This was first published on KSL.com
Every year I make a recommendation of a resolution you could make that would make the biggest difference in your life. (Look at past suggestions here — forgiveness, better communication skills, seeing all people as the same, etc.)
You have many great options, but this year I would encourage you to make one important daily goal — to trust God, the universe and the process of life more and fear and worry less.
If you trust the universe and life that they are always on your side, even conspiring to serve you and educate you every second of your life, you will see everything as a blessing and you will have more joy.
Right now, you may suffer daily fron a fear of loss, which is the fear of everything that could go wrong in your life. Right now, you may see life and the universe as random and chaotic (at least at the subconscious level). You may believe that because of free agency, we are all running around making choices that affect other people’s journeys and because of that you can lose things or opportunities you should have had. You may believe you can ruin your life or that others could ruin it. All of this leads to stress, worry, anger, distrust and misery, but there is a way out.
You could choose to see life as a perfect, divine, classroom where nothing can go wrong and you can’t lose anything you should have had, because you and the universe are always creating your perfect classroom journey, every second of every day. (When I say “perfect” I don’t mean that you are always going to like it though. I define perfect as: exactly fitting a certain situation or for a certain purpose.)
I believe the universe is a wise teacher and life is a perfect classroom. This means every experience is always the perfectly fitting lesson for each of us at that time. It means we can't lose anything unless it is our perfect classroom to lose it and if we trusted this we would suffer somewhat less.
But each of us must accept this idea as a principle of truth, for it to have power in our life, so let me explain why I believe it is truth.
Everywhere I look in the universe I see perfect order. I believe God is a God of order. I also believe his ultimate objective is the education and growth of us, his children. I believe God created this universe to be our classroom and this universe does nothing except conspire to serve and educate us, because that is its job.
I don’t believe in predestination though. I believe we have complete free agency and are co-creating our journey with the universe every day. I believe it responds to everything you think, choose, believe and do, and brings you the perfect lessons you need next.
I believe this is truth because I see so much divine order in the universe that it staggers my imagination. There are millions of coincidences operating with infinite precision all around us and they could be signs to us that a higher power is in charge. Let me give you some examples:
Myles Standish, a mathematical astronomer and a former professor at Yale University, said, "if the Earth rotated just a fraction of a percent faster or slower, or if it was just a fraction closer or further away from the sun, or if it rotated at a slightly different speed, or if the Moon were positioned differently or rotated and went around the Earth at a slightly different speed, life on Earth would not be possible."
But there is more.
Amir Aczel, author of the book "Why Science Does Not Disprove God," said, “The odds against a universe [like ours existing] with life and intelligence on it [as we are] are at most 1 to a number that has a 1 followed by 10 raised to the power of 117 zeros.”
I believe that a God, who is powerful enough to create a universe with this much perfect order, would never leave the thing he cares about most — your education — to random chance.
Do you really think he sent you down here to muddle through whatever chaos came your way, just hoping you would learn something of value from the battle?
Or do you think he is capable of creating a universe with the forces necessary to educate each soul in the exact way that soul needs to be educated?
God is the author of this whole thing, the universe, you, and your life. There are no accidents or coincidences, and we are safe in God’s hands the entire time. (At least this is a perspective you can choose to have, which will have an amazing and postiive effect on your life.)
You simply have two choices. You can see God as the author of all things and trust him, letting go of your fears, worries, expectations, attachments and misery. You can trust the universe and the process of life, go with the flow, expect amazing, interesting, educational things to come your way, and see whatever happens as perfect. Or you can keep trying to control things you can’t possibly control, resist what is and suffer a great deal.
It’s up to you.
Make a goal this year to see miracles everywhere, look for the perfect lessons in everything and trust God, the universe and the process of life that everything will work out in the end. This will make you less grouchy and less stressed, and much more happy.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
(This is my Christmas article 2015)
One thing I really like about your articles is that you say that life is a classroom and not a test. This is a wonderful idea. When I first read it, it struck me as true. I felt so liberated. But I'm not sure how to reconcile that with what I am taught at my church, that life is a test. There are lots of scriptures (in my religion) which say life is a test, so I am having a hard time with what is truth. I appreciate any insight you can give.
I’m presenting an answer to this question that is consistent with this person’s religious beliefs, so if you are reading this and don’t share a Christ-focused belief system — please understand this answer was directed to this individual.
The principles I share are universal though, and people from every religion, culture or life philosophy have the option to see life as a classroom, not a test, which would improve their self-esteem.
