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This was first published on ksl.com
Most of the questions readers submit to me are about resolving conflict with other humans. The trick to resolving conflict lies in taking the problem apart, understanding the triggers each person experiences and the bad behavior those triggers might create. This process is what I call an emotional autopsy because it allows you to understand the motivation and emotions underneath the surface that may cause the problem. This also gives you the power to calm the emotions and deal with the actual problem.
Think about the last fight or argument you had with someone and follow my process by asking yourself the questions below. See if you can identify the underlying cause of the conflict and how to resolve it in the future.
1. What event or situation started this conflict or problem?
Can you follow it back to the original issue that may have triggered a negative emotion and made each party behave badly? This issue could stem from something that has been happening for a long time, or something they've experienced their whole life. We're going to call the person who was triggered by something that created the conflict Person A. We'll call the other party Person B.
2. What negative emotion showed up in Person A because of the triggering event?
Did they feel insulted, rejected, unwanted, unimportant, unappreciated, not good enough, controlled, pushed, defensive, protective, or mistreated? Do they have a story about how the situation has made them feel the emotions they've experienced in the past? What is that story?
3. How did Person A behave because of this emotion?
What kind of behavior or language showed up as a result? Did Person A pull back from Person B, try to control them or have walls up to protect themself? Did they get defensive, say something insulting or do something equally triggering to Person B? What does that behavior look like?
4. What negative emotions were triggered in Person B as a result of Person A’s behavior?
How exactly did Person B feel mistreated? Did Person B feel unappreciated, taken from, unwanted or rejected? It's important to identify these emotions and what might be triggering them. If they're ignored for too long, they may continue to cause conflict in Person B in other situations.
5. What kind of bad behavior showed up when Person B reacted to their emotions?
What did Person B’s unbalanced behavior or language look like? Did they try to understand Person A, or did they react just as badly?
6. How might have Person B further triggered Person A?
What emotion might have showed up in Person A now as a result of Person B’s reaction? What might Person A and Person B be feeling at this point? Being clear on this will help you step back and see how the emotions might be driving the conflict more than the original issue.
7. What does each person need in this situation?
What could you give the other person that might help quiet the emotion that is causing the conflict? For example, if you know and understand that no one can diminish your value, you may feel less threatened by conflict and can create a safer space for those around you. Then, you may be able to better work through problems by giving the other person involved in the conflict what they need to feel safe and help them want to resolve the issue at hand.
8. Go back to the original emotions that showed up in steps No. 2 and No. 4. Are these emotions that Person A and Person B experience often?
Is it an emotion they've experienced throughout their life and in many different situations? Sometimes, people and situations can trigger certain emotions in people, but they're not the real cause. The real cause may be something that happened in that person's past and certain situations might stir up emotions and reactions in them.
9. What does someone who may carry these emotions around need?
Remember, bad behavior may be a request for love, validation or reassurance. You might not want to validate or love a person who is behaving badly, but if you can see that it isn’t really about you, conflict resolution can get easier. You can't fix another person and you aren't responsible for their behavior, but if you can quiet the negative emotions in them during conflict, then you can more easily deal with the problem at hand. You may also need to enforce boundaries to protect yourself from certain people, and that's OK, too.
If you choose to see life as a classroom, it means every conflict or emotion is part of your classroom journey and is meant to serve you. Knowing this might make some people problems less difficult and increase your capacity to resolve conflict with others. The more you practice this process, the easier it may become to see conflict accurately and resolve people problems more maturely.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after master life coach who is provides coaching and help to anyone struggling with people problems or relationship conflicts. She also trains and certifies life coaches in her system with new classes starting soon.
Coach Kim, would you consider a follow up article about what communication skills you are referring to in this article? And could you teach us more about what anger really is? It sounds like it isn’t what we think it is...
I have written many articles about how to have mutually validating conversations (a conversation where both parties leave feeling heard, honored and respected for their right to their perspective and ideas). Here is a link to some of them. The basics involve showing up for others and listening first, before asking them to listen to you. If you know how to do this, there are few conflicts you can’t work through.
On the subject of anger, there is more to understanding where it comes from and how to deal with it. When you (or someone else) becomes angry, you are actually having a fear problem. Though it doesn’t look like it on the outside and you won’t feel scared, as much as mad. But you are angry, because one of your two core fears have been triggered. When you are angry, it is either because you feel insulted (which means your fear of failure has been triggered) or you feel mistreated or taken from (which means your fear of loss has been triggered) or both.
All anger is based in one or both of these fears being triggered. Think about the last time you got angry with someone or at a situation. In what way did you feel threatened, mistreated or at risk? Did you feel you were made to look bad or told you were wrong or bad? Or was someone discourteous, rude or unkind to you? Anger always involves some kind of mistreatment or injustice, and these all trigger your core fears.
