First published on KSL.COM
Question:In your article on forgiveness, you mentioned that there are some situations in which we should forgive but definitely not let the person back into our lives. What does that look like to have boundaries? How do you handle that if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker? Why do I have to forgive if they aren’t sorry and aren’t going to change?
Answer:You asked a few different questions, so let me answer them one at a time.
Why do I have to forgive even when the person isn’t sorry and won’t change?
I could give you the usual answer — that you forgive so you feel better — but the truth is that your ego feels pretty good about staying mad. Instead, I encourage you to change what forgiveness is for you. Forgiving in the traditional sense meant you had to pardon someone for their mistake, because staying angry or hurt causes you more stress and unhappiness than it does the other person. So, you tried to do this for yourself, even though the person didn’t deserve it. This kind of forgiveness is hard and it’s the reason most of us struggle.
However, if you completely change your idea of what forgiveness means and, instead of pardoning people, make it all about changing your perspective about the incident and life in general, you can totally change how you feel about the situation. This can be done easily, even when someone doesn’t deserve it or isn’t sorry.
The most interesting perspective shift to try is to decide to see life as a classroom and this person and their mistake as being something that will ultimately serve you and make you stronger, wiser or more loving. This means that the hurt they caused can be used to bless and serve you in the long term. If you see the difficult person as a teacher in your classroom and their behavior as something that is serving your growth in some way, you might find you don’t even need to forgive. You can just let it go.
How do you handle forgiving if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker?
Forgiving and changing your perspective does not mean you have to associate with or have that person in your life. You can and should limit contact with people who are a negative influence, a drain on your energy, or makes your life harder or more miserable. But you can still have forgiveness and even compassion for them and how miserable it must be to live that way.
You can love them from afar. This means you don’t harbor hate that would keep you in a miserable state. You can release all that negativity and choose to trust God and the universe that you are OK and let this person go in peace, while also choosing to stay away from them.
You must give yourself permission to make your needs important. Taking care of yourself and making sure you are balanced and happy is actually your No. 1 job, and that isn’t selfish. Your job is to make sure your needs are met and your bucket is full so that you have something to even give other people. This will often mean limiting the contact you have with people who make you miserable and drain your bucket.
Ultimately, it would be great if you could get to a place where you could be around this person (when necessary) and not be negatively affected by them, but that doesn’t come easy. In the meantime, you should stay away from them and protect yourself from further abuse or mistreatment.
What does that look like to have boundaries?
If you cannot limit contact and are forced to associate with the difficult person, then you need to define and enforce some boundaries. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you figure out what boundaries are needed to make this relationship work:
It is important to make some new rules and write them down. Just deciding in your mind is not nearly as powerful as putting them on paper is. When you write the new rules on paper, there is a different commitment level that happens in following them. Remember though, boundaries are rules you enforce on yourself to save yourself from your own weakness. Write down which behaviors you are no longer going to allow and how you will enforce it.
The most important part of having boundaries and enforcing them is not letting other people’s reactions to your boundaries bother you. Chances are, they won’t like your new rules and they will make you feel guilty for having them. That is not your problem and, on some level, it isn’t even your business. You are in charge of your own behavior, thoughts and feelings; you are in charge of being the best, strongest, most loving version of yourself you can be. Focus all your energy on that and let other people deal with their own feelings or issues themselves.
Giving yourself permission to have boundaries is the hardest part, especially if you have been a lifelong people pleaser. This may take some time to give yourself permission to make your needs important without feeling selfish.
If you are dealing with a really toxic, difficult person, you might want a coach or counselor to help you process the emotions and learn to be easier on yourself. Be patient with yourself and just keep working on it.
You can do this.
I have received some questions recently asking how to set better boundaries. Many of us try so hard to be a nice person that we end up being a doormat, and this is something we must change if we want to be emotionally healthy and have good relationships.
Practicing self-sacrifice all the time is not sustainable. You must learn how to have a balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. This shift is probably going to push you out of your comfort zone, and it might make the people around you (who are used to you not having needs) get bent out of shape. They may not like it at first, but you have to start making your own needs matter.
