This was first published on KSL.com
I read your article last week about members of some religions not being comfortable with non-member neighbors. I wish you would tell me how to tell my family and friends that I have decided to leave the religion I grew up in. I started attending another church this last year and I know my family isn’t going to be thrilled about that, so I have been hiding it. But it shouldn’t be this big a deal, right? I don’t know why I am scared to tell them, but I am. I know it’s fear, like you always say, but how do I get past it and just get them to respect my choice. Any advice that would help me?
I have received this question a couple of times before, so it’s time to answer it. And you are right, it is a fear issue. Some people have compared the fear around this, as close to the same fear an LGBTQ+ person experiences coming out of the closet, as it brings up similar fears of rejection from friends and family. The first step is to get clear about what you are really afraid might happen when you break this news. See if any of these fears resonate with you:
Here are some things to think about that might help:
Some of those fears are unlikely to happen. If they are really your friends, most people don’t care which church you attend. If they do care and can’t love you where you are, they aren’t really your friends. There are also new people around every corner, and changing your friendships now and then isn’t all bad.
What others think about your choices, your intelligence, or your values doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t change anything about you. You are still you, with the same unchangeable value. Opinions are just flimsy thoughts floating through the heads of other people, they have no power to do or mean anything — unless you give them power. Don’t give them any power.
Decide that the only opinion that matters about your life is yours. No one else has to live with those choices. They may have thoughts about your choices but, in the end, they won’t think much about your life. They have bigger problems in their own lives to worry about.
When you make a decision that other people disagree with, you have two options when you interact with those people: You can approach them afraid of rejection because of this difference — and you will probably be defensive, quiet and tentative about being around them — or you could approach them the same loving way you always have. You can stay in trust that your value is the same as everyone else’s no matter what you do. You can then stay in a loving, outgoing, open state where they will feel your love, not your fear. The way you approach your friends and family will determine the way they respond to you and your news. If you are the same you, it makes it easier for them to be the same them too.
Try speaking your truth to someone in your life that you know is very loving and accepting first. Follow the procedure below to speak your truth lovingly with each person in your life:
Reassure them that you are going to be fine and you would really appreciate it if they could trust it will work out fine in the end and focus on their love for you instead of their fear. Tell them you really want to maintain a close relationship with them and you know this can and will happen if you both focus on love instead of fear.
The funny thing about religion is there is no ultimate source of absolute truth about God or the afterlife. Even though people say they know their truth is the truth because they feel it’s truth, they can’t prove it. This means we are all choosing a belief system that feels right to us. We cannot prove we are right or that anyone else is wrong. So, we should allow each person to follow the dictates of their own heart and should not push our beliefs on them, nor should we try to make them wrong. You might remind them of this truth and ask them to set aside any fears and trust that we are each in the perfect classroom journey for us.
If you are rejected (which I highly doubt you will be), choose to see even that experience as your perfect classroom journey. It would be a great growth opportunity and a chance to focus on owning your own value and not caring what others think.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after corporate people skills trainer and is the founder of www.12shapes.com the latest social science for families and businesses. She is the author of the book Choosing Clarity on Amazon.
Coach Kim: What to do when neighbors won’t play with kids who aren't their religion
This was first published on KSL.com
We recently moved to Utah and love our new home, but my son is having trouble with the other children in our neighborhood. I have actually heard kids tell him they won’t or can’t play with him because he is not a member of the dominant Christian religion here. I have seen them run away when they see him coming. He is a sweet, friendly kid, so I know it’s not him. I also have felt awkward with women in the neighborhood, as they definitely treat me like an outsider. I don’t really care about their friendship, they can like me or not, but my son desperately wants to play with the kids near us. What can I do as a mother? How could I change this situation? I figure there isn’t an easy answer, but I wanted to see what you thought.
