This was first published on KSL.COM
I have heard from lots of people who are worried about family holiday gatherings and dealing with difficult relatives.
We all have some complicated family relationships that can trigger tension, defensiveness and fear because of what they do and say. During the holidays it is difficult to avoid these relatives, so it's helpful to work on becoming more resilient and "bulletproof" before these parties happen.
Note: The following advice is not advice for dealing with abuse or trauma. This advice is meant for people who have some annoying, rude and disrespectful relatives who say hurtful things or treat you in a judgmental way. If you are dealing with abuse, trauma or really toxic people, avoiding family gatherings might be the best call.
For the rest of your people-problem situations, I have one powerful truth that can help you to stay balanced around your challenging relatives and hurtful things they might say this year.
'I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts'
A Course in Miracles lesson says: "I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts."
This is a tricky concept that might take some thinking to understand, but it means it is not someone’s words that hurt you, it is the thoughts you have about their words that hurt you.
If someone makes a hurtful remark to you — something that triggers pain — it can feel like a poison dart fired straight to your heart. It will sting for sure, but how long it stings and how badly it stings is something you do have some control over.
Do you ever let a dart stay in causing you pain all day or all week? How often do you pull the dart out and throw it on the floor so you can move on, but then later pick it back up and stab yourself with it again and again — for months, years, or even decades? It’s over and it happened a long time ago, why do you still think about it when it just causes you pain?
When the event is over and you are still feeling the sting, it has become a self-inflicted injury. You have the power to stop the stinging if you can change the way you are looking at what the other person did. If you can change the way you look at it, you can change how you feel.
This is high-level emotional intelligence, and it might take some work to get it right. So don’t be discouraged if you are not here yet. The more you read, practice and learn, the easier it will get. This is not victim shaming, though, because the fault does lie with the other person; however, at some point, you have to process the situation and decide to stop letting it hurt you. You have to take your power back. You do this by thinking about words, thoughts and opinions that come from other people. What are they? What are they made of? What power do they hold?
They are nothing. They are wisps of ideas drifting through people’s minds and out their mouths. They have no form and no matter. They do nothing. They mean nothing. They have no power unless you give them power.
Your thoughts about what the person said or did are what create the sting, and you are so powerful you can create that sting from almost nothing. This is especially true if you have some deep negative beliefs about yourself in play — beliefs you have had since you were a child. These old subconscious beliefs are your open wounds; they are spots where others can barely touch you and it hurts.
I have a deep fear that says, “I am not good enough.” Because I have had this fear my whole life, it is my problem. It belongs to me. But just like an open wound, it's a place where it’s very easy for other people to hurt me.
These other people are completely responsible for any unkind things they say or do, but I am responsible for my original fear issue that makes their comments hurt me so much. I am also responsible for the thoughts I have that intensify and prolong the hurt.
Your ego thinks stabbing yourself with these old darts for decades is a good way to protect you from further pain. It thinks the constant stabbing will remind you to protect yourself from that person in the future, but the cost for this perceived protection is decades of pain anyway.
Instead of allowing thoughts that make mean comments hurt longer than necessary, practice the following:
1. Trust that your intrinsic value as a person is infinite and absolute.
Nothing anyone says or does can diminish your value. No matter what happens to you, you still have the same value as every other person on the planet. When anyone makes an unkind comment, remind yourself that it doesn’t have any power and changes nothing. You are still intact and fine. Imagine the dart bouncing off and landing on the ground. Then, leave it there.
2. Trust that every person around you is in your life for your own good.
Everyone who surrounds you is there for one reason: to help you grow and become stronger, wiser and more loving. Some of these people help you by pushing your fear buttons, to give you a chance to work on your insecurities and issues. When you see them as teachers in your classroom who are giving you chances to practice being strong and loving, you won’t take their comments as personally.
3. Remember that thoughts or words other people say about you are irrelevant.
These words mean nothing and do nothing. They are wisps of energy that are immediately gone and have no power to sting you. You can only have pain if you think about their actions stinging you. Instead, send them on their way with this thought: “Thanks for giving me a chance to practice being strong, but I am done with that lesson and moving on.” Send them on their way (figuratively) with a blessing and hope for their own growth and learning.
