This was first published on KSL.com
We have all heard the saying "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." But for many, knowing this truth is not helping them change and react to life in a more positive way so they suffer less.
Many of us struggle to change the meanings and stories we apply to the situations in our lives. We keep having the same belief-thoughts and negative ideas that keep making us miserable. These go-to perspectives and beliefs are deeply ingrained, which makes them easy and natural to keep using. Stepping back from situations and choosing a different perspective is hard work.
Here are some things you can learn and do to shift your perspective and change your reactions to what life throws at you.
Nothing means anything
The events, situations or happenings of your life are the facts of your life. For example, someone cuts you off in traffic; your husband forgets your birthday; your child gets a bad grade in school; your mother-in-law says something negative about your parenting; you say the wrong thing and offend someone; your friend doesn't call you back all week; you don't get the promotion you wanted. Events like these happen all day, every day. It's important to understand that by themselves, they don't mean anything.
The problem — or negative feelings about these facts in your life — occurs when you immediately apply meaning or "a story" to the events. Whatever that meaning is, is what makes you miserable. In truth, you have the power to sit back and see what happened as just an actuality, without applying any meaning or story around it, or you can choose a story that serves you and is healthy.
There is an infinite number of reasons why something might happen, but you won't see the world of possibilities unless you first acknowledge that nothing means anything without you applying meaning to it. Every time something happens, sit back and say to yourself, "This doesn't mean anything. I must be careful about the meaning I apply to this. It could mean something very different than I think."
You give everything its meaning
Your perspective is everything. It creates how you think, feel and act around everything in your life. It's also important to understand that perspective is flimsy, loose and changeable. You can look at something from one angle and think it means one thing; but if you looked at it from another angle or perspective, it may look and feel totally different.
You have given everything all the meaning it has. You have either consciously or subconsciously applied ideas, assumptions and fears to each actuality, and it is these stories that cause your suffering.
Most of the stories you create come from your fears of failure and loss. You often apply meaning like "I am not good enough" to everything that happens, and this makes things feel more personal than they are. You might be quick to assume whatever happened was a shortcoming or fault in you, or you might have a belief like "I am not safe and can't trust others," which always makes things feel like someone else's fault. The trick is you have to take your thoughts less seriously.
Your thoughts don't mean anything
The subconscious belief-thoughts you adopted in childhood often determine the kind of stories you create. As a child, you might have experienced something that made you think "I am not loved," "I am not good enough," "I am not safe," or "I am not smart"; now you could be applying these belief-thoughts to every situation you encounter.
Watch for a pattern in your stories and see if they all end up in the same place. These could be thoughts like "people always let me down," "I am just not enough," "I am on my own," "no one cares," "people can't be trusted," and "I have to protect myself." The problem is these belief-thoughts are not facts; they are just story options, and there are always many other options that might serve you better.
Here is an exercise to help you find some of your ingrained belief-thoughts:
You are never upset for the reason you thinkYou think you are upset because of the actuality or event. Let's say your spouse said something negative about your cooking, for example. You think you are upset because of their rude, hurtful comment. But what is actually making you upset is the belief-thought that you aren't good enough, which is a belief you may have carried with you since childhood. If you didn't already have this belief-thought, you probably wouldn't be so upset by their comment. It is your belief-thoughts about yourself that drive the stories you apply.
This is not excusing your spouse nor their accountability for being rude, nor am I saying that you should accept and allow abusive behavior. My point is that in everyday situations like this, you will suffer less and give other people less power over you if you understood that you contribute to the problem with your thoughts. In other words, if you recognize that it's your thoughts about what happens that make you upset, you can change the story you are telling yourself and choose a perspective that serves you more.
For example, when your spouse says something negative about your cooking, you might choose a story that says you are bulletproof and what others think or say about your cooking doesn't change your value or diminish you in any way. With this perspective, you can let insults bounce off. You might also choose to address the problem with your spouse, but you will now do that from a strong, loving place — not a hurt, victim place. This will lead to a better conversation.