I am glad you asked this because it's not the first time I have heard about this happening here in Utah. Many find this hard to believe though because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches tolerance, love and acceptance of others. A song they teach their children to sing in primary says, “Jesus said love everyone. Treat them kindly too.” Church leaders also encourage missionary work and fellowshipping neighbors. But sometimes fear overpowers people's ability to love. Just know, not all Latter-day Saints are like this, and most don’t want this happening in their neighborhood either.
Here are some reasons religious discrimination might happen in your neighborhood and how to eliminate it:
1. Fear is likely the problem
The reason your neighbors are behaving in a way that is inconsistent with their church's beliefs could be that they are scared. They believe their choices could have serious eternal consequences. They may fear their children will be led away from their religion by friends who have different beliefs, and to some, that would be as bad as, or worse than, losing a child to death. They may be scared of you and what you represent, and might believe being around you and your kids will make them or their kids want to leave the church.
I want you to understand it could be fear-driven so you will understand it’s not about you or your kids. It’s about feeling safe. Having said that, it doesn’t make it OK.
2. Differences scare people
It is basic human nature to feel more comfortable with people who are just like you. We all choose friends with whom we have things in common. We do this because we have a subconscious tendency to compare ourselves with others, and differences of any kind inherently mean someone is better (or right) and someone is worse (or wrong). Because of our tendency to compare, it feels safer to stick with people who are more like us, where the risk of "better or worse" isn’t in play. This may be what is motivating your neighbors.
I believe there is a divine purpose in differences in the people around us. Differences stretch us and show us the limits of our love so we can work on them. We are very loving to most people right up to that limit line where fear takes over. Differences provide opportunities to grow and become more loving. We need to fear not growing and stretching (the real reason we are here) more than we fear differences and possibly being wrong.
3. They may fear some specific things in your home
Drinking coffee and alcohol may scare your neighbors or make them uncomfortable. So, if you have coffee or alcohol in your home where kids can see it, they might be scared to allow their children in your house. You might consider keeping it somewhere that cannot be seen or accessed by children (even restaurants in Utah have to keep bar areas separate from dining areas where children eat).
Using the Lord’s name in vain or swearing in general is another thing that could create discomfort.
Being aware of these differences gives you the opportunity to change some things that will make your neighbors more comfortable. You may or may not agree with their reasoning, but the reality is making some small changes could help your children make more friends.
4. Address the kids' parents directly
Learn how to have a mutually validating conversation and create a space where you can honor their beliefs, feelings and fears, and ask them to honor your beliefs, values and needs. This means having a loving conversation where both parties feel understood and not attacked. It might be tempting to let them have it, and either get confrontational or weepy with self-pity; they probably won’t respect either.
Start by asking questions about their beliefs and whether they feel uncomfortable with non-members. If you can ask it from a place of honestly wanting to understand — not accuse or put down — they might be open to talking about it.
After you have listened to them and their views, ask if they would be open to letting you share what your son is experiencing. Don’t use phrases like “you did this" and "your kids did that;" use “we” statements like "we have experienced," "we found," "it’s our observation," etc. Then ask if they would be open to figuring out a way their kids and yours can be friends — a way that would make you both feel more comfortable. Most people are totally open to working this out. They might like to be your friends and have just felt uncomfortable talking about it. Honor and respect their beliefs while also asking them to honor yours.
5. Talk to some of your other Latter-day Saint neighbors
Let other members of the church who live in your neighborhood know what is happening and see if they might be willing to ask others to make sure your children are included.
Good people everywhere, of every religion, believe in treating others as you would want to be treated. The only thing that gets in the way is fear for our own safety and well-being. If we are afraid, our fears make us subconsciously selfish. I am sure your neighbors didn’t intend to hurt your kids; they may just be scared of differences. They just need a little reassurance that you understand them, and you should be able to improve the relationship.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is the founder and president of Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com. She has a podcast called "Explain People" on iTunes and you can read all her articles at coachkimgiles.com
This was first published on KSL.com
I recently went through a divorce and it was really hard on my kids and myself. To make matters worse, the people, especially neighbors, who I thought were our friends have really disappeared and let us down. They act like divorce is a disease and they are staying away so they don’t catch it. My kids are finding fewer people who want to play with them, and invites to or neighbors houses aren’t coming our way anymore. What is going on with that? These people I thought were my friends, apparently are fair-weather friends and they are nowhere to be found, even though we need friends more than ever. I had heard of this happening to other people but somehow thought my neighbors were different. What can I do, besides moving, to get our friends back in our lives, especially for my kids? How do I handle this?
