This was first published on KSL.com
Every year I make a recommendation of a resolution you could make that would make the biggest difference in your life. (Look at past suggestions here — forgiveness, better communication skills, seeing all people as the same, etc.)
You have many great options, but this year I would encourage you to make one important daily goal — to trust God, the universe and the process of life more and fear and worry less.
If you trust the universe and life that they are always on your side, even conspiring to serve you and educate you every second of your life, you will see everything as a blessing and you will have more joy.
Right now, you may suffer daily fron a fear of loss, which is the fear of everything that could go wrong in your life. Right now, you may see life and the universe as random and chaotic (at least at the subconscious level). You may believe that because of free agency, we are all running around making choices that affect other people’s journeys and because of that you can lose things or opportunities you should have had. You may believe you can ruin your life or that others could ruin it. All of this leads to stress, worry, anger, distrust and misery, but there is a way out.
You could choose to see life as a perfect, divine, classroom where nothing can go wrong and you can’t lose anything you should have had, because you and the universe are always creating your perfect classroom journey, every second of every day. (When I say “perfect” I don’t mean that you are always going to like it though. I define perfect as: exactly fitting a certain situation or for a certain purpose.)
I believe the universe is a wise teacher and life is a perfect classroom. This means every experience is always the perfectly fitting lesson for each of us at that time. It means we can't lose anything unless it is our perfect classroom to lose it and if we trusted this we would suffer somewhat less.
But each of us must accept this idea as a principle of truth, for it to have power in our life, so let me explain why I believe it is truth.
Everywhere I look in the universe I see perfect order. I believe God is a God of order. I also believe his ultimate objective is the education and growth of us, his children. I believe God created this universe to be our classroom and this universe does nothing except conspire to serve and educate us, because that is its job.
I don’t believe in predestination though. I believe we have complete free agency and are co-creating our journey with the universe every day. I believe it responds to everything you think, choose, believe and do, and brings you the perfect lessons you need next.
I believe this is truth because I see so much divine order in the universe that it staggers my imagination. There are millions of coincidences operating with infinite precision all around us and they could be signs to us that a higher power is in charge. Let me give you some examples:
Myles Standish, a mathematical astronomer and a former professor at Yale University, said, "if the Earth rotated just a fraction of a percent faster or slower, or if it was just a fraction closer or further away from the sun, or if it rotated at a slightly different speed, or if the Moon were positioned differently or rotated and went around the Earth at a slightly different speed, life on Earth would not be possible."
But there is more.
Amir Aczel, author of the book "Why Science Does Not Disprove God," said, “The odds against a universe [like ours existing] with life and intelligence on it [as we are] are at most 1 to a number that has a 1 followed by 10 raised to the power of 117 zeros.”
I believe that a God, who is powerful enough to create a universe with this much perfect order, would never leave the thing he cares about most — your education — to random chance.
Do you really think he sent you down here to muddle through whatever chaos came your way, just hoping you would learn something of value from the battle?
Or do you think he is capable of creating a universe with the forces necessary to educate each soul in the exact way that soul needs to be educated?
God is the author of this whole thing, the universe, you, and your life. There are no accidents or coincidences, and we are safe in God’s hands the entire time. (At least this is a perspective you can choose to have, which will have an amazing and postiive effect on your life.)
You simply have two choices. You can see God as the author of all things and trust him, letting go of your fears, worries, expectations, attachments and misery. You can trust the universe and the process of life, go with the flow, expect amazing, interesting, educational things to come your way, and see whatever happens as perfect. Or you can keep trying to control things you can’t possibly control, resist what is and suffer a great deal.
It’s up to you.
Make a goal this year to see miracles everywhere, look for the perfect lessons in everything and trust God, the universe and the process of life that everything will work out in the end. This will make you less grouchy and less stressed, and much more happy.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
(This is my Christmas article 2015)
One thing I really like about your articles is that you say that life is a classroom and not a test. This is a wonderful idea. When I first read it, it struck me as true. I felt so liberated. But I'm not sure how to reconcile that with what I am taught at my church, that life is a test. There are lots of scriptures (in my religion) which say life is a test, so I am having a hard time with what is truth. I appreciate any insight you can give.
I’m presenting an answer to this question that is consistent with this person’s religious beliefs, so if you are reading this and don’t share a Christ-focused belief system — please understand this answer was directed to this individual.
The principles I share are universal though, and people from every religion, culture or life philosophy have the option to see life as a classroom, not a test, which would improve their self-esteem.
