This article was first published on KSL.comIn this edition of LIFEadvice, I’d like to address the tragic death of three young missionaries this weekend, Sister Nancy Vea, 19, of West Jordan, Elder Connor Benjamin Thredgold, of the Springville Utah West Stake, and Elder Yu Peng Xiong, of the Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stake.
(This has hit close to home for me, since Connor’s father is a dear friend, a Claritypoint coach and even a co-contributor to this column.)
My heart is aching for these families, as I am sure your's is, so I’d like to address some ideas that may help us make sense of it all, find a place of trust and peace, and if possible, let this tragedy change us for the better.
First, always remember the objective of life is to learn to love. As I always say, "Life is a Classroom," and every experience you have is to teach you to love yourself and other people at a deeper level. You do not go through painful experiences for nothing. There are no accidents, and everything happens for a reason to serve us, but some of these lessons are so extremely painful, and the loss of a child is one of the worst.
Sometimes when tragedy strikes we can see the meaning or purpose in the experience, but other times we can’t. It will always provide some measure of comfort though, if we choose to trust God that there is a reason, even if we can’t see it. We can trust that nothing will happen unless it will serve us or mankind in some way. I trust God has a reason that these three young people were called home so early. Though this doesn’t remove the pain, it can help a little.
I felt these same feelings after the Sandy Hook shooting, and I wondered what good children dying could possibly serve in the world. One thing I noticed in the days following that tragedy was a heightened sense of love for the people around me, and I noticed almost everyone was feeling it.
We were all holding our children a little closer and had a greater appreciation for our family and friends. The experience of loss was changing us. It was bringing strong feelings of love to the surface.
Along with the pain, during times of grieving, we also experience amazing, tender feelings of love, both toward the people who are gone and just toward the people around us. You might find your feelings of love for family and friends will be stronger than what you usually feel. This heightened sense of love, which always follows loss, is an amazing and beautiful thing.
You may even find it is easier to forgive old offenses or grievances while you are experiencing the unique love associated with loss. Things that mattered before may not seem to matter anymore. People may seem more important than issues, and it may seem easier to see the good than the bad.
When tragedy strikes, we are reminded of the connection we share with all our fellow human beings. We gain heightened levels of empathy and compassion for others. Think back to the months following 9/11. Do you remember how connected you felt to your fellow Americans? Do you remember how suddenly our differences seemed smaller and the things we had in common seemed bigger?
We all experience a deeper love for each other when tragic things happen. Could this be part of the reason?
When the loss is personal or has happened to someone you know, you will experience amazing feelings of love toward that person you didn’t realize you had at that depth. If this loss hadn’t happened, you may never have discovered the depth of your love. You may be curious as to what this poignant emotion is all about. Just sit with it and understand it is showing you the size of the love inside of you. Pay attention to this feeling. Remember that the pain of loss is inseparably tied to the wonder of love.
If you didn’t love so deeply, it wouldn’t hurt this much.
Take time when you feel pain for these young people and their families to remember the pain is tied to the love we have for each other as human beings, a community and families. Celebrate the fact that you can experience profound love this way. Isn’t it amazing to feel that you would gladly carry this pain for them if you could. Your love is amazing!
The power of our combined love and heightened sense of connection can create an amazing energy that will help to heal us. This is always felt at funerals as we gather together in loss. Also notice, in each moment, that you can focus on the pain or you can focus on the love. As much as you can, choose to focus on love and understand that the pain makes the depth of love possible.
We often get so busy with the duties and obligations of life, we forget about this deep love that connects us. It often gets set aside. Tragedy, though terrible and painful, can bring these feelings of love back into your life. My suggestion, in this time of tragedy, is simply this: Focus on the feelings of love and live them. Love everyone in your life, in whatever way you can. Treasure every moment you are alive and able to love. Make sure everyone in your life knows how you feel about them.
In honor of those whose lives have been cut short this week, let’s make the most of ours and fill the world with love on their behalf.
Honor them by showing a deeper appreciation for your spouse, children, friends and neighbors. Speak out against injustice and cruelty more often. Love people more passionately and take more action to alleviate suffering wherever you can.
Let this loss make us better, kinder, wiser and more loving.
Aron Moss wrote a wonderful article on this topic in which he explains, ”We don't really want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. … We want an end to suffering … but we shouldn't leave it up to God to alleviate suffering. … He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.”