4. Focus all your energy on being the love in the room at your family gatherings.
Find others around you who need validation, love and support, and spend the whole party giving these things to them. Turn your party into a focused, giving love session instead of a minefield of offenses and insults. Go into it with a mission in mind and don’t let anyone knock you from that focus.
Love works miracles because you cannot do love and fear at the same time. If you are focused on love for other people and yourself, you don’t have time to be offended.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
When you get triggered by someone or something that makes you feel mistreated, taken from, insulted or unsafe, your body automatically shifts into a sympathetic nervous system response. This is the way your body prepares to flee or fight danger.
In this state, your vision narrows, your heartbeat rises, and your frontal lobe (the part of your brain that is logical, practical, wise, and mindful) shuts down. This happens, because you need all the energy your body has for fleeing.
The problem is that narrow vision and frontal lobe shutdown may have served our ancestors because their troubles were trying to chase and eat them. But today the things that make you feel scared or upset are often just people problems, arguments, or conflicts — all of which would go better if you used logical, practical and wise thinking.
When you are in a fight-or-flight state, your subconscious programming and stress — not your conscious brain — drive your behavior. You aren’t thinking clearly enough to make a thoughtful decision about your words or behavior. You are just reacting, and this type of reaction is not always wise or loving. You are more likely to say something stupid you will regret later.
It's my experience that when people get mad, upset or fearful, they also get selfish. This happens because they are afraid, and fear is all about you. Think about the last time your child did something wrong that made you freak out. Chances are you were feeling fear of failure as a parent and fear of loss around your child’s life and safety. In this place, you might have triggered your fight-or-flight response. This means your entire focus was on saying or doing anything that would make you feel better or safer.
As long as you are a fear-driven, fight-or-flight state, you can’t see anything but your own need to feel safe again. As a parent, you might, therefore, punish the child in whatever way makes you feel safer. You will completely miss what your child needs at this moment. This happens because your fear made you selfish.
You need to learn how to get your brain, logic, love and wisdom back before you respond to any situation or problem. Here is a procedure to follow that should help you avoid acting stupid or selfish when you are mad:
1. Call a timeout
Set up a rule with the people in your life who most often trigger you: Agree that if either of you calls a timeout, you both agree to stop talking and walk away, for about 10-15 minutes, so you can calm down and handle the conversation in a more balanced, logical and unemotional way. As soon as you can tell that you or the other person is getting unbalanced and upset, call a timeout. Use this time to do some of the suggestions below.
2. Do some diaphragmatic breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing means taking slow, deep breaths and pushing your stomach out (as fat as you can) on every in-breath, and sucking in your stomach while you breathe out. Do this for 5 minutes or until you feel calmed down.
3. Focus on personal value and belief
Remember that your value is infinite and absolute. No one can diminish you. You are the same you, no matter what anyone says or does. Remember that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you and every experience is a perfect lesson.
4. See the equality
Make sure you see this other person as the same as you. They are also a work in progress, just like you. Don’t talk down to them or see them as wrong or bad. You might not have done what they did, but you have other faults.
5. Think of the other person
Can you see what the other person is afraid of? Are they afraid of loss or afraid they aren’t good enough? Understanding the fear driving them right now will tell you what they need. Are they tired, hungry or incapable of mature behavior because they haven’t had the opportunity to learn a better way? What has happened in their life, that affects their current behavior?
6. Develop a plan
What are some possible responses to this situation? Think of many, and write next to each option what you think the outcome of choosing that option would be. Figure out a fear-motivated attitude in each response, as well as a love-motivated attitude.
For example, if one option is not to say anything about the offense, a fear-based attitude would be to not bring it up because you are scared to do so. A love-motivated attitude might be to see the other person's fears and realize the offense isn’t about you, then just forgive them and let it go. Which would be healthier? Cross out all the fear-based options and choose a love-based response that feels healthy to you.
The next time you find yourself in a fight mode or feeling angry or upset, ask for a timeout to get balanced, calm and smarter before you continue. Then pull this article out and run through every step. Once you have done this a few times, it will start to be your go-to procedure for smart responding. Fighting smart (instead of emotional, selfish and stupid) will be a game-changer in all your relationships.
Still, you cannot control other people. Sometimes their fear keeps them in fight-or-flight mode, and you can't fix that. Giving them lots of validation and reassurance may help quiet their fear enough that you can have a productive conversation with them. However, if they are badly fear-triggered and can’t get themselves under control, or are abusive or mean, enforce a boundary and don’t communicate with them until they can do it respectfully.
