Test yourself: Are you a mature adult?
This was first published on KSL.COM
I am seriously overwhelmed and burned out, and I admit I complain about it more than I should. My spouse says she is tired of my childish drama about my problems and my discouragement. But is it drama if I really feel down and discouraged, and my life really is hard? She says I have a victim story that I’m stuck in, but this isn’t a story, my life really has been hard. That is truth, so I don’t think it’s a story. I’m not stuck either, I’m just going through a really rough time and I want people to cut me some slack. How can I handle my feelings about my life in a more mature way, though that won’t incite criticism or be seen as drama?
I have no doubt your journey has been a rough one, and in some ways your trials justify a pity party and some complaining. The problem is you can't live there. Too much complaining about your troubles tends to make people lose respect for you and not like your company. They might feel sorry for you and give you sympathy love, but it won’t be the kind of love you are really after. Pity isn’t love.
It sounds to me like you haven’t had an opportunity to learn how to process emotions and consciously choose your mindset in a healthy way. Most people haven’t learned these skills, because they didn’t have parents who knew them and they don’t teach this stuff in school or church. The bottom line is, you can’t do better until you know better. So you just need some new skills.
You are also fighting your subconscious programming, which you adopted accidentally when you were just a small child. Many of your subconscious beliefs are fear-based and inaccurate, and they drive very immature behavior. Neuroscientists tell us 95 percent of our choices we make subconsciously. This means you are on autopilot most of the time and just reacting to life, not consciously choosing your behavior, which is why it might not be good.
Let me show you the difference between mature adult responses to life and emotions, and the childish reactions that are probably in your subconscious programming. You can test yourself on these and see how mature you show up:
1) Do you take things personally that really aren’t about you?
When a family member is unhappy, children assumes it’s their fault. When someone doesn’t like the food they made, they assume it’s personal and they aren’t good enough themselves. If someone disagrees with their opinion, they assume they aren’t valued.
If a family member is unhappy, mature adults care, but they also know it’s not their responsibility to fix it, because it’s out of their control. If someone doesn’t like the food they made, they realize it’s about the food, not about them. Adults don’t attach their value to their opinions, so they don’t take it personally if you disagree with them.
2) Do you feel jealous or threatened by other people’s successes?
A child sees a win for others as a loss for them. If mom says she is proud of a sibling, they assume she isn’t proud of them. A child is always watching to make sure things are fair and they aren’t getting less than anyone else.
Mature adults aren't jealous of others, because they see the universe as abundant, and a win for someone else doesn’t mean a loss for them. Adults aren't keeping score or expecting the universe to be fair. They understand they will always get their perfect classroom, and others will get theirs. They know life isn’t fair, but it is a wise teacher who knows what it’s doing.
3) Are you personally responsible for your emotions?
Children blame their emotions on events or other people. They think they can’t help feeling overwhelmed, angry or jealous. They think other people can make them sad. They also let emotions take over and become bigger and bigger. They can’t see that focusing on them and expressing them can make them worse. They haven't learned how to own responsiblity for any emotion. They don't get that every feeling is something you are choosing to feel.
Mature adults know they are responsible for how they choose to feel in every situation. They may get triggered and feel overwhelmed, angry or jealous, but they quickly realize being overwhelmed, angry or jealous is a choice. They can see when expressing emotion would just make it bigger and more painful. They don’t stuff emotions or suppress them either. They process through them, seeing the situation accurately and consciously choose how they want to feel and deal with this moment. Mature adults know that no one can make them feel anything. They can see that choosing suffering or misery doesn’t do any good.
4) Are you trusting the journey and being responsible for your part in a problem?
Children have temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. They cry and yell and blame. They want things to be fair. They want to be in control of a situation and they feel “hard done by” when they don’t get the experience they wanted. They also like to blame others when things go wrong. (Well, he started it and I only hit back.) They don’t take responsibility for their part.