Everything is a lesson
After 20 years as a master life coach, I have found that my clients do better if they universally apply the belief-thought that everything that happens is a lesson showing up in their life to serve them in some way. This is not a provable fact, of course. There is no source for ultimate truth about why things happen, but we each must choose a belief-thought about the nature of our life journey. If we don't consciously choose one, we will subconsciously choose one.
Try playing with the belief-thought that the universe is on your side and constantly conspiring to serve and grow you. Choose to believe the universe uses everything that happens for your good, and every negative event can be a blessing in disguise to make you stronger, wiser or more loving.
Also, play with the belief that all humans have the same unchanging value and nothing can diminish you. This belief-thought will make you feel safer in the world and change your reactions to everything.
Changing your stories and meanings will take time and work, but you can start today by playing with these new beliefs and applying them to each situation. If you struggle with this because your childhood belief-thoughts are so strong and your reactions too fast when triggered, I recommend seeking a professional coach or counselor to help you shift your beliefs. This can make a huge difference faster than you think.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Most of the questions submitted to me from KSL.com readers are about getting along better with family members. When your relationships with your spouse, children, parents, in-laws and siblings are struggling, or there is disappointment, anger, resentment or distrust in the mix, it is terribly painful and can suck the joy from your life.
Most relationships that are in trouble started out with just minor issues, but over time the resentment and distrust have grown. Now that there has been a lot of bad water under the bridge, fixing the problem is much more difficult. Most people wait until a problem is huge before they seek help; they get therapy or life coaching as a last resort before splitting up instead of seeking help at the first sign of trouble, when a problem is easier to fix.
This also applies to your relationships with your children. Parents often tell me how they used to be close to their child and now their child won't talk to them. Most of the time, what has happened is a slow decline in trust, respect, validation, listening and communication. The change can be so gradual you don't realize the relationship is in trouble until it's almost too late.
There are things you can do to avoid these problems and/or address them earlier, but you have to first recognize a problem is happening. The following health checks can assist you in recognizing issues earlier.
Check the temperature of your relationship
Are things 'too hot' with conflict?
Is either of you feeling angry, defensive, confrontational, volatile or bothered? Is there conflict and fighting every week? Does someone get offended a few times a week? Even if this happens once a month, it is a sign that there is a problem that requires attention.
Heat in the relationship often means there is a fear of loss, mistreatment or feeling deprived in play. It could mean you or the other person is struggling with not feeling safe. They might be on the lookout for offenses in order to protect themselves. This is a big sign of trouble, but it's not hard to fix if addressed early.
You might show your partner this article and say, "I think we run hot. What do you think?" Ask questions about how safe they feel in the relationship and just listen. Don't defend yourself or try to fix it; just be willing to listen to how they feel and validate their right to have those feelings today. You could say "I can understand how you might feel this way. Thanks for sharing with me. Would you ever be open to getting some relationship help with this before it gets any bigger?"
Don't be afraid that things will get worse, scarier or more complicated if you seek help — it won't. Learning new skills and tools can actually turn things around quickly. Heat in a relationship is something to watch closely and remedy as soon as you can. Reassure the person that you are on their side and have their back and want this relationship to thrive. Seek some professional help and get some skills and tools to help you resolve conflict in a calm, mature, less emotional way.
Are things 'too cold,' meaning quiet or distant?
Is there distance between you? Do you feel there is a wedge of some kind in play? Is something dividing you? This is something you want to address right now, while the distance is narrow. If you let this issue fester and grow, it can become as large as the Grand Canyon, making it almost impossible to cross.
If one of you has the habit of getting cold and quiet when bothered, this is not healthy relationship behavior. It could mean you don't have the skills and tools necessary to talk about the issue or you don't feel safe enough with your spouse to try talking about it. Either way, you need to learn how to make yourself feel safe so you can address issues and problems in the moment, and not stuff them.
Again, I recommend you seek professional help on communication, strength and self-esteem. Don't wait for years of coldness to pass by and freeze the relationship up.
