This was first published on ksl.com
I feel inferior to almost everyone I know. If we go out with people, I spend the whole time wishing I could be more like this person or that one. I compare myself constantly, even though I know it is creating problems and I wish I could stop. I also have a tendency to be critical of others, though, too. I find myself feeling inferior to someone at first, and then looking for bad in them so I can feel better. Could you give me any advice on how to stop my mind from going there, and how to be happy with who I am and not compare so much?
We are so glad you asked this question, because the truth is, we all compare ourselves with others, and it isn’t serving any of us. If the comparing ends with you feeling you might be better than someone else in the room, though it may give your ego a temporary boost, it isn’t really a win. We believe letting the ego feel superior to others in the end means being a person you don’t really want to be, and it will hurt you in the end.
We want you to understand why human beings play these games of comparing and dividing ourselves from other people. We believe this behavior is rooted in our trying to cope with our deepest, darkest core fear — the fear of failure (not being good enough). A fear that, by the way, every one of us battles, to some degree, every day. And it is a painful fear, too. To make matters worse, there is a voice in your head that wants you to constantly compare yourself to others, which finds you lacking most of the time.
Thinking negatively about yourself is so painful that you are constantly, subconsciously, looking for ways to quiet or quell it. You will latch onto anything that works, even temporarily.
One of the techniques that most of us subconsciously use, is something we call the “Shame and Blame Game.” The way it works is the more shame (fear of failure) you experience, the more you will look for bad in others and focus on their bad qualities, temporarily making yourself feel better. Most of the time, though, you don’t consciously realize you doing this to make yourself feel better. But that is what is happening.
Another common technique to quiet your fear (that mankind has been using since the dawn of time) has to do with dividing ourselves from other people so we can see “us” as the good ones and “them” as the bad ones. We will use anything and everything to do this. We divide ourselves into groups based on race, religion, country, which sports team we cheer for (the blue or the red), which cola we drink (Coke or a Pepsi), or which sandwich spread we prefer (mayonnaise or Miracle Whip). Any difference, no matter how significant or insignificant, will do if we can justify a reason why our way is the right one and those guys are wrong or worse.
This gets worse when we do it in groups. The other people who agree with you seem to validate your feelings of superiority, hate or prejudice against “them,” and the division furthers. If you think about it, this one tendency is responsible for most of the problems on the planet. Many times a group of people thinks they are better than another group.
Do you judge others? Do you find fault in the people who intimidate you (or make you feel less than,) so you can pull them down to your level or below and feel better? Are you be prone to gossip or speaking ill of others? Is there any chance your tendency to do this is driven by your fear and insecurities?
We want to explain this tendency to you, so you can get conscious of the techniques you might use to quiet your fear.
Here are 5 ways to change your thinking, quiet your fear, and embrace who you are, so you can stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Change the way you determine the value of all human beings.
We recommend you change your subconscious belief that human value can go up or down, and that worth is based on your performance and appearance (which is your current system at the subconscious level). Instead, embrace a policy that says all human beings have the same intrinsic, unchangeable value.
We found if you change the foundational principle upon which you base the value of all human beings you will, over time, approach the point where it applies to you, too, and your fear of failure will shrink. You will start to believe you are good enough, because you can’t be less than others if we all have the same value.
2. Use the new policy as a reminder that divisions mean we are different, but still equal in value.
The reality is everyone is different. You are one-of-a-kind and there will never be another human like you again. These differences make life interesting and exciting. How boring would it be if we were all the same?
These differences also provide interesting and important lessons for us in tolerance and acceptance, and they stretch the limits of our love and compassion. They do not separate us by value. Every day, practice seeing others as different but equal.
3. Focus on your strengths.
You might not have the talents, body size or intelligence others have, but you do have something. We all do. You have something you are good at. The trick is to stop trying to be different, or have what others have, and just do you. Be the best you.
4. Claim your faults but remember they don’t change your value.
Yes, there are some things you aren’t good at. I’ve had to face the facts that I’m not a woman with talents in the area of hair and make-up. I struggle to put a stylish outfit together and am more comfortable in jeans than a fancy dress. Most of my life, I’ve looked at the beautiful women with flawless style and perfect hair and assigned myself much less value.
Now I own my faults fully, and have decided every day to do my best to get dressed and fix my hair. Then I tell myself this isn’t really my thing, so I better go out there and get them with my love instead. I’m better at that. No one is good at everything, so own your weaknesses, work on them, but don’t let them affect your value.