In order to explain why the idea that life is a classroom is consistent with religious doctrine, we must first ask a deeper question: Why are we here on the planet?
This is a crucial question, because it affects every choice, decision or plan you make. If you don’t have clarity around your objective, you will always be confused about what to do.
As a life coach, I have asked thousands of individuals (from every culture and religion) that question. What is the real point and purpose of you being on the planet? Their answers have surprised me. All of them, regardless of their backgrounds, have given me the same two answers.
Understanding this objective will change the way you see everything that happens to you. You will now see every experience as a lesson on loving God, yourself or other people at a deeper level. I wrote an article about this idea a few months ago you ought to read.
If we are on the planet to learn to love, it would mean life is basically a school. The question is what kind of school is it? Is it a test where you could fail or is it a classroom where you can only learn? Is your value in question when you make mistakes or can you erase and try again until you get it right? Is God more concerned with judgment or your education?
Seeing life as a test and God as judgment or fear may produce obedience, but it doesn’t come with peace or joy, because fear creates stress that distracts you from love. Fear makes you needy, defensive and selfish. It keeps you focused on getting reassurance and validation, which makes you less capable of focusing on other people. Fear is not God’s plan for you, love is.
The problem is your religion teaches this life is a test and any mistakes you make will prevent you from returning to God. So, it appears there is reason to fear.
This is what I believe, life is a test … but we ALL failed it. The test is over. Not a single one of us passed. We have all made mistakes.
According to your spiritual beliefs, God in his mercy, wisdom and love (and because his ultimate objective is to educate his children — not to get rid of them) provided a solution to this — a Savior. Christ turned it from a test into a classroom. Whew. You can now work on yourself, make mistakes and erase and try again every time, because your grades are off the table.
You can stop worrying about "not being good enough" and focus your energy on learning to love. You can stop trying to prove your value and spend more time lifting, serving and loving others. You can do this because you have nothing to fear. God is the essence of perfect love, mercy, wisdom and compassion.
In my articles, I talk a lot about the two core fears I believe are the root cause of most psychological and relationship problems. The first is the fear of failure (the fear that you might not be good enough). The second is the fear of loss (the fear that your life isn’t good enough), and the loss we fear most is death and losing those we love.
The amazing, wonderful, joyful message, which is at the heart of the Christmas season, is we have nothing to fear, because our value has been taken care of and death has been overcome. We have nothing to fear, because there is no failure or loss.
The most important message of Christmas was delivered by angels to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, and this message is one that should bring you peace every day: ”Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Because of him, you cannot fail and you will get back all those you lose.
You have nothing to fear.
At least, you can see your life this way if you want to. If you choose to embrace this perspective you will have more capacity to learn and love too, because your fear won’t be distracting you. God also wants you to work on doing good, righteous things, but he wants you to do those things because you love him, yourself and other people … not because you fear him.
I hope this answers your question and brings you peace.
You can do this.
I worry too much and it is draining joy from my life, but I honestly cannot stop. I am really good at thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong with every situation. Even when things are going good, I can think of things to be worried about. My spouse says that I can rain on any parade. How does one turn that off? Do you have some advice?
First, understand that worries are nothing more than perspective. Everything you feel and experience is just perspective and in every situation there are other perspectives you could choose, which could make you feel different. I want you to take your thoughts (worries) less seriously. They are not facts. They are just ideas.
Unfortunately, it sounds like worry has become your autopilot or subconscious default perspective. You can look at anything and immediately see something to fear. This happens so fast, you don’t see the other perspective options available to you. You must slow down and become more mindful. This means stepping back and observing what you are thinking, then consciously deciding if it serves you.
Here are 10 ways to get control over worry and choose a different perspective:
1) Remind yourself worry never robs tomorrow of problems, it only robs today of joy. Studies have shown most of the things you worry about will never happen and the bad things which do happen, are usually out of your control and no amount of worrying could have prevented them. This means that worry is a waste of your time and energy. It does not change the outcome of the future and it does not protect you. It only robs you of your ability to thrive today.
2) If there is something you can do right now, do it. If there is nothing you can do right now, let it go. Choose to be present and focus on where you are. Look for people to serve or love, or action that would make a positive difference in your life. Stay present. George Macdonald said, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.” Take everything one moment at a time.
3) There is a difference between worrying and planning. When you have a big project you may need to spend some time thinking about the problems and figuring out how to handle obstacles, but you can do this planning in a state of optimism and trust believing everything will work out for the best or you can do this in a state of fear. Planning and should feel peaceful and wise, while worrying in fear feels anxious and out of control. Choose to plan not worry by choosing optimism.
