This was first published on KSL.com
I have a close relative who acts like he is perfect at everything, while he makes up terrible lies about my wife and tells them to me, just to cause problems in our relationship. He also says all kinds of weird and gross things to us that seem highly inappropriate. I once made a comment about how Santa Claus isn’t real, and he told me (in all seriousness) that I could be excommunicated for saying that. Obviously, he is not right in the head and I don’t really want to be around him, but as I said, he is a close relative so that isn’t an option. What do you do with a situation like this?
The truth is most human beings are a little quirky, but some are really quite unusual. It is easy with these people to go to a place of irritation, annoyance and judgment, and even see them as broken, weird or less than the rest of us. Some people are even unstable mentally or emotionally and may be dangerous, so it’s understandable to feel threatened or unsafe around them.
Here are some things you can do if you have to live with, work near or otherwise deal with a really quirky human.
1. Choose a system for determining the value of human beings.
There is no absolute truth about the real value of a human being. Every religion and philosopher on the planet has an opinion about it, but no one can prove their theory. This leaves us with the opportunity to choose a perspective. We believe you basically have two options:
(1) You can choose to see human value as changeable and in question.
This means our value can go up and down based on our performance, appearance and property. it means if you lose weight, make more money, or perform perfectly you may feel your value has gone up, and you might even feel better than other people. But if it can go up, it can also go down. So if you make mistakes, gain weight, lose your job or your family, you could also feel less than other people.
As long as you believe human value can change (and go up and down) you will also always see some human beings as having more value than other human beings because these two ideas go together. As long as you choose this system you will always be afraid you aren’t quite good enough too. You will feel this way because no matter how hard you try to perform perfectly or look perfect, you will always find people who appear better. This system for determining the value of human beings always leaves you feeling inadequate. But you can still choose it if you want to. Or you can choose this next option.
(2) You can choose to see all human beings as having the same, unchangeable value.
This means you decide to base all human value on our intrinsic worth as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, totally unique human souls, and all of us (no matter how quirky) will always be that and have the same worth. It is true that some humans will try harder, contribute more to society, and work to learn and grow, while others will not accomplish much, but these are differences in our extrinsic journey and choices and do not have to affect our intrinsic worth. At least you can see it that way if you want to.
You might want to consider choosing this system because it does two amazing things. First, it means you cannot fail, you can only learn. This perspective sees life as a classroom, not a test. With this perspective, you can make mistakes, which create amazing lessons and facilitate growth, but they never change your value. This helps you to have rock solid self-esteem (without arrogance or the tendency to see yourself as better than others, because they always have the same value as you).
Second, it helps you to stay out of judgment by seeing all humans as different (since no one on the planet gets the same classroom journey as anyone else) but all equal in value. This perspective creates compassion and makes it easier to tolerate and even accept the quirkiness in others.
2. Identify your Personality Type.
After 16 years as life coaches and working with thousands of people, we believe there are only 12 types of people in the world. When you know your type it helps you to accept your own strengths and weaknesses, and see your own quirky behavior more accurately. It also helps you to stop trying to be what others are, or expect them to be like you. Instead, you appreciate the interesting differences in us all. what are the personality types, how do we find out which personality type we are?
3. Identify your (and their) balanced and unbalanced behaviors.
Understanding human behavior is simple when you understand we all function every moment, of every day, in one of two states. A trust and love balanced state, where we are at our best, and a fear state where our worst behavior comes out. When you can accept your own quirkiness, you usually become more tolerant and accepting of other people’s quirkiness too.
We believe each of us has different bad relationship behavior that comes out when our fears are triggered, and understanding yours and theirs will help you have more compassion. You will also start seeing bad behavior as scared behavior. All bad behavior shows up when someone is in a fear driven state.
When your quirky relative behaves badly, you will understand that he is either trying to create a sense of value, to quiet his fear of failure (the fear he isn’t good enough) or he is trying to create a place where he feels safe from loss. Most of the time illogical, dishonest or irrational behavior comes from trying to cover a deep fear of failure or inadequacy. Or he may actually have a brain problem that means his thinking is just inaccurate and skewed. Either way, you must let the quirky be where they are in their unique journey.