In order to change this behavior, you must figure out why you don't enforce boundaries and make your own needs important. It is usually one or more of these four fear-based beliefs that are behind the behavior:
Once you understand the fear behind your weakness (and over-giving), you can write some new, more accurate rules of conduct for yourself. You must officially give yourself permission to change these beliefs and adopt some more accurate ones. The following new beliefs will help you to do this:
Using these principles to guide you, create some specific boundary rules for yourself and your life situations. Decide how you are going to enforce them and why it is healthy to do so. Write these new boundaries down on paper, don’t just think them. Writing them down makes them more concrete. Here are some examples of great (permission for self-care) boundaries:
Taking the time to write out, on paper, exactly how you are going to choose to feel and behave helps you to own these new boundary rules. You are creating official policies for yourself and your behavior. Read your new policies often and practice enforcing them with love and kindness. You can be strong and loving at the same time; and when you practice doing it, you will find your power and your love.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My marriage is in trouble because of some major differences. We have always disagreed on politics, but recently my spouse has also decided to leave the church we attend together and is very vocal about his feelings that all religions are false. This is driving a huge wedge between us because he basically hates something that I love. Plus, he is very confident and I am more insecure, so he makes me feel small for being a believer. How do you maintain a strong relationship when you are polar opposites in so many ways? Can you have a good relationship if you are this different from each other?
Yes, you can. It is possible to have a good, healthy relationship even though you are very different and have different beliefs — if you both can work on the following things:
1. Learn how your partner is wired
I am a big believer in personality types, love languages and other tools that help you understand how your partner sees and functions in the world. They help you get below the behavior and understand the fears and values that drive their behavior. You need to take stock of all the ways you are the same and different.
Make sure you know what issues trigger bad behavior in your partner and strive to make them feel safe with you every day. If they fear they aren’t good enough, you should be sensitive to that, avoid criticism and give lots of validation. If they fear loss or mistreatment, make sure they know your intent and that you would never mean to offend or take from them in any way. If they get triggered and upset, remember all bad behavior is a request for love, safety and reassurance.
For detailed instructions on how to do this, read last week's LIFEAdvice article.
2. Work on your self-esteem so differences aren’t so threatening
Your No.1 job is making sure you like yourself and are happy. When you like yourself and feel safe in the world, you can then create a healthy relationship. Also, make sure you know the difference between ego confidence and real, fearless confidence. Ego confidence is overcompensating for low self-worth and trying to pretend you don’t have it by acting strong and defensive. Real confidence comes from knowing your worth is infinite and not being afraid.
3. Develop a healthy mindset about your journey in life
Life is a classroom and we are all here for one reason: to learn and grow. When you keep this in mind, it's easier to see every experience as the perfect classroom you need to grow today. You can see how your current situation is here to give you and your spouse a chance to stretch in your abilities to love. It’s easy to love someone who is the same as you because they trigger no fears. A person who is vastly different from you pushes all your buttons and gives you a chance to work on yourself, your self-control, your maturity and your acceptance of others. I believe you marry your perfect teacher and your marriage is the most important classroom of your life.
4. See people as the same — not better or worse, or right or wrong
This is the most critical piece. Make sure you see all human beings (including your partner) as having the same value, no matter what they do or believe. You can disagree with their views, but don’t let their views influence their intrinsic value. Ellen DeGeneres taught this recently in defending her friendship with President George W. Bush. She explained that friendship (or any relationship) should not be based on having the same views.
5. Honor one another's beliefs and values
Make a promise to honor your partner’s beliefs and values, and ask them to honor yours. If you feel dishonored, talk about that in a mutually validating way. I have written many articles about how to have these safe, validating conversations. If you feel like the conversation is triggering one of you and is headed into a fight, call a timeout. Both agree to walk away and get yourself back in balance (safe instead of in a state of defensive fear) and try again.
Differences in religion are hard because they trigger a great deal of fear (since many value them of eternal consequence). You must both remember that neither of you can absolutely prove your religious views are true so, in the end, you are both choosing beliefs that work for you. Honor your partner's religious beliefs and their value in his or her life.
No matter what difference in belief or value is, see your partner as an equal and make it a rule to never talk down to him or her.
One final suggestion: Read this article together and ask what you can do to make your partner feel safe, honored and respected, and let him or her know what you need from them.
We get into trouble whenever we see any person, or group of people, as less, wrong, bad, or off-base and see ourselves as better, right, good or accurate. Humans tend to divide ourselves into groups and adopt arrogant, ego-driven ideas about how we are better. This is a tendency we have to become aware of and stop because I believe it is literally the cause of all the conflict on the planet.
If we can master some of the above suggestions first in our own homes, and create peace and love despite differences, we might bring peace to the rest of the planet. But it has to start with you and me.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Some of those problems might make us feel insulted or like something is taken from us because of a subconscious fear of failure or loss. We may be afraid of looking bad or of being less than others and so it may seem like some people threaten our happiness.
The problem is, holding onto negative feelings toward other people doesn’t produce anything but pain, stress and unhappiness.
Forgiveness can be difficult, especially if you feel personally attacked, but you can learn to do it.
I often hear my clients say, “I’m not ready to forgive.” I believe that's an excuse people use when they either don’t want to forgive or can't articulate the real reason they don't want to forgive.