The interesting part is that the groundwork of fear that created a place for your anger was laid long before the offending event happened. If you didn’t already suffer from fear of failure and you weren’t already afraid you weren’t good enough, you wouldn’t feel insulted so easily. People who have rock solid self-esteem and see their intrinsic value as unchangeable, aren’t nearly as easy to offend with slights, insults or attacks. Their good self-worth makes them more bulletproof and less affected by fear triggers. You could insult them and they would probably just let it slide off.
The same goes for fear of loss. If you didn’t already feel unsafe in the world and see people as a threat, you wouldn’t be afraid of mistreatment or get defensive as easy. People, who see the universe as a wise teacher, providing perfect lessons, are more likely to see a personal growth opportunity in mistreatment. They are less often offended or angry.
When your journey brings you an anger experience, you can process the emotion (instead of reacting) and figure out what it is here for. If you choose to see life as a classroom (all about growth and becoming) then every experience is here to serve you in some way. Try some of the questions below to process your anger.
Choosing to see every anger experience as a chance to grow (instead of just mistreatment or insult), means you can turn every situation into a win. If this is hard to see because an offense is particularly painful, you may want to seek some professional help to work through it. Or make sure you read my forgiveness article from last week – it might also help.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
It is the tendency to let differences create fear. Understanding this aspect of human behavior is critical to creating change in our world, and it's something you can start changing right now.
Here are three principles of human behavior that explain where hate comes from and how to change it:
1. When fear is triggered, we behave selfishly, in defense of ourselves
Many of my articles talk about how fear drives bad behavior because it makes us selfish and overly concerned with our own well-being (and less concerned about others). There are two core fears in play in every conflict or people problem.
The two core fears are the fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) and the fear of loss (losing out or having our journey diminished in some way). Fear of loss includes fear of physical harm, mistreatment, disrespect or being burdened, while fear of failure includes being criticized, judged, dishonored or insulted. Conflict, racism, discrimination and hate can happen when people trigger any of these fears in us, though it may often be subtle and subconscious.
For example, if your spouse or friend has a different political view than you have, you could feel dishonored, disrespected or criticized for your view, and this could make you defensive and behave in a disrespectful way to them. This bad behavior comes from your fears of failure and loss being triggered.
Read more about fear here.
2. Differences create judgment
As human beings, we are hard-wired to subconsciously judge everything. When we see any differences, in any two things, we automatically assume one is better and the other worse. This is a core foundational belief, and it may affect your perspective every minute of every day.
Imagine walking into a room and there is one stranger you have never met in the room. The first thing that happens for both of you, at the subconscious level, is measuring, comparing and judging. We hate to admit this is true, but our subconscious minds are trying to determine where we fit.
Should we be intimidated or comfortable? Are we socially or economically above or below them? Are they friendly or cold? Are they part of “us” or part of “them”? All of this judging happens very quickly and is mostly subconscious.
We also do this in other aspects of our lives. If we cheer for the red football team and someone else cheers for blue, our subconscious mind, again, assumes that one is better and one is worse.
We seem to love dividing ourselves by differences. We divide our world into groups like political party, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, school, neighborhood, hair color, clothes, even which soda we drink (Are you a Coke or Pepsi person?) or which sandwich spread we prefer (Are you a mayo or Miracle Whip person?). We look for differences everywhere and subconsciously find our way as the right one, and “them” as bad or less.
Take a minute and think about all the groups to which you belong — your race, religion, gender, nationality, neighborhood, school affiliation, profession, height, weight, hair color, etc. How often do you feel superior to the people who aren’t in your group?
This could be the beginnings of hate, and if we keep letting this subconscious tendency happen unchecked, it will create problems in our lives and relationships.
3. Differences trigger fear and create bad behavior
Because we are all subconsciously afraid of being insulted or taken from, when “they” gain any power, gain in numbers, influence, recognition, fame or in any way threaten to be more or better than “us,” we get afraid. We could be afraid of physical harm, mistreatment, disrespect, being burdened or taken from, criticized, dishonored or insulted. Feeling fear of these things can make us feel justified in protecting ourselves. These fearful feelings might even make us feel justified in being selfish, rude, disrespectful or even hateful toward another human being.
Think about the last time you felt mistreated by a company, restaurant or store. Did you feel at all justified to be angry, mean or harsh to their employee because you felt taken from? Do you see how fear of mistreatment can subconsciously justify bad behavior?
According to the New York Times, the gunman in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting had expressed views online that Jewish people were the “enemy of white people.” He saw this particular group of people as a threat to his way of life. His fear of loss was triggered by "them," and he was afraid they would become more successful or more financially powerful than his group. His fear became so bad he even justified killing.
We cannot always influence other people and their fear issues, but we are responsible for ours. It is our responsibility to check ourselves for this tendency to see “us” and “them.”
