This was first published on KSL.COM and 10 other publications
My relationship with my adult children is not good. They are disrespectful and unkind in spite of all I have done for them. They have hurt me deeply in the past, but I forgive them, why can’t they forgive me for past mistakes? I have had so many things go wrong in my life the last few years and I just need them to understand I’m doing the best I can. How can I get them to see how their behavior isn’t right? How can I get them to stop blaming and shaming me?
(KSL readers: Please go easy on this person in the comments.)
The problem is you cannot change or fix other people. You can have a mutually validating conversation with them and really listen and validate them, after which you ask to share how you feel and ask for different behavior moving forward, but that doesn’t gaurantee they will change, and their future behavior is totally out of your control. The only person whose behavior you have any control over is yours.
The path to change or fix any situation starts with taking personal responsibility, owning your part in it, and working on your part. Often we are so wrapped up in our fear of not being good enough that we prefer to cast the blame on others. When we do this it just makes the situation worse, and no one wants to be around a person in shame and blame.
It takes a very motivated, mature and clear person to be willing to see their role in every problem, take responsibility and be willing to grow and to change. Ironically, this is the kind of person that everyone wants to be around.
We all want people in our lives who are clear, have appropriately proportionate reactions and behaviors, and who own their mistakes and apologize when they make one. We are drawn to and respect people who are strong enough to own their faults. However, too often, we see people too afraid to wear any responsibility for their actions and decisions at all, and usually their lives and relationships continue to spiral downhill.
Stop here for a minute and ask yourself an important question. As you were reading the first part of this article … were your thoughts on how others really need to own their part, or were you honestly thinking about your own behavior?
If you were already in blame mode and more focused on how the other people in your life need to read this and own their part, chances are this is a pattern in your life and you are struggling to own your part.
(If you were focused on your own behavior, you are probably good at seeing your own part. Some of you may even have the opposite problem of blaming everything on yourself and you may need to do some work on repairing your self-esteem.)
Either way, you probably have some deep fear of not being good enough. You may have had this fear most of your life and it may have created a subconscious tendency to point fingers, judge and even be angry at other people, because focusing on how bad they are quiets your own fear of failure a bit. (Or you may always point the finger at yourself. What we are shooting for here is balance.)
Please be honest with yourself about your pattern, especially if it's a tendency to point fingers. You probably don’t consciously chose to blame others though and take the victim role. You subconsciously do it. It is just the way you were programmed to see things throughout your life. The good news is, you can change it.
One of the best ways to take greater personal responsibility in your life is to realize that this situation, though it may not be all your fault, is your responsibility. Unless you take responsibility for the lesson showing up (because you apparently have something to learn in it or a way to grow from it) you won’t have any power to change it. You must own that. Though others may need to change too, your focus must stay on becoming more mature, wise, calm, balanced and loving yourself. You must work on you.
You may not like how this sounds, but the buck really does begin and end with YOU and your behavior. In every person’s life there is a time when they must step up and take responsibility for what they have created around them and for their own happiness. It is no one else’s job or responsibility to make you happy!
Look around you and take note of what is working and what isn’t working in your behavior. If being mad and angry at the kids isn’t making you happy, you might want to try something different. If telling them how horrible they are treating you isn’t making them love and respect you, you might want to gain some other skills or tools to try. If the people you love don't want to spend time with you, what behavior in you might be causing that? Where is the stress, unhappiness or imbalance in your life showing up?
What are you willing to change in yourself to create something different?
There are many ways in which you can take personal responsibility and create change in your life:
I promise you, when your children see you take personal responsibility for your part of the problems and see you learning, growing and changing, they will not only feel more open and loving towards you, but they may be more likely to look at their own bad behavior and be ready to grow too.
We all desire more connectivity, respect and a life with less conflict and confrontation. Understanding your own behavioral patterns and getting some new tools and techniques to express yourself and connect with others really can change everything.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and psychological inclination expert.
I am constantly asking nicely for my family to help with simple everyday chores, or just get ready for family outings. My family waits for me to wake them up, tell them what to do, and even though I tell them how much time we have, they drag their feet and I find myself loading the car and doing all the work to get there on time by myself. By the time everyone's in the car, I'm stressed and upset and they’re all mad at me for rushing them. If I just leave to be there on time, my husband gets mad at me for leaving him behind, but he lays in bed until right before we have to leave then gets in the shower. I'm left yelling at the kids to help me get everything else ready so we can leave. The kids feel like I make them do all the work their dad should be helping with, but no matter what I say or do, I'm the bad guy all around. Can you help me get my spouse and kids to be responsible?
I can help with this, but you are going to have to be more responsible too if you want to fix this. You have taught your family how to treat you, and you have accidently taught them to be lazy and make you feel guilty about rushing them. Or you may be so controlling that you have created natural resistance against whatever you try to make them do.