You can do this.
I love your column and appreciate what you say about fear being a problem, but isn’t there some fear that motivates us and keeps us safe? I can think of some fear situations that help me avoid danger or be more motivated. (I) just wondered what you would say to that.
Fear of being physically hurt can prompt behavior that makes you safer, and fear of failure can motivate you. The question is, can you be too afraid of danger and does motivation require fear? Is being fear-motivated healthy? Would being passion- or love-motivated be better?
I will concede that fear for your safety serves to protect you on occasion, but you don’t want to live there. That would be miserable. Being in fear can be motivating, but I believe being motivated by love and passion is better. Sometimes fear is more paralyzing than motivating. However, there is another way that some fear serves you and ensures the survival of the human race.
I write often about seeing life as a classroom and how this mindset helps you to see every single situation, emotion, challenge, process or feeling you experience as existing to serve your growth in some way (and this includes feeling fear). Fear is in your life to serve you.
I actually believe fear is biologically necessary, even critical to our growth because it keeps us in a constant state of dissatisfaction and insecurity — which motivates us to keep growing, innovating, evolving and striving to survive. If we didn’t have any fear, we would get too content and might stop improving, growing and evolving, which could lead to the decline and eventual end of the human race.
That might seem a little extreme, but growth, change and improvement are what push our species forward. We must stay somewhat dissatisfied and insecure so we will do the things necessary to grow. If you were totally satisfied with where you are and who you are, all growth would stop. This might be the reason that as soon as you get comfortable, the universe throws a curve ball your way. The classroom of life requires challenges to keep us growing.
But too much fear is also a problem. Too much fear can have the opposite effect and might hold you back from taking risks, pushing your limits, and reaching new goals because it simply feels safer not to. You might, at this very moment, feel safer playing small in some area of your life.
Too much satisfaction means you are drifting
In his book "Outwitting the Devil," Napoleon Hill says drifters are people who are neglecting growth and mindlessly reacting to life with the same old patterns over and over. He claims that 98% of us fall into this category at times in our lives.
“Those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his own mind. … A drifter accepts whatever life throws in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He doesn’t know what he wants from life and spends all of his time getting just that.”
The universe doesn’t want you to be too satisfied with the status quo. It wants you to learn and grow and keep changing your life. That is what you are here for.
But too much dissatisfaction is also a problem.
Too much dissatisfaction makes you anxious
You could get caught up in a never-ending pursuit of perfection or getting something else. You may develop the mindset that if you could just get this, or get that thing, or accomplish that goal, and get there, then you would be happy. This leads to a life of stress, controlling others, and pushing everything and everyone to meet your expectations.
This type of action is hard on your relationships because your focus is selfishly on you and getting what you want or need to feel better. This is also a miserable way to live. The problem with too much dissatisfaction is as soon as that goal or task is accomplished, you already need something else.
Finding the sweet spot mindset
You must find the sweet spot in the middle, where you are dissatisfied and driven to keep growing while also feeling satisfied and at peace about where you are now. The key to finding that spot is managing your fear instead of letting it manage you. Here is how:
1. Choose the mindset that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you all the time. Understand that every experience is here to serve you because your purpose for being here is growth. This will help you to set aside any anxiety around things not being done or right. It will eliminate the excessive dissatisfaction behind your anxiety and let you feel more peaceful and content. It will help you let go of your expectations and feel satisfied because where you are is perfectly where you should be at this moment. You can still set goals and strive to change and improve the future, but where you are now is perfect for now.
2. Choose the mindset that your value can’t change. No matter what you do, you will always have the same intrinsic value as every other person on the planet. This means you can take risks, try new things, speak up, stretch yourself and risk failure while at the same time feeling safe. This mindset takes failure off the table. You were drifting because you thought it was safer; with this new mindset, you can take risks and still feel safe. You can engage in the classroom and shoot high without fear.
So, fear, dissatisfaction, and insecurity do serve you, but only in that sweet spot where you push yourself to take risks to grow. At the same time, know your value and your journey are perfect, so fear doesn’t take over and make you anxious. It’s all about balance.