Mature adults don't resist “what is” but instead understand this exact situation is the right one to serve them and educate them in some way. They understand yelling and cursing (though it might feel good for a minute) doesn’t change anything and only makes them look immature. They let go of trying to control things they can’t control. They trust God and the universe know what they are doing. They know a victim mentality and feeling “hard done by” does no good and isn’t accurate. They embrace "what is" and look for the lessons in everything. They take personal responsibility for their part in every problem. They know they co-create their journey with the universe. They also understand if they are responsible, then they have power to change it. This might mean choosing to leave an abusive relationship, stepping up and changing their habits, or getting some professional help.
5) When you get offended, can you see being offended is a choice?
Children think being upset, hurt or offended by another is out of their control. They think having hurt feelings is a real wound. A child also thinks forgiving is hard and takes a long time.
Mature adults understand that offenses are just lessons and opportunities to stretch, love bigger and trust God (or the universe) at a deeper level. They know an offense doesn’t actually wound them, change their value or mean anything. It’s just a lesson and an opportunity to grow. They know forgiving is easy, as soon as you trust the classroom and see the experience as here to serve you.
6) Do you look for solutions to problems or just complain about them?
Children just like to complain to get sympathy. If they actually fixed the problem they wouldn’t have this great victim story and the pity love that comes with it. They would have to give that up and be strong and fine, which would mean less attention.
A mature adult knows that being respected is the foundation of real love. It’s hard to respect someone who has chosen weakness as a way to get validation. An adult would rather be strong and whole and focus on serving other people than be seen as weak and sad.
Now let's get real:
The reality is that we all behave like a child at times (myself included) because we are all functioning from our subconscious programming that was set in place when we were a child (most before we were 7 years old).
We all have to work to grow up every day. We must be committed to stepping back and looking at emotions, reactions and behavior honestly. Was that behavior childish? Was that who I really want to be? How could I trust the journey more and let go of anger, disappointment, self-pity, grudges and offenses? How could I take responsiblty for that behavior?
Make a commitment to upskill yourself this year and find a coach, counselor, class or seminar to help you break through the subconscious programming that is driving your bad behavior. There are lots of resources out there to help you, but the first (most important) step is owning that you need some better skills and tools. Drop the ego and the fear around asking for help. Asking for help is not weakness. Not asking for help because you are afraid of looking bad is weakness.
We are hosting a two-day Be Fearless seminar in January to help you break through the fears and problems that have held you back. We also offer private life coaching that might really help. Visit our website.
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.
This was first published on KSL.com
Part of me hates the holidays because the family gatherings end up making me feel horrible about myself and I really don’t need more of that. I already struggle with feeling I’m not good enough so add in my relatives, who are all more successful and have perfect families, with tons of expensive presents and it’s no fun at all. Anything I can do to feel better about myself when around them all?
During the Holiday season many of us find ourselves feeling more down than up. We all want to be present and spend time with our family, we just don’t want the conflict, confrontation, feelings of jealousy and inferiority that usually accompany these events. Fortunately a simple shift in mindset could help you to get through the holidays without any negative feelings.
The first step is to understand where the negative feelings come from. You (and everyone else on the planet) are suffering from a severe case of Fear of Failure (the fear that you aren’t good enough). Everyone does battle with this fear, to some degree, on a daily basis. But the holidays can trigger you more than any other time of the year. When your fear of failure gets triggered, your emotions, thinking and behavior can get negative fast. We all exhibit our worst behavior when we feel inferior.
For some of us this fear drives us to over compensate and show off, toot our own horn and try to get attention. For others it encourages them to shrink back, stay quiet and even be invisable if possible. Some people get grouchy and mean, while others are too nice and try to win approval through people pleasing. The types of bad behavior that fear of failure creates are countless, but none of them bring out the authentic you or make you capable of love.
