This was first published on KSL.com
My husband and I have six children and have always had a happy home, or until the last few years anyway. We have always been a close family but the last few years we can’t seem to connect well with our older kids. I understand that the changes of puberty and high school can be overwhelming but my older children seem to be angry, disconnected and impatient with us and their younger siblings. What can I do to diffuse all this hostility and connect my family again?
The real reason that anyone behaves in a badly is they are scared of failure — not being good enough, or loss — the fear of missing out, being mistreated, or being taken from. It is these fears, which cause us and our kids to feel grouchy, angry and even mean at times.
During the teenage years, children are experiencing more fear and insecurity than ever before. They are also going through a natural process of starting to pull away from the family, so they can eventually become independent adults. The two of these factors together can make for a great deal of moody anger and rude behavior.
Anger, frustration and negativity that come across as misdirected rage towards the family, are really suppressed fear. When anger and fear are shut down, not accepted or pushed aside they can be suppressed, which can lead to exaggerated and explosive behavior.
Just like happiness and sadness, frustration and anger are emotions that require validation and time. We must validate the feelings that come up in our older children, listen to them, and honor their right to be experiencing this and feeling the way they do, instead of just correcting them. They must be allowed to be angry, scared and grouchy at times. However, guidance is often needed to teach teens how to process and express their anger in acceptable ways. You must understand the huge boil of emotions they are experiencing at this time, and focus more on connection than correction.
Suppressed anger can look like these three behaviors in your teen — denial, withdrawal and brooding.
Suppressed anger and the behaviors associated with it can be corrected as you move your teen out of fear into greater trust and love. There is a great worksheet on our website that steps you through an Emotional Autopsy to process emotions. I highly recommend you get it and look for ways to show your teen how to use it. If they are interested in trying it, take a picture of it with your phone and text it to them. (But only do this if you have asked if they are interested and say they want it.) You can also help them to experience less fear by teaching them (by example and the things you say) the two important principles below, which help lessen fear.
Another great way to connect to your teen is to make sure you get some one on one time with them every week. Make this a time of fun and be engaged in learning about your child’s life and mindset, instead of just approaching this time as disciplinary correction or getting to the bottom of their issues. Take them out for food (they love that) and make sure there is no lecturing or interrogations. This is a time to listen and validate their right to be where they are and think they way they do. You might want to make sure you have our Validating Communication Worksheet and study it beforehand so you handle this right.
Like all of us, children and especially teenagers want to be heard, accepted and acknowledged. Listen to them and invest in the relationship. Speak about your concerns from a place of vulnerability (sharing your fears) instead of your authority and really make the effort to show up consistently each week. Share with your child how you see every situation in your life an opportunity to learn and how this helps you come out of fear and into greater trust and love.
Some great questions to ask teens when you are together include:
Be patient with these conversations and drop your expectations or attachments to a specific outcome. Trust that with greater connection your child will feel safer and safer. Anger and misdirected rage take time to heal. Your child may also need some professional help to gain some new skills for dealing with their thoughts, emotions and experiences at school. Check out some of the coaching options we offer for parents and teens.
Feel reassured that the foundations you continue to lay down for your children are never in vain. No matter what the age of your children, they watch you and your behavior as an example and crave connection and validation from you. Do your best to make sure your language and your behavior heal instead of hurt. Commit to validating and continue to pour into your relationship with them. Here is a link to access many other articles and tips for dealing with teens.
You can do this.
Master Life Coaches Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham run www.claritypointcoaching.com and offer coaching workshops and classes for both parents and teens.
This was first published on KSL.com
My mother is extremely dramatic and easy to offend. She creates drama and problems in our family all the time because she handles things so immaturely. I can see that in some ways I’m starting to become like her too. But I’ve watched this my whole life and I don’t want to behave that way? How can I break the cycle and learn to handle life better than she does?
You are talking about being an emotional mature person, who responds to life appropriately with strength and wisdom. Some people were lucky enough to have emotionally mature parents, who taught them how to see situations accurately, process emotions logically and respond maturely, but it sounds like you didn’t get that, so you will have to find better tools, skills and techniques to help you break the cycle.
Your mother is doing the best she can with what she knows though, she just doesn’t know a better way to handle herself. She is running on autopilot with her subconscious programming running the show.
Neuroscientists tell us the 95 percent of our choices we make subconsciously. This means most of the time instead of consciously choosing our behavior, we are just unconsciously reacting. The scary part is that most of our reactions come from ideas, conclusions, procedures and rules we learned before we were 7 years old. They say from 0 to 7 are the formative years where we set our beliefs about ourselves, people and life. Then the rest of our lives we can react the way we learned as a child.
