when you think you're right in your opinions and views: You stop asking questions and you stop learning. You subconsciously believe you know all there is to know, so you don't care what else is out there. It is only when you are willing to question what you know, and are truly open to being wrong, that you can learn. Wise people know that the more you learn, the more you understand you have more to learn.
There are always going to be more questions than answers. Being willing to question your views and knowledge makes you intelligent, a perpetual student, and ensures you're always growing. True wisdom is always questioning what you think you know.
3. You don't connect with people
If you are overly committed to your own opinions, you will miss opportunities to connect with other people — primarily because they won't share their perspectives with you. They can feel that you aren't open and don't provide a safe place to share, so they will keep their views to themselves.
There are billions of amazing humans out there with interesting stories and experiences, many that are beyond your ability to comprehend. Because you have never experienced life in their shoes, you don't know what they know. The more different they are from you, the harder it can be to cross the divide and connect with them; but when you do, you grow in incalculable ways.
This is why people say travel to faraway places changes you. Taking time to get to know people, who are vastly different from you and honoring and respecting their right to their views — even if their views bother or offend you — will help you gain compassion and wisdom. Spending all your time with people who agree with you gets you nowhere.
4. You don't experience love at the highest level
I personally believe — though I am open to being wrong about all of this — that differences are a perfect part of our life's journey because they stretch our ability to love others and ourselves. Differences trigger fears in us and push us out of our comfort zones. Think about some people in your life that you have a hard time loving or even liking. What are the differences that create these feelings? For some reason, your subconscious mind that has decided these behaviors in these people make them unworthy of love at some level.
The problem with letting these feelings go unchecked is that as long as you see their faults as making them unworthy of love, you will also see your own faults — though they may be different ones — as making you unworthy of love. You literally cannot love yourself except as you love your neighbor. If you stay in judgment of them, you will also stay in judgment of yourself. If you want to truly love and accept yourself, you must work on seeing every other human being as equal in value and worthy of compassion. You may never understand their perspective or behavior, but you know that's because you cannot see the world through their lens.
Being open to understanding and learning from other people takes you to a higher level of love and creates a wiser, more open and beautiful way of living. But you cannot get there if you are stuck in your need to be right about your current views.
Opinions vs. morals and values
I also want to say that opinions and views as I have addressed them in this article are different from your morals and values. Morals and values are beautiful choices you make about the rules you want to guide your behavior choices. They are still made from your perspective, but they are the consciously chosen systems to live by. What you want to avoid is pushing your value systems onto others — because they have the right to choose their own — and being closed off to changing your values as you grow and learn.
You could choose to stay open and question everything including your values, your views, and your opinions, and constantly measure them against love. There are so many dimensions to the human experience, and nothing is ever fully black and white, but love for yourself and other people may be a good measure in choosing values that create positive things in your life.
These are, of course, just my perspective and ideas, but I do like the results that are created in my life when I choose to see life as a classroom — purposefully designed to stretch my compassion and ability to love. I also appreciate the comments to my articles that challenge my ideas and premises and I am always open to being wrong.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
We often get so caught up surviving day to day and working down the never-ending to-do list that we forget to relish being alive. You might want to pick one of these things each week and work on it.
Here are some ways to make your life more amazing:
1. Let go of what other people think about you and your choices
You will live in a prison if you make your choices around what other people think. Ask yourself: How could I allow myself to be more true to me and claim the right to live my life?
2. Start fresh every day
Let the past and mistakes from yesterday float away as water under the bridge. They can provide lessons, but they are nothing beyond that. You get a fresh slate every day and the chance to be a new you. Practice giving this to yourself every morning.
3. Stop putting off what you really want to do
Life goes by fast; just ask an older person. You can't wait to start living later. What can you do today to live big now? Stop saving your favorite outfit. Buy those shoes. Plan the trip you really want to take.
4. Create a long bucket list
I recommend to my clients to not stop until there are over 150 things on their bucket list. This way they have to start crossing things off; there are too many items to wait to get started.
5. Don't judge or gossip
Allow every human you meet to be on their unique journey, learning lessons just for them, with the same infinite value as the rest of us. Don't waste time or energy comparing or putting them down to lift yourself up. The more you choose compassion and allow them to be on an equal plane as yourself, the better you will feel about yourself.
6. Forgive everyone — including yourself
Make forgiveness a way of life. Life is too short to hold on to anger. Mistakes are lessons in your classroom journey. That's all. They don't affect our value; human intrinsic value can't change. Also, remember your ability to forgive others is usually tied to your ability to forgive yourself.
7. Distance yourself from negative people and relationships
Don't waste precious hanging onto people who are dishonest, critical or don't add value to your life. You don't have to dislike these people; you just love them ... from afar. Life's too short to let other people take your joy.
8. Help other people
Helping others feels great. Spearhead a humanitarian cause or find a way to volunteer. You get what you give in the world, and the universe will reward you when you serve others.
9. Meet new people and make new friends
Try to connect with a new person every day. Everywhere you go there are amazing people who could enrich your life. Watch the caliber of people you hang out with. Raise the bar and meet people who are living their best lives. It will inspire you.
10. Travel and try new things
Nothing broadens your understanding of yourself and life more than travel. Go somewhere new — even if it's somewhere close by — and meet the people there, eat new foods, and have an adventure.
