My husband and I disagree on parenting. He is very strict and hard on our kids and I’m more understanding and nurturing. I think the way he parents our sensitive son is just not right, but he refuses to do it my way because he sees it as wrong. I know we should be a united front with our kids and have each other’s backs, but we both think we are right. Most of the time I give in because he’s so adamant but I resent him for always having his way and my voice doesn’t count or matter. I think his way is hurting our son, but he is so stubborn he won’t even consider that he’s wrong. Any suggestions?
What you are really asking is, "How do you deal with a spouse (or anyone) who is not open to the possibility they are wrong and refuses to compromise?"
I’m so glad you asked this because there are stubborn, opinionated, fear-driven people all around us and they can be a challenge to live or work with. First, I want you to understand why they are this way.
As a human behavior expert for the last 16 years, I believe that all bad behavior is driven by fear — and there are two core fears that drive most of it. They are the fear of failure and the fear of loss. We all have both of them in play to some degree every day, but our reactions to them can be very different.
For example, fear of failure can make some people shrink and say nothing, because it feels safer, while it makes others super-opinionated because they need the validation that comes from being right and heard. It’s the same fear, but two very different reactions.
I believe your spouse seems to be the later. He needs the validation that comes from being right to feel safe in the world. So he cannot ever admit he is wrong or he would subconsciously feel he had no value at all.
People who respond to fear of failure this way can have trouble in relationships because they find it hard to compromise, listen to others opinions, apologize or tolerate people with whom they disagree. They can also be afraid of looking bad, and a son who behaves badly could do that. People who respond to failure this way can also let ego and pride drive their behavior. They might think ego protects them, but it doesn’t create much connection in relationships.
I tell you all this because I want you to see beneath the ego to the scared person inside. If you see your spouse as scared of failure or looking bad, you will have more compassion for him.
Your spouse could also be having a fear of loss issue and might need a certain amount of control to feel safe. But people have to be ready and willing to do some personal development work before they are open to seeing their subconscious fear issues.
I want you to understand the behavior though, so you will know how to best handle the situation. Here are six suggestions for dealing with stubborn people:
1. Give them validation about whatever good behavior you see in them. Tell them often how much you appreciate their willingness to listen without fixing or consider both sides of an argument. Praise the behavior you want to see more of. People often want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
2. Ask lots of questions about an issue and see if they come up with similar solutions. They like to talk, so asking questions and listening gets them to open up. Ask them if they have any other ideas? Keep asking them to think it through and come up with other ideas. Do this until they reach one you both agree on.
3. When you need to discuss an issue and you really want to be heard, ask questions and listen to their opinions first. Then ask permission to share your ideas. Specifically ask them if they would be willing to be quiet, not interrupt or say anything for five minutes and let you fully explain your opinion before they respond. Ask them if they would be willing to consider your thoughts and not be too quick to shoot them down, because they are strongly held ideas and their rejection would be painful for you. Get their commitment before you say a word.
4. Then, phrase your opinion or ideas using lots of "I" statements. "I feel…" "I have observed…" "I believe…" "I really think…". It is hard for people to argue with your right to your perspective. They may think differently, but they must honor your right to see it your way.
5. If they are deeply in fear, to the degree of being unable to listen to other suggestions, don’t take it personally. I believe it is not about you — it is about their fears about themselves. When they solve those, they can then access their love and willingness to hear others.
6. Gently remind your spouse that their value is not on the line with your son’s behavior and that you both have to keep checking yourself, to make sure you aren’t making it about you. No matter how your son turns out, you still have the exact same value as everyone else.
If you try these things and nothing works, you may want to consider some counseling or coaching together. A third-party can often help resolve stubborn behavior in relationships.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert behind www.12shapes.com She hosts a weekly Relationship Radio show on Voice American and iTunes.
SALT LAKE CITY — I get many questions submitted these days from concerned parents who are struggling to connect and have influence with their teens. Kids today have access to friends and information on every subject 24/7. Parents are finding it more difficult than ever to maintain real influence to guide their teens.