I still believe you can protect yourself from physical danger using wisdom and love for yourself instead of fear, and you will be more motivated by love and passion than fear ever made you. But I will concede that some fear is useful for our evolution and growth because, without it, we wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn to rise above fear and choose trust.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I went through a horrible divorce many years ago and it made me feel unwanted and unloved. I can’t seem to get past those feelings, and because of that I am not dating or trying to meet anyone. I think it’s a combination of being afraid, thinking I am not good enough, and being afraid of rejection. Is there anything I can do to get past those fears and move on?
There are some things you can do that would help you move forward and feel more courageous about dating. But before we get to that, I want to explain how our past experiences create beliefs, mental rules or policies that dictate our behavior in the future.
This process started when you were a small child and everything you saw or experienced created ideas and beliefs about who you are and how you fit in the world. But it's possible that many of these conclusions may not have been accurate.
It sounds like the divorce also prompted you to make some new beliefs about your value and relationships. You may have drawn conclusions that the rejection meant you aren’t good enough to deserve love. This isn’t a fact, though; it’s just a belief (or a subconscious policy or rule) you may have applied to the event.
The good news is while you can’t go back and change what happened, you can go back and change what it meant. This is where "time travel" comes in. You have the ability to visualize when you went through that experience and choose a different meaning around it. You can also change the beliefs it created.
To change the meaning of some of your past experiences, find some quiet time when you won't be interrupted and follow these steps:
1. Close your eyes and go back to the situation when you created these assumptions or beliefs about your value or your life. Sit in that place for a while and really feel the feelings that show up. What are the exact conclusions you drew at this time? How did you feel because of these conclusions? After you sit with that for a little while, stop and write the conclusions or beliefs down on paper. What meaning did you apply to the event?
2. Look at those beliefs and write down the ways those beliefs have served you or protected you. You may have held onto them because they served you in some way.
3. Now, think about what these beliefs have cost you. Write down all the damage they have done and how they have negatively affected your life.
4. Ask yourself, are these beliefs worth the cost or would you like to change them?
5. If you think your life would be better if you changed these limiting beliefs, what would you like to believe instead? How would you like to feel about yourself? How would you like to feel about your life?
6. If it would serve you to change these beliefs, try applying new meaning to the event in your past and choose new beliefs to draw from it.
Here's how to do this:
8. Take some time to write down how you are going to choose to feel and process present experiences in light of the new meanings around the past that you have chosen.
You may want to repeat this process a few times, because the more you do it the more you will internalize your new chosen beliefs. According to the neuroscientist, Beau Lotto, in his book Deviate, your brain doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. So, when you use visualization and process events in a more healthy way, you actually get the same benefits you would if you had really had the experience that way.
You may also have more courage to start dating if you choose to trust that your value is the same as everyone else’s, whether someone likes you or not, and trust in the universe that the right person will like you when the time is right.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a master life coach, speaker, and author of three books. Coach Kim offers help and resources that fit any budget. Learn more at www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes,com
This was first published on ksl.com
In this article, I am going to teach you a simple system I teach my coaching clients to help you find the right course of action every time, no matter the quandary.
To illustrate the process, I'll use an example situation involving your spouse asking you to do something on Saturday that you don’t want to do.
Here are the steps I recommend for finding the right response:
1. Take a minute and make sure you aren’t in a fear state by choosing to trust that you have the same intrinsic, unchangeable value as everyone else on the planet, no matter what you choose. Choose to trust that your life is always your perfect classroom, and everyone else’s perfect classroom, so all involved will learn and grow with whatever you choose. This may lessen the risk involved in making a choice.
2. Write down every response option you can think of. In this example the options may be:
With this example, there could be six options:
5. Choose the love-driven option you feel the most capable of doing.
If there is no way you can do what your spouse wants, as a gift that is freely-given and from a place of love with no resentment, then you shouldn't choose that option. Instead, choose to love yourself enough to choose what you need. This is not selfish. It's still a loving decision.
You cannot choose other people every time, nor are you supposed to. You must love yourself and other people equally, which means sometimes you choose to sacrifice for them and sometimes you choose you. This is healthy, wise and mature. This isn't selfish although you might have a subconscious program that makes you feel guilty if you ever choose you.
If you choose others too much, over-give and neglect your self-care, you may soon find your bucket is empty. Some people might also start to take your sacrifices for granted. They may start to assume this is just how it is: you sacrifice yourself for them all the time. You don’t want to create this.
If you have been giving too much and never choosing to love yourself, you may need to start choosing you.
