This was first published on KSL.COM
My marriage is in trouble because of some major differences. We have always disagreed on politics, but recently my spouse has also decided to leave the church we attend together and is very vocal about his feelings that all religions are false. This is driving a huge wedge between us because he basically hates something that I love. Plus, he is very confident and I am more insecure, so he makes me feel small for being a believer. How do you maintain a strong relationship when you are polar opposites in so many ways? Can you have a good relationship if you are this different from each other?
Yes, you can. It is possible to have a good, healthy relationship even though you are very different and have different beliefs — if you both can work on the following things:
1. Learn how your partner is wired
I am a big believer in personality types, love languages and other tools that help you understand how your partner sees and functions in the world. They help you get below the behavior and understand the fears and values that drive their behavior. You need to take stock of all the ways you are the same and different.
Make sure you know what issues trigger bad behavior in your partner and strive to make them feel safe with you every day. If they fear they aren’t good enough, you should be sensitive to that, avoid criticism and give lots of validation. If they fear loss or mistreatment, make sure they know your intent and that you would never mean to offend or take from them in any way. If they get triggered and upset, remember all bad behavior is a request for love, safety and reassurance.
For detailed instructions on how to do this, read last week's LIFEAdvice article.
2. Work on your self-esteem so differences aren’t so threatening
Your No.1 job is making sure you like yourself and are happy. When you like yourself and feel safe in the world, you can then create a healthy relationship. Also, make sure you know the difference between ego confidence and real, fearless confidence. Ego confidence is overcompensating for low self-worth and trying to pretend you don’t have it by acting strong and defensive. Real confidence comes from knowing your worth is infinite and not being afraid.
3. Develop a healthy mindset about your journey in life
Life is a classroom and we are all here for one reason: to learn and grow. When you keep this in mind, it's easier to see every experience as the perfect classroom you need to grow today. You can see how your current situation is here to give you and your spouse a chance to stretch in your abilities to love. It’s easy to love someone who is the same as you because they trigger no fears. A person who is vastly different from you pushes all your buttons and gives you a chance to work on yourself, your self-control, your maturity and your acceptance of others. I believe you marry your perfect teacher and your marriage is the most important classroom of your life.
4. See people as the same — not better or worse, or right or wrong
This is the most critical piece. Make sure you see all human beings (including your partner) as having the same value, no matter what they do or believe. You can disagree with their views, but don’t let their views influence their intrinsic value. Ellen DeGeneres taught this recently in defending her friendship with President George W. Bush. She explained that friendship (or any relationship) should not be based on having the same views.
5. Honor one another's beliefs and values
Make a promise to honor your partner’s beliefs and values, and ask them to honor yours. If you feel dishonored, talk about that in a mutually validating way. I have written many articles about how to have these safe, validating conversations. If you feel like the conversation is triggering one of you and is headed into a fight, call a timeout. Both agree to walk away and get yourself back in balance (safe instead of in a state of defensive fear) and try again.
Differences in religion are hard because they trigger a great deal of fear (since many value them of eternal consequence). You must both remember that neither of you can absolutely prove your religious views are true so, in the end, you are both choosing beliefs that work for you. Honor your partner's religious beliefs and their value in his or her life.
No matter what difference in belief or value is, see your partner as an equal and make it a rule to never talk down to him or her.
One final suggestion: Read this article together and ask what you can do to make your partner feel safe, honored and respected, and let him or her know what you need from them.
We get into trouble whenever we see any person, or group of people, as less, wrong, bad, or off-base and see ourselves as better, right, good or accurate. Humans tend to divide ourselves into groups and adopt arrogant, ego-driven ideas about how we are better. This is a tendency we have to become aware of and stop because I believe it is literally the cause of all the conflict on the planet.
If we can master some of the above suggestions first in our own homes, and create peace and love despite differences, we might bring peace to the rest of the planet. But it has to start with you and me.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am often asked: “What can I do to make my relationship better?” In this article, I want to share some of the basic tendencies of human behavior, which will help you understand the dynamics involved in your relationships and how to improve them.