In order to have real influence you must have real connection and mutual respect. Below are eight ways parents sometimes behave that can erode their relationships, create disconnection and cause them to lose influence:
1. Have emotional and immature reactions, in anger, self-pity or fear
When parents are emotionally immature, reactive, or lose control, teens lose respect. They want you to be the adult, see situations clearly, and respond with wisdom and love. When you aren’t able to do that and respond immaturely they lose respect for you as an adult.
If you struggle with emotional immaturity and often blow your top, go to a self-pity or drama place, or use ridiculous threats, there are resources to help you deal with your emotions. If the problem continues, you may want to seek out some professional help to change that behavior.
The best thing a parent could do for their child is to work on their own self-worth and relationship skills. Learn how to process emotions in a healthy way and get control of your temper.
2. Try to force them and be controlling
Oppressed people always rebel. It’s just human nature. Have you ever tried to drag someone in one direction? What do they automatically do? They pull the other way. No one likes to be forced (even if they want to go the way you are pulling, they will always resist being forced).
It would be wiser to spend time asking questions and helping teens figure out which options create the best results in their lives and encourage them to make good choices on their own, for themselves. This way they make good choices even when you aren’t around.
3. Engage in power struggles
Parents who try to demand obedience and make teens obey soon find out they really have no control. There are very few things you can force another person to do. You can make them sit at a table to study, but you can’t force them to read or understand what they are reading. You can demand a bedtime, but you can’t force them to sleep. These kinds of power struggles erode connection and drive children away from you.
When you engage in force, you are making yourself the enemy. It makes more sense to stay on their team, not fight against them. You both want the same thing in the end, a happy, healthy, productive adult. Approach every issue as the two of you against the problem, never against each other.
4. Tell them the same thing over and over
Lectures are rarely effective and when you say the same thing, in different ways over and again in one sitting, your teen stops listening. This is not the way to gain influence or connection with your child. Teens also get offended when you insult their intelligence and assume they aren’t getting what you’re saying. Trust me, they heard you.
What you are feeling is their resistance to how it’s being communicated. It’s not a conversation you are having, it is a one-way lecture and there is no connection involved. If you want to have a conversation about an issue with your teen it requires you to ask questions, listen and really hear their thoughts and feelings too.
If you need to be a dictator and give a speech, just expect eye rolls and disrespect, because respect has to be a two-way street. It also has to be earned through mature, calm, intelligent and validating communication.
5. Be hypocritical (say one thing yet do the other)
You lose all credibility when you don’t practice what you preach, and I guarantee your kids notice. They are learning much more from watching you than from anything you say. They may be learning how they don’t want to behave in the future or how to not treat their children.
Fortunately, your value as a human being isn’t affected by your performance, so you still have the same value as the rest of us. But it is your job to keep working on yourself and own it if you make mistakes. Never underestimate the power of being vulnerable and admitting when you are wrong — there are few better ways to connect with your kids.
6. Be disrespectful and talk down to them
You earn their respect by treating them with respect. Imagine how you would handle the conversation about their messy room if it was a friend staying with you. How would you speak to the friend about the mess? Try speaking to your own kids with that level of respect and you will get what I mean. When you talk down to teens, they can get offended and pull away from you. Any discipline, counsel or correction can be delivered with respect.
7. Talk more than you listen
Nothing shows a teenager that it’s all about you faster than this. Make sure in every conversation you are asking questions and listening to their views as much or more than you are talking. You will be amazed by what you learn.
Smart parents can ask the right questions and get a teen to figure out what they were going to say, without saying a word. That is real learning that lasts, too.
8. Spoil them or make their life too easy
This creates entitled teens who don’t listen and just demand and expect to have what they want. Make sure they learn young to earn what they have.
Your job is to prepare them for the real world, where phone plans cost money and get turned off if aren’t paid for. Let them fail often and learn these lessons now, in your home, when the lessons are less expensive.
If you have a hard time saying no or pulling back on privileges because they are used to being spoiled, seek out some professional help to show you how to do this in a loving, firm way.