Unfortunately, at Christmas there are always questions asked by friends and relatives about how we are doing and what’s new in our lives. Some families also tease and use sarcastic humor, which can make you ridiculed, judged or criticized. If you have had a tough year with many challenges, lessons of loss, or trials, these questions can lead to huge feelings of failure and could make you uncomfortable and defensive. Most of the family conflicts we see at Christmas, are the result of being offended by others, jealousy or being triggered with feeling that you are not enough. If you are not able to financially give at the level you would like to, or the gifts under the tree are few, this can also trigger huge feelings of not being enough.
Comparison to others is the fastest way to lose your confidence and feel bad about yourself. And it’s so easy to do. You need only go to Facebook and see what clothes other people are wearing, where they are on holiday, their new car, parties, friends and their amazing job, and it’s easy to feel deflated and believe your life is not measuring up.
Here are ____ ways to stop the comparison:
There is a worksheet on my website that will help you maintain a healthy, positive, holiday mindset. You can download it here. Read it a few times daily all through the month.
You can do this.
Do you really love your spouse?
I think my spouse loves me, but I’m not sure what we have is really love. It feels more like we need each other to make us feel good. Because of this we fight a lot and always feel disappointed by the other. I’m also confused about the way you talk about trusting the journey in your articles. I get that this is so we will stop getting bent out of shape when things don’t go our way. You write about trusting the universe that things are the way they are, for a reason. But I feel if I just trust the journey to give me what’s best for me, I will become too content and I won’t try to get what I want or need. That doesn’t feel right to me. Are you saying it’s healthy to trust the universe and just be happy with whatever I get? I also think I need help on the love side, because we are always unhappy with each other. Any advice would be great.
You are confused on love and trust because you can see the far enemies, but you are missing the near enemies. Let me explain. Almost every emotion has a far-enemy that is it’s diametric opposite and a near-enemy that is a close counterfeit. The far-enemies are easy to spot, because they are so negative, but the near-enemies masquerade as good emotions, so they are tricky to see.
Here are some examples:
Compassion: Real compassion is empathy for a brother or sister (a soul like you) and their pain. It involves feeling their pain and truly wanting to lift it from them, because you care about their welfare. When I traveled to India I saw thousands of people who are suffering in great poverty for instance, and I felt great compassion for them.
The far-enemy of compassion is cruelty or not caring, even wishing harm on another person. This mean-spirited, unkind behavior is obviously negative and wrong. This would be going to India and seeing the poverty and not really caring or even mocking or rejecting the people.
The near-enemy of compassion though is pity. Pity looks and feels a lot like compassion except for one thing. It is seeing the other person as below you or less than you. You look down at them and their struggles from a subtle place of superiority. You might feel sorry for this person, more than you feel their pain with them. When it comes to compassion, you must check yourself to make sure you are seeing the other person as having the same value as you, regardless of what they are going through. In a Third World country you must check that you aren’t seeing the poor people as beneath you in any way (which is easy to do when people are dirty, poorly dressed or less educated). You have to watch for pity.
Love: This is caring about the welfare of another person more than your own. It is wanting them to have joy, security and peace regardless of what you get in return. Real love can only happen when you need nothing. If you come from an insecure, needy place where you don’t feel safe, valued or whole yourself, you aren’t capable of showing up with real love. Everything you give will have subconscious strings attached, because you need caring, validation or reassurance back from the other person.
The far-enemy of love is cruelty or hatred. This is obviously negative and is easy to spot.
The near-enemy of love is attachment or co-dependency. Here your actions towards a spouse look and even feel like love. The difference is that you are clingy, needy or dependent on getting what you need back from the other person. Overly attached spouses may be controlling, stifling or needy of time, attention or validation from their partner. You might need a great deal of attention or demonstrations of love from your spouse in order to feel safe and secure. You are giving so that you will then receive what you want. You must check your love on occasion to make sure it’s unconditional and has no strings attached. Make sure any loving service is given as a gift, expecting nothing in return. When you show up this way, your spouse will feel the authentic love and usually reciprocate.