You can start by watching for judgment and not seeing yourself as better than any other human being. This can start at home, by making sure you never cast your spouse or other family members as the bad or wrong one and talk down to them. Stop finding fault or judging other human beings for their choices, views or differences. Commit to seeing all human beings as having the exact same infinite value as you have.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a speaker and coach and the creator behind the 12 Shapes Relationship System — helping to create a more tolerant world app.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSL.com
I get along with everyone, but there is this one person at work, who doesn’t like me at all, and I literally can’t stand being around her now. Everything I say or do brings a look or comment from her. She is rude, arrogant and tacky. She insults me and makes it very clear she doesn’t like me, and this situation is making work miserable. What do you do when there is one person who doesn’t like you at all, but you have to deal with them every day?
The short answer to this question is don’t let it bug you. Whatever their problem is, it is probably not really about you and it doesn’t mean much that this one human doesn’t like you. You are still the same you with the same infinite value, no matter what one person thinks, but I would like to give you eight suggestions that might help you be less bothered.
1. We are all different and won’t click with everyone
Throughout your life, there will be people who immediately like you and your personalities just click, and also people with whom you don’t click. This is true for all of us all the time, so it’s OK if someone doesn't like you. It’s just a fact of life.
2. Don’t let this person see they are getting to you — by not letting them get to you
They may enjoy this game more if they know it’s bothering you. The most important thing is don’t make the game fun for them. Treat them the same way you treat everyone else and don’t avoid them or antagonize them in any way. Remember, all humans have the exact same value and nothing anyone thinks about you can change yours. If we all have the same value and it can’t change, there is nothing to fear from anyone.
3. Remember what people think of you doesn’t mean anything
Their opinions are just thoughts they created in their heads. They are not necessarily the truth and they have no power unless you give them the power to bother you.
4. Look for projection
Projection happens when someone projects how they feel about themselves onto you. Ask yourself, does this person really not like me, or do they not like themselves and are just projecting those feelings onto me? Is there any chance this person has some fear of failure in play and are afraid they aren’t good enough that they have to subconsciously look for (and focus on) negative feelings toward me to make themselves feel better? People who really like themselves and have healthy self-esteem generally get along with most people. If this person doesn’t get along with everyone, they may not like themselves.
5. Are you triggering their fear of failure?
Is this person afraid they aren’t good enough on some level and is there something about you that triggers this fear in them? Do they struggle with their weight, while you don’t? Do they struggle with writing, while you find it easy and are recognized for it? Is there something about you that makes them feel unsafe or less than? I am not suggesting you play this down or quit being who you are, but if you can see what’s happening accurately you might understand this problem is about their fears about themselves and not about you.
6. Show them you like them
People generally like people who like them and dislike people they think dislike them. So, make an extra effort to show this person you appreciate who they are and what they do. Pay compliments and show them you see their value. Often, this kind, reassuring behavior could turn their reaction to you around fast.
7. Read about the three types of relationships from this article (even though it’s about marriage it applies to all relationships).
See if you can identify the fear issue in play with you and this person. Are they fear of failure or loss dominant and which are you? This can help you to see the relationship in a whole new light.
8. Read this article about the four different value systems and see if you can tell which you have and which they have
Understanding what they value most might help you understand their behavior and why they may react negatively to yours. For example, if they value ideas and principles most while you value people most, then they might think you are too social or too talkative and that might bother them. Or maybe they value tasks most and you value things most. This could mean they don’t like how much you care about something like fashion because they don’t think it’s important at all. Again, you shouldn’t change who you are but you should be aware of what they think is important and honor their right to think that way.
Our values and our fears highly influence who we like and connect with. Understanding another person’s value system and dominant fear will really help you understand their behavior. In my opinion, fears and value are the main drivers of human behavior, and when we get another person at this level we will have more compassion and tolerance for their quirkiness.
Try to appreciate the good in this person and love them despite their quirks. Remember, their ideas and thoughts don’t mean anything or change your value, so there is nothing to fear here.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of www.app.12shapes.com and is a human behavior expert, author and speaker. She provides corporate training on her 12 shapes relationship system and solves your people problems.
I have a hard time controlling my emotions because I feel things deeply. Do you have any advice for helping me calm my reactions and get control of myself? Also, how can I teach my children to get control of themselves so they don’t inherit my bad habit of throwing a fit over things?
I’m so glad you asked this because many of the techniques I teach in these articles involve thinking your way out of reactions.
The problem is when you get upset and triggered into a fear-based reaction, you are functioning in fight-or-flight mode.
Research has shown when people go into fight-or-flight mode, they don’t have access to their frontal lobe, which is the rational, thinking part of the brain. So you are not capable of choosing your way out of these upset reactions — at least until you calm your body down, get out of fight-or-flight and get your frontal lobe back online.