As you know, a healthy body temperature is on average 98 degrees Fahrenheit. But even a tiny three-point increase means you have a fever of 101 and are really sick. It doesn't take much to knock your relationship out of balance, too.
A healthy relationship temperature is one where both parties feel safe with each other and there is mutual love, respect, admiration and appreciation. Check the temperature every day and don't let heat or cold continue untreated. I have written many articles on solving specific relationship problems in the past that you can find searching KSL.com
Take the relationship blood pressure
What direction is your relationship pressure going? If it is not rising/improving, then it is going down. Just like blood is constantly on the move in your body, your relationship is always moving. It is either getting stronger or it is weakening.
What are you doing to move it forward and improve it right now? Are you reading books together, engaged in life coaching or counseling, spending quality time together, asking questions and listening, validating each other, doing nice things, planning dates, making time for intimacy, or showing that you admire, respect and appreciate your partner? Check your blood pressure and make sure you are doing something each day to keep the relationship rising. See if your partner is on board to work on this together.
How much does this relationship weigh?
Is your relationship heavy or light? Is it a place that feels sluggish and weighted down or is it light, happy and fun?
You might have gone through some heavy stuff together, and this adds burden and strain to your relationship. If this is the case, you may need some professional help to give you skills and tools for coping, being resilient and bouncing back.
In the meantime, commit to bringing more joy and fun into the relationship. Make it fun and light to be with you. Plan fun activities together, watch funny movies, go outside, have some adventure, and start choosing some joy every day. If you or your partner are struggling with depression and this sounds nearly impossible, get some help with this. Don't let the heaviness become a permanent thing.
Check for investment in your relationship health
For any relationship to be healthy it requires investment. It might require you to invest some money — for dates, activities and fun together — and it will absolutely require an investment of time and energy.
Your time is your most limited resource and there are many things competing for it. You have many responsibilities and demands that make it easy to lose track of what is most important, but your relationships with the people you love, in the end, will always be the thing that matters most. Ask yourself how you can invest in making sure your relationship is healthy.
There are many options that don't cost a lot. You can read relationship books from the library. You can go on free dates like hikes or picnics. But all of these require you to invest some time and energy into it. I promise it will be worth it.
All your relationships require investment to maintain, and even more investment if you want them to thrive. This applies to spouses, partners, children, parents, in-laws and friends. You can health check all these relationships daily to help you see where extra TLC or attention is needed.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim answers a reader's question and explains the ways being and communicating online has made us meaner to each other.
I was recently "ghosted" by my partner. Along with the sadness of the breakup, I am also feeling emotions of embarrassment and shock. What red flags do people who "ghost" usually exhibit? How do you deal with the trust and self-esteem issues that almost feel inevitable? Maybe you could write about not doing this to other people and explain why people are so mean online?
There have been many changes in our world in the last two years, and it appears that we are treating our fellow human beings worse than ever. It seems like online/tele-everything is lessening our ability to treat other humans with love and respect.
A recent article in the Deseret News says, "People seem to have so many things to be angry about today, whether it's wearing masks or not wearing them, keeping schools open or refusing to close them, getting vaccinated or thinking it's dangerous, or just feeling powerless against forces out of their control."
The whole world is functioning in a fear of loss state, where they feel at risk and believe they must protect themselves from other people. The pandemic has made us afraid of each other and we often see other humans as a threat — and this is not just about catching the virus. We see people who have different views, look different, or live differently as more threatening than ever, too.
We also have a greater tendency to say rude things online than we ever would face to face. I have experienced this with negative comments to my articles here. This phenomenon is known as the online disinhibition effect. As a KQED article explains it as, "Essentially, being online lowers your inhibitions. This often results in people either behaving meaner or opening up more online than they normally would in face-to-face conversations."
A recent survey from Pew Research showed that 40% of American adults have personally experienced abuse online. While we generally conduct real-life interactions with strangers politely and respectfully, online we can be horrible.