4. Honor their right to be where and how they are.
Every one of us is experiencing a totally unique, interesting and difficult classroom journey. No one on the planet will ever get the same, genes, family, upbringing and the exact combination of life experiences that you got. This means (if we see life as school) that we are all in different classes. You will never know why their journey is what it is and what lessons they are supposed to be learning from their journey. But you can trust there is reason, purpose and meaning in everything being as it is.
The amazing Viktor Frankl, in a concentration camp during World War II asked himself the question, "Am I here by accident, is it just random bad luck? Or is there purpose for my being right here having this experience?"
He pondered this question trying to determine which idea was truth. In the end, he decided there is no way to know truth on this, and this leaves us with the power to choose our mindset. He found when he chose to see life as random bad luck he suffered more, but when he chose to see meaning and purpose in the experience, it made him want to rise and do something positive with it.
"In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning," Frankl wrote in his popular book "Man’s Search for Meaning."
We can choose, likewise, to trust there is purpose in our unique journey being what it is (and with this quirky person in it). We may never know the exact reason this experience was perfect for us, but we can still choose to trust there is one.
This will help us to allow each person to be who and where they are, without judgment that they should be anything different. We can live and let live and practice loving tolerance and wisdom.
5. Have the wisdom to choose your battles.
If we choose to see our journey (and interactions with the quirky people around us) as our perfect classroom, we know resistance is futile. Instead of resisting what is and expecting people and situations to be different than what they are, we embrace them and are grateful for what they can teach us.
This doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve situations or relationships, but when there is little in your control, you will see it is wiser to let the situation be whatever weird thing it is and you don’t let it upset you. Your weird relative is providing some interesting lesson in your life, choose not to suffer too much about it.
The amount that you suffer over the quirky people and lessons in your life is totally up to you. No one can make you upset without your permission and participation. You can choose peace, trust and a feeling of safety in every moment, even when things feel weird. Choose to trust there is order in the universe and the author of it all — is in charge. Trust that the universe is a wise teacher who knows what it’s doing it will make it easier to cope when things feel crazy.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are Master Life Coaches who host an internet radio show called Relationship Radio on Voice American and iTunea. Learn more at www.12shapes.com
This was first published on FamilyShare.com
As a master life coach for the past 16 years, I’ve discovered some ground-breaking people science that could drastically improve your marriage, but he following tips could also be used to help you become an amazing parent, friend or co-worker too.
When you understand another person on this level and work on these things, you can create a healthy relationship with almost anyone.
1. Know what your spouse values most
A large portion of human behavior is driven by what we value most. We believe there are four value categories to choose from. See if you can tell which one is true for your wife.
Some of us value people most. These people thrive with connection and hate to be alone. They need connection and communication and are almost always seeking companionship. They treasure and nurture relationships all the time.
Some of us value tasks most. These people wake early in the morning with a to-do list in hand. They are driven to get things done and can be workaholics. They feel a sense of value in the world from what they accomplish.
Some of us value things most. These are the artists, inventors and tycoons. They can be the beautiful models or successful businessmen, and they love beautiful, rich, amazing things.
Some of us value ideas most. These people have strong opinions, great knowledge and passion about principles. They can talk a lot about their ideas and get offended if you don’t agree or do things their way.
2. Validate your spouse on those things
Everyone needs validation that they are appreciate, admired, respected and wanted. But the best validation you can give your spouse is validation around what they value most.
If they value people most, validate and praise their ability to connect with others and build great relationships. Notice how kind, compassionate, intuitive and friendly they are. Never make them feel inadequate because they don’t like to be alone — it’s just a beautiful part of who they are.
If they value tasks most, validate and praise their accomplishments, their know-how, their hard work and brilliance. Never make them feel inferior because they can’t relax and are always thinking about tasks.
If they value things most, validate and praise their appearance, leadership skills, or inventions and brilliance. Notice what they spend time doing, building or creating and acknowledge the talent it takes to create it. Never make them feel inadequate because they are so focused on the things of the world.