Learning to calm yourself down is a skill everyone needs to learn and teach their children. Children and teens who learn how to calm their nervous system have less anxiety and stress and are more emotionally intelligent, studies have shown. They also have more capacity to choose their mindset in any situation.
It is very normal to get upset and emotional when you feel mistreated, insulted, criticized or threatened, and it’s normal to have strong emotional reactions to these situations. These reactions are kind of like riptides — they are strong and fast, and can pull you into dangerous water — in this case, bad behavior that sabotages your relationships — before you even consciously know what’s happening.
Understanding real riptides can help you learn to escape emotional reactions. A riptide is often misunderstood because it does not pull a swimmer under water — it simply carries the swimmer away from the shore.
Many people who get caught in riptides do not understand this and they try to swim against it. The danger here is they can exhaust themselves and drown.
But if they were educated on how riptides work, they would know they can easily exit the riptide by swimming at an angle to it. If they swim sideways, parallel to the shore, they can easily exit the current and return safely to land, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
Experts recommend this approach if you get caught in a riptide:
1. Don’t fight the current.
2. Stay calm to conserve your energy and think clearly.
3. Think of it like a treadmill — it cannot be turned off, but you can easily step to the side and get off. Swim sideways following the shoreline and when out of the current swim for the shore.
You can calm down your upset emotions the same way. Here is a simple procedure you can practice when experiencing strong emotional reactions to calm yourself down and choose a better response:
1. Don’t fight the feelings of anger or hurt. Just sit with them for a minute and don’t do anything yet. Each emotion is an interesting dimension of the human experience and feeling them can teach you things. Make note of how your ego (the reactive, selfish part of you) wants to respond. Can you feel how much your ego wants to respond with selfishness, defensiveness or anger?
These are strong feelings, but the more you sit in them, you will see they are not your only option. Feeling this upset is a choice. But you can always choose to change the story you are telling yourself around this, see the situation in a different way, and choose a calmer, more mature and unselfish response.
2. Stay calm. Take a step back from the event and do some calming exercises. We recommend learning diaphragmatic breathing or engaging your peripheral vision by focusing on seeing the two sides of the room at the same time. This may sound weird, but you can’t activate your peripheral vision and stay in fight-or-flight at the same time. Read more about why this works in this Panicyl blog post.
3. Think your way through it. Ask yourself, "What am I really upset about? What am I afraid of here? Why do I feel threatened? Am I applying meaning here that may not be accurate? What will happen if I choose to be upset? Is that what I want? Is being upset a choice? Is there any other way I could choose to feel in this moment?"
4. Exit the reactive current. This is where you get to step to the side or exit the reactive current by choosing a mindset that runs parallel to principles of truth — principles that provide solid ground and safety, like the shore. If the fear reaction is the riptide, you can choose thoughts based in trust and love, and you can step right out. Choose to trust these principles of truth instead of embracing fear in any moment:
It will take some work to master this, but you can do it!
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was recently blindsided finding out that my spouse has cheated on me, something I never saw coming. This is the last straw though, in a long line of other problems with him and so I have decided on divorce, which I know is the right path for me. But I’m seriously heartbroken, angry and really devastated that he was unfaithful while I loved him so much. The pain of this betrayal is intense and I would love some advice for moving on and recovering from this kind of heartbreak.
The pain from betrayal is one of the roughest life experiences there is, and recovery is going to be a process and take some time. The most important thing is to be patient and kind to yourself and allow whatever emotions come up to be there. You will experience shock, anger, self-pity, shame, despair, sadness, and devastation, and these emotions will ebb and flow, coming in and out for a while.
There is no normal in trauma recovery, and the processing is different for everyone. Just don’t add any additional guilt or shame to it, by thinking you should be doing better at any point in time.
Here are some things you can do that will help you move forward:
1. Get the information and answers you need, because you do need to know what happened, how and when. Then, after you have these answers, cut off all contact, of any kind, with the other person.
Continuing contact, even through text or following them on social media, will add to the pain and can lengthen the recovery process. It is better to cut off all contact (as much as possible) and start getting used to not having them in your life. What they do now is none of your business and what you do isn’t theirs. Every time you open that door you are taking a step backward in moving on.
2. Don’t seek revenge.
It might seem like a good idea at first, but in the long run, you will be happier if you take the high road and be a person you are proud of.
3. Understand what is normal in dealing with betrayal and loss.
Searing emotional pain, exhaustion, sleeping too much, not being able to sleep, loss of appetite, comfort eating, anxiety attacks, brain fog, and even dizziness are all normal. Don’t worry this will pass (it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.) You will survive this and the pain won’t last.
4. Make your home or space fresh, new, more organized, or different or consider moving.
You need to reclaim your space as your own and remove anything that reminds you of your ex. You might repaint, rearrange furniture, clean out closets, sell your old stuff and buy new used stuff, anything to create a fresh, new feel and to move towards your new life.