If you can identify the reason you don’t want to forgive, then you can work on getting past it. Some possible reasons people may not want to forgive are:
If you're still struggling with some of these principles, read my article about choosing to be upset and remember, you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a corporate people skills trainer and coach. There are worksheets on forgiveness on her website and other resources and free assessments www.claritypointcoaching.com
My brother and sister-in-law moved close to our house this summer. One of their sons (my son’s cousin) is a real tyrant though, who insists on having control and manipulates my son. This bossy kid is unable to share and demands his way with tantrums constantly. I don’t know how to address this behavior with my son. I do not feel it is healthy for anyone to boss others around like this. I would never allow my child to do that. What would be the best way to bring this up with my son and teach him to stand up for himself, or talk about it with my sister-in-law and ask her to work with her child on this? These situations can be so awkward and I don’t know where to start because I don’t want to offend, but I hate how my child is being treated.
You are really asking me two questions. The first is how do I teach my child to enforce boundaries and not get pushed around by others? The second is should I bring up bad behavior to the child’s parent and how does one handle a conversation like that without offending?
We get a little excited by these people problems though, because there are great learning opportunities here for everyone involved. For you, it is a great exercise in speaking your truth and being your child’s advocate, and for your child, there is important opportunity to learn how to enforce boundaries and decide how they will allow other people to treat them. Learning this now could save your child years and years of trouble later in life. The bossy cousin also has a great lesson coming, about how you must treat people if you want them to stay in your life.
We would recommend you start with a conversation with your child, though, and see if he can change the situation by enforcing boundaries on his own. We believe teaching children to enforce boundaries is one of the most important things you can teach them because it will set them up to have healthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
Adults also need to work on finding a healthy balance between showing up for others and taking care of ourselves. Most of us find showing up for others is easier than taking care of ourselves. We believe this happens because you have been subconsciously programmed to see taking care of yourself as selfish and bad — but it’s not selfish. It’s healthy and wise.
If you don’t take care of yourself, ask for what you need and stand up for yourself, you will soon be empty and have nothing else to give to anyone. Remember, you are the one in charge of making sure your needs are met and your bucket stays full. This could mean staying away from people who drain you, asking for the time alone, or for whatever space you need to refill and nurture yourself. You must show your children how to do this by example. If you struggle with this, we highly recommend you get some coaching or counseling to work on worthiness and receiving.
Or you might have the opposite problem and be really good at taking care of yourself, but struggle to want to show up for others. Either way, you get to work on balance.
Here are some tips on teaching children to enforce boundaries:
1. Ask questions
Find a time to ask your kids some questions about how they feel about playing with the cousin who insists on controlling them and always having his way. Ask them how it makes them feel and what they think is fair in those situations.
Great Parenting Tip: You should always ask questions and listen to your children before you give any advice on anything. Find out what they already know and ask questions to see if they can figure out the right answer on their own.
2. Ask permission to share
If they can’t see the answer, then ask if they would be open to some ideas on how they might handle the situation.
Great Parenting Tip: Always ask permission to share your ideas or advice and make sure the child is open to it before you say a word. This shows you respect them and their views. (Do this with adults, friends and family too).
3. Teach principles
Once you have permission, explain to them the concept of compromise and explain the need for everyone to have a say and to have a turn. Spend time teaching your children the importance of seeing everyone as the same (in importance and value) and that everyone should have the opportunity to choose how and what to play.
It’s important as you discuss the behavior of the cousin, you do not put him down in any way. You have a great opportunity to teach compassion here and this child has the same value as your children, it’s only his behavior that you are commenting on, not his intrinsic worth as a person.
4. Give them language
Equip your child with the language to enforce boundaries through role-playing the scenarios with him. This will help him feel confident to discuss the problem next time it occurs. Teach him how to stand firm and share his feelings lovingly using language like, “I think it would be fair for all of us to have a turn at deciding the game today. When you choose all the time it makes me not want to play with you.” or “Absolutely, let’s play your game, and then let me have a turn at deciding the next game so we all get to do what we want to do.”
If language such as this is unsuccessful and the cousin’s behavior doesn’t change, then it’s very helpful to equip your children with the language to excuse themselves from the play or ask for help from an adult, without appearing like a tattle tale. Giving him phrases such as “OK, I don’t feel this is fair that you keep choosing the game and it’s not very fun for me to go along with your ideas all the time, so I’m going to go home and play by myself for a while and choose something I want to do.”
You can decide from there whether to speak to the child’s mother yourself or just keep your son at home with you. The other mother may ask, at some point, what’s going on and why your child won’t come play anymore. Be prepared with the same tips above to have a loving conversation with the mother. Ask questions and listen first to see if she has seen any problems or concerns when the boys played together. Find out if she was aware, at all, of what was happening. Then, ask permission to speak your truth. There is a great communication worksheet on our website which can guide you through having mutually validating conversations.