You may also be what we call an "Organizer," which is one of 12 psychological inclinations that all humans fit into. (If you want to read more about them, you can on my website.) Organizers have a strong need for order and control, and it can feel, at times, more important than people. If you are like this, you may need to do some work on letting go of control and loss. It may even require some work with a coach or other professional.
You are also going to have to stop shouldering responsibility for everyone’s choices. Right now you are either being a doormat or you are over-controlling, selfish and mean. You are most likely going back and forth between these two states, because you can’t get either one to work.
In order to change this behavior, you must understand the three choices you have in response to other people’s bad behavior. (There is a Boundaries Worksheet on my website that shows these in detail.) Your three options look like this:
It sounds like being on time is important to you and it’s not important to your family. You should have a family meeting and explain that you’ve been trying to make everyone have the same values and needs as you, and that’s not fair. From now on, you are going to do better to honor what they want and you are going to ask them to honor you back.
So, you will be getting up and getting ready and leave on time. If anyone wants to come with you they are welcome to, but you will be leaving at this appointed time and if they aren’t ready (you will go without them) but that’s fine too. You will be happy either way. Make sure they all understand you love and respect them no matter what they choose. Then, you do your thing, and if they are mad that you left without them, that is their choice. They are also totally welcome to get ready earlier next time, and you (again) will love them either way.
If you are going on a trip though and you can’t leave without them, you might let them choose which tasks they would like to own to get things ready and packed and you will be in charge of the rest. Let them know that you plan to leave at a certain time so you will have your stuff ready then. If they aren’t ready at that time, you have made plans to go get a pedicure or sit on the patio with a good book (or choose something that’s a real treat for you) so you will be happy and occupied while you wait for them to get ready.
If your pedicure goes long, they may be waiting for you, but let them know ahead of time this is what they can expect. Whatever you do, don’t go to a place of loss and anger, behave maturely and kindly at all times and have clear expectations ahead of time.
These are examples of healthy, love and strength based boundaries that honor your needs and are also respectful of others.
Make sure you also forgive yourself for being weak or mean in the past. These situations were perfect lessons, and they now give you the chance to look at all your behavior options and see the results each produces, which is very valuable information. Past behavior has nothing to do with your value as a person. Focus on the beautiful lesson this situation is providing you to help you grow, and let the anger go.
You can do this.
My older brother can be really sarcastic not only to me but to his wife and children. The last argument we had was about a sarcastic remark he made about me and how it feels like a passive aggressive way to say what he really feels without getting in trouble for being mean, yet he is mean. How can I get him to see how he is hurting the people close to him with this sarcasm and how can I get him to correct his behavior without making him even angrier at me?
Send him an email filled with positive validation about what a good person he is and how much you love him, but include at the bottom a question: “If it comes from a place of love for you, would you be open to some practical advice about sarcasm? I found this article, which might help you build better relationships, but if you aren’t open to any advice, you don’t have to read it. Just know it comes without judgment, because we all have some flaws. I have lots. Just thought it was interesting.”
Then copy and paste the rest of this article from here down. Once he understands why he is sarcastic, he may be more motivated to change it.
The dictionary defines sarcasm as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt; a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark.” Sarcastic comments, though humorous, are usually passive-aggressive, mean and really uncomfortable for the people receiving them.
If you use sarcasm you must ask yourself the following questions:
Here are some common reasons you might be sarcastic. See if any of these resonate with you:
1. You fear you aren’t good enough, so you subconsciously need to put others down so you can feel superior.The worse you feel about yourself the more biting your remarks toward others could be. Insecure people have to put others down or tease them, in order to feel important and of value themselves. If this is your issue you may need some professional help to improve your self-worth. If you felt better about yourself you wouldn’t need to make fun of others.
2. Sarcasm is also a way of asking for what you want when you are scared to ask for it directly. You might crack a joke about your wife’s crazy shoes because you don’t know how to say you don’t like them in a nicer way. Your sarcastic remark doesn’t work though because it leaves your wife unsure about what you really think. Were you joking or serious? If you don’t know how to say things in a way that won’t hurt, you make a joke, which usually still hurts, but creates a situation where if she takes offense, it’s her problem if she can’t take the joke. If this is your way to use sarcasm, you really need to improve and learn some better communication skills.
3. Sarcasm may be passive-aggressive anger. This happens because you feel taken from, insulted or annoyed by other people and taking a jab at them makes you feel better. Sarcasm is a clever way to take a jab without being seen as outright mean. A joke can absolve you of responsibility for how you made the other person feel. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to resolve the real issues you are angry about. You could really benefit from some coaching or counseling on processing emotions.