5. Focus on self-care.
Put all the energy you used to put into loving them, into loving you. During this time, you need to give yourself permission to pamper yourself. Do things that fill you up and make you feel good and cared for. Plan time with friends, take bubble baths, get massages, take a vacation, exercise, eat healthy food, anything that is caring and compassionate towards yourself.
6. Make time for emotion processing journaling.
This can be the best therapy and it’s free. Spend time writing all your feelings and thoughts. There is a free worksheet of journaling topics at this link.
7. Make time to relax.
Your stress level is high at this time and meditation, yoga, listening to music, deep breathing, feeling the sun on your face, or enjoying nature will help.
8. If you must go back to work right away, create an imaginary room in your head.
All day when the sad, angry, grieving feelings show up, put them in the room and lock the door. Don’t deal with them now. Then each night, give yourself a specific amount of time to go into that room and feel them all. This might be a good time to journal too.
9. Start a long bucket list.
We recommend one that has at least 150 things on it. List out everywhere you would like to travel, everything you want to learn, every adventure, activity and person you would like to meet.
10. Take a break from your normal routine.
If you were ill or had a death in the family you would take some time off, but with emotional trauma, we don’t allow ourselves to have that. You are going through trauma and you may really need some time out of the rat race to recover.
Cut back to the bare essentials and don’t expect yourself to perform at normal standards. Your thinking will also be slower and you may have less bandwidth to deal with your life. That is normal and won’t last forever. Be patient with it.
11. When you are ready, create a new social life and get out there, have fun, go on adventures and create a life that is joyful and fun.
Find some new friends, look for meetup groups around things you are interested in, find fun things going on in your community and get out there.
12. Don’t jump back into dating too soon.
You are recovering from a major loss and will have some trust issues for a while. Give yourself time to get your balance, confidence and strength back before you’re ready to take on new relationships.
13. Find a support system of people who can help you process loss in a healthy way.
Beware of friends whose comments pull you further into despair or self-pity. Look for friends who validate you, but also help you to feel optimistic about the future.
14. Don’t use substances or food to deal with the pain.
Pain like this has to be processed and felt. If you numb out now, you are only delaying it. At some point, you will have to go through. It’s better to feel it now and move forward sooner.
15. Consider talking to a coach or counselor.
If the pain or despair gets too much reach out to a mental health professional or a coach who can give you skills and tools to process your way through.
There is no easy way through this, unfortunately, but doing these things will help. Know in the end nothing that happens can change your value. You have the same value as everyone else, no matter what.
Don’t worry about what anyone thinks about you either — this experience doesn’t define you or mean you are broken or not enough. It’s just a lesson and can end up serving you in some way if you choose to look for the positive.
Hang in there — you can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches with 30 combined years experience in helping individuals and families create healthy relationships and learn the skills and tools to get through life.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have been married for over 20 years. During this time, I have tried unsuccessfully to make my wife happy. I have initiated counseling sessions several times only to come out worse for going. I recently had a friend say they think I'm a victim of emotional abuse from my wife. I have tried to see her side of things and understand where my wife is coming from and to even work on myself. But am I using this as an excuse? Do many men get emotionally abused? When do you work on yourself and when do you insist a wife's behavior isn’t ok?
If you want a healthy relationship, you must constantly work on yourself AND you must insist your partner do the same. If your partner is abusive (which we will determine below) and they are unwilling admit their behavior is wrong, change the attitudes that drive the behavior and get professional help, there may be cause for you to leave.
We say this, because you teach people how to treat you by what you allow. If you are willing to keep living with someone who is emotionally abusive, why should they change?
If they know you are too scared to leave or are a pushover, they have no motivation to change anything, and it takes a great deal of motivation for an abuser to change their ways and give up the power they get from the abuse.
We also want to reassure you that abuse by women against men is not uncommon at all. Both genders are actually almost equally abused. One report showed that “40% of victims of severe physical violence are men, who are victimized by their intimate partners, and men are also more often the victim of psychological aggression.” You can read more about this on www.batteredmen.org.
Also, remember we are in the classroom of life to learn about love. So, allowing someone to mistreat you is denying them an important lesson they have coming. It is not ok to disrespect, insult or be cruel to any human being. Someone has to teach that to your spouse and the universe has selected you.
We want to clarify what behaviors constitute abuse though, because some of you are so used to abusive behavior, you actually think it’s normal and therefore ok. Everyone has disagreements with their spouse, but some kinds of fighting behaviors are not acceptable, ever. We believe there are three types of bad behavior that show up in relationships and we want you to recognize them so you know what is okay and what is not.