In other articles, I have written about the two core fears and the four basic value systems, that drive human behavior, and I use them with my clients. The two core fears are fear of failure (I am not good enough) and fear of loss (I am not safe). We all experience both of them every day, to some degree, but each of us has one fear that is more dominant than the other. Thus, we are fear of failure dominant or fear of loss dominant.
It will be a game-changer in your relationships if you understand your own dominant fear as well as the other person’s. When you know their core fear, you will understand their most sensitive trigger — the one that brings out their worst behavior — and what they need to feel safe with you.
Safety is the most important factor in the success of a relationship. If you don’t feel safe with the other person, you cannot show up authentically and you cannot fully love them or yourself. If you don’t feel safe, the other person will always feel like an enemy, at some level, and you will often be at odds. When someone feels safe, they need nothing and have more to give.
2 core fears
Here are the two core fears, and how to make a person who is dominant in each fear feel safe:
Fear of failure dominant
If a person is fear of failure dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel criticized, judged, insulted, unwanted or abandoned. These experiences make them feel they aren’t good enough and put them out of balance.
When you have some feedback for these people, you should deliver it gently. You should also make sure they feel secure about how you see them. To make them feel safe with you, you must give them lots of validation and reassurance. If you can do this — and they see you as a cure to their fear, not a cause of their fear — they will thrive in the relationship.
Fear of loss dominant
If a person is fear of loss dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel taken from, mistreated, disregarded, or that people aren’t showing up for them the way they should be. These people need a certain amount of control over their environment to feel safe.
You must make sure they feel heard, respected and appreciated, and let them be in charge as much as you can. To make them feel safe with you, you should let them be the boss as much as possible, reassure them things will be OK, and take their advice without feeling criticized by it. Understand when they give suggestions or advice, they are only trying to help.
4 value systems
Understanding the other person’s core fear is only half the equation, though, so let me explain the four value systems and what people from each group value most.
Values people and connection: These people fill up by socializing with others, and they get most of their self-esteem and safety in the world from connection and relationships. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to communicate and spend time with you. They need more of your time and affection than you would, and they need you to listen to them, be affectionate and let them have lots of socializing with other humans to keep their bucket full. If they get these things they will feel good and have more to give you.
Values tasks: These people fill up and get self-esteem from getting things done. They need to accomplish and finish tasks, and have good performance in those tasks, to feel safe in the world. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to work and get projects finished. They treasure time alone to get their work done, and they need you to notice and validate what amazing workers they are. If they get tasks done and feel accomplished they will feel better and have more to give you.
Values things: These people get their sense of self-esteem from what they create, build or own. They are artists, inventors, business builders and beauties, and they highly value appearance and how things look. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their need to look good or create amazing things. This may require time away from you, but if they get the time to create things or make themselves look amazing they will have more to give you.
Values ideas: These people get their sense of self-esteem from knowledge, principles, morals, doing things right and knowing answers to problems. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you need to validate their knowledge and expertise in the subjects they are passionate about. This will mean listening to them a lot (even if you aren’t interested in that topic) and giving them the control to make sure things are right. If they have the chance to share, teach or learn more about what they care about, they will be happy and they will have more to give you.
Working with fears and values
The magic happens when you put these ideas together and figure out your partner’s core fear and value system.
For example: If they are fear of failure dominant and value tasks most, they are someone who needs validation about the work they do. Don’t compliment this person on their appearance; tell them how productive, brilliant and hard-working they are. Allow them to be task-focused, have time alone to work, and don’t ever make them the bad guy for being wired this way. Honor the fact that this is who they are and see them as amazing, and it will pay off big.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and task-focused, they need control much more than they need validation. Let this person have some things they can control. Understand that if you don’t get tasks done or if you do them wrong, they could feel mistreated or taken from.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and ideas focused, they need control and to be right as much as possible. They need you to listen to their ideas or knowledge and validate that they know their stuff. Make sure if you think they are wrong, you handle that gently and validate how smart they are.