5. Give up judgment so you can claim infinite value for yourself, too.
There is one catch with choosing a policy that says all human beings have the same value: You must give up judgment if you want this policy change to work. You cannot keep casting other people as not good enough (gossiping or thinking bad of them) and still see your own value as infinite and absolute.
If you keep judging others, you are giving power to the old belief system that people can be not enough. If you give power to that belief, you will never buy it for yourself either, and your self-esteem will continue to suffer. If you want to feel rock solid about your own value, you must give up judgment and let everyone around you have infinite, unchangeable value too.
We have found if you work on these five things, the need to compare and critique others diminishes quickly. Once you embrace the idea that your value can’t change, you will see that much of what others do, or wear or say, has no effect on you whatsoever. You will find you can then allow them to be who they are, and focus on rocking it at being you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the master coaches behind claritypointcoachin.com and 12shapes com where they help families, individuals and companies improve all their relationships.
Think of what you fear most in your relationships and we'll tell you how your love life is
This was first published on familyshare.com
As master life coaches, we have found that human behavior is driven by what we value and what we fear; but unfortunately most of it is driven by fear. Even many of the nice things we do aren’t driven by love, but by the need to earn validation -- to quiet the fear of not being good enough.
Here is a list of common fears and how they may impact your relationships. Take your time and think about how each might be showing up in your life.
1. Do you fear failure (not being good enough)?
This fear is the root of low self-esteem, and we all have some of this, to some degree, every day. Low self-esteem is the main cause of relationship problems, because the insecurity it produces makes you needy for validation. That need for validation means you have an empty bucket and you expect your partner to fill it. You might even make your partner responsible for how you feel about yourself. This is a recipe for disaster, because he or she can’t give you enough validation to fill your bucket when you are emptying it with negative thinking about yourself at the same time.
If this is a big issue for you, you are probably getting angry with your partner on occasion for not giving you what you need. This creates a rocky love life filled with disappointment and frustration.
2. Do you fear being rejected, left or abandoned?
You may fear this if you have experienced some loss in your past. Even if you lost someone to death, and it wasn’t their fault, you may still subconsciously fear abandonment.
This fear can make you controlling, possessive and suspicious. You probably ask a lot of fear-based questions about what your partner is doing or where they are going. This shows a lack of trust (and is at some level an insult to your partner’s character). If this goes on for a long time, you might create what you fear, because this behavior can push your partner away.
This fear of abandonment creates a relationship where fear is even driving your loving behavior, making it more clingy.
3. Do you fear not being perfect?
If you have perfectionism fear, you believe your value is tied to performance -- meaning the way your house looks, the way your family behaves, the way you do everything in your life determines your value as a person.
With this belief driving your behavior, there is a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure behind everything you do. It also means that your need to feel good enough will come before everything else. You might even treat the people in your life like employees who work for you and are expected to follow your rules all the time. This can make you controlling and domineering at times.
This obviously damages relationships because people feel you care more about things, appearances and performance than you do about them. You can have everything perfect, exactly the way you want it, or you can have rich, connected relationships; but you can't have both. Eventually the people in your life will give up trying to meet your expectations and want out.
4. Do you fear not being loved or approved of by others?
This means you base your self-worth on what other people think of you. This can drive all kinds of bad behavior, depending on who you are trying to earn approval from.
If you are trying to earn validation from your spouse, you may become overly focused on managing their emotional state and feelings toward you. This could mean often betraying yourself, and constantly worrying about trying to be someone you're not.
If you are trying to earn approval from people outside your home, you may spend all your time and energy there and neglect your family. This can create resentment and damage the connection with those you love.
5. Do you fear not having control?
Being a "control freak" is all about fear. You subconsciously can’t feel safe or peaceful unless everything is going the way you think it should. This can be poison in a relationship, because your need for control will trump your need for connection.
You will often mistreat the people in your life, especially if they aren’t doing things the way you want them done. People will, again, feel you care more about things than you care about them. You might also be pushy or have anger issues when things aren’t "right." If this shows up in your relationship, your love life is probably often in conflict and disconnected.
6. Do you fear being taken advantage of?
Our clients with this fear tend to be controlling and constantly on the lookout for anything that could be seen as mistreatment or disrespect. They often see mistreatment in everything, even when it isn’t there. If this fear is present in your life, you are probably offended, angry or defensive much of the time. This can create a toxic relationship if you are constantly disappointed in or angry with your partner, who will feel insulted or attacked often.