Some people may think I am putting all the blame for a relationship problem on the parents. It does take two to create the mess you might be in, and your teen's bad behavior is obviously half the problem — but you are the adult.
It is your job to be accountable for your half. If you don’t have the skills and tools to handle parenting in a mature, wise, loving way, it is your job to seek them out. When you decided to have children, you accepted the responsibility of the parent role. You must take the role seriously and study, learn and grow in it.
The more you learn and grow, you will be able to model better behavior for your kids, and they will be better prepared to work on their side.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSl.COM
My wife has a very annoying thing she does all the time. She uses your name (Coach Kim) tons of times in any conversation … not just with me, but everyone. It feels to me and our children that she wants and needs to recommend and correct us all, and it really pushes everyone's buttons. It’s great that she likes your advice column and is learning things, but it’s making life at home worse, not better. What can we do?
Her intentions are good, but trying to fix, advise or help other people when they haven’t asked for the help is insulting. Unfortunately, many people who study personal development find it easier to see the bad behavior in other people than in themselves. Looking in the mirror is rough on your self-worth, while fixing other people makes you feel wise and important. The problem is, though, it feels good; it doesn’t create healthy relationships and can push people away from you.
I am going to give you some advice on how to handle it when someone tries to fix you. Then I’m going to give some suggestions if you are the person who wants to share advice with others, so you can do it without insulting them.
When someone tries to fix you with unsolicited advice:
First, recognize some people who try to "fix" you can be projecting their own issues on you. There is a universal spiritual law of projection that states: "You spot it, you got it." This means we tend to see the very issues we need to work on in other people. So, we have to understand that a lot of the criticism we get from other people can be more about them than it is about us.
I do not recommend pointing this out to them, though, unless you want to create serious conflict, because the thing with projection is they can’t see it. If they could see it, they wouldn’t do it. Instead, just say, "I can understand why you might see it that way."
Then, ask a permission question like, "Would it be OK if I spoke my truth about this advice?" Never share your opinions with anyone unless you respect and honor them enough to ask if they are willing to listen to it first. If they say no, you must respect that.
If they say yes, explain that you appreciate their desire to help you, but unsolicited advice really feels like an insult to you. Ask if they would be willing to ask permission and see if you are open to some advice from Coach Kim before they give it. Ask if they would be willing to do that for you moving forward. If they can do this, it would make you feel respected, honored and validated.
Always ask them to change their behavior next time or in the future. Don’t focus on their past behavior, because they can’t change the past, so it will only make them defensive. Ask if next time they have something Coach Kim said that they really want to share, would they be willing to ask if you are interested first. That would mean a lot to you if they would.
If it continues to happen, don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. Understand that your wife might have fears of failure and loss that drive her behavior. Some people need to advise others to feel safe in the world or feel validated and important. Their need to do this has nothing to do with you. Any of us can be prone to do this when we feel insecure. Let her know you get this and think she is an amazing person who is wise and valuable right now.
When you have some advice you really want to share to help another person:
As I mentioned above: always, always ask permission before you make a suggestion, give advice, tell your story or correct another human being. This is the most important thing you must learn from this article.
If you speak without asking permission, it is insulting and dishonors the other person. Before you say anything (especially before sharing things you have learned from Coach Kim) ask the other person if they might be open to let you share something you learned that has helped you. If they say no, they would rather not hear any more Coach Kim advice, you must honor this and say: “I respect that, no problem.”
You may be someone who gives advice almost subconsciously though, and you might start giving advice before you consciously realize you are doing it. If this is the case, you are going to have to learn to be really mindful and aware. You must watch yourself for this behavior and apologize if you ever find yourself giving unsolicited advice.
It is hard not to share when you find something very valuable, but most people are resistant to learning from information that is pushed on them. They won’t want to read an article if they feel you are trying to fix them. If you really want to have influence and help others, make sure you first validate and praise who they are right now. Make them feel safe, honored and valued.