Here are the three categories of bad relationship behavior:
If you are seeing signs of abuse, you should seek professional help and do something about it right now, especially if there are children in your home. We often hear people in abusive relationships say they are “staying for their children” and don’t want to break up the family. You must understand that even watching this kind of abuse can damage your children. Safe Horizons (a website for victims of abuse) says that without help, children who witness abuse are more vulnerable to being abused themselves as adults or teens, or they are likely to become abusers themselves.
You and your children deserve to feel safe and respected in your home. You should also be able to have mature, rational, mutually validating conversations about problems that arise with your spouse. If your partner can't do that and is tearing down your self-esteem on a regular basis (so you feel miserable and worthless) and you experience fear whenever they are home, you are probably a victim of abuse.
Your rationalizing this behavior as normal makes sense, if it is all you have ever experienced, but it is not normal or acceptable. If you love yourself, your children and your spouse at all, you owe it to them all to seek help. It is time for your spouse and children to learn that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect
If you don’t have a religious leader, counselor, or coach to go to for help, start with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, they can point you in the right direction.
We know that change and seeking help sounds scary because ‘the known’ even though it’s bad, feels safer than the ‘unknown’. But you will all grow and learn so much it will be a win in the end. There will be some hard moments, but you are stronger than you think you are, and you deserve better.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a difficult family problem. My wife has a daughter from her first marriage that is toxic, controlling, and alienating. I am trying to be "the wise, mature, strong and loving adult” you talk about in your articles, but it’s really hard. And we coming up on the holidays, Christmas, and other special events and her daughter wants her mother there, but I am not welcome. My wife is even starting to get pulled in that direction and siding with her daughter, which really hurts. How do I handle this? How do I heal our family? How do we stop all the finger pointing and should I let my wife go or insist on being included?
Life is rough, it is no easy, rose garden endeavor and everywhere there are people, there are problems, drama, fighting and defensiveness. This is true because everyone on the planet is dealing with a huge amount of fear, which puts us in a selfish, needy, defensive, and protective state - where we are incapable of loving, wise behavior.
Our fears of failure and loss keep us focused, every day, on getting something (validation, reassurance, attention or a feeling of superiority) to quiet our fears. Until we get this, many of us have an empty bucket and nothing to give.
This sounds dismal, but understanding this truth will help you to see human behavior accurately (as fear-based) and get yourself into a better space where you can rise above it.
Many people, who suffer from deep subconscious fear they aren’t good enough, cast other people around them as the villain. If they can do this and stay focused on your bad, they won’t have to deal with their own bad behavior or feelings of inadequacy. Chances are pretty good this daughter has cast you as the bad guy, to make herself feel better or she is haveing fear of loss (losing her mother’s focus, attention and love). This might drive her to use guilt to manipulate or control her mother into siding with her.
This happens a lot in blended families and can make everyone feel threatened and unsafe. But you can fight the fear in your family dynamics with strength and love. Here are three questions, which might change the way you see this situation and help you to be your best in spite of it:
1)Are you experiencing this situation for a reason? One of my hero’s is Viktor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps during World War II. During the midst of that horrible experience he asked himself this question, “Was it just random bad luck that I ended up here or did this happen for a reason, and there is meaning and purpose in my being here?”
After much thought, he decided there was no way to know for sure which might be truth. This left him with a powerful realization, when there is no way to know ultimate truth “We get to choose our perspective”.
You can choose to see your life as random chaos, and view others as having the power to take from you and even ruin your journey. You can experience pain and grief over this situation, or you can see life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher, who is co-creating your journey with you and every choice you make, to deiver the perfect educational experiences for you. This would mean this whole situation is here to bless you.
Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose” in how you see them. When you decide to see any situation as here to serve you in some way, you will suffer less and take things less personally. You may even be grateful for it.
You have the opportunity (if you choose it) to see this daughter is your perfect teacher. She is in your life for the same reason everything else is in your life – to grow you, to help you become stronger, wiser or more loving toward yourself and others.
This is the real purpose of everything in your life. When you get this, you will feel better about the situation.
2)How can I be a hero and turn this mess into a human achievement? The amazing Viktor Frankl decided to see his circumstance as having purpose and meaning (to grow him in some way). He decided if he was here for a reason, then he must turn this horrible situation into a human achievement of some kind. He could do this by choosing to stay in trust and love, and help and serve others every day, which was absolutely heroic in those circumstances.
He was dwelling deep in human fear and suffering, which meant there was a great deal of selfishness, anger and hate around him. It would have been easy to embrace negative thoughts and behavior. I am sure it took every ounce of power he had to stay in a place of love, but he proved it can be done.
We can rise with love, amidst hate and conflict. We have the power to behave with grace and strength when things go bad or people attack us. Remember we are eternal beings having a interesting educational experience here, but we cannot really be diminished or destroyed. Ultimately we are safe in God’s hands the entire time, and our infinite, absolute value cannot change. Therefore there is nothing to fear.