If you want your love life to thrive, and for you and your partner to feel happy and safe, you must learn how to live from love, not fear. You must make sure your choices are love-motivated, and you are focused on making your partner feel safe, loved, admired, respected and wanted.
Remember that it is OK to seek professional help to confront subconscious fears that can wreak havoc in your love life. The right help can set you on the path to a happier, more love-filled life.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the hosts of Relationship Radio and master life coaches. Visit 12shapes.com to access free resources to help you create the relationships you want.
This was first published on ksl.com
My teens (twins, 16 years old) only want to text us. They don’t seem to be open or willing to have conversations with us anymore. I keep insisting on family dinners with no devices but the kids are angry the whole time. What are we doing wrong? We have younger children also and we are afraid of losing our connection and influence with them too. How do we create better relationships with our kids and make sure they will talk to us, not just their friends?
We believe almost every parent on the planet is having this same problem right now. This new world of technology, social media, and texting can be a challenge for us all. Despite our fears and our desire for the world to be different, we must learn how to work within this new framework, if we want to connect with our children.
Despite our fears and our desire for the world to be different, we must learn how to work within this new framework, if we want to connect with our children.
By no means does this mean you drop your standards or your efforts to communicate like in the old days, but you must be smart and proactive and adapt to meet them where they are. It helps to understand the importance and the influence of technology on our teenagers.
There are many opinions on how detrimental it is for our teens to use technology for communication, however, it is the new communication process, whether we like it or not. If we exclude them from this by limiting, banning, or taking away technology altogether, it quickly creates social problems for them. If they are not communicating on social media, by text and on a phone, they are not included socially. It’s here that we see isolation, bullying, and feelings of despondency and depression come into play, as they are not connected to their peers.
We must allow them to engage in it with healthy limitations, which you can set with them and their input. These healthy limitations are best respected when they are also modeled by you. How attached are you to your phone when you are at home? Do you use your phone at meal times and after 9 p.m.? These are things to discuss as a family, and create limits based on moral reasoning instead of punishment.
Here are some ways you can improve your connection with your teenagers despite technology. This is the answer to your question, how do we continue to build trust, close relationships and instill values with our children, within their technology framework.
1. You must earn their trust and a place in their life; it’s not guaranteed just because you’re their parent.
The sad truth is if you want to be the person (and the place) they come to in times of stress, change, and trouble, you must earn it. Being their parent is not a guarantee that you will be their safe place, that they will trust you, or even include you in their life. Now, without needing to include you, or become vulnerable and risk judgment or punishment, they can turn to Google, social media and friends for help and answers when they need them.
This is a vastly different world from when we were teenagers, as we only saw our friends at school or at activities. Now, kids have constant connection through their smartphone, which is constantly attached to their thumbs and back pockets. This makes it even harder for parents to compete for their time, attention and for a position as their problem solver and confidant. Knowing your child is highly likely to reach for their smartphone for answers, instead of coming to you, is a scary place, but you can earn your position in their life through the following steps.
2. You must be a safe place for them.
If you really want to be the person your child turns to in times of trouble, you must on some level compete with technology for their time and attention, and you must be a safe place. This means you must be non-judgmental and use all your self-control to be present and listen instead of giving feedback or a lecture.
Technology offers answers fast and without judgment or disappointment in them. So you can’t risk being critical, making them feel dumb or embarrassed about their opinions and ideas. Being a teenager is awkward enough, so they need your love and support with a big dose of respect for where they are and what they think. This can be hard for parents who are parenting in fear of failure and loss, and want desperately for their children to listen, make changes or not make mistakes.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them all the time or even at all, but you must respect their right to have their feelings, ideas and emotions. This doesn’t mean you become their friend and drop parenting though. Instead, it means becoming an exceptional listener and making conversations all about them and not about you. You must validate and honor their right to feel as they do, even if you think they are completely wrong. You must do this because, at the end of the day, they do have a right to feel exactly as they do, so you must validate this right and show support for them.
Years ago, I begged my rebellious teen not to lie to me and to please just tell me the truth about his activities. His answer was, “Mom, then I need you to be able to handle the truth with love and respect, can you do that?” It was a tall order, but I set my fears aside and made it all about showing up for him.
If you can’t handle the truth and do it with love and compassion, your child won’t see you as a safe place and won’t come to you. Non-judgmental listening is the only way to create a place of safety and give you any chance of having influence at critical moments in their life.