Essentially, being online lowers your inhibitions. This often results in people either behaving meaner or opening up more online than they normally would in face-to-face conversations. -Lauren Farrar, KQED
This is especially true in high schools and junior high schools, where we see cyberbullying causing problems, and in online dating. In the first quarter of 2020, Tinder reported 3 billion swipes in a single day. But, this is not necessarily a good thing.
We are starting to treat dating about as seriously as a video game or a take-out order, as lifestyle writer Mary Crace Garis says. In an article for Well+Good, Garis quotes Camille Virginia, founder of the relationship coaching service Master Offline Dating, thus: "There's a direct correlation between the investment of effort to meet someone and how much value gets placed on that person, When you put the same amount of effort into swiping on a dating app as you would into ordering Chinese takeout for lunch, you're going to subconsciously value the person in that moment about the same as you do the food. I'd actually argue most people would value their Chinese food even more than the people they're swiping on."
The problem is that dating apps also make it seem like there is an endless number of other options ready and waiting if you don't like the one you are talking to. This, along with the fact that dating apps feel a little like a video game, can make us forget that real people with real feelings are involved.
We also have people who are online dating but who have no intention of actual dating at the end of it. They might be just looking around, dipping a toe in, but they often quickly decide they aren't up for it and disappear. Some like spending time swiping and browsing people, but they aren't actually ready to date or even single yet.
This has created a whole new world of terrible human behaviors like ghosting, cloaking, bread crumbing, and zombieing other people. It's important to know about these terms because teens and young adults use these techniques in their cyberbullying.
Let's clarify a few of them now:
All of the behaviors listed above are driven by fear. People are afraid of real communication, honesty, vulnerability and owning who they are and where they are. You might watch out for people who are very slow in moving forward, aren't good at communicating, and aren't willing to take the next step to video chat or meet. Those are red flags that they are only interested in swiping and then quickly off to the next option.
If you are going to participate in online dating or any online interaction with other humans, you should be ready to handle these interactions with honesty, respect and courage. Care enough to consider how they will feel and what they need. People would rather hear the truth — even if it hurts — than they would be left totally confused.
If you have been ghosted online or treated disrespectfully, remember that it isn't really about you at all. It happened because that person is scared and functioning in fear. They don't have the confidence to handle themselves in a respectful way. They might think they need to treat others badly to feel powerful and good, but this never leads to happiness.
You probably dodged a bullet here. It's better to find out that they aren't ready for a real relationship/friendship or aren't right for you now than later.
Do not allow this person to lessen your intrinsic value as a person. You have the same value as every other human on the planet and what one person thinks of you doesn't change anything. Understand the right person for you will show up and love you exactly as you are. You may have to go through a lot of scared, immature, unprepared, people online to find the one you are looking for, but don't give up. Just go into any online networking knowing that these common bad behaviors happen to everyone, and be ready to shrug them off when they happen to you.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Think of some people in your life that you struggle to get along with, judge, dislike, or who have behaviors that push your buttons or drive you crazy.
These are very important people in your life because they show you things about yourself and your values. They show you parts of yourself that you struggle to love, and they can be amazing teachers if you decide to see them that way.
These people typically bother or annoy you for one of three reasons.
The 4 basic value systems
Intrinsic value system (focus on people)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value relationships, people, personal growth, connection, communication and spirituality. You would rather spend your time connecting and talking with people than anything else. You value the things in the other three categories, but you might undervalue getting tasks done, time efficiency, strict rules, systems, order and structure.
You tend to be bothered by people who are arrogant, selfish, don't listen, get angry, are narcissistic, oblivious, discourteous, unfriendly or are cold or rude to other people. You don't understand people who don't put connecting with people first.
Extrinsic value system (focus on tasks)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value tasks, getting things done, time efficiency, hard work, creation, creativity, discipline, organization and accomplishing goals. You would rather spend your time getting work done or accomplishing goals than anything else.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue strict rules, systems, communication, connection and listening to people. You value the people in your life most, but you don't always show it because you are so busy getting tasks done.