“Mr. Rogers did not adequately prepare you for the people in your neighborhood, did he?”
Though it’s funny, the truth is real people and their behavior are a lot more complicated than we think. People are complicated because we are all wracked with fears about making mistakes, causing trouble, losing things, losing reputation, being uncomfortable, and being seen in a bad light; these fears produce behavior that is selfish and unloving.
Humans are typically not capable of loving behavior when they are in fear and scared about their own well-being. Love and fear are like light and darkness: they can’t both exist at the same time, in the same place. People who are scared for their own safety may have nothing to give anyone else.
It is important you understand this about human behavior because it will help you to see their pulling back from you as their issue, not yours. It is coming from their fears about themselves.
Here are some common fear issues that friends and neighbors might feel when someone they know gets divorced:
They are afraid they will say the wrong thing.
They may be uncomfortable with your situation, because they don’t and can’t know what was really happening behind your closed doors. This leaves them terribly afraid they will say the wrong thing, and unfortunately it feels safer to them to avoid conversation at all.
Their loyalty feels split because they probably like both of you.
Because they don’t really know what was happening in your marriage, they aren’t sure who the bad guy was, or if there was one. They don’t know whose side they should take (it would be nice if they didn’t take sides at all, but they often feel they should). This again leaves them feeling safer and more comfortable staying away from the whole thing.
They are afraid the same thing could happen to them.
Have you noticed if someone close to you has child or spouse die, you suddenly realize that type of tragedy really happens, and could happen to you? People are afraid the same is true with divorce. If it happened to you, it could happen to them. That reminder is scary, so again, it feels safer to stay away from it.
They might be afraid your values have changed.
Often divorce happens because someone made some mistakes, and your neighbors don’t know if something like that happened, or may wonder who was at fault. Since they don’t have that information, they aren’t sure who changed. So, it might feel safer to stay away from both of you. This is terrible to treat people like this, but most of the time it isn’t a conscious decision. They are likely just reacting this way and pulling back subconsciously.
They might think they don’t know you as well as they thought they did.
Most of the time you were pretending you were all right, and no one knew what was really going on in your home. This makes them feel they didn’t really know you, and they are suddenly not sure if the friendship was real either.
I tell you about these fears not to excuse their behavior, but because I want you to see it isn’t about you. They are uncomfortable and scared, and that is their issue not yours. Work to forgive them for being scared, struggling students in the classroom of life, who have much more to learn. Forgive them for being here, because you are also a work in progress.
Here are a few more ideas:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am very frustrated with my mother and some of her answers to things. I find that she lies or tells me things she doesn’t mean all the time. I just want her to tell the truth, even if it’s not what I would like. I think she tells me what she thinks the right answer is, instead. Like when I ask if she is going to go to something, she says no probably not, then she ends up going. Or she says she will talk to my sister about something and then she doesn’t. I have asked her repeatedly to just be honest, but this keeps happening. How can I get her to be honest?
This might be happening because she doesn't feel safe enough with you to tell you the truth. Before I explain how to make her feel safer, I want you to understand some things about human beings. I believe, there are only two types of people on this planet:
1. Fear-of-failure dominant people
2. Fear-of-loss dominant people
All fear-of-failure dominant people are severely challenged at speaking their truth, they avoid confrontation, shy away from conflict, and prefer to keep everything and everyone peaceful, no matter the cost. Because of these tendencies, they are often doormats and their tendency to people please can cause a lot of relationship problems.