3. Be mindful of your expectations.
We all have desires for our children. However, many of us become attached to outcomes and have high expectations. It’s good to have some expectations for your children, like wanting them to be good people with integrity and have good self-esteem. But are all your expectations realistic? Do they set your children up to succeed or to fail?
Many teenagers we coach tell us that their parents' expectations make them feel like they are failing all the time, and they honestly feel they are doomed to never be good enough. This is the exact emotion that pulls children away from you, that shuts down connection and dialogue. Often they withdraw from us and only communicate via text message (as it feels much safer).
As you set your expectations, be sure it’s not about specifics, don’t attach yourself to their exact grades, whether they win or lose at sports, or how they will perform. The healthiest and best way to set expectations is based on their efforts. This means them delivering their best effort and also finding joy and fulfillment in the process. This sets our children up to become fulfilled, self-motivated people and see that effort is worth the reward.
We also recommend a 5 to 1 rule. Deliver five messages of positive feedback and encouragement for every one conversation about improvement or correction. This is easier said than done, especially when parents are in fear and want their children to change. Focus on celebrating who they are and what they are doing well. This also creates a safe place, where they don't fear disappointing you.
4. Text your teens
If text is a communication method they are comfortable with, then use it without trying to push them into conversations they aren’t ready and open to having. Use the same 5 to 1 rule with texts (this means five positive, encouraging, fun texts for every reminder to be safe or a "Don’t forget your chores" kind of message).
Become savvy using emojis and be quick to respond to all their texts too. Remember, they live in an instant gratification world, so at some level, we must match that. Don’t wait hours to respond, do it ASAP.
Ask them to show you how to text with predictive text and how to use emojis properly. This shows interest in their world. Never underestimate the power of a positive text — “Hey, it’s mom. Just want you to know how proud I am of you and can’t wait to grab a movie with you this weekend." or "Good luck on the math test today. You’re going to be great! I believe in you and know how capable you are.”
Send them funny messages and make them laugh too.
This parenting game with technology is a new one for us all, but showing interest and enthusiasm to get on their level and even allowing them to laugh at your incompetence, is great for building a connection.
Remember to parent from love instead of fear, trust your children and watch your need to control them. Begin to adjust your perspective to one of respect, and speak to them as you would a peer or an equal, instead of talking down to them as a child.
They are still your children, but they badly want your respect and to be treated like an adult. The more you respect them at this level, the more respect you will get back. Choose to love them where they are and use technology to connect with them, and you will always have an important place in their world.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the owners of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. Come hear them speak at the Uplift Families Conference in October - at Thanksgiving point. http://www.upliftfamilies.org/
Do you have mother guilt?
This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, life coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham share some ways to take better care of yourself so you feel less drained and empty in your parenting.
I feel like a terrible mother. I find myself resenting my children for just how demanding my job is. I don’t think they are more demanding than other children, but I just don’t have it in me some days. I feel emotionally drained and can’t wait for them to all be in bed, so I can have some me time. How do I successfully balance my needs and the needs of my family without resentment or guilt? I feel guilty taking care of me but resentful if I don’t. I don’t want to be this grouchy and drained all the time. What can I do?
Thank you for having the courage to speak out about these feelings that we believe most mothers feel, at least some of the time. Motherhood and balancing the needs of a home and family is a tall order and most of us have high, slightly unrealistic expectations that leave us feeling like we are never good enough.
The truth is we all feel emotionally drained from motherhood on occasion. Having the energy to give selflessly to other people day and night, is difficult and unless we learn to maintain a healthy balance and make sure our own bucket is full, we can feel drained or resentful a lot.
There are four ways you can create a healthier balance between caring for other and caring for yourself and keep your bucket full:
1. Institute some healthy boundaries
Do you allow people to take more from you than you have to give?
Sadly, almost every woman we know, answers YES to this question. Obviously, there are things you must do every day to meet the needs of your family and ensure they are safe, nourished and cared for, whether you want to or not. However, most women give more than necessary and take on extra tasks, which leave them feeling resentful and overburdened.
This over giving can lead to feelings of anger and mistreatment. Over giving may be so behaviorally ingrained for you though, you may even find even understanding the principle of balance difficult. Many people, who are people pleasers, learned as a child that pleasing others and serving was always the "right" thing to do and sacrificing yourself was righteous. But this implies that taking care of yourself at all makes you selfish. Many women and men, who grew up with these beliefs, need help establishing healthy boundaries with their spouses, friends and neighbors.