4) Choose optimism. A state of optimism means trusting the universe that it is a classroom that is always conspiring for your good. Believe things always work out to serve you in the end. You don’t know they will work out, but you don’t know they won’t work out either. Given that it could go either way you might as well choose a positive, optimistic attitude because doubt, fear and worry are less fun and less motivating. Remember, worry saps your energy and leaves you less able to deal with what does happen.
5) Put worries in the worry closet. Don’t let yourself think about problems all day long. Instead set aside some time (maybe an hour late in the day) when you can sit down and process your concerns. When worry shows up during the day, put those worries in a worry closet and lock the door. The worries are still there, but you are not dealing with them right now. Don’t try to stop worrying. This actually keeps you thinking about not thinking about it, which is actually still thinking about it. Just put them in the worry closet until later. When the time comes, open the worry closet and walk inside. Give yourself a specific amount of time to dwell in worry, plan and process all the concerns. Use some of the strategies below to do that.
6) Figure out what is in your control and what’s not. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. on the right side write down everything that is in your control and on the left everything that is out of your control. You will find the right side list is usually shorter. Decide to take action on those things. The rest is out of your control and does you no good to worry about.
7) Focus on solutions. During your worry closet time, instead of dwelling on your fears, focus on solutions to the problem. Brain storm solutions and don’t stop until you come up with 50. This will push you to stretch your imagination and come up with new ideas. You might want to recruit family or coworkers to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one.
8) Uncertainty is part of life and it doesn’t have to scare you. Accept that uncertainty is beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing it is just unknown - and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God and this amazing classroom universe he created, you can walk into each unknown adventure without fear. Trusting God and the universe is the key to peace.
9) Spend time dwelling on positive feelings. Gay Henricks, Phd and author of the book The Big Leap says most of us are subconsciously programmed to sabotage ourselves if too much success and positive change starts to happen. We may think we don’t deserve the good or don’t believe it can happen to us. We may start worrying because it is a feeling we are more used to. Worry is more "in our comfort zone" than accepting the positive is. You should always step back from negative thinking or worry, and check yourself for subconscious self-sabotage. Ask yourself these questions:
What is this worry showing up for?
How could this worry be trying to keep me safe or protect me from something?
What positive thing might be manifesting in my life?
What do I fear about getting this positive thing that could make me push it away or deny it?
What would happen if I embraced the positive?
Instead of dwelling in the worry sit with the positive thoughts about what could go right for a minute. How would it feel to let this positive thing happen and not worry about it or doubt it? Feel the positive feelings and get used to how they feel. Embrace them and believe you deserve good things to happen. Practice accepting positive from the universe.
10) Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do.
Fear is a choice, and so is peace.
Choose to trust the universe and the process of your life. See life as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving every minute of every day. It is on your side and if you trust your higher power and the amazing classroom universe more deeply, you will find there is nothing to fear because there isn't.
There is nothing to fear.
You can do this.
I have a tendency to see the worst in every situation and assume things are my fault. Apparently it is driving my spouse crazy. She says that I always look at the negative side of everything and I am too quick to blame myself. I guess I’m a pessimist. Is there any way to change that? Can I somehow get a more positive outlook on life and situations? I think better self-esteem would help, but I don’t know how to get there. I’d love some help on this.
Better self-esteem would help you, and I’ve written quite a few articles on changing the way you see yourself (that you should read) but I think you also need to learn about your attributional (or explanatory) style. Your attributional style is the way you subconsciously explain events, what caused them and what they mean. Every moment of the day you are attributing events to certain factors that explain why they happened. The secret to optimism is to attribute events in a more positive way. Learning to do this also helps you battle depression and anxiety too.
Many of us have faulty attributional styles (that we picked up in childhood) and we tend to automatically see events in a more personal, negative and depressing way than an optimist might interpret the exact same event. Your personal attributional style is determined by three factors. The factors are:
Pessimists tend to see events as being internal or personal, and they see this in a negative way. They assume the problem is always about their inadequacies. They could also tend to see every problem as someone else’s fault and therefore they take no responsibility for their behavior and feel powerless to change their lives. Pessimists also tend to see events as stable (like they are always going to be bad) or they see them as unstable with a feeling of powerlessness again. Pessimists also tend toward making global assumptions. When one bad thing happens they assume everything will be bad.
Optimists usually have better self-esteem and don’t blame themselves and their personal faults for creating problems. If something is their fault though they tend to take responsibility for it with the understanding that it doesn’t change their value as a person. Optimists usually tend to either see things as stable and mostly good or they believe in their own power to change the things they don’t like. They also tend to let a bad situation stay in that situation, and they don’t assume the negative is going to affect everything else.