Then, ask permission to share something that helped you, and if they are open, explain what you learned and how you used it to fix yourself. Don’t assume it will be right for them. Just share your experience and leave it there. If they are interested, let them choose to read it. People are more open to things they choose for themselves.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — I am often asked about the subconscious need to be perfect that afflicts many people in today’s world and in our community. Many people feel they have to do it all and perfectly, all the time, without fail, to have any value at all.
These high standards create a lot of stress, worry and frustration, which will inevitably strain your relationships. It can make the people in your life feel like they can’t do anything right. It can make them feel they aren’t important to you — since it feels like you care more about tasks and things than you care about them.
If you are constantly stressed and frustrated with everything in your life, the people around you could possibly feel it’s about them. Perfectionists tend to trigger huge fear of failure in their families and co-workers.
Some people who have perfectionist partners tell me they feel like they’re failing whenever their spouse isn’t happy. They tend to feel subconsciously responsible for their happiness. Others say they are giving up because no amount of help or effort changes the perfectionist's stress level, so why try.
These spouses often struggle with feeling inadequate and eventually they get tired of being a disappointment. I tell you this, so you will understand why your high expectations could possibly drive a wedge in your relationships.
Let go of unrealistic expectations
If you want to have healthy relationships, you are going to have to lower your unrealistic expectations and learn to be flexible and go with the flow — and you can do it. You just need some practice and to work on eliminating the fears that cause the perfection problem in the first place.
The fears in play are the fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) and the fear of loss (the fear of not having things the way you want them). The fixes to these two fears are simple, but they take some practice to implement.
Your value never changes
Perfectionists must learn to take their value out of their performance. What I mean is let nothing you do, no task, no project, no clean house, dirty house, or job undone, changes your value as a human being at all.
You have got to separate your value from everything going on around you. If your children make bad choices, if your partner struggles with problems, if your business falls apart, you lose your job, lose money, or have a meltdown — none of that changes your value. You are still the same you — with the same value as everyone else on the planet.
Practicing believing this can change your life.
Eliminate your fear of failure
Some perfectionists have a subconscious policy or rule in their head that says "I literally have to be perfect at everything to even be OK." So if they don’t do everything perfectly, they can really feel like a failure.
Fear of failure is eliminated when you decide to see human value as unchangeable. When you commit to seeing all human beings as having the same infinite, absolute value, it means you cannot fail or have less value than anyone else, no matter what you do. Again, this takes practice choosing to believe it all day every day, but the more you work at it the easier it gets.
Fear of loss is eliminated when you choose to believe the universe is on your side and always brings you the perfect classroom journey for you every day. If everything happens to serve and grow you, then nothing is a loss. There is no loss — you either win or learn from everything.
Practice reminding yourself daily of these three truths:
1. Perfect isn’t possible. No one will ever get there. This means continuing to strive for perfection can set you up for a whole lot of misery. You must take perfect off the table. It isn’t real, and the sooner you get used to imperfect the better.
2. Your value can’t change. However close to perfect you get, it doesn’t really matter. You have the same value as everyone else all the time, either way. (This is if you decide to see human value this way, and I highly recommend you do.)
3. Your high standards on everything are straining your relationships and could blow them apart if you don’t work on this. Your need for perfection can make it difficult to live or work with.
It is your job to work on your mindset every day. You may want to make some signs declaring these truths and post them in your home, office and car.
You also need to give yourself official permission to be imperfect. As a life coach, my clients find it's powerful to literally create a permission slip on paper and post it somewhere they will see it every day.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes, leave things undone and have a messy-looking life — and let none of it affect your value. Be patient with yourself and do something every day to let go and lower your unrealistic expectations.
Use mindfulness techniques to work on changing your thought process. Try leaving the sink full of dirty dishes all night, or skip mowing the lawn for a few weeks and let the grass grow long. Then every time you see those dishes or that long grass, acknowledge the stressful feeling and practice letting it go. Remind yourself your value isn’t attached to that and that all is well.
This letting-go practice can really serve you.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim Giles explains how to separate your self-worth from your stuff.