When we remember this and choose a fearless mindset, we can become a hero in any situation. We can dig deep for the love and strength (that is our true nature) and love our enemies, give to those that curse us, and even stay peaceful through an attack. We do this not because we are a doormat, but because we know they can’t really hurt us.
“Human potential at its best, is to transform a tragedy into a personal triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement.” - Viktor Frankl
You can do this too. Choose to view this situation as a story. Years from now someone will read this story and come upon this chapter (from today moving forward). What do you want them to read about you and how to handled this from today moving forward? Take the time to put write this story on paper and detail how you (the hero) will rise from here.
You might choose love towards your wife and her daughter no matter how they choose to treat you. You could ask them what would make them happy and if they choose to go alone, let them, without feeling slighted at all. But you must do this as a gift of love, not to claim moral high ground and beat them with your righteousness. You must take a completely generous, non-needy stance, showing them you are fine and will still stand in love towards them, no matter what they choose. This might make them see their unloving behavior and own it (but that cannot be your agenda).
Another possibility is that this lesson for you is about learning how to have mutually validating conversations so you can talk this through with your wife and daughter. There is a great worksheet on our website to help you with this. We also teach a relationship skills class each month, where we can show you how to have loving, mutually validating conversations and good boundaries so you can work through any problem.
3) What is in my control? You cannot control how other people think, feel or behave. You cannot make people like you or care about you. The only thing in your control is what you think, feel and do. You asked me, “How do I heal our family?” - the truth is you can’t, but you can heal yourself.
Viktor Frankl said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
Make this your focus every day. Heal yourself by turning anger over to God and choosing peace. Make some plans with your friends or family and show you wife and daughter what love really is. Love never forces or demands, or defends or attacks. It just says “I want you to be happy and I know I’m whole, loved and right on track in my classroom journey no matter what you choose.”
Choose to see your wife and her daughter as innocent, struggling, scared, students, doing the best they can with what they know (they may need more education, which you can trust the universe to supply right on time.)
Be the hero in this story by choosing an accurate perspective (that you have nothing to fear), strong thinking (based in principles of truth), and loving behavior (that is unselfish and giving). These are the only things in your control and you will at least be proud of yourself and like who you are.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My family and friends take me for granted, expect me to drop my agenda at their request and help them and speak to me often with disrespect. They also borrow money and don’t repay it. Why does this happen to me so often? Do I invite it? Even when I bring it up or hint that they aren’t treating me right, they just get bothered with me. How do I change this and get people to treat me right?
I do have some suggestions for you. If you are going to earn your friends' and family’s respect and change the way they treat you, you must start accepting responsibility for what is happening. You are inviting this. People are treating you badly because you let them.
You teach the world how to treat you — by what you allow. You probably have a great deal of subconscious fear that you aren’t good enough (almost all of us do). This can make us subconsciously believe that other people have more value than us and are more important than us. That is usually the real reason we give too much, sacrifice ourselves and lend money so willingly. We subconsciously think these other people matter more than we do and if you send that idea out into the world, people feel it and treat you accordingly.
If you don’t think you’re important, they won’t either.
Right now you have a doormat, victim mentality and your main focus is on other people’s behavior towards you. If you want this to change, you must focus on your behavior. You must take responsibility for your part in this problem. You are allowing it. You are too generous and you are not taking care of yourself.
This behavior isn’t generosity and love, it is weakness and insecurity, and these always lead to being taken advantage of and taken for granted. You can still be a nice person though, you just have to do it in a balanced way, where you are also nice to yourself.
It’s time for you to own that you are responsible for creating this, so you can change it. If it’s all on them, you have to wait around for them to change. Your life will change faster if you work on you.
You must start with healthy boundaries and a healthy balance between serving others and taking care of yourself. You must say no more often and speak your truth when someone treats you badly, and you must learn to do this from a space of trust and love, so you aren’t mean or selfish. You can learn to come from a space of strength and love at the same time.
First, I want you to be aware of the benefits of your victim mentality and why you might subconsciously like being here. You must make sure you are clinging to these:
Take a minute and own if you might be enjoying those benefits on any level. Then, ask yourself these questions.
If you are still struggling with speaking your truth, I would also some life coaching or counseling. You need to learn how to have mutually validating conversations so you can discuss issues without fear, defensiveness or drama. There is a free worksheet on my website that explains how, though.
There may also be some of you, who are experiencing actual mental, emotional or even physical abuse in your relationship. You may even be so used to this bad behavior it might seem normal and acceptable. If you suspect you are allowing abusive behavior, please read this article to recognize what is unacceptable behavior.
If you think you are experiencing abuse, you also need to seek out some professional help right away. You should not stay in a relationship where abuse is happening, unless the abuser is getting help and making serious improvements.