If they value ideas most, validate their right to think the way they do. Acknowledge the time it takes to learn about what interests them, and praise their desire to do everything right. If you disagree with them, acknowledge their right to their opinions and still praise their commitment to their values.
3. Know what your spouse fears most
There are two core fears, and one will always be a bigger trigger.
Does this person fear failure most? Are they deeply insecure about what other people think of them? Do they feel devastated when they get any negative feedback? Do they need a great deal of validation to feel they have any value?
Does this person fear loss most? Do they often feel mistreated, taken from, worried or stressed? Do they notice when things aren’t fair and tend to keep score? Do they get angry or upset when things don’t go the way they want them to?
4. Once you understand your spouse's fear triggers, understand what they need most when they are triggered
If this person fears failure most, they need lots of validation that they have the same exact value as every other human being and no matter what they do, they will always be enough. Remind this person often that their value is not tied to their appearance, performance, property or the opinions of other people. If you need to give some feedback, start with a lot of appreciation and validation first and then ask if they would do this one thing different moving forward.
If this person fears loss most, they need lots of reassurance that things will be OK and that no one is trying to do them wrong. Remind them you are always on their side and it’s you two against problems, not you two against each other. Remind them there is order in the universe and when things go wrong, they are still here to teach us something or benefit us in some way.
When you can pull them out of their fear reactions, they will feel more safe in the world, and they will behave much better towards you.
5. Work on your own fear triggers
Make sure you understand which of the two core fears is your bigger trigger. Your main job on this planet is to improve yourself and grow (not fix the other person). If you spent all your time working on not reacting to fear yourself and showing up in trust and love, all your relationships would be amazing.
Be constantly responsible for your own fear-driven behavior, low self-esteem and overblown reactions. Work on being more emotionally mature and respond to issues that trigger you with patience, wisdom and love. If you need some additional tools and skills to get here, seek out a coach or counselor to help you.
6. See the relationship accurately
If the main objective for our being on this planet is to grow and learn, then this relationship is your classroom and this person is your perfect teacher. They often teach you by pushing your buttons though, so you can see your weaknesses and fear reactions and work on them. Every day this person is probably giving you opportunities to practice, rise and become the person you are really meant to be.
When you see your relationship every day as YOUR classroom, you will stay focused on your own self-improvement, which is exactly where you need to be.
Understanding human behavior at this level will help you to be an amazing spouse and an amazing, wise and balanced human being.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12 Shapes Inc a company specializing in improving human behavior and relationships. Visit www.12shapes.com to take the 12 Shapes Relationship Survey and start improving your relationships today.
I want you to address in a column what you do when family members aren't speaking. How do you tactfully handle family holiday parties when they refuse to be in the same place as each other, but you have to invite them both? One has issued an ultimatum that they want us to choose sides, which we feel is not the right thing to do. Is there any way to navigate these bad relationships or fix them? Please give us some advice.
Many people suffer from depression and anxiety around the holidays. Some have it because they have no family to be with, others have it because they do have family to be with. Family gatherings can be a real challenge if there is resentment, hurt feelings, and conflict between your guests.
We recommend you send this article to both parties and tell them you love and support them, and just want everyone to suffer less this holiday season. Explain that you have no judgment around this issue and totally understand how hard it is to deal with these conflicts, but you just want to help both sides heal.
I believe we are on this planet for one reason — to learn, grow and become better. Our main objective is to learn to love ourselves and other people at a deeper level. If this is true, forgiving would be the No. 1 most important lesson, and it's a challenging one too because our ego side really likes to hold onto judgment.
It’s easy to love people who are kind and good to us. Loving people who hurt us is the challenge that pushes us and forces us to rise. It shows us the limits of our love and gives us the chance to stretch and grow them.
If you are going to change how you feel about an offense, you will need to learn to look at the situation in a new way. This article is going to help you do that. You may feel like you aren’t ready, but "I'm not ready" is just an excuse we use when we can't articulate the real reason we don't want to forgive.