Some people might not like the change and might even try to make you feel guilty and accuse you of being selfish because they really liked the old you. You will have to push through this, apologize for not honoring your own needs in the past, and remind them that self-care is not selfish, it’s healthy.
The trick to making good decisions is identifying the love-driven options and avoiding the fear-driven ones. Love-driven self-care feels safe and calm and it creates loving feelings towards the other person involved.
With practice, you will get better at seeing the love-driven responses and they will start coming naturally.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
A victim mentality (as I define it) is a tendency toward functioning in a loss state, meaning that you generally feel mistreated, hurt, taken from or that you aren't getting the life, situation, treatment or help that you wanted or think you deserve. People who function in this loss state may have a tendency to see mistreatment, offenses, or wrongdoing in almost every situation — whether it's really there or not. These people may subconsciously be wearing "mistreatment glasses" that filter their perspective to see themselves in a victim state most of the time.
After 16 years working in personal development, it's been my observation that we are all either slightly fear of failure dominant or we are fear of loss dominant. Fear of loss dominant people may be more prone to having a victim mentality, although this is something we should all watch out for. The behaviors a victim mentality can create can be damaging to relationships and the respect others have for you.
Identifying a victim mentality in yourself may be difficult because, from your perspective, it may appear accurate that you are the victim in the situation. The problem is your perspective may be skewed from the mistreatment glasses. You may have to take a step back and ask yourself if there's another way to look at the situation that may help you see things differently.
To determine if you might have a victim mentality, answer the following questions:
While some seek those payoffs, there are also costs to a victim mentality:
You can do this.
Coach Kimberly Giles is a master life coach who provides one on one coaching, corporate people skills training and coach certification at www.claritypointcoaching.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Every few weeks I have KSL readers comment and say something to the effect of, “Coach Kim thinks everything is a fear problem and sometimes people aren’t afraid, they are just selfish or jerks. Why does she think everything is about fear?”
In this article, I would like to address why I see fear in every problem and why seeing human behavior in this way could be helpful.
First, understand my goal in writing this weekly advice column for the last eight years. It is to provide easy, usable advice, skills and tools to help solve people problems and improve relationships and self-esteem. In order for any advice, skills or tools to be usable, they must be simple to understand and easy to do. This is what I aim for.
For over 30 years I’ve been studying human behavior, psychology and personal development. My goal is to take the often complex ideas, theories and therapies down to their essence and make them simple enough to be useful in day-to-day situations. One of my frustrations with psychology is that though factual (and researched) it is not always simple enough to be usable — and if it isn’t usable, it isn’t helpful.
My work tries to bring human behavior to its foundational core or “cause” level and make it simple enough to be usable and create real change in behavior. This means breaking it down into the smallest number of moving parts as possible.
I believe you can break all human motivation down into two categories, fear and love. If you look behind everything you do, you can find a fear-motivated or a love-motivated reason to do it. Many modern thought leaders and authors, like David Hawkins, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Elisabeth Kubler Ross and others, teach this same concept, because again, it’s not only true, it’s also simple, useful and helpful.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross says, “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it's more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They're opposites. If we're in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we're in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I believe every moment of your life you are functioning in one of these two states. You are either in a balanced, trust and love state (where you feel safe and have access to your love and best behavior) or you are in an unbalanced, fear state (where your worst behavior comes out). This idea is helpful because with only two states it becomes very easy to determine which state you are in.
All you have to learn is how to get from an unbalanced fear state into a balanced trust and love state again and your life becomes much happier. That is what I try to teach my coaching clients to do. If we simplify complex, emotional states and behavior down to their essence, then we can see what they are more accurately and we can behave better.
I also believe there are two core fears, which all bad behavior and negative emotions can be rolled into. This, again, makes bad human behavior easier to understand. The two fears are the fear of failure (fear you might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (fear your life may not be good enough). At first, you may not see how true this is, but when you start looking behind bad behavior to see if feelings of failure or loss are there, you will.
For example, last week one reader commented: “Some people aren’t scared they are just selfish."
If you look behind why someone is selfish, you will see they are afraid that they won’t have or get what they need — which is fear of loss. This fear keeps them focused on making sure they have what they want and need, which is selfish behavior, but could also be labeled as "fear of loss" behavior.