You can break the cycle of immature behavior, though, and learn how to respond more accurately and appropriately. You can develop what we call CLARITY (the ability to see yourself, other people and situations accurately). You can gain better techniques, tools and skills in the area of human behavior, but you might need some professional help to get you there.
You can download an Emotional Maturity Test on my website to see where you are and what skills you need to become more mature.
Here are 14 ways to strengthen your emotional maturity:
Set a small goal to work on one aspect of your emotional maturity each week. Put a reminder (as your wallpaper on your phone) to remind you. If you work on it one piece at a time, you will get there. I also recommend you find a coach or counsellor to help though. A little professional guidance goes a long way.
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 popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
By Nicole Cunningham and Kim Giles
This was first published on KSL.com
My wife continues to bring up all of my mistakes from the past with any little issue in our marriage. No matter how many times I apologize and try to make amends, it seems that nothing is ever good enough for her. I’m trying to be patient and hope things will change, but everything is always my fault. We have some really big issues in our marriage which I want to solve, but how can I even begin when she says I am the problem and she isn’t? There is fault on both sides.
In order for you to get some peace here and learn to communicate with your spouse without fighting, you must first see her and your behavior more accurately.
We all hurt people when we are in pain or fear. No matter what the circumstances are, it is only from our pain that we attack others. This means that attacks are really more about the attacker and their fears, than they are about you, the victim. Think about that for a minute.
To understand your wife (and her need to continually bring up the past) I encourage you to look deeper into her life and heart, with a greater level of compassion. When she brings up the pain she has experienced and holds it over your head, it’s just because she is still hurting and scared. She also finds it necessary to cast you as the bad one, because seeing her own faults would be more painful than she can emotionally handle.
All bad behavior comes from two core fears, the fear of failure, not being good enough and the fear of loss, being taken from or losing out. When you can clearly see which fear is in play with your wife (and it could be both of them) you will see the attacks differently. You will also have more compassion, because you will see her as scared more than mean or bad. When you see her bad behavior as fear, you will begin to disassociate yourself from the attack and experience more compassion for her and yourself.
There is a great Understanding Your Marriage worksheet on my website, which will help you to delve deeper into the fears that are showing up in your marriage. I encourage you to fill it out and be really honest with yourself.
It takes a brave, rational and objective person to be able to disassociate from their pain and fear, and see the ways they have contributed to a problem. Most of us are not good at this. Instead, we exhibit a lot of blaming, projecting behavior.
There are several ways you can bring more compassion and love into the conflicts and confrontation you experience in your home:
1) Choose to see every attack as a request for love. People who attack you are in pain, because of their fears for and about themselves. If they have a fear of failure they need reassurance and validation that they are still worthy of love and understanding. They need to be reminded that all people have the same value. If they have fear of loss they need reassurance that things will work out ok. I tell my spouse and children, if I get mad or upset, just remind me that I’m good enough and that God’s got me safe in his hands, and I will probably calm right down. (I only get upset when I have forgotten these two truths.)
2) Choose to see meaning in everything. I love to read about the strength and optimism of Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor. He was the first to discover that when you see meaning in every experience, even the most brutal ones, you will suffer less. I choose to see life is a classroom and believe we are here to learn and grow. This brings meaning to every interaction with my spouse, because I see it as today’s lesson on love. When I see every interaction as a lesson I naturally challenge myself to be more mature and show up with more love. This small perspective shift will allow you to suffer less in the problems.
3) Focus on improving yourself. Viktor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”This is one way to face negativity, criticism and fear. Take them as a challenge and rise above the attacks and choose love anyway. When you refuse to take the bait and join in the fight, it also highlights your spouse’s immature behavior and she can see it better. She would prefer you to sink to her level and behave badly back (this would give her more ammunition to cast you as the bad one). If you refuse to sink to her level and calmly show up with grace and kindness, she will be forced to see that she’s the one who is in the wrong. Don’t do this from ego though, to show you are better than her. Remember you have the same value all the time, you are just learning different lessons.
4) Healthy Communication - Accept responsibility that you are 50 percent of the problem in your communication. Even if the way your spouse behaves is not heathy, you can still create change and be more respectful and loving. It’s not easy to stay respectful when you are being attacked, but you can do it with some new tools and practice. There is a great worksheet on mutually validating conversations on my website. It involves being willing to see her as the same as you (not casting her as the bad one) and being willing to ask questions and listen first, before you ask her to understand you. When someone is in fear and attacking you, what they need most is validation and reassurance to calm their fear. Only when their fear is quieted will they be capable of hearing you.
