My spouse has pointed out that I’m never happy where we are and I always wish we were further along and somewhere else. He says no matter what’s happening, I act like we are behind schedule in life and am frustrated. I can see it now that he has pointed it out and I don’t like this about myself. I’m always stressed, bothered and feel under pressure to get to the next level faster. I also feel like I didn’t make the right choices in the past and because of that, we are behind, too. I can see this makes me hard to live with at times, but I have no idea how to change it and actually be happy in the now when I honestly don’t like where we are now and do wish we were somewhere else. How can I be happy in the now and still work towards being where I want to be? How can I stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”? Any advice?
This is a great question and this is something we all struggle with at times. Here are six ways to change your perspective on where you are today so you feel more content:
1. Meditate to focus on the present
Imagine a timeline, mapping out your life, with a dot (on one spot) that represents today. Notice that everything behind that spot is in the past and you cannot change it. As matter of fact all of the time, choices and experiences to the left of the dot that brought you to where you are today, are set in stone because you cannot change the past. You also cannot change where you are today. That is a fixed point, which is a result of past choices over and gone.
2. Accept you are in control
Standing in that spot today recognize the only thing you have control over is your mindset and you have only two mindset options. You can be in fear and believe the past was wrong, that you are off track, and somewhere you shouldn’t be (which will make you miserable, stressed and sad), or you can choose to believe the past was your perfect classroom journey and it played out perfectly, as the universe delivered it, to help you learn perfect lessons you apparently needed (which will make you feel more content and in peace).
3. Choose a perspective
There is no way to prove either of these perspective options are truth. So, they are both just ideas, but you are required to choose one. If you don’t consciously choose one, you will subconsciously choose one, and it will probably be the fear mindset, which makes you miserable. If there is no provable truth around whether you are on track or off track, so you might as well choose a mindset that brings peace.
4. Focus on improving today
Now, look at everything in front of the dot. Starting right now, in this moment, and moving forward, you have the power to make choices and create different or better circumstances. This is where you get to focus on improving. This present moment is the only moment where you have any control or power. So, make sure, in every moment, you are choosing to be both content with the past (seeing it as your perfect classroom) and motivated to do your best with whatever is in your control, in this moment, to make the future better.
5. Don't focus on the past
Do not waste any time wishing you could change the past. That is a complete waste of your time and energy. It does not good and it distracts you from the good choices you could be making right now.
6. Make goals with a positive mindset
Set optimistic intentions on what you want to create in your future. Choose to believe wholeheartedly that this intended future is possible for you. Feel confident and peaceful around this happening, but don’t attach your happiness to it. You still must stay in trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. If the future you intended and hoped for is what is best for you (your education and growth) you will get it. If what you intend is not your perfect classroom journey, you won’t get it, but that will be OK because you will always get something that is better for you in the long run.
If you find yourself unbalanced (feeling grouchy, bothered or unsatisfied) around where you are now, you know immediately you are not trusting the universe nor using your power to choose your inner state in this moment. Quickly reclaim that power, be responsible for how you are feeling, and choose a positive mindset like gratitude for what is right, optimism about the future or trust in God. How content you feel right now, is totally up to how you are thinking about it and looking at it. Change your perspective and you can change how you feel.
You can do this.
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, life coach Kim Giles explains the fear-trigger cycle that could wreak havoc in your relationship.
My marriage is strained right now due to the fact that my husband has started snoring and I can’t sleep. My husband is currently still sleeping on a blowup mattress in another room (his choice because I’ve told him I’m not sleeping with his snoring). I’m struggling to work out my part in this and my guilt around it and I don’t know what to do. I feel guilty, yet I also feel like I need to take care of myself, too. I know you aren’t an expert on snoring, but I hoped you could give us some ways to protect and improve our relationship and stop feeling bothered with each other, while we sort this out?
First, I recommend you have your husband see a doctor and check him out for sleep apnea or other physiological problems in play.
Remember snoring is a medical condition, not a personal failing. It can be easy for someone who snores to feel broken or flawed, and they might feel guilt and shame, too. The partner who can’t sleep can also feel guilty for being bothered with the snoring. These emotions can drive a wedge in your relationship.
It would also help for you to understand what I call the fear-trigger cycle. It helps you to see how you and your spouse trigger each other and getting this is the first step to changing things.
Here are a few ideas which make the fear-trigger cycle easy to understand.
1: My observation, as a life coach for the last 15 years, has been that love and fear cannot exist at the same time in the same person. If you are in fear, your focus is mostly on yourself and what you need to feel safe. In a fear state, you are more selfish and not capable of love.
2: I have found my clients have two core fears which create most of their bad human behavior. They are the fear of failure (the fear you aren’t good enough) and the fear of loss (the fear your quality of life won’t be good enough).
3. I have noticed when my clients fears get triggered, they usually react by either running away, pulling back, putting walls up or going quiet to protect themselves or they attack back, fault find, get defensive, or angry at the other person. These are the most common fear reactions we have observed, and none of them produce good results in relationships.
Now you understand these basics, this is how the fear-trigger-cycle (that we have discovered) works:
1. First, one of you does something that triggers a core fear in your spouse, and that spouse reacts with a fear-motivated action. This action is usually driven by the need to protect yourself from the other person.
In your case, your husband's snoring triggered fear of loss in you, because it is taking from your quality of life. This fear made you react to protect yourself. You might have reacted by complaining, blaming or being bothered.
2. The other person sees this fear-driven action and it triggers a fear in them. Then, they react from their fear to protect themselves.
