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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My wife seems to love our children a lot more than she likes me. She isn’t enthusiastic about intimacy either, and this is a great disappointment to me. Because I don’t feel loved, I find myself frustrated and even angry towards her. I know I hurt her feelings sometimes, but I’m not happy, and this isn’t the marriage I wanted. Having said that, I also don’t want to leave. I want to keep my family together. I am trying to forgive and love her as she is, but it is hard. How am I supposed to deal with this? Is there any way to encourage her to change?
It sounds like what you want is to feel more important, loved and wanted by your wife. The trick to making this happen is to get rid of disappointment. I know it sounds illogical, but your disappointment can be relationship poison that does further damage and infuses your relationship with fear (of failure and loss).
The truth is we are all disappointed in our spouses at some level, because no one is perfect and anyone you marry is going to have some faults and flaws. There is a down side to being married to everyone, even you. When you become frustrated with your spouse’s flaws they feel this and subconsciously pull away from you to protect themselves.
This happens because all of us are battling two core fears every day, which cause most of our pain and bad behavior. The first is a fear of failure (the fear that we aren’t good enough) and this is our deepest and most painful fear, but fear of loss (the fear of missing out, being robbed or mistreated) is also painful and scary.
When you or your spouse experience either of these fears, you end up in a selfish space where your focus is primarily on yourself and getting what you need. In this space you are literally incapable of love. You can’t do fear and love at the same time.
I would guess you are both living in fear and therefore not giving enough love to the other. Your wife is probably afraid she isn’t good enough (most women are) which could make her less comfortable with intimacy. Her disinterest in spending time with you triggers your fear of loss. When you feel loss you then act disappointed in her, which makes her feel like a failure even more. This can become a vicious cycle and suck the love from the relationship.
This is fixable, but it is going to require a shift in your perspective, some forgiveness and a commitment to being more loving and validating than you ever have before. Here are some things you can do to create more positive feelings, less fear and less disappointment in your marriage:
1. Allow your emotions in and sit with them. Take some time to experience the disappointment you are feeling. You may want to journal about your feelings so you have a chance to express them without further hurting your spouse. What expectation did you have that is causing your greatest pain?
2. Ask yourself, "Are these emotions going to create what I want?" What is it going to create if you keep telling yourself this story of disappointment and continue to feel anger and resentment toward your spouse? Is this going to motivate your spouse to give you what you want?
The answer is no, it won’t. Holding onto feelings of disappointment toward your spouse will only trigger more fear of failure in your spouse, which will actually make her less loving toward you. Fear, sadness, self-pity, begging, blaming, nagging and sulking do not create loving feelings. These are fear and lack behaviors, which only create more fear and lack.
If you want more love you have to give love, encouragement, praise, appreciation, admiration, respect and kindness. These create more love.
3. Ask yourself, "How can I create what I want?" We recommend you try the encouragement approach and shower your spouse with appreciation, respect, admiration and praise. Instead of focusing on your disappointment, write on paper all the good things about her and who she can be and choose to focus on those. The opposite of disappointment is gratitude. Show your spouse you are grateful to have her in your life and mean it!
We have found that when a person feels greatly loved, appreciated, admired and wanted, they become a lot more giving back. Tell her how lucky you are to be married to her and make sure you are not being loving with strings attached. You cannot expect anything back. You must build her up and give to her because you are working on becoming a more loving person, not just to get what you want. If you will consistently show up for her and give more, it should start to change how she feels about you.
(If you try these things for a long time and still get nothing back, you may then decide this relationship isn’t working for you. But don’t throw in the towel until you have done your part to give love, to the best of your ability first.)
4. Never cast your spouse as the bad one. It is human nature to want to see others as worse than us. We subconsciously do this because casting anyone else as the bad one makes us feel like the good one, but this is rarely accurate. And all human beings have the same infinite, intrinsic worth and deserve to be treated and respected as your equal. You must also remember that though you may not have the same flaws as your spouse, you do have flaws. Committing to see your spouse as the same as you, especially during conversations with her, will make her feel safer and less defensive. Admit when you are wrong, apologize often and let your spouse see your heart is soft, teachable and open. This will create a safer space for her to do the same.
Seeing her as the bad one will not make her want more intimacy either. We like and are drawn to the people who like us. Show her she is wanted, admired and liked, and she will grow more and more fond of you again.
5. Trust that your life is the perfect classroom for you. You are here to learn and grow, and your marriage is the class that will teach you the most important lessons on love. We always marry our greatest teacher (for better or worse) we sign up for this class. This person is going to help you grow by pushing your buttons, triggering your fears and thus help you to stretch and become stronger, wiser and more loving. That is the real purpose of this relationship. (I know this because it's the purpose of our whole journey.)