5) Focus on the future not the past. Too often we drag up the past and use it to toxify the present. When we bring up the past we are also talking about things the other person can’t change and it makes people frustrated and defensive. Make the decision to keep the focus on future behavior not past behavior. The future they have control over and we can make changes there. Be prepared to ask your spouse if she would be willing to let the past go and focus on what you are both willing to do differently moving forward.
(You might want to each write down on paper all the things in the past you are still hurt about. Agree to let them go and forgive, so you can both do better moving forward. Put these papers in a box and bury them deep in the backyard. Make an agreement that you won’t bring up those past mistakes ever again, unless you are willing to go dig up the box first to do so.)
Healing relationships takes time and takes commitment. See if your spouse wants a better relationship than the one you currently have, and explain that you can’t create happiness at the same level of thinking you were at when you created the problems. You must learn something new.
Find a course, coach or counselor who specializes in dealing with fear and upskilling your communication, and preferably one who works with each of you independently. We find that couples do better when each person works to fix their side of the problems on their own first.
Despite all of the pain and the uncertainty, remain in trust that this is your perfect classroom. This set of circumstances has shown up for a reason (to help you grow) and it is exactly where you are meant to be. You always marry your best teacher and when you choose to see her as your teacher (who is meant to push your buttons so you can work on them) it will change how you feel.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
"Recently I watched a person who I’m close to and care about, treat another person I care about very badly. It made me so angry.
I found myself getting more and more angry the more I thought about it. I finally decided I had to say something because it was wrong and if no one else was going to speak up, I needed to.
I put them in their place, and I admit I might have been a little harsh, but I felt right about it. Now people are saying I shouldn’t have said anything.
So, I’m wondering, what would say is the right thing to do? Should we speak up and defend others when they are mistreated or should we just stay quiet?"
The answer is…it depends.
It depends on a number of important factors, but before I give those factors to you, I want to make sure you understand that most people believe there are only two ways to respond to mistreatment. They are...
1) You allow the bad behavior to go on (and even allow yourself or other people to get walked on) because you are afraid it would be unkind or mean to speak up.
In this case you may be overly selfless, but also feel you are being nice and loving. People often refer to themselves as too nice here, but usually it is about feeling scared of hurting others. You would rather be mistreated and be a doormat, than speak up and risk hurting another person’s feelings or have them not like you.
2) You speak up and defend yourself and other people, because it is more important to be strong and right, than nice or loving.
In this case you tend to be overly selfish and strong, but sometimes too harsh and unkind. You feel OK about this because you see the other person as a threat to you or others.
People may say you are blunt, but it is more than just being strong enough to be honest, because it often comes from ego and even enjoyment in being right. You may think it’s better to err on the side of harsh and mean, than to be a doormat.
Think about those two options for a minute. Do you subconsciously believe these are your only two options? I’d like to introduce you to a third option.
3) I call this “the middle way” and you basically take the loving (from the 'weaker perspective) and the strong (from the 'mean' perspective) and putting them together. You learn to be both strong and loving at the same time.
This approach means speaking up, but doing it in a validating, kind, uplifting way that honors the value of both parties at the same time.
In order to find the "middle way" you must learn to quiet your fear and come from a space of trust and love instead.
This middle way may be foreign territory to you though, if you never had a parent or role model who behaved like this. You may need some coaching or to get some people skills in order to master it.
Here are 6 factors that should be in place if you are going to speak up or defend against mistreatment the right way:
My answer is YES, you should speak up if you can speak up, with the 6 factors above guiding you. If you aren't the right person or can’t do it the right way, then you should stay quiet until you can.
It means in cases where you value the relationship with this other person, and want to have a healthy one relationship, you might check your anger and ego at the door first, so you don’t destroy the relationship.
Kimberly Giles is the president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on ksl.com
My teenage son has been battling depression for the last three years. He says he doesn’t have any choice but to endure this, as if it’s a life sentence. As his parents we have tried to get him to therapy and help with the cost of medication but he refuses our every attempt to help him. He doesn’t want to talk about it either. What can we do, we feel so powerless and are so worried about our son?
Depression is rough and it’s made even rougher by the stigma many feel about getting help for it. Many think getting help for mental illness means you're weak, messed up or broken. Because of this many refuse to get help and suffer for years convinced there is no way out. Just as equally, the support people, who love those who suffer, can feel the same way. It can feel like a lose-lose situation, but there are things you can do to make getting help and getting better easier.
Here are some things to consider for everyone dealing with depression or anxiety:
Every person who suffers depression must choose to keep trying to find solutions or remain stuck. Most people do best with lots of tools to help navigate their negative feelings and emotions along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Be patient with him though and remain aware that this is your perfect classroom to have this person who needs your patience in your life.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the book "Choosing Clarity. Coach Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and homeopathy specialist.
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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.