In your case, I believe your husband's fear of failure was triggered when his snoring bothered you. Your feeling of loss about sleeping near him made him feel inadequate. He would hate feeling this way, so he might react by pulling away from you to protect himself from further feelings of failure.
His fear-reaction might have been to say, "Fine, I will sleep away from you so you can sleep." But if this was done as a protection from failure, not as an act of love toward you, it could further drive a wedge into the relationship.
3. When the first person feels the other person reacting in fear, pulling away or acting to protect themselves, they will be even more triggered by fear. They will often have more fear-driven behavior show up, to protect themselves and the wedge will become even bigger
In your case, you probably felt your husband pulling away to protect himself from failure, and it either triggered more fear of loss in you, or it might have triggered fear of failure in you because you feel guilty for not being able to sleep with him.
This wouldn’t feel good, so you might have reacted in anger at his defensiveness and acting like a martyr. This might make you behave more defensively too, and pull back even further from him.
I have seen this cycle play out in hundreds of relationships over the last 15 years. People get stuck in this fear-trigger cycle going around and around, triggering each other's fear-motivated bad behavior and in this state, no one is giving love, because you are both focused on protecting yourselves.
The good news is this problem is not hard to fix.
The first step lies in recognizing you are having a fear-trigger problem. I believe your protective, defensive behavior is happening because you and your spouse are both scared of failure and loss and you both need some reassurance and validation.
He needs to know that his snoring doesn’t change his value to you. You need to know that he cares about your quality of sleep and wants to do whatever it takes to make sure you have what you need. When you give each other this reassurance, it will quiet the fears in play.
Then make sure you approach solving this issue as a team, working together against a problem — not as two people against each other.
You can do this.
I am 25 years old and suffer from anxiety and overthinking. My biggest issue right now is death. I am scared of death and every second I think of losing my parents or siblings and it destroys me mentally. I have never lost anyone close to me but for some reason I can’t get the thought of losing my family out of my mind. It eats away at my brain and causes me to have more anxiety and more overthinking. How can I deal with this? How can I learn to accept it and how can I stop thinking about it?
We define overthinking as: Ruminating over things that don’t protect you and aren’t productive. It makes sense to spend time thinking about tasks you need to accomplish, cautions you could take to keep you or others safe, or processing emotions or experiences to work through them. If you spend your time planning out what you can do to prevent problems, it’s productive thinking about things over which you have some control.
But if you are spending valuable time worrying about things that might not happen or things over which you have no control, you are wasting your time and energy and overthinking.
Here is a procedure to follow when you catch yourself overthinking about unproductive things:
1. Practice mindfulness
Take a minute and notice what’s going on in your head and the effect those thoughts are having on your body. Become the observer of your own thinking and what it's creating inside you. Use your senses to bring you back into the moment. This means pay attention to what sensations are happening in your body from head to toe.
Notice what can you smell, hear or see right now. There is a reason people use the phrase "come to your senses" when they talk about becoming calm — you can literally use your senses to calm anxiety.
2. Relax your nervous system
Studies have shown that when your body is in fight-or-flight mode, your frontal lobe, which you need to logically think your way back to peace, shuts down and stops working.
To get access to your frontal lobe again, try diaphragmatic breathing. An article on relaxation and stress from Harvard Health explains how to do this exercise:
"Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural)."
Take a few minutes to try this.
3. Identify which fears are causing the overthinking
Is this a fear of failure problem where you are worried about failing, looking bad, being insulted, judged or criticized? Or is this a fear of loss problem where you are afraid of things going wrong, being mistreated or losing things or people you care about?
In this instance, your fear of losing family members is a fear of loss issue.
4. If you are overthinking because of a fear of failure: choose to see that all human beings have the same intrinsic value that can’t change.
When you choose to see all human beings as having the exact same value all the time, you take failure off the table. You cannot be less than anyone else. No matter what happens you will still have the same value as every other person on the planet.
If you see life as a classroom and every experience as a lesson instead of a test where you must earn your value, it becomes a lot less scary. You can’t fail if there is no test. No matter what anyone thinks of you, you still have the same value.
5. If you are overthinking because of fear of loss: choose to see the universe as a wise and loving teacher who brings experiences to help you learn and grow.
We believe there are two mindset options about the nature of life: You can see life and the universe as a dangerous place, or you can see it as a classroom journey, where perfect learning experiences show up.
We cannot prove this idea is true, however, because there is no ultimate truth about the nature of life and the universe. This means, either way, you will choose a perspective or belief in your imagination. You might as well choose one that makes you feel safer in the world and improves your quality of life.
This means letting go of the illusion that you have control over anything and choosing to have a positive outlook, even if difficult circumstances occur. If you ever lose a person you love, you can choose to believe it was their time to go and the universe (or your higher power) will see you through the experience and make you better for it.
Overthinking about death and losing your loved ones is not keeping them safe and it is not creating solutions or preventing bad things from happening. What happens to them is completely out of your control. It is unproductive thinking that does only one thing — it takes away your peace and joy.
You are stealing suffering from the future and using it to ruin today.
We suggest you leave future suffering where it is and choose as much joy and peace as you possibly can today. This moment, right now, is the only one you have any control over. This moment, right now, is the only place you have any power to choose anything. Use that power to choose gratitude, trust, love and peace.
6. Choose gratitude, in this moment, for all the things right in your life.
Count your blessings and make a choice to focus on something fun, joyful and rich going on around you right now. Take time to send a note to a loved one and let them know how you feel about them. Focus on something you have control over that is based on love, not fear.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show
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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.