Boundaries are rules that protect you from your guilt, weakness and people pleasing, which make you to over give. They are not about controlling other people. They are about controlling you.
The first boundary you probably need is a permission rule about saying no. We sometimes have to tell our clients, “We officially give you permission to say no to things that would overwhelm or drain you, and do so without feeling guilty at all. Saying no does not make you a bad person, it makes you a healthy one.”
If you want to have healthy relationships, you must give only those gifts you can give freely, without guilt, strings, or sense of obligation in play. When you give authentically, you are love-motivated, meaning you have it to give and actually want to give it. Your giving is not driven by "shoulds" or the need to get approval or validation from others (which would make the service about you not them). If you give to others because you are afraid of judgment or letting someone down, or if you feel guilty if you don’t do it, your giving is based on fear, not love.
This week, give yourself permission to create some new healthier boundaries. Could you love yourself enough to acknowledge your needs and make sure they are met, while also tending to the family? This can be hard if you place your value in what other’s think of you or if you are trying to look like a "super mom" caring for everyone and sacrificing yourself. But there is no extra prize for the super mom or the martyr.
One of the healthiest things you can do as a mom is model healthy, balanced self-care, showing your kids it is right and healthy to take care of yourself because you are as important as everyone else. You will also find people tend to appreciate what you do for them more if you say no on occasion. When you always sacrifice yourself for others, they come to expect it, and their appreciation goes down. If you are completely taken for granted, it's a sure sign you are over giving.
2. Remember receiving is just as important as giving
This may be another bitter pill to swallow if you are a people pleaser who feels safer being the giver. But being good at receiving is just as important as being good at giving. Unless we allow others to reciprocate in our relationships, we don’t experience a truly healthy, relationship dynamic. Think of how good it feels to give a gift to someone you love. Now, think about how you would feel if they rejected your gift. You see, receiving gives the other person the same fulfillment you get when you give to them.
It’s essential this balance of giving and receiving is established in all the relationships in your life. Without this balance, you easily slip into over giving and other people either take advantage of this or walk away because they are not receiving the feelings they want.
Many relationships breakdown because, over time, the imbalance of giving and receiving takes a toll. Allowing your children to help around the house, give you a foot rub, be patient while you take a bath, or take time from their day to sit and listen to you, are easy ways that you can correct the imbalance.
Not asking for and accepting help from children may be why you have some resentment. Ask your children to pitch in around the house, allow them to cook you a meal, even if it’s cheese on toast or cereal. It’s fun for them and it’s essential for you, so drop the high expectations of doing it all and make life a team effort.
3. Ask for your needs to be me
Your needs are just as important as the other members of your family. We know this may be hard to get your head around, but your needs being met is essential to the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of the entire family.
Asking for what you need, in a loving way, is also much better than holding resentment and anger that your needs are never met. Learning how to facilitate conversations that allow you to ask for help is easier than you think. Start by asking them questions about how they feel about life in your home. Really listen and be open to some things you could do better or different. (This makes children feel very loved.) Then, ask if they would be willing to help you a little more by doing this or that for you.
We think you will be surprised at how much your family wants to love you through acts of kindness, service and support. Many of our clients feel angry that they don’t get more help, but they aren’t asking the family to help either. Start by asking for what you need without feeling guilty.
4. Drop the guilt
Mothers are the queens of guilt. We feel guilty about not giving enough time or energy, about not being enough, about not being a good enough role model, provider, housekeeper, confidante — we feel guilty when we are working and guilty when we aren’t — we feel guilty about everything.
Let’s drop this now. You always do the best you can with what you know in each moment, and you often give when you don’t even have it in you.
Your value does not change if you are tired, grouchy or drained. Your value is the same as every other person no matter how much you struggle. Your love is one of a kind and it is exactly what your children need.
You are not a perfect parent (because that’s not possible), but you are the perfect parent for your children (or you wouldn’t have been given the job). Your guilt doesn't serve anyone or anything. Get over it. Let the past go and do your best to stay present and love yourself and them today.
Keep working on your ability to receive and create some healthy boundaries for yourself this week. Figure out what you really need to keep your bucket full and make a plan to do those things.
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs we have in our lifetime. By showing greater compassion and understanding toward yourself, especially in times of fatigue and emotional exhaustion, you will honor your value and show up as a love-motivated parent.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cummingham are the founders of claritypointcoaching.com and upskillrelationships.com. They have programs for burned out moms starting soon.
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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.