All fear-of-loss dominant people are very good at speaking their truth, they usually win in confrontation or conflict, and they don’t mind a good argument. Because of these tendencies, they scare the crap out of group one.
From your email, I am fairly confident you are the latter group and it might be hard for you to even imagine why speaking the truth is so hard. It’s always difficult to understand people who are vastly different from us. But fear of failure dominant have a strong subconscious program that says, “It is safer not to speak up.”
Here are two reasons some people lie:
1. They might want to avoid responsibility, trouble or punishment.
2. They don’t feel safe enough to tell you the truth because they are afraid of your reaction.
It sounds to me like your mother is a fear-of-failure dominant person who is terribly afraid to speak her truth to you about some of these issues. This might be because you have had a tendency in the past to react badly, react selfishly, question her motives, argue with her decisions, and otherwise dishonor her right to be where she is and want what she wants.
It is not your job to fix your mother's problems with fear, people-pleasing and lying. But you could do some things to improve the relationship and start making her feel safer with you.
You can do that by doing the following things. (These suggestions would also apply to any relationship where you want the other person to feel safe with you.)
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of 12 Shapes Inc. and the host of a podcast Explain People on iTunes. She is a sought after coach, speaker and corporate people skills trainer.
This was first published on KSL.com
I love the way you make understanding people’s behavior simple, because there is a lot of behavior I cannot understand. I have a relative who is such a control freak she can’t even come to a family gathering unless it’s going to be her way. She bosses everyone else around and tells you exactly what she thinks about everything, even your life and family. She has no filter and no qualms about speaking her truth, and it honestly drives me nuts. How can we get her to stop being so controlling and obnoxious? How do I deal with such a control freak when her behavior is making me crazy?
I have explained before that we all — every person on the planet — battles a fear of failure (insecurity about our value) and a fear of loss (insecure or unsafe in the world) to some degree every day. We all have both fears, but we are all a little more dominant in one or the other.
The control freak you are describing is a fear-of-loss dominant person. I know this by her bad behavior. People who feel unsafe in the world need control to make them feel safer. They also tend to be opinionated and feel the need to share their opinions because this also makes them feel safer. In her mind, all of this controlling, opinionated behavior is actually an attempt to be helpful. She means no harm and is trying to create an environment that would be best for everyone. She is trying to help, but I understand why it doesn’t feel that way.
When a fear-of-loss dominant control freak gives unsolicited advice, suggestions, or correction to a fear-of-failure dominant person, it comes across as criticism, insult and control. Fear-of-failure dominant people get very triggered by those things because they add to their already debilitating fear of not being good enough. We (I am a fear-of-failure dominant person, too) often feel attacked, insulted and controlled when these people try to help us. This can feel very annoying.
The trick is understanding this isn’t about you at all. They aren’t seeing you as less valuable or wrong at all. They are controlling because they don’t trust people, the world or life to keep them safe. They think they are only safe if they control it all.
You might try allowing them control as much as possible with things you don’t care about, and then set loving boundaries on the things you do care about. You could also decide to let them be annoying and controlling and just not let it bother you. Stop being annoyed and just be at peace with what is, allowing them to be who they are until it crosses a boundary you can’t live with.
When a control freak is crossing your boundaries or making you feel disrespected or controlled, here is a good procedure for confronting the issue:
1. Find a private opportunity to talk to them
Don't embarrass them in front of anyone else. Ask if they have a few minutes and are free to chat.
2. Ask them about the situation that bothered you
Ask what they thought and felt about it. Give them a chance to express all their ideas and opinions first. If you don’t do this, they will have trouble listening to you. Letting them have the floor first and asking lots of questions will make them feel valued and cared about. They will begin to feel safer with you, which lays a great foundation for a difficult conversation.
After you have spent some time listening and honoring their right to think and feel the way they do, you should ask some permission questions to create a safe space for you to speak your truth.
3. Ask permission questions
Examples of permission questions are:
If they say no they aren’t able to give you that, say “OK, I respect that” and walk away. This shouldn’t happen because you earned this reciprocation by listening to them. If they say yes and are ready to listen, use the following rules to make sure you handle this right.