You must identify the real reason you are holding onto this offense and don't want to forgive it. Here are some possibilities:
1. Remember none of us are perfect.
This person did something wrong and it sounds like this was an especially painful wrong, but you aren’t perfect either. You may not have made this mistake, but you have made others. You must remember that you are both imperfect, struggling students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn, who both deserve forgiveness.
You don’t want every mistake you ever made held against you forever. In order to feel forgiven for your past wrongs, you must give others the same.
2. You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing.
No situation can cause you pain without your participation in it. Your thoughts and feelings are under your control and this means no one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my previous KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You must grasp the truth that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You can feel better right now if you want to. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready now.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.
You both have the same value no matter how many mistakes either of you makes. This is true because life is a classroom, not a test, and our value isn't on the line.
That does not mean we can sit back and stop improving though. It means our lack of knowledge and need for improvement doesn’t affect our intrinsic value. We have the same intrinsic value regardless of the amount of learning we still need to do. You want this principle to be true because you want it to be true for you.
4. Forgiveness happens best when you see yourself and others accurately
Forgiveness will happen when you see yourself and others as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn. Most of us think forgiving is about seeing people as guilty and then trying to pardon them for those mistakes. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact they are guilty. Forgiveness will never work when it’s a gift undeserved.
Instead, let all the wrongs, pain and hurt on both sides of this be wiped clean of all selfish, fear-based, bad behavior. It is time to let go and accept divine forgiveness for both of you. Let the other person be a “work in progress” and don’t crucify yourself or them for mistakes. Accept the gift of forgiveness and see life as a classroom where mistakes don’t count against our value. We can just all erase them all and try again.
5. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and it is the only way to peace, confidence and security.
This is universal law. The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over every day. What energy do you want to live in? You have two options — you can live in judgment, blame and anger energy? Or forgiveness, peace and joy energy?
Judgment energy means you stand in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes. If you choose this mindset, you are giving power to the idea that people can be "not good enough" and should be judged harshly, which will come back on you too. You will always struggle with your own self-esteem and this energy will feel heavy, negative and unhappy.
Your other option is a forgiveness energy. Here you choose to forgive yourself and others, and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake either of you has ever made. You choose to see these mistakes for what they really are, bad behavior born of confusion, self-doubt, lack of knowledge, low self-esteem and fear. In this place, you choose to see everyone as innocent and forgiven and let them (and you) start over with a clean slate every day.
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself and this energy will be light, peaceful and happy.
The question is: How do you want to live?
Consider letting go of the past offense and showing up at the family gathering with nothing but love and compassion in your heart. This doesn’t mean you have to be close to or deal with the other person, but it does mean treating them with respect, compassion and kindness. It means understanding that negative feelings hurt you more than they hurt them. It means choosing to focus on gratitude and being the love in the room, then on the past and casting blame.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com - She is the author of the new e-book Fearless Forgiving: The clarity path to peace - you can get this inexpensive e-book on amazon here.
I love my spouse, but there is a lot of fighting in our marriage. My spouse gets offended really easy and finds fault in me often, which leads to a lot of conflict and some pretty mean, immature and even rude behavior. The thing is, there are other times when my spouse is really wonderful. We have been like this for so long, to some degree, I’m starting to think it’s normal, though I have friends who have said the way she treats me isn’t OK. I am starting to think the amount of conflict and the degree of selfishness is more than I should put up with. When is behavior bad enough that I should walk away? What is reasonable fighting behavior and what’s not? Am I an idiot to stick with this?
Some conflict, disagreements and hurt feelings happen in every relationship because we are all going to irritate, disappoint or offend our partner on occasion. The question is, do you and your partner have the skills to resolve these issues in a healthy, rational, productive way? Can you have mature, rational conversations about these disagreements without getting angry or out of control?
If you came from a family with parents who had these skills, you may have them, but for many people that wasn’t the case. If your parents were slightly emotionally immature, angry or demonstrated any unhealthy relationship behavior, you are going to need to take it upon yourself to gain some communication and conflict resolution tools. I wish they taught these kinds of skills in school or at church, but they don’t, so you may have to reach out to a mental health professional, coach, or counselor to learn some.