Take some time with that worksheet and figure out your subconscious attributional style. Then understand you don’t have to let your subconscious programming drive. You have the power to change your perspective and see things a different way. This is one of the most important truths we all need to embrace more fully.
We are too quick to let our subconscious mind determine how we are going to feel about situations. Many of us are even attached to the idea that we can’t help how we feel. We think our feelings are out of our control. The truth is, your first subconscious reaction may be out of your control, but you can always step back from a feeling and see other options (as far as how you are going to see it, feel about it and respond to it). There are always positive perspective options.
It will take some time and practice to change your style and the way you see your life, but you can do it. I watch people change their perspectives on life and their self-worth every day in coaching.
To fix your self-esteem you will need to change your perspective about your value. Right now you subconsciously believe your value is changeable and unstable (that you can lose value and be worth less than other people, or you gain value and be better than others). You believe your value is in question and you must prove you have any. You could change your mindset on this right now and choose to see your value as stable, unchangeable and the same as everyone elses. You could see your value as a person is infinite, absolute and always good enough. This is a life-changing mindset shift that would do you (and everyone reading this) a lot of good.
You can also change the way you see your life’s journey. Instead of seeing life as out to get you and the universe as a dangerous place, you can choose to see life as a safe place and the universe as a wise teacher, who that is constantly conspiring to educate and serve you. You can choose to believe there is nothing to fear. Changing your thinking about this will literally change your life.
If you struggle to make these changes on your own, I highly recommend finding a coach or counselor to help you. A little professional guidance makes the process much easier
You can do this.
I wish I understood what was wrong with me, and why I cry and get so upset when I feel mistreated or cheated by people or life. For example, if I buy something and it breaks and I try to take it back to the store, but they won't make it right. This situation could make me cry, in the store, which embarrasses my kids. I feel so mistreated it hurts, and I think I'm hoping the person will feel sorry enough for me, and they will treat me better. It's humiliating to admit this, but I often complain and cry about how hard I work and that it does no good, life always goes against me anyway. I complain about my hard lot in life way more than I should. I hate this about myself but don't know how to stop feeling this way. Can you help me?
It sounds like you are suffering from a subconscious victim mentality. Many of us learned as children to use self-pity to get sympathy love. Psychologists tell us the ideas, beliefs or behavior patterns we learn in childhood often become the rules that dictate the way we respond as an adult, even if they are ineffective and immature. Dr. Eric Berne wrote an interesting book back in 1964 called "Games People Play." In it he describes some subconscious psychological behaviors we use to get attention, validation, love or power (getting people to do what we want them to). I wrote a whole article on this last year you might want to read.
The Sympathy Card Game is one of the most popular games people play. This happens when you constantly talk about how bad you have it, how terrible you are, or how no one loves you or cares about you to get validation, love or reassurance from other people. People play this game on social media when they post things like “worst day ever” but they don’t leave an explanation about what happened. They do this because they are subconsciously wanting people to prove they care and ask what happened. This game is a subtle (and very immature) way to get love and attention and brings with it a high cost. You may get sympathy love, but because you are acting weak, you usually lose people's respect. They may give you what you want, but they won't necessarily like you either.
It would serve us all to take a minute and ask ourselves the following questions just to make sure we aren’t subconsciously playing the victim:
You could believe the universe is working for you and conspiring to serve you and educate you at every turn. If you see life this way, then the fear of loss, which is behind self-pity, will disappear. If everything that happens to you, is here to bless and serve you, is it really a loss? Or is it a hidden blessing to make you stronger, wiser or more loving? I explain this perspective shift in more detail in my book "Choosing Clarity," you may want to read it if you need more help with this one.
If you will work on these six things, you can break free from the victim mentality, see your life (accurately) as a classroom and you should cry less.
If you are reading this article while in the middle of suffering through some of life's horrible challenges, please understand this is a process. It is normal to feel like a victim when you have been victimized. You just don't want to live there forever. I strongly recommend working with a professional to help you find peace and joy again.
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
If you haven’t seen the movie "Inside Out" yet, take the kids or your friends and go see it. Get over the fact that it is targeted toward the very young and pay close attention to what it’s trying to teach you about your brain.
Pixar has provided a creative glimpse into what happens in your mind when you experience painful, life-changing situations. The movie shows how you process emotions and how emotions can drive your behavior. You can then use this knowledge to become a better, wiser more emotionally mature person.