5. Use “I” statements
It's important to use "I" statements and make sure to only talk about your own perspective, feelings, ideas, concerns, observations, opinions and thoughts. When you talk about your feelings, opinions and experiences, no one can really argue with you. You have the right to see the world the way you see it and feel what you feel. But if you start using “you” statements, it starts to feel like an attack and makes the other person feel defensive.
Try statements like:
If you keep talking about how they behaved in the past, they are just going to get defensive and frustrated because they cannot change or fix the past. If you focus only on their future behavior, this is something they can control. Ask them next time this happens, if they would be willing to handle it differently. I demonstrated this in the example above.
Practice in your head a few times before you have the conversation in real life. Practice to find the perfect permission question and the perfect things you will ask for moving forward.
If this person does get offended by your feedback, that is not your problem. Your job is to speak your truth in the most loving and respectful way you can. How they process the information is none of your business. If they get offended and choose to be mean back, remember nothing this person says or does affects your value and however it goes, it will be the perfect classroom for all involved.
Fear-of-loss dominant people can be scary to talk to because they are fearless, strong, opinionated and often aggressive. For a fear-of-failure dominant person who is already scared of being insulted, wrong or judged, this is really scary. But you can be bulletproof and strong if you trust in your infinite value and perfect journey.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your fears and your shape at - app.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSL.com
We have friends in our neighborhood who recently told us they had left the church we both belonged to. We have always had much in common — kids the same ages, and similar beliefs — so this feels really awkward. We still love them and respect them choosing what is right for them, but it’s like there is a huge elephant in the room when we are together. It feels awkward, so I admit we haven’t reached out to do things with them as much. This is bothering me because I assume they think we don’t want to be friends with them anymore because of their choice. That is really not the case, but I don’t know how to interact with such a huge elephant in the room. There are so many topics that feel off limits now, I feel like we can’t talk about what is going on in our lives, since so much is ward or church related. I also know they drink alcohol now, and since we don’t that also makes socializing awkward. How do we continue a friendship, regardless of this change? Do you have any advice for this situation?
I am sure it is awkward for them too, because all differences create fear and discomfort. This happens because we are subconsciously programmed to see the world always in comparison, in terms of better or worse. We compare every single thing in our lives — people, houses, jobs, teams, races, religions, sodas, etc. The problem comes because comparison assumes that if two things are different, one must be better or more right and the other less or more wrong. Because of this, any difference make us feel unsafe.
As human beings, we have a hard time letting different be just different, with no inherent value, or "better" or "worse" attached to it. The trick in your situation, or any situation where you discover differences, is to remind yourself there is nothing to fear; there is no better or worse, there is only different. Seeing the situation this way means you will show up with more love than fear.
Think about what you are really afraid of if you socialize with them:
I recommend you work on the three things described below to help eliminate the fear, then call your friends up and invite them to do something with your family and show up exactly the same as you always have. There is nothing to fear from differences.
Here are three ways to lessen the fear:
You might want to talk about the elephant in the room up front. Tell them you love their family, and what church they go to, or what they believe, makes no difference to you. Tell them you would love to get together just like you always have, but you have concerns about saying the wrong thing, mentioning your church or accidentally offending them.
Ask what they would feel most comfortable with. Talk about whether you are comfortable with drinking or not. Should you make a rule to leave the religion and church topic out (there are plenty of other things to talk about)?
Tell them there is no judgment from you, whatsoever, because everyone gets to choose their own path and truth. Tell them you respect the amount of courage it must have taken to be true to their beliefs. Ask for forgiveness up front, if you accidentally say something about the church. They are probably equally anxious about hanging out with your family because they fear judgment.
Addressing this right up front takes the elephant out of the room. Then relax and just be normal.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a marriage, family and relationship coach. She is the founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com She is an entertaining speaker and certifies people interested in being life or executive coaches.
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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.