If you are angry because you feel insulted that might not look like a fear problem either, but think about why you are sensitive to feeling insulted. Could it be that you are functioning in a fear of failure state and are already afraid you might not be good enough? Anger often has criticism (failure) or mistreatment (loss) behind it.
People who are arrogant, insecure, easily insulted or can’t handle feedback, may come across as rude, but the reason for all those bad behaviors may be a fear of failure.
People who are controlling, territorial, defensive, bossy, grouchy, mistreated or angry, are functioning in a "fear of loss" state.
You have the option of seeing it that way if you want to. The benefit to identifying bad behavior as coming from fear is that it can create understanding in certain interactions. It also breeds compassion when you see difficult people as scared rather than selfish or rude.
So, you could see and label bad behavior in many different ways, but this system makes it easier and more usable. When you see others in a fear state, you will also know exactly what they need. They need validation and reassurance — something to quiet the fear and make it go away so they can feel safe and become less focused on their own lack or needs and more capable of showing up for you.
But, you are not responsible for their inner state — that is their job and you are in charge of yours. You must be responsible for your fear issues and learn how to get yourself out of fear and balanced again.
You certainly don’t have to like my system or perspective on human behavior or see it as accurate, but I do encourage you to play with it before dismissing it too fast. Anything that is helpful in managing your bad behavior and can help you get along better with others is worth exploring.
We have also developed a 12 Shapes Relationship System that reduces all humanity into 12 types of people (another simplifying strategy to make change easier). The shapes are based on what you fear most and what you value most, which are the real drivers of human behavior. It’s free to take the shape quiz and figure out which fear is a bigger issue for you. The link is below.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the authors of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com
My spouse has pointed out that I’m never happy where we are and I always wish we were further along and somewhere else. He says no matter what’s happening, I act like we are behind schedule in life and am frustrated. I can see it now that he has pointed it out and I don’t like this about myself. I’m always stressed, bothered and feel under pressure to get to the next level faster. I also feel like I didn’t make the right choices in the past and because of that, we are behind, too. I can see this makes me hard to live with at times, but I have no idea how to change it and actually be happy in the now when I honestly don’t like where we are now and do wish we were somewhere else. How can I be happy in the now and still work towards being where I want to be? How can I stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”? Any advice?
This is a great question and this is something we all struggle with at times. Here are six ways to change your perspective on where you are today so you feel more content:
1. Meditate to focus on the present
Imagine a timeline, mapping out your life, with a dot (on one spot) that represents today. Notice that everything behind that spot is in the past and you cannot change it. As matter of fact all of the time, choices and experiences to the left of the dot that brought you to where you are today, are set in stone because you cannot change the past. You also cannot change where you are today. That is a fixed point, which is a result of past choices over and gone.
2. Accept you are in control
Standing in that spot today recognize the only thing you have control over is your mindset and you have only two mindset options. You can be in fear and believe the past was wrong, that you are off track, and somewhere you shouldn’t be (which will make you miserable, stressed and sad), or you can choose to believe the past was your perfect classroom journey and it played out perfectly, as the universe delivered it, to help you learn perfect lessons you apparently needed (which will make you feel more content and in peace).
3. Choose a perspective
There is no way to prove either of these perspective options are truth. So, they are both just ideas, but you are required to choose one. If you don’t consciously choose one, you will subconsciously choose one, and it will probably be the fear mindset, which makes you miserable. If there is no provable truth around whether you are on track or off track, so you might as well choose a mindset that brings peace.
4. Focus on improving today
Now, look at everything in front of the dot. Starting right now, in this moment, and moving forward, you have the power to make choices and create different or better circumstances. This is where you get to focus on improving. This present moment is the only moment where you have any control or power. So, make sure, in every moment, you are choosing to be both content with the past (seeing it as your perfect classroom) and motivated to do your best with whatever is in your control, in this moment, to make the future better.
5. Don't focus on the past
Do not waste any time wishing you could change the past. That is a complete waste of your time and energy. It does not good and it distracts you from the good choices you could be making right now.
6. Make goals with a positive mindset
Set optimistic intentions on what you want to create in your future. Choose to believe wholeheartedly that this intended future is possible for you. Feel confident and peaceful around this happening, but don’t attach your happiness to it. You still must stay in trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. If the future you intended and hoped for is what is best for you (your education and growth) you will get it. If what you intend is not your perfect classroom journey, you won’t get it, but that will be OK because you will always get something that is better for you in the long run.