Here is how.
We all have emotions or subconscious tendencies driving our behaviors every day. The ones mentioned in the film running the control center in the mind are Anger, Fear, Joy, Sadness and Disgust. These emotions are represented as little people, who live and work inside Riley’s head and take turns driving.
At one point, as she is processing her discouraging situation, Joy and Sadness start fighting, leaving Anger, Fear and Disgust alone at the controls. These emotions cause problems and drive some really bad decisions. Imaging little people (as the emotions) in your head may help you become more consciously aware or mindful about what you are thinking, and it could even help you gain control.
Instead of letting your random emotions take over, you could start consciously choosing how you want to experience your life. In the movie, the young 11-year-old Riley wasn’t mature enough to control what was playing out in her head, but you are, and imagining your emotions as little people will help. (It may sound a little schizophrenic, but go with it because there is great value is separating yourself from your emotions so you can look at them objectively).
The first thing I recommend you do it figure out which emotions drive your behavior from time to time. Do you have times where Sadness drives and you feel under a dark cloud all day? Does Sadness make you feel depressed and discouraged? Does she see the negative in everything? Does she encourage you to complain or criticize others?
Do you have moments where Anger drives and encourages behavior you later regret? Do you fly off the handle and treat people badly?
Do you have Disgust in you? Does your Disgust get offended too easy and take over too often? Does she grab the wheel at even the smallest offense? Does she lash out and hurt the people you love because Love can't show up while Disgust is at the wheel?
Can you hear a voice of Fear in your head that is scared of everything? Does he worry about everything that could go wrong? Does he encourage insecurity and tell you that you aren’t good enough?
You may have other emotions that aren’t featured in the movie but play a large role in your life. Like a Drama Queen, who overreacts, blows things out of proportion and wants the attention and focus on you all the time. If this little person drives your day it may encourage really immature behavior at times. Are you later embarrassed at how you behaved?
I have one in my head I call Focus, who is really good at focusing on whatever I’m doing, which can be a good thing at times, but when Focus is driving I could also miss the needs of people around me and completely forget to be nice to them. Focus can even make me rude at times, because he’s just too focused on whatever I'm doing.
The good news is these emotions and their behaviors aren't the real you. They are just voices in your head. You can even tell an unhelpful emotion to sit down and shut up. You can decide to let Gratitude, Joy, or Love drive today. You have that power.
This isn’t about suppressing emotions though. It is about processing them and becoming aware or mindful, so you don’t let your subconscious mind drive your life. None of your emotions are bad and they all serve you at times. That is even a major point of the movie. All emotions should be processed and experienced when they show up. They all teach you things about the human condition and give you empathy for others. Emotions, like Sadness, definitely have their time and place, but you don't want to let them drive all the time. You want to be aware of Sadness and understand it. If you struggle to process your emotions in a healthy way there is a great e-book on my website on processing emotions I encourage you to read.
For now, just think about what other emotions may be causing trouble in your life? Do you have a Stubborn part inside you, one that gets latched onto to being right and can’t let go? Do you have a Lazy, who just doesn’t want to do anything but lay on the couch? Do you have a Criticizer, who likes to pick at the flaws and faults of those around you? Does it take over and gossip about other people, when being like this isn't the real you at all? Do you have an Ego that has to be right and sees other people as less than you at times?
The good news is you also have Joy and Love inside you (I think these are the real you). These beautiful parts of you can see the world, yourself and other people accurately and treat them with kindness and respect. If only these would drive more often! Take some time and own these wonderful parts of you and teach your children they have these inside them too.
Once you have figured out which emotions drive your behavior, it is time to start getting them under control. I believe you can go through each day one of two ways: You can either take control and decide who is driving, using the power of conscious choice to put Love, Joy or Motivated Work in charge, or you can let your subconscious mind drive, which means any of you emotions could and might take over at any time. If you go through life this way, you are at the whim of emotion and immaturely reactive.
Viktor Frankl, author of the book "Man’s Search for Meaning," found himself in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and discovered a powerful truth he has shared with the world. He said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
The problem is that most of us either don’t realize we have this power or we aren’t using it. Instead, we let whatever emotion grabs us in that moment take over. We may even think we are powerless against them, but this isn’t true.
You have the power to decide how you are going to feel and think in this moment.
As mature adults, we want to be awake and aware of what is playing out in our heads. We strive to recognize the emotions we are feeling, experience them, process what they are here for, and then choose behavior that serves us and those around us most.