You tend to be bothered by people who give unsolicited advice, are bossy, arrogant, critical or controlling, and rule followers, as well as people who don't pay attention, seem entitled, lazy, messy, or consistently late, unorganized or irresponsible. You don't understand people who talk for hours don't get tasks finished.
Extrinsic value system (focus on things)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value material things, quality, beauty, creativity, art, building things, competition, success and being the best at what you do. You would rather spend your time earning and buying things, being creative or productive, or building things.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue communication, connection and listening to others, organization, rules, systems and learning things that aren't useful.
You tend to be irritated by or judge people who don't care about appearances, seem lazy or messy, are competitive, don't value success, don't work hard, or are irresponsible or inconsiderate.
Systemic value system (focus on ideas)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value organization, knowledge, learning, systems, rules, processes, principles, values and doing the right things the right way. You have strong moral values and love sharing ideas, teaching and learning. You would rather spend your time learning, creating systems, teaching processes, doing good work, caring for family and doing the right thing.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue listening, empathy, acceptance, connection, appearances, material things and creativity. You tend to be irritated by or judge people who act like know-it-alls, have to be right, are overly opinionated, don't listen, interrupt, are oblivious or discourteous, don't pay attention or are careless, lazy, irresponsible or inconsiderate. People who do wrong or who disagree with your moral principles also really bother you.
Importance of the value systems
Understanding what you value and undervalue helps you understand why you are bothered by certain people. You may not realize it, but you subconsciously believe that the way you are (and what you value) is the right way and everyone should be like you. But the world needs people who are different from you; it needs people with different strengths to make everything run.
We need people who place listening to others above getting things done. We also need people who put getting things done first. We need rule followers and we need rule breakers to push limits. There is a place for everyone.
People who are different from you can also provide amazing lessons. They show you the things you need to work on and change because you always judge people who have the same bad behaviors you have but don't like about yourself. These people serve as mirrors for you and they can help you to both forgive yourself and make needed changes.
People you don't like also give you the opportunity to stretch the limits of your love, which helps you learn to love yourself. Your ability to love others with their faults and flaws is tied to your ability to love yourself in spite of your faults and flaws. As you learn to accept and appreciate them, your ability to love yourself improves.
The 4 A's
Below is a 4-step process — The 4 A's — which help you practice accepting both yourself and the people who bother you.
Notice the bad behaviors in yourself and the bad behavior in others that bothers you. What is it really about? Is it tied to your value system? Can you understand why this behavior pushes your buttons? Does this person threaten your sense of safety? You can't work on changing this until you gain awareness around what it is. Write down a list of the people and behaviors that bother you and commit to working on shifting your mindset around them.
Practice honoring and respecting each person's right to be the way they are. They are on their unique, perfect classroom journey, which is very different from yours. We have different value systems, life experiences and personality traits, but we all have the same intrinsic value as every other person on the planet. We all have things we need to change and work on, but we have a right to be where we are in our unique process of growth. Allow every person to be where and who they are, and have tolerance, compassion and respect for them.
This is about accepting these people for their differences, variety, interest, adventure and lessons they provide you. You can embrace the experience of having these interesting (yet challenging) people in your life. You can accept them as perfect teachers in your classroom and even embrace them. As you practice this and truly send love and compassion their way, you will find your capacity to love the darkest parts of yourself will increase. The more you accept others, the more you will accept yourself.
Everyone has something to teach you and is making a contribution to your journey. Maybe it lies in causing your problems that you then get the opportunity to work through and solve. Maybe it lies in pushing your buttons so you get to work on patience, flexibility and compassion. Whatever it is, each person is serving you in some way. Work towards feeling grateful and even appreciating them for the role they play in your classroom. You must also work on appreciating your own faults and flaws for the beautiful lessons they provide: They keep you humble, make you less judgmental and give you opportunities to grow.
This doesn't mean you have to be friends, hang out or have relationships with the people who bother you. It just means that you practice seeing them as the lesson they are and appreciating them from afar so you can have more positive feelings than negative ones.
You can do this.
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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.