How do I stop beating myself up for past mistakes? I made some bad choices that ruined an important relationship, and I made some bad choices that caused me to miss opportunities, which will never come again. I could beat myself up forever about those choices and what might have been different in my life, if I’d been smarter. How does one get past those kinds of mistakes?
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.”
Kurt Vonnegut penned those words, and they sting every person who reads them. Almost everyone on the planet has regrets (decisions they wish they had made differently over the course of their lives). If you spend too much time here, these regrets could rob you the happiness you should be experiencing today. You can't let this happen.
It doesn’t serve you to punish yourself over and over for past transgressions, especially because you can't change them. Spending time here would mean borrowing suffering from your past and letting it ruin today.
The question is how can you eliminate these feelings of shame and regret?
Here are six things you can do to change the way you feel about your past and change the way you create your future:
Don’t waste another minute of today dwelling in fear over things that are over and gone. Focus on being the person you want to be. Choose to focus on the future only because it's more productive.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
Our family bickers like no other, and after a while it can rank on your nerves. The bickering can and does often end in argument with hurt feelings and misunderstandings. But for some reason, they keep doing it over and over again. Any advice to intervene and stop this behavior?
My main goal in writing this column is to help you understand human behavior better, so you can see situations accurately and respond in a way that will create the results you want. Before I give you some advice to stop the fighting, I’d like to explain why most people bicker and argue.
People generally bicker for one of these five reasons:
Let me explain what I mean by the word "validation," though, because it does not mean that you agree with this person. I believe you can completely disagree with everything he or she says, and still validate him as a person. To me, validation is about honoring and respecting another person's right to see the world the way he sees it, and think and feel the way he does. You may not agree with his position, but you can honor his right to be who he is at this point in his journey.
You can validate this person's worth as a human being by just being willing to listen to her thoughts and feelings, and honor her right to have them. When you do this, the other person generally calms down. I believe the best answer in any situation is to give love and validation.
You may want to remind the other person of your love in the middle of the fight: “In spite of this fighting I love and respect you, and I just want you to remember that my love for you is bigger than this issue.” (I actually use this in my personal life.)
Here are some other suggestions that would diminish the amount of bickering:
1) Learn how to have mutually validating conversations. I have a worksheet on my website that explains how. If you will follow the steps exactly, it will greatly improve your relationships.
2) Institute a family time-out rule. Everyone must agree ahead of time to honor this rule. The rule says that if a conversation gets heated and someone calls a time-out, everyone will walk away, go to their corners and calm down before you talk about this issue further.
3) Be accurate with your words. What I mean is, don’t exaggerate, over-generalize or personalize your complaints. John Gottman from the University of Washington did a study on how couples fight and how their words affected the success or failure of their marriages. (You can read about this in the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell). Gottman discovered that if people made an issue personal and turned to character assassination, rather than focusing on specific complaints, the relationship wouldn’t survive. He said to make sure you didn't turn the complaint of, “You left your dishes on the table” into, “You're such a lazy slob.” He could listen to people fight for only a few minutes and predict if their relationship would make it, based on the words they used.
4) Decide to let love override most small issues. Gottman also said people are generally in one of only two states in their relationships: They were either in “positive sentiment override” where they could quickly forgive most offenses because their love would override most the issues, or “negative sentiment override” where they would draw lasting negative conclusions about each other from each offense. In these negative relationships, even good deeds were seen as good deeds from a bad person.
If you have an underlying dislike for someone in your family that is showing up in every situation, I would recommend some professional help post-haste.
5) Decide right now to let people be a “work in progress.” A painter hangs a sign like this on a painting when he leaves for lunch, because he doesn’t want anyone to judge it yet. The people in your life are all struggling, scared students in the classroom of life. They have a lot to learn and they need some room and permission to be imperfect and grow. Imagine everyone in your family with that sign around their necks every day and choose to forgive most offenses, because you're imperfect, too.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem. Read about her free Tuesday night coaching call on her website.
Growing up (and still to this day), I walk on eggshells around my own mother. I have come to the realization that my mother has been trying to control me my entire life. How do I distance myself from her control, while still being a good daughter?
In these situations, I recommend you get some clarity around what drives your mother’s controlling behavior — so you can see it accurately and not take it personally — and then create some good boundaries and lovingly enforce them.
Most controlling parents love their children. They just don’t know how to stop letting their own needs and fears cloud their vision. They truly cannot see past their own issues.