Trust: Real trust is choosing to have confidence in the surety of something. When I talk about trusting God, the universe or the journey through life, I’m talking about trusting there is order, purpose and meaning in everything that happens. You can choose to trust God that things happen for a reason and everything that happens is here to serve you and your education. Real trust means you can set a goal and strive to reach it, working with passion and love towards what you want, but without devastating attachment to the outcome, because you trust the universe or God to always deliver what is best for you in the end. This creates equanimity (feeling the same peaceful feeling when things go wrong that you do when they go right). This can happen if you choose to trust God that he knows what he’s doing and choose to feel safe all the time.
The far-enemy of trust is fear. This is a feeling of being unsafe, insecure or at risk. From here you work like crazy to get the outcome or goal you’ve set, but you are without trust in something bigger than yourself, so you think everything depends on you and your efforts. You have no confidence in the universe or God to back you up. This is a stressful worrisome place to live from. It often includes dramatic, emotional reactions when things don’t go your way. It can include feelings of loss, mistreatment, jealousy or that life is unfair. Here you are overly attached to what you think the outcome should be, and the attachment sets you up for suffering and disappointment.
The near-enemy of trust is apathy or disconnection. These may look and feel like trust, because they are without stress or what feels like fear, but they are really still fear in disguise. Apathy is a choice to remain unattached or indifferent to outcomes, because it feels safer than caring. If you don’t care about the outcome, you can’t be hurt or disappointed. Here you aren’t upset if things go wrong, but it’s not because you trust a higher power is in charge, and this outcome must have purpose in your life. It’s just because you’ve become detached.
You don’t want to live motivated by fear and stress, but you also don’t want to get so detached that you don’t care either. Too content would mean not setting goals and working toward what you desire at all.
We recommend working hard and being very motivated to get or create what you desire, but doing it from a place of trust and love. This requires you to choose a perspective of trust with the universe that it is always conspiring to serve you and your growth. Trust it to work with your desires and choices to create your perfect classroom every day. Then, work like crazy to create what you want, from a place of passion and love for yourself, others, God or life. Be love motivated instead of fear motivated. You might want to download our free e–book on trust to help you get out of fear.
The more you trust God that you are good enough, because your value isn’t on the line and trust you are always safe in his hands, you will become more and more capable of real love. This happens because as your feelings of security, peace and confidence increase, your ability to give to others increases. Only a very secure person is capable of giving real love.
We strongly recommend that couples who aren’t happy in their marriages seek out individual coaching for each of them right away. If you would both work independently on your self-esteem and fear issues, you will find you can start giving real love and experiencing the richness of a healthy relationship.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
What to do with a lying teen?
If you understood the reasons your child lies to you, it would help you not to take it so personally and you would understand how to stop it. Most parents take dishonest behavior from their children personally, as if it is their fault, and they feel they have failed as a parent. Many of the parents that we work with feel betrayed by their kids because they know they have taught them better.
You did teach them better, but this behavior, although very frustrating, is not about you. Resist taking this personally and don't let your fear of not being a good enough parent be triggered. What we know through our specialized work with teens and young people is that lying is usually a result of frustration, panic and emotional pain. Teenagers don’t set out to lie or to be deceitful, and most of these kids do know better and were brought up with a strong moral compass. The teens who lie the most are the ones with a strong sense of right and wrong, but they also struggle with a terrible fear they are not good enough.
This fear of failure creates a need to embellish, exaggerate and portray details or situations in a way that makes them look good, and therefore feel more secure. We all know what it’s like to not feel good enough. We all compare ourselves to others too much and we feel we don’t fit or are somehow broken. It is really this fear that drives most of our bad behavior. It makes us do or say whatever we have to do to quiet the fear.
These kids are not broken or bad people. They have just lost their way and are making poor decisions and not living up to their potential because they have low self-esteem and little self-belief.