In this article, I am going to give you three categories of relationship “fighting” behavior, along with some suggestions for dealing with each. You definitely need to know what behavior is unacceptable, what is grounds for leaving, and what would be considered normal.
Here are the three "fighting" behavior categories:
1. Garden-variety bad behavior caused by fear and stress.
To be in this category, the bad behavior can’t show up often, but when it does, it’s based in being stressed, tired, hungry or discouraged, and though it might be annoying, immature, grouchy or even a little inconsiderate, it’s not directly hurtful and would be appropriate to ignore or let go, without needing to bring it up to your partner. No one is perfect and everyone will have a bad day on occasion, snap, lose their temper or say something stupid.
When your partner offends you with this kind of behavior, don’t make a big deal about it. Forgive them and let it go. You will do this because you want your small “mess-ups” and bad days to be forgiven too. If you bring up every little thing your partner does wrong, you will kill the relationship. If your partner starts to live here and it becomes an everyday thing though, it would move into category two.
2. Bad behavior that happens too often, is hurtful, harsh or unkind
This behavior should not be ignored. This category includes intentionally or unintentionally hurting your feelings, yelling, being inconsiderate, hitting or breaking things, being unkind, making jokes at your expense, being unfair or selfish on a regular basis. If these behaviors show up, you should have a mutually validating conversation about it and ask your spouse to treat you differently in the future.
This kind of conversation requires you to not cast your spouse as the bad one and talk down to them. It means recognizing you both have the same value and are both imperfect, but you need to both listen to how the other person feels and what they need and then ask them to do the same for you. At the end of this conversation, you will ask your partner if they would be willing to change some things moving forward or get some help to change them if necessary.
If your partner isn't willing to change these behaviors and refuses professional help, you may find yourself in category three.
3. Bad behavior that should not be tolerated.
If your partner is not changing their inappropriate behavior from category two, or their behavior has escalated to the behavior described below, it is appropriate to insist on professional help or be prepared to end the relationship. No one deserves to stay in a relationship where they are abused or feel unsafe and uncared for.
The following types of behavior are unacceptable:
Here are some relationship rules you might want to institute with your partner to prevent inappropriate fighting behavior.
1. If either of our bad behavior is something the other can let go and forgive (never to think about it or bring it up again), then we should. If you are going to hold onto this offense, let it fester and keep bothering you, building up resentment toward your partner, adding it to the growing laundry list of their faults, then you should bring it up and work through it.
2. Both commit to bringing up any offenses in a mature and loving way. This means you cannot make your spouse the bad guy or prove you are right. These conversations must be about improving your relationship and should include things each person can do to show up better for the other because you love each other. (Read about having validating conversations in my article about getting your spouse to treat you better.) You should never attack your partner nor focus on just their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the different behavior you want to see in the future.
3. Both commit to learning how to have mutually validating conversations where each partner gets a chance to have his say and express his feelings without interruption. Both should feel that the other honors and respects their right to have their opinion, even if they disagree with it. Then together, the couple should create a win-win, compromise solution. They should try to make it the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other.
If you cannot find a win-win solution on your own, you could ask a third party to meet with you and help find a compromise. A religious leader, coach or counselor could help with that.
4. Needing some time and space to process and think things through leads to more appropriate “fighting” behavior. Couples must have the right to call a “timeout” and have that request honored. This is not about giving your partner the silent treatment or ignoring them or getting out of a conversation. This is about each of you having the right to call a “timeout” so you can calm down and get clear before finishing the conversation and the other person honoring that. This needs to be agreed on ahead of time, that whenever one of you call it, the other will honor it and walk away for a while.
In your case, remember you are the only one entitled to know whether it’s time to move on, or if your perfect classroom is to stay and keep working on it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Listen to your heart and inner truth, and it will tell you what's right for you.
In the meantime work on the relationship rules above and see if that helps.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches with 30 combined years in personal development and relationship skills. They are human behavior experts.
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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.