Remember to refrain from judgment and don’t speak down to the other parent as if you know more or better. Speak to them as an equal and you will receive the same respect you are giving them back and you can hopefully come to a mutual solution.
Begin the conversation with a permission questions like, “Hey, would you be open to talking with me about how the children are playing? I’m a little concerned with something I see is happening.”
If you receive a "no" then you know it’s either not a good time or that the parents are not open to feedback or a mutual solution. This will then help you to make the decisions that are healthiest for your children. Receiving feedback without being prepared is often hard to take, so asking permission ensure you create the best environment possible for the conversation.
When you speak your truth try to use more "I" statements than "you" statements. “I have noticed that when our children play your son has a need to consistently have his way and is not open to compromise. I find that my child is not being heard or having a turn, which I don’t feel is healthy for him. I wonder if you would be open to us as parents doing our best to get involved, to ensure all the children are getting a chance to share their ideas and choose a game, as this is really the healthiest way for them to learn to play and get along. Would you be open to helping me with this?”
Learning to have these boundary conversations is challenging, but this healthy dialogue really does make for lasting relationships. You may need to have a few conversations with your child about speaking his truth in a loving way before he has the confidence to speak up for himself, however, these are all wonderful and healthy discussions that will serve your child well in their future.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My husband has a lot of hobbies and friends, and he stays very busy. How do I help him balance that better and let go of my resentment when he is having his "me" time? Should I always be number one (like I feel I should) or do I need to be more flexible and let him have his time? I build up a lot of resentment that I can't let go of and I feel like he doesn't want to be with me. He says he does, but he has a lot going on and is always busy. How do I communicate my feelings out of love, instead of resentment, nagging and bitterness?
Before saying anything to him about this, you must figure out what it is you really want. Do you want to spend more time having fun with your spouse? Do you want more time to go have fun with your friends? Do you want him to help out and stay home more? Or do you want your spouse to feel guilty and bad for being selfish?
If you don’t get clear about what you really want, your subconscious programming and your ego may drive behavior that will create something you don’t want. So, take a minute and decide what you really want.
Then, understand resentment around your spouse’s “me time” can be a sign that you aren’t taking care of yourself and getting the “me time” you need. And I hate to tell you this, but you are the one to blame for that.
You are the one who is in charge of taking care of your needs. If you need something more or different in your life to feel happy and fulfilled or supported, you must ask for it and make it happen.
You cannot make your spouse responsible for your self-esteem, happiness and fulfillment. You are in charge of those. If you have trouble doing self-care, you may want to get some coaching to help you get past the guilt issues that prevent you from taking care of your own needs.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself and ask for what you want and need. It’s healthy, and when you realize this and start getting yours, you will also stop seeing your husband's self-care as selfish and you will resent him less.
Also, remember there is a difference between being his first priority and you being all he needs to have a fulfilled life. We are all very different and some of us need friends, hobbies and outside interests to feel fulfilled, while others are totally happy with just their spouse and children. The question isn’t what is right or wrong, but what is right for each of you.
It sounds like your husband may be what we call an “Affectionate” Psychological Inclination. Affectionates have a huge need for friendship, connection, variety, travel and being social. They can’t be happy without it. They thrive on connection and socializing. If your husband is like this, you must decide if you can love him as he is, because it is the way he is wired.
The good news is he also loves his family and spouse a lot and values time with them too. So, if you start planning activities, trips or fun adventures with him, he would love that. If you need to get baby sitters more often so you can go out with friends or have more time away, he would also understand that.
Before you approach him to talk about your feelings about his activities, do these three things:
When you are overly selfless and sacrifice yourself all the time, even a little self-care looks selfish. So, be open to the possibility that you are the one who is actually out of balance, not your husband. I could be wrong though (maybe he is a tad too selfish) and if that’s true, you definitely need to speak up and ask him to get more centered.
Just handle the conversation right by not casting him as the bad guy, and own your issues around not asking for what you need. Then, find a solution to this problem together as a “WE,” not against each other as two “I”s. Whenever you are overly focused on protecting yourself, you are focused on the marriage. This is true because fear and love cannot happen at the same time in the same place.
In each interaction with your spouse, you are either putting more fear or more love into the relationship. If you are feeling taken from, mistreated, defensive and resentful and you are seeing your spouse as the bad guy, you aren’t bringing love, you are bringing fear.
So see your husband as the same as you, as a struggling student in the classroom of life trying to figure this whole thing out the best he can. Let him be the same as you in value and talk to him as a peer, equal and partner. As a team you can figure out how both of you can have a healthier balance between selfish and selfless. If you approach it this way, you both win.
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.