Keep working to have a healthy balance of care. Sometimes sacrifice to serve others and sometimes you say no and take care of you. Speak up for yourself about mistreatment and what you need, but you do it in a way that validates the other person’s needs too.
I realize changing yourself at this level will mean getting outside your comfort zone a bit and learning some new skills, but that’s what you are in the classroom of life to do.
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 popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Co-written by Kristena Eden
I am a good person, but I do lose my temper and get excessively angry at times and often take it out on my kids and spouse. I don’t understand why this happens and I don’t know how to stop doing it. It is not the person I want to be. Do you have advice on this?
When you get angry and lose your temper, it's usually because one or both of your core fears has been triggered. Your two core fears are:
1. The fear of failure (the fear you won’t be good enough) and
2. The fear of loss (the fear your life won’t be good enough).
The fear of failure is about feeling insulted, unloved, unvalued, unappreciated or unwanted. The fear of loss is a fear that you won’t have what you need, want or deserve, so you feel mistreated, cheated, robbed, short-changed or taken from at some level.
Take a minute and think about the last time you were angry. Did you feel dishonored or mistreated in some way? Was it a fear of loss issue, or a fear of not being loved, honored or appreciated issue? Do you find yourself feeling this same way often? Do you have an easy button to push in this area?
Your children trigger your two core fears better than anyone. When they do things wrong or make messes, you will either experience fear of failure (looking bad) or fear of loss (losing them or money). That is the reason you get angry with them so often.
Most people have one core fear that is more dominate though, and is their easiest to trigger. If failure is your trigger, you might feel insulted and get defensive too easy. If loss is your trigger you might be overly protective of yourself and feel mistreated all the time. See if you can see a pattern with your anger. Are you always feeling taken from or do you get angry when you feel insulted? If you can figure out your core trigger and recognize it, you will have more power to stop it.
The problem with anger is it's a very powerful emotion, even more powerful than love. Because of this, it can completely take over, confuse your judgment and cause some really bad, selfish behavior.
Here are some tips for getting control when anger strikes:
1. Calm down your body first. When you are angry, you experience the fight or flight response and your frontal lobe (the part of your brain that makes good decisions) shuts down. You will need to stop this physiological reaction and get your frontal lobe back on board, if you want to think your way through this maturely. You can get control by relaxing your body first. Step back, go in another room, ask for a timeout and then do some diaphragmatic breathing or relaxing muscle exercises. This is something everyone should learn to do to combat stress too. There is a worksheet on my website with different ways you can do this. Once your physical body is calm and you are thinking straight, go on to these other steps.
2. Recognize you have a choice. It is easy to believe that external events are what made you angry. It is even easier to blame other people, especially when they annoy you or they get on your nerves. The truth is you create your emotions. Your past experiences, perspectives and subconscious beliefs cause you to attach meaning or significance to events. This often involves inaccurate meaning that drives your angry reactions. But this first reaction is never your only choice. You could stop and think through some other options. Write them down and write what the outcome of choosing each option would be. You will quickly see that anger never produces the outcome you want. There are always better ways to discuss problems, find solutions and change things.
3. Find the real problem. Anger is an indicator there is a problem. The question is, “Is it your problem or is it someone else’s problem?” Is it a problem that can be changed or influenced by you or is it beyond your control? Do you need to get help with it? Is this really even about you? Or is another person having fear issues about themselves and just projecting that towards you. If this problem doesn’t belong to you, set it down and walk away. If it does belong to you, figure out a mature, balanced, calm way to address the issue. You may want to run it past someone less emotionally involved to get some advice.
4. Use empathy to change how you feel. Empathy is the ultimate game changer. Ask yourself, why would this other (intrinsically good) person do what he or she is doing? What are they scared of or why might they feel threatened or insulted? When you start to understand the issue from their position, you may gain some wisdom on how to solve it. You may need to give the other person some validation or reassurance to calm their fears. Even being willing to let them vent and get it out may calm things down. Focus on giving love, understanding and attention to the other person, because when you are focused on love you can’t be as angry.
5. See this experience as a lesson. What can you learn from this incident? How can you use this situation to help you become a better, stronger more loving person? How were you part of the problem? What could you do differently next time? If you focus on these questions you will process your anger better and quickly get past it.
6. Get some exercise or do an activity that releases angry energy. Take a walk, go for a jog, run up and down your stairs or hit a pillow. Just getting the anxious energy out will help.
7. Remember no person or situation can make you upset or angry. It is your thoughts about the situation that create your angry feelings, and you alone are the one responsible for those thoughts, so only you can make you angry. Situations themselves also don’t mean anything until you apply meaning to them. This means there are always other perspective options that might make you feel better. When you are responsible for your anger, you also have the power to change it. Stay responsible for everything you feel.
Life Coach By has another powerful free worksheet on her website that measures your anger and helps you (step by step) turn your anger into love. I highly recommend you get that too.
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.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
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.