Are you starting to see how the fears and values go together? When you understand the other person at this level, you will understand their wiring and it will be much easier to make them feel safe.
By the way, having the same fears and values doesn't necessarily make a relationship more successful. The success of a relationship really comes from how mindful, emotionally intelligent and in control of their own fears the parties are. If both people are working on their personal fear triggers and learning how to make themselves feel safe, they won’t expect their partner to do that for them.
No one can cure your fear issues but you, and you have to stay responsible for your inner state and happiness. If you are both learning how to stay balanced, happy, and out of fear, you can work through most issues maturely and will get along great.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Have you noticed in yourself (or others) a never-ending pursuit to change your situation and get something better? Do you find yourself believing if you could just get “there” or have "that," you’d be happy? But when you get “there” you realize you are already wishing you were somewhere else even further along?
The truth is, as long as you believe “better” is somewhere else, you will never be truly happy or present.
As I mentioned in last week’s article on dissatisfaction, humans naturally seek change and improvement because it ensures evolution and the human race continuing. You’re wired this way for a reason, but it doesn’t always serve you. The good news is when you become mindful of this subconscious instinct, you can stop believing that somewhere else is always better than where you are now.
You must understand that where you want to go or what you want to get isn’t necessarily going to be better; it often just gives you a different set of problems. Think about the young woman who says, “I am finally getting married, and all my problems will be over.” Every married person can attest that her problems aren't really over, just replaced by different problems.
This is the nature of life: No matter where you are or what you have there will also be things you don’t have that you wish you had. Likewise, there will be things you do have that you wish you didn’t have. This might be a letdown for you because your subconscious mind really believes in a magical future where everything is right. But don’t worry, I’m going to explain how to get your happy back today.
In my work as a human behavior expert, I have come to believe there are 12 types of people in the world and four value systems we can be wired for. Understanding these four systems can show you what you subconsciously believe you need more of to be happy. Remember, seeing your craving behavior is the first step to changing it. Which of these value systems resonates with you?
People-focused people: If you are this type of person, you tend to crave more friends, better or deeper connection, influence, adventure or comfort, and a better love interest. If you are this type, you don’t like to be alone and are often seeking more time with your current friends or new humans to be in relationships with. You believe once this happens, then you will be happy.
Task-focused people: If you are this type of person, you crave solutions to problems, things being right, projects completed and jobs done. You get frustrated with jobs like dishes and laundry, which are never finished. You don’t feel safe and satisfied until jobs are done and off your plate, but your never-ending to-do list means you can’t ever get there. You seek accomplishments, money that is a reward for hard work and better performance. You believe once these goals are met, then you will be happy.
Things-focused people: If you are this type of person, the things you own are the scorecard of your worth. You can’t get enough, newer or nicer things. You could have high standards and need the right labels or brands, You could be a shopaholic or a collector. If you could just build, create, buy, or own something better than exists now, then you would be happy.
Ideas-focused people: If you are this type, you crave solutions, change, order, better systems, more knowledge, learning around an obsessive hobby, or just being right and making sure people know it. You seek change in the world and better behavior from other people, then you will be happy.
Does one of those groups sound more like you? Take a minute and own what you are currently seeking that your happiness depends on. Sit in your craving for that and consciously decide how much happiness you are willing to give up today, for that craving. What if you chose to be happy right now without that thing? The truth is, if you can’t set aside your cravings or need for something else and choose to be happy now, you never will be.
In his song "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." You can still have goals for the future and strive to achieve them, just choose to see where you are today as your perfect classroom too. Don’t waste too much time wishing you were somewhere else or you will miss the amazing sunset, fulfilling moment, or precious time with loved ones today.
A gratitude practice that might help is making a list of everything you are grateful you don’t have and everything you are grateful you do have, and choose to focus on those.
You can do this.
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.