If you find yourself unbalanced (feeling grouchy, bothered or unsatisfied) around where you are now, you know immediately you are not trusting the universe nor using your power to choose your inner state in this moment. Quickly reclaim that power, be responsible for how you are feeling, and choose a positive mindset like gratitude for what is right, optimism about the future or trust in God. How content you feel right now, is totally up to how you are thinking about it and looking at it. Change your perspective and you can change how you feel.
You can do this.
I am 25 years old and suffer from anxiety and overthinking. My biggest issue right now is death. I am scared of death and every second I think of losing my parents or siblings and it destroys me mentally. I have never lost anyone close to me but for some reason I can’t get the thought of losing my family out of my mind. It eats away at my brain and causes me to have more anxiety and more overthinking. How can I deal with this? How can I learn to accept it and how can I stop thinking about it?
We define overthinking as: Ruminating over things that don’t protect you and aren’t productive. It makes sense to spend time thinking about tasks you need to accomplish, cautions you could take to keep you or others safe, or processing emotions or experiences to work through them. If you spend your time planning out what you can do to prevent problems, it’s productive thinking about things over which you have some control.
But if you are spending valuable time worrying about things that might not happen or things over which you have no control, you are wasting your time and energy and overthinking.
Here is a procedure to follow when you catch yourself overthinking about unproductive things:
1. Practice mindfulness
Take a minute and notice what’s going on in your head and the effect those thoughts are having on your body. Become the observer of your own thinking and what it's creating inside you. Use your senses to bring you back into the moment. This means pay attention to what sensations are happening in your body from head to toe.
Notice what can you smell, hear or see right now. There is a reason people use the phrase "come to your senses" when they talk about becoming calm — you can literally use your senses to calm anxiety.
2. Relax your nervous system
Studies have shown that when your body is in fight-or-flight mode, your frontal lobe, which you need to logically think your way back to peace, shuts down and stops working.
To get access to your frontal lobe again, try diaphragmatic breathing. An article on relaxation and stress from Harvard Health explains how to do this exercise:
"Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural)."
Take a few minutes to try this.
3. Identify which fears are causing the overthinking
Is this a fear of failure problem where you are worried about failing, looking bad, being insulted, judged or criticized? Or is this a fear of loss problem where you are afraid of things going wrong, being mistreated or losing things or people you care about?
In this instance, your fear of losing family members is a fear of loss issue.
4. If you are overthinking because of a fear of failure: choose to see that all human beings have the same intrinsic value that can’t change.
When you choose to see all human beings as having the exact same value all the time, you take failure off the table. You cannot be less than anyone else. No matter what happens you will still have the same value as every other person on the planet.
If you see life as a classroom and every experience as a lesson instead of a test where you must earn your value, it becomes a lot less scary. You can’t fail if there is no test. No matter what anyone thinks of you, you still have the same value.
5. If you are overthinking because of fear of loss: choose to see the universe as a wise and loving teacher who brings experiences to help you learn and grow.
We believe there are two mindset options about the nature of life: You can see life and the universe as a dangerous place, or you can see it as a classroom journey, where perfect learning experiences show up.
We cannot prove this idea is true, however, because there is no ultimate truth about the nature of life and the universe. This means, either way, you will choose a perspective or belief in your imagination. You might as well choose one that makes you feel safer in the world and improves your quality of life.
This means letting go of the illusion that you have control over anything and choosing to have a positive outlook, even if difficult circumstances occur. If you ever lose a person you love, you can choose to believe it was their time to go and the universe (or your higher power) will see you through the experience and make you better for it.
Overthinking about death and losing your loved ones is not keeping them safe and it is not creating solutions or preventing bad things from happening. What happens to them is completely out of your control. It is unproductive thinking that does only one thing — it takes away your peace and joy.
You are stealing suffering from the future and using it to ruin today.
We suggest you leave future suffering where it is and choose as much joy and peace as you possibly can today. This moment, right now, is the only one you have any control over. This moment, right now, is the only place you have any power to choose anything. Use that power to choose gratitude, trust, love and peace.
6. Choose gratitude, in this moment, for all the things right in your life.
Count your blessings and make a choice to focus on something fun, joyful and rich going on around you right now. Take time to send a note to a loved one and let them know how you feel about them. Focus on something you have control over that is based on love, not fear.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show
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!
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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.