In order to explain why the idea that life is a classroom is consistent with religious doctrine, we must first ask a deeper question: Why are we here on the planet?
This is a crucial question, because it affects every choice, decision or plan you make. If you don’t have clarity around your objective, you will always be confused about what to do.
As a life coach, I have asked thousands of individuals (from every culture and religion) that question. What is the real point and purpose of you being on the planet? Their answers have surprised me. All of them, regardless of their backgrounds, have given me the same two answers.
Understanding this objective will change the way you see everything that happens to you. You will now see every experience as a lesson on loving God, yourself or other people at a deeper level. I wrote an article about this idea a few months ago you ought to read.
If we are on the planet to learn to love, it would mean life is basically a school. The question is what kind of school is it? Is it a test where you could fail or is it a classroom where you can only learn? Is your value in question when you make mistakes or can you erase and try again until you get it right? Is God more concerned with judgment or your education?
Seeing life as a test and God as judgment or fear may produce obedience, but it doesn’t come with peace or joy, because fear creates stress that distracts you from love. Fear makes you needy, defensive and selfish. It keeps you focused on getting reassurance and validation, which makes you less capable of focusing on other people. Fear is not God’s plan for you, love is.
The problem is your religion teaches this life is a test and any mistakes you make will prevent you from returning to God. So, it appears there is reason to fear.
This is what I believe, life is a test … but we ALL failed it. The test is over. Not a single one of us passed. We have all made mistakes.
According to your spiritual beliefs, God in his mercy, wisdom and love (and because his ultimate objective is to educate his children — not to get rid of them) provided a solution to this — a Savior. Christ turned it from a test into a classroom. Whew. You can now work on yourself, make mistakes and erase and try again every time, because your grades are off the table.
You can stop worrying about "not being good enough" and focus your energy on learning to love. You can stop trying to prove your value and spend more time lifting, serving and loving others. You can do this because you have nothing to fear. God is the essence of perfect love, mercy, wisdom and compassion.
In my articles, I talk a lot about the two core fears I believe are the root cause of most psychological and relationship problems. The first is the fear of failure (the fear that you might not be good enough). The second is the fear of loss (the fear that your life isn’t good enough), and the loss we fear most is death and losing those we love.
The amazing, wonderful, joyful message, which is at the heart of the Christmas season, is we have nothing to fear, because our value has been taken care of and death has been overcome. We have nothing to fear, because there is no failure or loss.
The most important message of Christmas was delivered by angels to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, and this message is one that should bring you peace every day: ”Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Because of him, you cannot fail and you will get back all those you lose.
You have nothing to fear.
At least, you can see your life this way if you want to. If you choose to embrace this perspective you will have more capacity to learn and love too, because your fear won’t be distracting you. God also wants you to work on doing good, righteous things, but he wants you to do those things because you love him, yourself and other people … not because you fear him.
I hope this answers your question and brings you peace.
You can do this.
This article was first published on ksl.com
My wife seems unwilling or unable to find mutually acceptable solutions when we disagree over doing something. She insists she deserves to have things her way and expects me to buy in to her view, and give up any desire for how I would like things done. What is going on here and how do I respond?
When my spouse asks for my opinion or input on things he doesn't seem to really want it. Unless I am totally gung-ho for his idea or plan, he gets upset and says I never listen to him, even when he has specifically asked what I think. Then, he pulls away and acts like I've done something horrible, that I need to apologize or make up for something. When he acts this way, I feel completely discounted, ignored and un-valued. I also feel betrayed when he asks what I think and then gets angry at me for telling him. My choices seem to be to go along with what he thinks and act excited and don't offer my own opinion, which seems like selling myself out and ensuring that my input/ideas are never part of our plans. Or, continue to answer honestly and get blamed and punished for doing so. I feel trapped and uncertain of how to do things so that there is a better outcome.
Both of you are having what looks like communication problems in your marriage, but the underlying reason you can’t communicate with your spouses is that there are fear of failure issues (the fear of not being good enough) in the way.
Let me explain this by giving you a couple of principles of human behavior. When you understand these principles, your spouse's behavior will make more sense.
Principle 1: Most of us attach our value as a person to our thoughts, ideas and opinions. This means if people value our thoughts, ideas and opinions and agree with us, we feel validated and valued. If someone disagrees with us, we mistakenly feel they don’t value us as a person. This causes us pain because it triggers our fear of failure.
Principle 2: When someone is experiencing fear of failure on the conscious or subconscious level, they become completely focused on themselves and on getting validation and reassurance to quiet their fear. In this place they feel threatened, which will make them selfish, defensive and unable to listen to or show up for you.