11. Declutter and minimize
Decide not to make life about things, but having experiences. Get rid of everything that doesn't bring you happiness. Clean your closets and see how little you really need to be happy.
12. Keep learning
Always be open to new ideas and being wrong. Add to your bucket list all the things you'd like to learn and start knocking them off the list, even one a month.
13. Give more than you receive
The idea here is to give more value than you receive in everything you do. Blessings and good fortune follow when you give more and work harder than others.
14. Live in the moment
When you spend "now" worrying about the future, you miss experiences and people that are important today. Be present and don't miss what's in front of you.
15. Let go of your expectations
A lot of the suffering we experience comes from resisting what is. Set goals and intentions, then stay in trust that however things end up, you can learn something from it. Allow the universe to flow and take you places on occasion. Be open to being surprised by something even better than you would have asked for.
16. Have more fun
Let your inner child come out and jump in puddles, walk on curbs, jump cracks, and play whenever you get the chance. Laugh and find things that light your spark.
17. Live in gratitude
Be grateful for everything you have and all the problems you don't have; both of these are important to note.
18. Don't let fear stop you from doing anything
Recognize when you are holding back for a fear reason. Make a list of all the love-motivated reasons to do this thing. Choose to always make a love-motivated choice rather than a fear-driven one
19. Value experiences over things
Save your money for a trip over buying a new car or other expensive item. Give experiences as gifts and spend time with the people you love instead of buying them things.
20. Be yourself and find your joy
Spend some time alone in a place where you can let go of social expectations and just have fun. Make lists of things that make you happy and light you up. Make time to do these things even if — or especially if — others think they are dumb or pointless or that you aren't good at them. What did you like to do as a kid? What activities make you feel fully alive? Make time to bring these into your life in a bigger way.
Be true to your beliefs and values, even if others won't approve. You only get one shot at life and you can't live it for other people. Make a list of things you might be doing to please others or society. Double-check if these things really work for you and are consistent with your value system. Do you dress a certain way because it's socially acceptable? Does it bring you joy? What other changes could you make to live on your own terms?
Be committed to creating some joy every day, even it's a few minutes to watch something funny and laugh. Be in charge of your happiness and responsible for bringing joy into your life every day.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
About a year ago I found out my spouse had not only been looking at inappropriate things online, but she has also been leaving comments on posts and videos of other men. It has completely destroyed me. I feel betrayed. I feel like I'm not good enough. She, of course, says that it meant nothing to her. But when I try and tell her how much it has hurt me, she doesn't get it. We have been fighting over this for over a year, and the only way to stop fighting is for me to just act like I am over it. I AM NOT OVER IT! In fact, I'm still sick about it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe I am the one overreacting over it. I'm so lost and confused. ... Can you please help me? She did delete the app she was doing it on, but I feel like the damage is done and I don't know how to move forward.
I'd like to address your question by giving you a procedure you can use whenever you get offended or have a fight or a problem with anyone in your life. This is especially helpful when trust has been broken and you don't feel emotionally safe with your partner.
In a situation like this, you only have two options in response. It is very important that you understand the consequences of each option and make a conscious decision about which is right for you. If you don't make a conscious decision, your brain will make a subconscious decision by reacting and you will probably make the situation worse, not better.
Here are your two options:
1. Respond from a place of fear
Understand that you cannot show up in love and fear at the same time. If you choose fear, your love goes out the window and your focus is on protecting yourself. This means your behavior will be selfish. You will not do or say things that show love and compassion for the other person; you will say and do things that make you feel safer.
The other person will feel the selfish energy around what you say, and they will likely not feel safe or loved by you. They will then focus on protecting themselves, too, and they won't be loving toward you. If you both show up in fear often, no one will be giving any love and it's less likely that the relationship will work.
2. Respond from a place of love
This means you choose to respond with love toward yourself and the other person. You can only access your love and respond this way if you have first chosen to trust that you are safe. You will need to trust that the universe is on your side, that your value can't change, and that you cannot be "not good enough." This will help you have the capacity to choose to show love, compassion and forgiveness to the other person.
When you respond with love, you can choose to allow the other person to make mistakes and still be worthy of your love because you want the same grace for your mistakes. You can forgive their past behavior completely, seeing it as just a lesson for both of you and not part of who they are. Choosing to forgive and love the other person is likely to make them love you more and create the best outcome.
How to respond from a place of love
Having said that, the love option isn't easy to choose; fear is a lot easier. Fear comes naturally with no effort whatsoever. Choosing love and forgiving the other person can feel much harder, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
It's important to note there are some situations when the loving thing to do is love yourself enough to leave. If you truly believe the other person has no intention of changing or improving, you might feel leaving is the best thing for you. Only you are entitled to know if and when you have reached this point. Trust your heart and you will know. This is also a love-motivated choice, not a fear-motivated choice.
You may also want to work with a coach or counselor on your self-esteem. Work on letting all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value as you and giving up judging other people and seeing them as less than you. This is the secret to feeling more worthy and loveable yourself. If you see faults and mistakes in others as making them less, bad or unworthy, your own faults and mistakes will also make you feel less, bad and unworthy. If you let every other human make mistakes and still be worthy of love, you will start to see that you are too.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.