This amazing film gives you the opportunity to teach your children about their emotions and to recognize what’s happening inside them. It also gives you, and them, language to better explain what you are feeling. You may ask them if Anger just took over? How does Anger want you to behave right now? How mad is he? What is going to happen if you listen to him? Do you have any other options? How could you get him off the wheel?
Is sadness driving today? How come he wants to drive? Maybe he just needs to talk about his Sadness? Often children feel bothered but can’t put words to why. This movie may help.
Make sure you take the time to talk to your family after seeing the film and explore what they learned. This may open the door to some great conversations and discoveries about how you children think and see their world. Hopefully, it will help you too. Have fun with it.
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 popular life coach and speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I read your article last week about processing emotions and choosing my inner state, but I’m really struggling with negative thinking and I think you underestimate how difficult some of us have it. My life has been so much more difficult than most people get, and my situation is frankly miserable and unfair. When I try to choose gratitude for what I do have or think positive, I can literally feel my subconscious mind resisting this whole idea. I’m not sure it’s possible for everyone to just choose to think positive. I find myself complaining about my situation quite often but I think that expressing how I feel helps me. Isn’t it good for us sometimes?
Expressing negative emotions can be healthy (some of the time) as long as it is part of your process to work through them and get to a better place. If you are constantly expressing your negative feelings though, without working through them, you are just complaining, which is giving more power and energy to the negative and making it bigger in your life. This doesn’t serve you.
The steps I gave you last week to process through emotions would serve you much more, but there could be another factor in play that is making it difficult for you to choose a positive outlook. You might be getting some quirky subconscious benefits from the negative state and you might not be ready to let those benefits go.
Let me give you some examples of how this happens. Someone who is holding onto feelings of anger or hate toward another person may be getting the benefit of staying distracted from their own feelings of inadequacy. By staying focused on anger toward another person, they don’t have to deal with their own faults. If they let go of their anger they would have to deal with their pain, so anger feels like a win.
People who are constantly dwelling in feelings of inadequacy or have low self-esteem often apologize a lot, worry about what others think and need to vocally explain every aspect of their behavior. At the subconscious level they may think this fear mindset protects them at some level, because it makes them very careful what they do and say. It might even make them more polite or gracious toward others so people will like them.
They could be afraid that thinking positively about themselves would make them selfish and less cautious. They may also see self-deprecation as humility and think it's righteous. This means that low self-esteem may make them feel better in some ways. The problem is that low self-esteem makes people see you as weak and lose respect for you. Loving strength and confidence are much more attractive.
Someone who is overburdened with work, who feels stressed out and exhausted all the time, may get all kinds of benefits from these negative feelings. They may subconsciously believe this state means they are working really hard (they may believe if you don’t feel this way you aren’t working hard enough). So, they get a sense of accomplishment or self-esteem from being stressed. Complaining about being overworked may also protect them at some level, discouraging others from asking anything more from them, or giving them an excuse to say no to anything they don’t want to do. They may also like the sympathy love they get from others, who feel sorry for them when they complain.
Sympathy love is a common benefit to being in a negative state and many of us learned to use this as children to get the attention or love we needed. You may subconsciously complain about life mostly for this reason. Why else would you need to voice your complaints out loud so often? Why not just feel this way on the inside and keep it to yourself?
If you find yourself complaining a lot about how unfair your life is, how difficult you have it, how awful you are, or how miserable you are, you must ask yourself these questions:
One other thing you mentioned was that your life is unfair and more difficult than most people get. I want you to see that you have placed a label on your experience, and just because you have chosen to do this doesn’t make it true.
Beliefs like these are only true in your life if you believe they are true. They are a perspective you have chosen, but you could just as easily choose a different perspective, one that might make you feel more grateful, loved, safe and blessed even in the very same circumstances.
When I was going through a difficult time in my life, I wasn’t very happy with people who gave me the very advice I’m giving you. I felt they needed to walk a mile in my shoes (and suffer like me) before they could know how impossible it was to be positive here.
Then I read about Viktor Frankl, who suffered through the concentration camps in World War II, lost everything and everyone he loved, and who (in much more miserable circumstances than mine) found the power to choose his attitude, to find meaning and purpose in his experiences and to choose love over fear, and I realized that if he could do it — I had no excuse.
Having said that, I also know it isn’t easy and it takes time and work. I usually work with a coaching client for 3 to 6 months to teach them how to process their experiences in a different way and learn how to choose their inner state, but I promise you can get there if you keep reading, learning and practicing.
Steven Richards, who wrote "Think Your Way to Success," said, “You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.”