So, figure out and focus on the lessons your unique marriage experience (with your spouse) could be meant to teach you. This is your opportunity to grow in love, strength and wisdom. Marriage is hard because you get to see the very worst of another person, and they get to experience the worst of you, yet you both must learn to forgive and accept each other anyway. This is a challenge, but you are meant to conquer it. You can do this.
The more you accept this person and this situation as your perfect classroom and focus on improving you, the better the relationship will be. Once you have created a more safe and loving space in your marriage, you can then communicate with your spouse about what you want to change. You should ask her what you can do better to make her happier and then share what you would really appreciate in the future from her. Just don't have these conversations while in fear and judgment. Communicate only when you are firmly grounded in trust and love.
Get a free worksheet to help you process disappointment or take the free fear assessment and start working on your fear issues here.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and an expert in simple psychology. Kristena Eden is a Claritypoint certified coach who works with couples and families.
This article was first published on KSL.com
I am, admittedly, a drama queen. I overreact to things and am even prone to temper tantrum-like behavior. I get offended easily and am almost always mad, sad or upset about something. What is wrong with me? Can you give me any advice that would help me not feel this way? I know these upset feelings are having a negative effect on my marriage, and I really want to change.
I’m going to give it to you straight if that’s OK. You are basically psychologically immature. You let your subconscious programing and your emotions drive. It’s not your fault though. You were probably never taught another way of being, and you have been doing the best you could with what you knew. You may have had a parent who was the same way (reactive, easily offended or emotionally defensive).
Some people were lucky enough to have psychologically mature parents who taught them how to think situations through accurately and logically, and talk about feelings in a respectful way, but I would guess you didn’t get that.
The good news is that you change and learn to handle your life with more wisdom, compassion and mindfulness, but it is going to take some work. I would also strongly suggest getting some professional help. A guide who knows how to get you there would make changing a lot easier.
Tal Ben-Shahar, an author and lecturer at Harvard University and the author of the book "Being Happy," says psychological maturity has three components.
Go through this process before you react to anything:
The path to eliminating the inner drama queen lies in seeing situations more accurately and learning to respond with more maturity, love, wisdom, honesty and compassion. It lies in learning to communicate better with more understanding and respect for yourself and others.
Even if you have never learned to do this, it’s not too late to change.
You can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and professional speaker on people skills.
This article was published first on KSL.com
My friend recently told me that the way my husband treats me is emotional abuse. We have been married for almost 30 years and the way we deal with each other seems pretty normal to me, but I'm wondering now if it is normal. Do other women get yelled at or criticized as much as I do? I know my husband doesn’t see any good in me at all and never has, so we don't have a very loving relationship, but how would I know if his behavior is crossing the line and is abusive?
I'm so glad you asked this question because you are not alone on this. I think a lot of people put up with abuse because they think it's normal.
According to a study from the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 39 percent of women have suffered emotional abuse by their husbands/partners and this kind of abuse can go on for years for the very reason you described. It is so easy to rationalize, misinterpret or overlook once it feels normal.
The problem is not only coming from men though. Women can also be the perpetrators of emotional abuse and the problem with accepting this behavior as normal is that you are teaching the man (or women) in your life that it's OK to treat people this way, so they will never change.
We are here (in the classroom of life) to learn about love, and your spouse has some important lessons coming that he really needs to learn. You have (apparently) been selected as the teacher on this one because you may be the only person who can teach him this vital human lesson — it is not okay to be unkind and cruel to other people.
You are not serving anyone’s best interest when you allow him to mistreat you. It doesn’t serve you, your spouse, or your children. It sets a terrible example and gives power to the idea that some people have less value than others, which is not true. All people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
Everyone has disagreements with their spouse on occasion, but some kinds of fighting behavior are not acceptable. I believe there are three types of “bad behavior” in relationships and I want you to be familiar with them so you can tell what is okay or reasonable and what is not.
Here are the three categories of bad relationship behavior:
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.
The Help Guide Website also has more about the clinical symptoms of emotional abuse that you may want to read.
The bottom line is, you deserve to feel safe and respected in your home. In a healthy relationship you should also be able to have mature, rational, mutually validating conversations about problems that arise. 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 emotional or psychological abuse. Your rationalizing this as normal makes sense when it is all you have experienced for most of your adult life, 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, respect and compassion.
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.