4. You may feel jealous or angry at life for the disappointments or abuse you have suffered. Sarcasm can be a clever way to take out your anger toward life or vent your frustrations. The more life does you wrong, the more biting your remarks toward others might be. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to use your life experiences to make you better, not bitter.
5. If you were teased in a cruel way, put down or made to feel inferior as a child, you may be subconsciously trying to get the upper hand now. You may look down on others and jokingly strike out at them as a way to feel powerful. Again, you may need some help to improve your self-esteem so you can show up with love and let the pain from your past go.
6. You like to get attention by entertaining those around you with humor. You probably need this attention to validate your worth, because you again, have fear you aren’t good enough. You need this attention so badly you will do it at the expense of other people. All fear creates subconsciously selfish behavior, but this can be fixed. There are lots of ways to learn to be funny without being hurtful.
7. You may have a psychological inclination that is just prone to mean sarcasm. You may want to find out what your personal psychological inclination is. Some PI types are more prone to sarcasm and biting comments than others. You can find out more about your PI and what that says about you on my website.
Just take a minute, if you are the sarcastic person, and honestly ask yourself if any of these issues could be behind your sarcastic comments and is this who you really want to be?
You may need to practice THINK before you speak (a good idea for all of us). This means checking yourself before you make a comment. Is it:
You can be funny all you want, but if you do it at the expense of other people, they will not feel safe with you or like you, and if the people on the receiving end of your sarcasm are your friends or family, this cost could be high.
My best advice to you is slow down and pause before saying anything. Think about why you want to say (what you are about to say). Is it love motivated? Does it really need to be said? You may want to create a reminder to avoid sarcasm and make it the wallpaper on your phone. That way you see it 500 times a day to remind you to think first.
If you are living with a sarcastic person, here are a couple suggestions for dealing with it:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I’m a good looking woman in my 50s and I’m devastated right now because the man I was dating, who I was in love with and who said he was in love with me, broke up with me last year and I still feel horribly torn up about it. I know I have a tendency to be a teller and a screamer, and I don’t like this about myself, but I really think if someone loved me, they should give me a chance to learn how to approach disagreements in a more positive way. But he didn’t give me that chance. I know I also have trust issues, but I just need a good partner to stay with me and help me overcome these issues and communicate better. I am now thinking he didn’t really ever love me, because he wouldn’t stay with me to help me. How can I get someone who will give me a chance to do better?
I’m assuming when you say you are a “teller and a screamer” that you have a subconscious tendency to talk a lot, get upset easily, and handle confrontations badly. You also said you have trust issues, which I assume means you are subconsciously on the lookout for mistreatment and insults all the time, and you probably find them quite often too, because you always find what you’re looking for.
I’m going to be blunt with you here, because I really want to help you. The truth is, you cannot expect anyone to love you enough to put up with drama, fear, constant defensiveness, yelling and immature behavior for long. You are going to have to do some serious work on yourself, learn how to process emotions and situations in an accurate way and communicate how you feel with respect towards others. Screaming might make some people listen to you, but I guarantee in the long run it is making people lose respect for you (even your children).
You may have learned screaming and yelling worked for getting what you wanted when you were young, but it’s never going to work for you as an adult. It is time to grow up and get control of yourself. I have some good worksheets on my website for learning to process emotions you should read. They may help you to recognize why you are upset and find some better ways to respond.
If you get offended and see mistreatment often and you are not good at handling disagreements or mistreatment in a calm, respectful way, it’s time to take some responsibility for your relationships and stop looking for others to blame.
I have another important worksheet on my website called the Are You The Problem worksheet and I highly recommend that you fill it out and score yourself. Maybe you will find out you aren’t as bad as you think, but if you are honest with yourself and find you are high on most of the questions, it’s time to get to work changing some things, starting with your policies and procedures.
From 0 to 7 years old, everything you see or experience creates policies, beliefs or conclusions about the world, your value, your family and how things work. You are also experimenting with different procedures or social techniques, and whatever worked (or what you saw most often) became your procedures for dealing with others. If you grew up around some dysfunctional relatives, you may have learned some really bad procedures, but you can break that chain and change your behavior. It will take some work, but you can do it.
I believe changing your subconscious relationship behavior must start with changing some of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, others and life. If you see these things in a fear-based way, you are going to react badly to most situations. With my clients, I start by helping them adopt these two basic principles or policies:
If you get insulted easy, keep working on seeing all human beings as having the same infinite value. If you experience loss more, practice seeing your life and every thing that happens as your perfect classroom every day. These will help you over-react less and become more mature and calm.
I also recommend that you consider getting some coaching or attend classes on relationship, communication and mindfulness skills. They would make a huge difference in your next relationship. I also think it's time to let go of the hurt over that last one. It was a lesson and taught you some things, but it's time to move on and trust that better things lie ahead.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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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.