Your mother may be bored or lonely. She may feel unimportant or useless if her children are grown. She may feel like her purpose for being here is gone. She may be controlling your life as a way to feel useful. She may really need to get a life of her own, but she may not know how.
Or she may have a fear of looking bad to other people. This could make her feel the need to control her children, because how they look reflects on her value as a mother. Many parents are afraid of how their children and their choices make them look. Her fear of not being good enough could be a large part of the problem.
Or she may have a fear-of-loss issue. This means she is afraid of losing you physically or spiritually and this fear could drive her to hold on way too tight. She could also have fear around losing her reputation if you make mistakes.
Do any of those seem accurate in your situation?
Once you understand why she feels the need to control you, you can figure out which of these suggestions might help:
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in overcoming fear. She offers a free webinar every Tuesday night with info on her website.
I have enjoyed your articles on KSL. I think you have helped me to understand people much better, but I have a friend who is always competing with me. She thinks her kids are better than mine, she thinks her life and all the choices she makes are better than mine. How do I let go and not let this bother me, when she is always comparing her life versus mine, with her life always being "better"?
In these situations, the most important thing is to make sure you are seeing her behavior and the situation accurately. What I mean is, people tend to take this kind of behavior personally, when it’s really not about them.
Her need to compare is about her insecurities about herself. She is most likely scared she isn’t good enough. Almost all bad behavior can be traced back to this fear at some level. I believe almost everyone on the planet is battling this fear, on a daily basis.
This fear of not being enough creates all kinds of bad behavior in people, including showing off or bragging to make themselves feel more valuable. It causes selfishness because these people cannot see past their own fears enough to see the needs of others. Fear of not being enough keeps their focus on themselves.
This fear also makes us see other people as different from us. If others are different, this implies that they have to be either better than you or worse than you. No one wants to feel worse than anyone else, so some people subconsciously look for the bad in others to make themselves feel better.
Your friend is probably subconsciously looking for the bad in you (and the good in herself) to quiet her fear of not being enough. Casting others as the bad guy so she can feel like the good guy is a common subconscious way to deal with low self-esteem.
This fear also makes people think others have to lose for them to win. Fear makes people see the world from a scarcity perspective. In this place, you feel threatened when anything good happens to anyone else. You are subconsciously afraid that will leave less for you.
Now that you understand why your friend is behaving this way, you can choose a better response. Here are some options:
1. You could just ignore the behavior. It’s not about you anyway, and just because your friend sees herself as better than you doesn’t make it true. You have the same infinite absolute value no matter what she thinks or says, so her behavior and comments are really irrelevant. This would be a great option, though it’s not always easy to do. You have to commit to not caring what she says and love her as she is (an imperfect, struggling, scared, student in the classroom of life, just like you.)
2. Love and validate her. I believe that all bad behavior is about a person's fear about himself, which means that all bad behavior is a request for love or validation. Your friend is behaving this way because she isn’t sure she’s good enough, so you could try giving her tons of validation and constantly tell her how amazing she is and how much you look up to her.
(I realize you probably aren’t going to want to do this, because we don’t like to reward selfish behavior with validation, but it can make a difference.)
After a while, your friend might feel so safe and loved around you that she no longer needs to compare and compete. It can feel powerful and amazing to give love to people who don’t deserve it in that moment.
3. Have a talk with her about it. This has to be done very carefully, because people who are afraid they aren’t good enough can get offended and defensive very easily. You would have to give your friend tons of validation and reassurance first about how much you love her. Then, you would have to ask her if there is anything you could do to be a better friend and show up in support of her better. You would have to be open to making changes to be a better friend yourself (because you can’t ask her to do it if you aren’t willing to).
Then, you could ask her if she would be open to making a small change for you, which would really strengthen your friendship. If she says yes, you will tell her that you are really sensitive to feeling that you aren’t good enough (which is true) and you wondered if, moving forward, she would be willing to be careful about not comparing the two of you on any level.
You both need to stay centered in the truth that everyone is on their own unique journey (signed up for totally different classes in the classroom of life) and it’s just not healthy to compare. Notice that you are focusing on the future behavior you want to see, not her past bad behavior which she can’t change anyway. If you waste time telling her about her past bad behavior, she will only get defensive.
Consider these three options and pick the one that feels right to you. You are the one entitled to know what your perfect lesson in this situation is. It could be about being mature enough to ignore this fear-motivated behavior. It could be about learning to show love to difficult people. Or, it could be about learning how to handle tough conversations in a loving way.
You will know what to do.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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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.