I believe this is true. You can change the way your life is going! I see people do it every day. Just know that you are way more powerful than you realize and you can create change by changing your thinking.
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I am dealing with some tough challenges including a really difficult job, and the stress is taking a huge toll on my health. I am very discouraged and frustrated and I don’t see things changing anytime soon either. I just really wish I could control my stress level. Do you have any advice for me? Is there anything I can do to feel less buried?
It is a normal part of the human condition to feel stressed and burned out on occasion, and there are definitely things you can do to brighten your outlook, lessen your suffering and lower your stress level. You can do things like get more organized and plan your time better, but I suspect from reading your letter that your real issue isn't a time management issue as much as an attitude issue. I think you would benefit most from understanding human emotion at a different level.
One of the most amazing books ever written on dealing with human emotions (in my opinion) is "Letting Go: The pathway to Surrender," by Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. a nationally renowned psychiatrist. Hawkins says, “The real source of stress is actually internal; it is not external as most people would like to believe. The readiness to react with fear, for instance, depends on how much fear is already present within … to the fearful person the world is a terrifying place. To the angry person the world is a chaos of frustration and vexation. To the guilty person it is a world of temptation and sin. What we are holding inside colors our world.”
In other words, we see the world as we are. Circumstances just give us a chance to express what we already have inside us, and most of us have a great deal of fear of failure and loss inside us. We learned this fear from our parents, who probably learned it from their parents, and it probably is driving your attitude toward problems like an autopilot in your subconscious mind.
What this means is your circumstances are not the real cause of your stress, fear and discouragement, your reactivity (the way you subconsciously react) to the circumstances is. You subconsciously react to life with fear and stress.
This is good news (not bad news) because it means you have power to change the way you react to circumstances. You can change yourself on the inside and that will change how you feel about your life on the outside, even if you can’t change the negative circumstances you are in.
The first step to changing how you feel is to understand human emotions in a different way and so you can process them more objectively. Dr. Hawkins created some fascinating charts on emotion and the levels of consciousness you should see. You can download my version of the levels of consciousness charts here.
These charts show that there are two main kinds of emotions. The first are fear-based negative emotions that produce unhappiness and suffering, and the second are trust- and love-based emotions that bring peace, joy and clarity. When you live on the lower end of the scale, you tend to have lower energy, poorer relationships and worse health. When you live on the higher end you tend to have more joy, more energy, better relationships and better health.
It is interesting to see the range of emotions laid out this way and it will help you to see all emotions as mindset options. It will also remind you that you are in control of your reactions. I keep these charts handy all the time to check myself on. Also remember that you may have a subconscious tendency towards a certain level of consciousness, but you can always consciously choose your way to another.
In a specific moment, you can step back from an emotion (like stress, anger or frustration) and look at it objectively and process the thinking behind it. When doing this focus more on the emotion though, than the thoughts. Thoughts are often illogical and can keep you going in circles. If you focus on resolving the emotion, like magic, all the negative thinking that came with it will disappear. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, an emotion is worth a thousand thoughts.
I am going to teach you a simple procedure in this article you can use to help you process emotions, but first you might need to break what you are feeling down into small pieces. Hawkins says you sometimes experience a bunch of emotions at once (especially if we are dealing with a huge issue like the loss of a loved one or big life problems like divorce). If this is the case, you will want to process one small piece at a time. Start with one thing, like feeling that life isn’t fair or the feeling of being overburdened by work.
Dr. Hawkins also says you must watch out for the three ways you might subconsciously deal with emotions, if you don’t consciously choose to process them in a healthy way. They are to:
I recommend processing emotions in a healthy way using the procedure below.
This will be an ongoing work to master your subconscious tendencies, but you can get control of yourself and experience more peace, energy and love. Learning to do this might be the main lesson you are on the planet to learn. Just keep working on it. Keep the levels of consciousness charts handy and practice doing what you do today from a state of calm, safety and trust that things will work out.
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.com
I have trouble with my emotions getting out of control. I can get angry and blow up at people. I also get offended sometimes and hold onto it for weeks. I am a good person, and I care deeply about my family and friends, but I admit that sometimes I don’t really care about other people. I’ve been told I have a hard heart, and it hurts to hear that because I don’t mean to. I think I inherited these tendencies from my dad and they are deeply ingrained. Is there a way to change them?
Yes, you can change your inherited programming, but it will take some time and work. You may even want some professional help with it. It would make the process faster, but you can learn to use conscious choice to soften your heart and get it more emotionally healthy.
Since it is Heart Health Month (February) I’d like to give you some advice on developing a more emotionally healthy heart.