Honor the memory of those we have lost by being a force for love in this world. Perform more random acts of kindness, pay it forward more often and love the strangers all around you. Don’t wait for someone to ask for help, see the need and step in without being asked. Reach out to those who are suffering even if all you can offer is a hug.
You can do this — and we can do it together.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
How to handle homework meltdowns
This article was first published on KSL.COMQuestion:
As a new school year approaches, I am noticing the dread of homework time again at our home. My son, who is still struggling to read, can be having a great day and when I just say the words "It's time for homework," it turns into such a battle and it's hard to know where to push and not let reading be such a negative thing. Do you have some tips for homework time and how I can manage it better?
This is a tricky one because your stubborn child knows you can’t force him to think, write or read. You can force him to sit at the table, but you can’t force much more than that. So force isn’t the way to go.
The most important thing is that you don't lose it. A child in meltdown will trigger your two core fears: failure and loss (failing as a parent and losing a child who is headed for failure in life). You must stay in trust about your value and in trust with your classroom journey of life if you are going to help your child. Remember that your value isn’t on the line here, and this isn't the end of the world, no matter how bad tonight is.
I am going to address some common homework meltdown, power struggle, and discouragement issues though, and give you some advice for each, but the very first thing you must do (if your child is struggling with homework) is find out if your child has any kind of learning problem.
If the homework seems too hard, his reading comprehension seems low or he has trouble with math, it could be a serious disability or even a minor learning style difference. If you suspect this kind of problem, have your child tested and ask the school to help you set up an education plan that works better for him. You could also explore how he learns best on your own. Try teaching him using different methods (visual, verbal and experiential) and see which one he relates to. There is also an article I wrote back in 2012 on tips for starting the school year right you may want to read.
Here are some common problems and tips for battling homework fear.
Also remember that each night’s homework is a lesson (in your classroom of life) and another opportunity to practice being wise, mature and loving. You won’t always handle it perfectly, but you will always get another chance to practice tomorrow.
Just keep working at it — and you can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
Do you procrastinate at work?
This article was first published on KSL.COM
Every time I get assigned a big, overwhelming or difficult project at work, the same pattern shows up. I want to start working on it and get it done, but I end up putting it off for weeks or even months. I procrastinate until the last minute and then have to rush it. I never do things as well as I wanted to, either. Why do I repeat this pattern every time? How can I stop getting overwhelmed by big projects and feel more confident and get them done earlier?
Most people think procrastination is a time management issues — but it really isn’t. It is a fear problem. (I know some of you still aren’t convinced yet that almost every problem is a fear problem, but it is.)
Joseph R. Ferrari, an associate professor of psychology at DePaul University, says, "Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up."
It’s a little more complicated than that.
The real cause of procrastination is a basic, instinctive, subconscious program that has been with us as long as we have existed as a species, it is our fight and flight response to scary things. This subconscious response is obviously necessary for our survival, but it can cause some serious problems in modern-day life.
Imagine you were walking down the street and a hungry crocodile came running out of the bushes at you. What would you do immediately without even thinking about it? You would run!
You are literally programmed to always run and hide from scary things if you can. If you can’t run or escape, you will fight, but if running or avoiding the scary thing is an option, you will always choose that.
This makes sense when we are talking about wild animals. Avoiding these is a good idea, but you have the same subconscious reaction to big, difficult projects. Your first inclination or unconscious reaction is going to be avoid it, hide or run.
The question is what are you afraid of?
This is the question you must ask yourself every time we feel overwhelmed or catch yourself procrastinating. “What am I really afraid of that is causing this behavior?”
The fear is probably based in one of the two core human fears: failure or loss.
You may be afraid you won’t do the project well enough and it subconsciously feels safer to avoid it than to try to not do it perfectly. (This is the fear that made me procrastinate publishing my book for six years. I was deathly afraid it wouldn’t be good enough and I would be a failure.)
You could also be afraid of losing your reputation, losing the respect of other people or having the failure affect the way others see you, meaning you would lose their friendship or love.
When you are overwhelmed with the size of a project, you might be afraid it’s too big and you will never complete it or that it’s just too complex. It might feel safer to put it off and avoid it so you don’t have to find out that you weren’t capable.
Here are some suggestions for conquering your fears and making yourself take action:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and is a coach and speaker.