I know that change or seeking help sounds scary because ‘the known,’ even though it’s bad, feels safer than the ‘unknown.’ But I promise (and I know this from personal experience) you will grow and learn so much from standing up for yourself. It will be a huge win in the end. There will be some really hard moments, but you are stronger than you think you are, and you really do deserve better.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and is a popular speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
My spouse has anger issues. She has been mad at me for years and can’t seem to let it go. She also expresses a lot of anger towards other people. She can invent reasons to be angry at anyone. I don’t understand her anger and it concerns me, especially when I’m sometimes the target of it. Is there anything I can do?
First, I want you (and I believe it would serve us all) to better understand the psychology behind anger. It usually comes from these three factors:
A victim experience can even be created when someone has done something wrong themselves and you have just called them on their bad behavior. Because they don’t want to be responsible for their behavior, they subconsciously focus on how mean you were for bringing it up. (Many of you have experienced this with your spouse or significant other.)
I experienced this recently when I was pulled over by the police for running a stop sign. It was a very interesting anger experience. My first thought (driven by my subconscious programming) was to think of an excuse that might get me out of being responsible for that partial stop. I hoped that this police officer would be nice (and not be a jerk) about my very slight offense and let me off with a warning, but the officer did her job, handled me in a very matter of fact way, and gave me a ticket.
I was not happy about this and I honestly felt mistreated. I experienced a great deal of anger towards this officer because I felt wronged. I did stop at that stop sign, just not long enough, apparently, but there was no reason to be so rude about it — that was my thinking. There was even a part of my ego that wanted to say something mean to her about what a rude person she was. I didn’t, because I'm pretty emotionally mature and nonreactive, but my ego side sure wanted to.
Instead, I sat in the car for a minute and really experienced my angry emotions. The amount of anger I had towards this officer, who was just doing her job, was amazing. I realized this experience could help me to understand why some people, who have more police “interactions” because of their skin color or ethnicity (which is a reality) would start to feel a great deal of anger towards the police.
I also understand it because I have an African-American daughter who gets followed around stores by nervous employees all the time. This can create some anger in both of us, but fortunately, we are able to see that it isn’t really about us (it’s about their fear) so we strive to ignore it.
I tell you this because I want you to understand that your spouse probably suffers from a general fear of being insulted or taken from all the time. This may come from her past and is a part of her subconscious programming. She probably also suffers from low self-esteem (though again, she might cover this with pride and ego) and to compensate for this she will subconsciously look for offenses to be angry about, because being angry at “them or you” makes her ego feel powerful and somewhat better about herself. By casting you or someone else as the bad guy, it feels like by default, that makes her the good guy.
So, now that you better understand her psychology, your question was is there anything you can do?
First, understand when the anger is directed at you that it isn’t really about you. It is really a projection of her fears about herself and need to feel powerful and right by making others wrong. You must see her anger accurately for what it is, so you won’t let it bother you too much. It is her problem. Don’t take it on and suffer over it.
Second, be nice, kind, calm and logical and treat her with all the respect and love that you can, even when she doesn’t deserve it. Praise her and validate her whenever possible too (about any good behavior you see). This is the last thing she expects as she is subconsciously hoping you will behave badly back, so she can further cast you as the bad one. Being kind will throw her off her game, and it may actually force her to see she is the one behaving badly. This is what you want.
Don’t cast any stones or point out that she is in the wrong. You want her to realize this on her own (it’s much more powerful this way.) Having said that, if a lot of time goes by and she just isn’t seeing her anger issues or working on them, you may need to get a professional involved who can help her to see how her behavior is a problem and show her how to change it. It works a lot better if a third-party professional, not you, is the one to point out her need to learn forgiveness.
I also mentioned in last week’s article (about the most important New Year's resolution you could make) that we all need to start seeing other people as the same as us, and not cast them as the bad guys, because this is the real answer to stopping hate and anger. Make sure you read it if you missed it and remember that we are all imperfect, struggling, scared human beings doing the best we can with what we know and we all have the exact same value.
If you would commit to see other people (and especially your spouse) accurately this year and never see yourself as better, it will take your ego out of the picture and bring love, tolerance and acceptance back in. We must stop casting our spouse, neighbors, the police or people who are different from us as the bad guys. We must remember that anger towards another person or group of people will hurt you more than it will hurt them.
Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; but you are the one who gets burned.”
Understand that every experience where you feel wronged or insulted is there to help you grow, learn to forgive and become a better person. It is your lesson on forgiveness, tolerance, understanding and becoming more mature (not theirs).
Even in situations when a wrong needs to be brought up, you must do it from a place of love for the other person, not seeing them as the bad guy. It must be handled from a place of forgiveness, seeing the other person as the same as you, as a struggling human being who has much more to learn.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
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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.