We read a great deal about how emotions can affect our health, but did you know that people who are emotionally heart healthy (compassionate, calm and balanced) have better relationships, more success and generally live longer? They do.
Here are six steps to improve your emotional heart health:
You can literally practice being mindful, grateful, flexible, tolerate and compassionate. Just set an intention to work on one each day. You will be amazed at the happiness they create.
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I have some friends who complain constantly about their problems but get offended if I give them any advice on fixing what’s wrong. Do they just want to stay where they are? Should I just listen? Is that a good friend? Or is there anything else I can do to get them to listen to me and make changes? Maybe I’m giving advice the wrong way?
We all know people we would like to advice, change, or help, but we must handle these situations the right way or people will get offnded, turn a deaf ear or even passive aggressively dig further into their bad behavior.
To give advice the right way you must understand a few basic principles of human behavior. These principles will help you to understand why people react negatively to advice and how you can create a safe space for advice that won’t offend.
This is great information for parents, managers and leaders.
Principle 1: Remember everyone on the planet is battling a deep core fear of failure (a fear that they aren’t good enough), and this fear causes a great deal of pain.
We also have subconscious programs which encourage us to avoid anything that might trigger this fear. We are never excited about conversations around our need to change because they obviously mean we aren’t good enough now. The more subconscious fear of failure a person has, the less open they are to advice. This is unfortunate because they are the ones who need the advice most, but this is still how it works.
When people have good self-esteem they can handle feedback without pain or fear, but most people don’t have good self-esteem.
Principle 2: People will not be open to advice or changing themselves until they first feel fully accepted as they are right now.
If they don’t feel accepted now, they will insist on staying where they are until you do. Don’t be discouraged by this. You can fully accept someone as they are right now (even with behaviors you don’t like) and create a safe space where they will be more open to changing. You just have to focus on their intrinsic worth and remember it matters more than their current behavior. Never lose sight of the truth, that they are a one of a kind, irreplaceable being with the same value as you. Loving them unconditionally must come first. Once they feel your love they will be more open to your influence.
Principle 3: Listening to them and validating them — honoring and respecting their right to be who they are — is what most people need most.
Listening to someone validates their intrinsic worth. Listening without giving advice is a great gift and remember being an active listener is more than just nodding and repeating what they say. A good listener is also a good question-asker. You can often help someone figure out what they need to change on their own by just asking questions that help them look at the problem from different perspectives. The most powerful way to help another person is to empower them to help themselves.
Principle 4: The person to whom this challenge belongs — the one who is in the class — is the only one entitled to inspiration about his or her situation.
You may have been in a similar situation but that doesn’t mean your right answer is the right answer for them. They are the only one who will know which path is their perfect journey, so don’t forget this and presume to know better.
As a life coach, I have learned most people already know the answers to their problems, they just don’t trust themselves. They are hoping we will tell them what they already know to quiet their fears of being wrong. Don't let them use you as a crutch. It doesn't serve them. Keep asking questions about what they think and feel until they own their inner truth. This technique also leaves room for their inner guidance to direct them. All the answers they need God and the universe will provide. If they aren’t getting the answer yet, they may not be ready for it, or they may still have lessons to learn in this place.
When they are ready and if you are the right teacher for this lesson, you may feel prompted to share and give advice, but make sure you use the fifth principle first.
Principle 5: Always ask permission before you share your story, give advice, make suggestions or tell someone what you think.
This makes a person feel honored and respected, and it means they really are open to hear you. Never tell another person anything unless you have asked permission to go there first.
A permission question may sound like:
If they say no, respect that. Respecting how they feel this time will build a relationship of trust where they will be more likely to trust you next time. Parents, your teens will feel respected when you honor their "no" and they will respect you more back.
Principle 6: Use more "I" statements than "you" statements. People tend to get offended when you start with "you do this" or "you have a tendency to ..." It goes over much better when you say "I have found that when I …” Speak to what you personally know and feel instead of making statements about them.
Principle 7: Focus more on future behavior than past behavior. People get defensive and frustrated when you talk about their past bad behavior because they can’t change it. Instead, focus on their future behavior because that they have control over. “Would you consider in the future, moving forward, working on … ?” “Do you think moving forward it might help to … ?” Also notice how phrasing suggestions as questions delivers them in a softer way.
Principle 8: Base any advice you give on principles of truth. Here are some basic truths which help people to see themselves and their situation more accurately. Most people know these, but they forget them in times of crisis when they are emotional or scared.
You can do this.
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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.