Every time I read or hear something about improving communication I try it with my husband and we do better for a little while, but then we have a disagreement and always seem to fall back into our old ways. How can we stop this cycle? I know we won't ever be perfect at it, but how can we not fall into our same traps all the time?
You are definitely not alone on this. It is human nature to slide back into old habits, even if we know better. A study in the Oct. 20, 2005, issue of Nature, by Ann Graybiel, a professor at MIT, showed that neuron activity in the brain gets set when we form a habit. Changing that behavior is difficult, because the brain’s neuro pathways want to keep doing what they’ve always done.
But you do have the power to change. The first step is becoming aware of your subconscious habits of thinking and the traps that trigger your old behavior. (You may want to take the Fear Assessment on my website, to see your subconscious programs and how they affect you.)
In this last communication article I want to share five common pitfalls of communication with which many couples struggle. They come from Dr. John Lund.
1. Asking leading questions
There are a couple of ways we do this. One is we ask for someone's opinion when we don't really want an answer, like if you ask your husband if you should buy a new coffee table when you've already decided you want to buy it. Another way is when we ask a question hoping for a specific answer, like while driving home, a woman says to her husband, "Do you want to stop and get a treat on our way?" and he takes the question literally and responds, "No, thanks, I'd rather just get home." Well, she's hurt because she wanted to stop! What she should say is, "I would like to stop and get a treat, is that OK with you?"
We have to watch for a subconscious tendency to do this because it is game-playing. We need to shoot straight and just ask for what we want.
2. Mixed messages
There are three ways that we send messages (communication signals) to each other: facial expressions or body language; tone of voice; and the actual words. Sometimes these communication signals don't match up and these are a mixed message. For example, if I have asked my son several times to clean his room and he still hasn't done it, I might say to him in a tense voice, "Will you please clean your room?" He then tells me not to get so mad and I respond, "I said please." The negative tone of voice and the positive words don't match up. We pay the most attention to facial expressions and body language, tone of voice is second, and the actual words are last. My son hears my tone of voice and that discounts the word "please." So we need to work on making sure our body language and tone of voice agree and hold each other accountable for our words only (this is content communication that we talked about last week).
3. Don't ask if you don't want to know
This is a common area where women may not communicate clearly. Think about asking your husband if he thinks you should rearrange the living room furniture (when you already know you want to) and he says no. Now, you have created a problem. You asked his opinion, but you are going to reject it because it isn’t the answer you wanted. According to Lund, men are known to defend their opinion even if it's not the best idea because they are really subconsciously defending their ego. So, it would be better to tell your husband that you are going to move the furniture and ask for his help doing it. Another option is to say upfront, "I'd like to move the furniture. You have some really good insights though, so will you give me your opinion, but then support whatever decision I make?"
Again, women are more notorious for this than men. You might comment about how bad the garbage smells, hoping your husband will jump up and take the garbage out. Or you might mention several times how amazing your friend's husband is because he cooks dinner every Sunday, hoping your husband will start doing that. In general, husbands want their wives to be happy and would rather just be told in a loving way what you would appreciate from them. Hint-dropping can be game-playing and you will always build a better relationship if you shoot straight.
5. If you have to ask, it doesn't count
Another way to say it is, "If you really care about me, you would know." This is probably the most common and most detrimental communication pitfall, and we hear this from our clients all the time. What you're really expecting is someone to read your mind and that is not realistic. Movies and other media have created an expectation of a spouse who always knows the right things to say and do at exactly the right time, but it doesn't happen that way in real life. Expecting someone to read your mind and know what you want is again, playing games. You must ask for what you want and need and then appreciate having a spouse who is a great responder.
The bottom line is that we all have fears, we all make mistakes and we all want to be loved and valued as we are. You and your spouse have different challenges, weaknesses and faults, but you both have good intentions to treat each other right. Neither of you wants to say the wrong thing and start arguments. You must give your spouse the benefit of the doubt more often and remember to see them as the same as you. You are both struggling students in the classroom of life, doing the best you can with what you know, with the exact same intrinsic value. No one is worse and no one is the bad guy. Be patient with yourself and each other, because behavioral changes can't happen overnight.
Keep practicing and commit to forgiving each other when you mess up and over time — you can do this — you can create a better relationship.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. Lisa Stirland is a Claritypoint Coach. You can learn more about Dr. John Lund at www.drlund.com
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
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.