Here are some things you can do to help them turn their lives around, stop the cycle of lying and gain your trust in them again:
1) Create a secure environment where they can be themselves without judgment
Although it may seem difficult, create a space where your children can heal, feel and express themselves without judgment or criticism. You can do this. You may have to set your high expectations to the side for a little while though, so you can create a safer space where your teen will talk to you. You must create this space so you can really understand what is going on with your teen and identify where the low self esteem is coming from.
Many young people aim low in life because they are afraid of failure. They would rather aim low and fail than really apply themselves, become invested and risk the pain of failing. As adults, this doesn’t make sense to us as we know that life is about learning and often we fail on our way to success.
Unfortunately, teens don’t have this perspective yet. Young people are very literal, and their self image and fear of failure may dictate all of their decision-making, including the choice to lie. You can create a safe space for them by listening a lot more than you talk. You may want to learn our formula for validating conversations so that you learn to do this right.
2) Love them through their poor decision and bad behavior
No matter what their mistakes and poor decisions are, love them unconditionally. This does not mean you condone or accept their bad behavior. It means you make it clear their behavior is not acceptable, but that it also doesn’t change how much you love them.
Many teenagers we work with are immature and do not see their parents' behaviors clearly. They view their parents' anger and frustration as a lack of love for them. This is a scary place for a teen to be, as they feel alone and abandoned. Communicate clearly that you love them, but do not accept their behavior, and ask frequently what you can do to assist them.
3) Make the time and space to communicate effectively
With teens coming and going, there is often very little time for healthy and consistent communication. Before long, the only communication that is had is negative or fear-based. This can mean the idea of going home becomes scary or undesirable.
You can be sure if your child knows the difference between right and wrong, there will also be a lot of shame and guilt about their bad behavior and their poor decisions, including the lying. However, many teens at this stage are in too deep, and they don't have the skills to articulate how they feel. They are always afraid of further anger and rejection. This perpetuates the cycle of further lies, dishonesty and your teen being anywhere but home.
If you want to change this, you must create a rhythm and some rules about how often they are home. This gives you some control over the time you have with them so positive communication can happen. Despite all of your frustration and disappointment in their behavior, make a concerted effort to have fun, joke around and show them love. Listen to them (a lot) and make sure you honor and respect their right to their opinions and feelings.
Also let them know how much you love having them around. Love wins every time, so put in the time every week to maintain and build your relationship.
4) Encourage them to trust the journey
Everything happens in your life for a reason (to teach you something), including the lying and deceit experiences you are currently having. Adopting this perspective and trusting the journey gives you a healthier view of the experience. Know that this time and stage will not last forever and try to maintain an attitude of curiosity, asking every day, "What is this experience here to teach me?" instead of "I am a victim, this should not be happening!" or "I am failing as a parent."
Remember, tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to try again. That is how the classroom works. This attitude goes a long way for everyone involved. Trust that this child is in your life to help you learn and grow and gain greater compassion for yourself and others. They are your perfect teacher and you are theirs.
5) Forgive quickly but put in strong consequences
When the lying does occur, forgive quickly, but put strong consequences in place to prevent it from happening again. Take away car privileges, money, electronics and other luxuries to show you mean business. Lying is not acceptable now, because it’s not acceptable ever as an adult.
Right now, your teen is on training wheels, learning how to be an adult in the world. It’s important to keep your consequences strong now so they learn while the lessons are cheaper. But then also forgive them quickly and do not let the lie affect your love for them or their intrinsic value. This is the most effective way of preventing further dishonest behavior.We totally get why you feel scared, you are afraid that your kids are going off the rails, afraid that they are turning away from God, or won't live up to their potential. There may even be evidence of them dropping out of school, having an entitlement mentality or not being motivated. Don’t overlook these behaviors and get help by a well-trained and experienced specialist early on, especially if you have any suspicion of your child having low self-esteem, depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.
To get more help for your teen, reach out to our teen and young adult specialist coach Nicole Cunningham or attend our free parenting workshop on Dec. 8.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach who specializes in working with parents and teens.
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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.