I live in a smaller old home in an area where lots of beautiful new large homes have popped up over the last several years. I generally love where we live and the people who live here, but I hate that I feel the nagging impulse to "keep up with the Joneses." I understand it's fear-based, that I'm wanting to feel like I'm just as good as those around me. But I'm hoping you can give some helpful advice to navigate this. It's hard when my kids have friends over and I perceive they aren't having as much fun because we don't have all of the fun "stuff" that they have. I know I shouldn't care, but I do. How do I explain to my kids that we don't have what others around us have and that it's OK? How can I teach them that their own worth isn't tied to stuff?
You need to teach your children where the belief that your value is tied to your appearance, performance and property comes from, and then, how to change it.
This belief actually stems from a simple, but foundational belief about human value and how it’s determined. This is a foundational belief that impacts how you see yourself and everyone around you, and it's critical to understand. Somewhere along the way you, as a child, might have gotten the idea from your parents and watching the other big people around you that human value can change. You started to believe it could go up and you could feel better than other people, and it could go down and you could feel less than other people.
This idea that human value can change also lead you to another negative belief — that some people have more value than other people. These two beliefs are wreaking havoc in your life and with your self-esteem, and they are also responsible for most of the problems on this planet. All of the terrorism, war, racism, discrimination, and even the political divide in our country are all at their core, caused by this idea that some people have more value or are more important than other people.
This is a belief that really needs to change.
Since we all believe human value can change, we also believe you can earn more value by looking good, doing well, or having nice things. We believe that good-looking, thin, tan people have more value than other less attractive, larger people. We believe people who live in big houses, make more money, or have more success, have more value than less successful people. But understand these are not facts or truths, they are just beliefs.
Let me clarify the difference. Truths can be proven and don’t change. Beliefs are just ideas that exist in our heads — they can’t be physically proven — and we can change them whenever we want to or whenever we learn something new. It’s important to understand the difference because every day you are basing your self-esteem on flimsy, though widely held, beliefs, which are not real and are not doing you any good.
This is also a system you can't beat. As long as you choose to believe human value can change and some people have more worth than other people, you will always be afraid you aren’t good enough. No matter how hard you try to improve your appearance, performance and property, you will always find people who have more or have it better. You will never win, nor feel good about yourself using this system.
So I recommend you choose a new system for determining the worth of human beings. I recommend you choose a system or belief that serves you and humanity more and makes you feel better about yourself, too. My suggestion is you adopt the belief that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value and that value can’t change, no matter what they do or have.
Choose to separate your value from appearance, performance and property altogether, and base human value on something that doesn’t change, like your uniqueness. Anything on this planet that is a one-of-a-kind is extremely valuable, if not priceless. You are a one-of-a-kind, original, the only YOU there will ever be. You are irreplaceable and therefore of infinite, absolute worth — just like everyone else.
When you start to see human value as unchangeable and remind yourself and your children every day that property, performance and appearance don’t mean anything about your value, you will very quickly feel better. Because you are changing a foundational belief across the board applying to everyone, you will start to internalize it and also apply it to yourself. This is the beginning of real self-esteem.
Now, in order to make this powerful change work in your family, you also have to give up judgment of other people too. Every time you or a family member start to gossip or criticize another person, remember their mistakes or faults don’t change their value. If anyone mentions the fact that other people have larger homes, better clothes or more toys, simply remind them property doesn’t determine value and those people have the same value we do.
Making this belief sink in and take hold so you really believe it just takes time and repetition. The more you talk about it, the better — but it doesn’t change the reality that there may be less to do at your house.
I would focus on making sure there is good energy, safety and love for all people when they hang out at your house. Focus on the one thing you have to give, no matter your financial position: LOVE. Be the house where everyone feels valued and important. In the end, people care more about how you make them feel than how many toys you have.
You might also want to read this previous KSL.com article I wrote about that contains a parable about self-worth and houses.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert, author and speaker. Learn more at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com Take the Survey and find out your relationship shape today.
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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.