Principle 3: Everyone on the planet suffers from the fear of failure to some degree on a daily basis. This fear is the root cause of most bad behavior. Whenever someone is behaving in a defensive way, you should step back and see them accurately as scared. You must recognize that what they need is validation and reassurance.
You can use these principles to help you handle conversations with your spouse in a better way. The next time your spouse gets defensive because you don’t agree with them, try the following steps:
We also expect our spouse to sacrifice themselves for us, and when they aren’t willing to do that (because their needs are important, too) we cast them as the bad guy, which makes us feel like the good guy temporarily, helping our own fear of failure. But you must understand that expecting your spouse to sacrifice for you and making them responsible for your self-esteem is not love.
Continual sacrifice is about scarcity, lack and deprivation, and it breeds resentment and guilt. Instead, we must allow our spouse to have a healthy balance between honoring their own needs and giving gifts of love to us (which are no sacrifice because they are happily given as gifts). If my spouse cannot give me a gift of love in this moment and give me my way, that has to be immediately forgiven, because I understand I will do the same thing at times.
If you want to have a happy marriage, you both must work on your self-esteem and fear issues so you can be less needy and more giving. I have many free resources on my website to help you do this, including a "Repair your Marriage" E-book that would really help, and my book "Choosing Clarity" can guide you through eliminating the fear of failure and teach you how to have mutually validating conversations.
Remember, your value is not in question because life is a classroom, not a test. This means you need no validation from your spouse. God is the author of your value and because of this, you have nothing to fear. You need nothing from your spouse because God meets all your needs. This attitude will create a healthy relationship based in real love.
You can do this.
Coach Kim is speaking at the LDS Know our Religion Lecture Series on Jan 6th on "How the Gospel Can Fix Your Self-Esteem Problems (Instead of Adding to Them)" click here and call for tickets.
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.
This was first published on ksl.com
I do not have the holiday spirit and I am actually so depressed I wish I could skip the whole thing. I dread the family gatherings and resent the fact I feel obligated to spend money on things we don’t need. I wish I could feel differently, but honestly I’m Scrooge at this point. Any advice on how to shake off these feelings?
Holiday depression can be caused by a number of factors, including fears about not being good enough (that are triggered by family parties) or sharp feelings of loneliness caused by divorce, separation or death of a loved one. You could feel down because of unrealistic expectations about how your holiday celebrations should look or you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder where the darker days with less sunlight affect your mood.
If you find yourself sleeping more than usual, overeating, feeling anxious or moody, having low energy, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, or if you can’t focus or think clearly, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to WedMD, about 11 million Americans suffer from SAD, a sensitivity to the shorter days and reduced sunlight, which disrupts your circadian rhythm or body clock. The lack of sun exposure causes your brain to work overtime trying to produce melatonin.
If you feel sad in the winter and suspect you might have SAD, you should talk to your doctor, get more Vitamin D, maximize sun exposure and possibly even take medication. Most doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of direct sunlight first thing in the morning, and sunlight through a window doesn’t count. You may need a sunbox or some trips to the tanning booths if it's too cold to be outside.
If you have experienced loss, a change at work or are struggling financially you may want to talk to a therapist or coach who can help you process your emotions in a healthy way. They can help you create a healthy mindset for surviving those family parties too. I wrote an article with tips for difficult family parties a few weeks ago, and make sure you get the Holiday Mindset Worksheet.
I also highly recommend the new book "The Depression Miracle" by Greg Thredgold. It is packed with great ideas for beating depression and feeling better about life.
If you just hate the holidays and resent the obligation to spend money, then you need to consciously choose a more positive mindset. We are all in the habit of letting our subconscious minds determine how we feel. When you live unconsciously, you are on autopilot, letting your past experiences and thoughts determine your current mood.
Don't do this.
You have the power to consciously choose your mindset in any moment, but most of us have not learned how to harness that power and control our feelings. We also don’t know how to process feelings in a healthy way. There is a great e-book on my website on processing emotions, which would help you with this. It gives you a procedure to follow when you feel down and guides you through choosing something better.
Whatever you are feeling, it is showing up for a reason. You may need to sit with the emotion and let it play out a little before you can figure out what it’s here to teach you. Life is a classroom, and every experience serves your education in some way. Every experience can make you wiser, more compassionate, stronger or more loving, but you must get conscious about the emotions to use them this way.
Here are some other ways you can choose happiness this holiday season:
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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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.