This was first published on KSL.com
I work with a woman, who is very opinionated with severe black and white thinking. I find myself getting upset by the way that she voices her opinions all the time and won’t even consider anothers point of view. We all eat lunch together and honestly, it’s getting hard to tolerate. What do you do with people who are that opinionated and not open to life having any shades of grey?
We are going to answer three questions inside your question.
First, why do some people see the world in this black-and-white way and feel they have to constantly share or even push their opinions on the rest of us?
Second, how do you know if you are one of these opinionated people?
Third, what can you do so people, who are like this, don’t drive you batty?
It makes life a great deal easier if you understand what is really driving human behavior. Understanding what motivates people helps us to not take other people’s behavior as personally either.
We believe human behavior is driven (consciously or subconsciously) by what we fear and what we value. So, we are going to explain the fears and values behind very opinionated, black-and-white thinking.
These people often have fear failure (that they might not be good enough) and they have fear loss (that life won’t be the way they want it to be). We know this because these two fears are behind almost all bad behavior.
These people feel safer if they have a clearly defined moral code, a black-and-white clear and solid code of behavior (the way people should behave) and other rules of correct living. If they have these rules clearly defined, they know exactly what they must do to be good enough. These guidelines make them feel safe. They also get a sense of safety from finding fault in the rule breaking and incorrect thinking in the people around them. If they can find people who are worse or wrong, it makes their ego feel a little better or right, which quiets their fear of failure a bit.
People who are quick to judge others as wrong are usually getting a strong sense of safety and self-worth from believing they are right. The more fear of failure they have about themselves, the more they might focus on black and white rules that prove they are right.
They may also be a tad controlling too because having things done “right” also makes them feel safer in the world. They are often defensive, territorial and protective of themselves, which can come across as selfish, arrogant and inflexible. They are often more focused on things being right and fair than they are on caring how other people feel.
These people also highly value ideas. They like learning and teaching. They believe correct ideas and doing things right are critical to success and happiness, and they tend to assume that everyone has or should have the same ideas, beliefs and values they have.
They also fear what would happen if their ideas (and rules) are not upheld. For example, people who are passionate about the environment and global warming value environmental issues, as well as fear the outcome if the planet is not looked after. They can at times be a tad judgmental or critical when they feel others don’t value ideas, beliefs and opinions or have the wrong ones.
Now, the question is, are you this kind of person? Do you have a strong sense of right and wrong and often find yourself in judgment of others? Do you ever leave a situation and realize you may have talked too much or dominated the conversation? Do you get irritated when people disagree with you and do you see them as less than you, because of their choices?
If these are resonating as truth for you, don’t worry – we aren’t saying you are bad, wrong or less than others for being wired this way. The truth is the world needs people who care deeply about right and wrong, but we must all watch for unbalanced behavior that comes when we function from fear.
If you aren’t like this but have people in your life who are, here are some tips for dealing with these people:
1. Show compassion toward the fear that is driving their opinionated behavior and black-and-white thinking.
When we consciously choose to stay calm and not react to the behavior of others, we are able to look at what is motivating it. Think about this woman at work, what do you know about her story and what she has been through in her life? Do you think there is some fear of failure in her? Can you sense that her stand on issues is about feeling right somewhere? When you look underneath the behavior and try to identify where it comes from, we step into greater acceptance, tolerance and compassion. See if you can show greater kindness and compassion to her and recognize her insecurities, after all, you have those too, they just manifest themselves differently for each of us.
2. Don’t react to the bad behavior, instead listen intently and then ask for permission to share your ideas
In the moment, when people are on a soap box and speaking down to us or sharing their strong opinions that we disagree with, we can become triggered and feel frustrated or angry. Often our ego wants to retaliate by interrupting or arguing, which can escalate the situation to conflict and confrontation.
Now, you understand their opinionated behavior is about their fear and their need for validation and safety. So, in reality, what they need is validation (which we know is the last thing you want to give them). If you can have a mutually validating conversation and make them feel safe, you might be able to get them in a place where they can listen to you too. You might even teach them something. The formula to having these conversations is on our website.
But, you basically must ask them more questions about their opinions and listen and validate their right to think the way they do. If you are willing to go here, you then earn the right to have a turn to share your opinion with them.
After you have given them some time to share and you make sure they feel heard, you can ask permission to share your thoughts. “Would you be open to letting me share another opinion?” This permission question opens the door for you to now be heard and share your opinion. If the person interrupts or tries to speak over you again, you have earned the right to say, “Excuse me, please don’t interrupt, I listened to your ideas on this, and I would appreciate you respecting my turn to speak and hearing my thoughts.”
This can be done respectfully and without confrontation. But remember, it’s not about changing other people’s minds, it’s about coming to a place where both differing opinions are respected and validating everyone involved.
3. Don’t take it so personally.
Other people’s need to be right or feel superior is their fear of failure at work. It is about their fears about themselves — it isn’t really about you. Ask yourself, “Which part of you needs validation and recognition for your opinions and feels mistreated when you don’t get that?” Is your fear of failure being triggered?”
All of us have this fear, on some level, but healthy self-esteem comes from knowing you don’t need validation or recognition from others to have the same intrinsic worth as every other person on the planet. Remind yourself that you are a unique, one of a kind human soul and your value doesn’t depend on your opinions, whether you are validated or liked by others, or whether other people think you are wrong.
As you remind yourself of this truth you will find yourself needing less attention and acknowledgment from others, and you will be able to better tolerate listening to the black and white views of others without feeling bothered.
If you are this kind of person and can recognize a need to be heard and validated for what you think, this is a great fear challenge to work on. Practice asking more questions and listening more than you talk next time you are with people. You will find validating others opinions feels even better than sharing yours.
Knowing you are lifting others up always feels better than being right. Practice setting aside your need to be right about how things should be. Try allowing people to have the same intrinsic value as you, even though their beliefs and values are different.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a friend who is driving me crazy with the way he knows more about everything than I do. Whatever I say, he knows better or has a different opinion, and I swear he would take the opposite view on anything, just for the sake of argument. I don’t want to quit being friends with him, but I wish there was a way to change his behavior and get him to stop being the expert on everything all the time. There is some great value I could offer this person, but he is not open to hearing what anyone else has to offer. Any advice?
My first question for you is “Are you sure you aren’t also a little attached to your own ideas and your need to be right?”
You seem very bothered by your friend's egotistical behavior, and usually we are most bothered by behaviors that also show up in us. That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. There is a law in the universe I call “You Spot It You Got It.” It means other people serve as a mirror for you, and you often possess the very behaviors you love and appreciate or are irritated over in them.
Whenever you find yourself in judgment of another person, you need to step back and look for that same beam in your eye. It’s highly likely you do the exact same thing to some degree. Bossy people are always bothered by bossy people, and "know it alls" are always bothered by EOEs (experts on everything).
There is a valuable You Spot It You Got It worksheet on our website that can help you check yourself to see if this is happening for you.
Take an honest look at your own need to be right, because we all get overly attached to our ideas, ideals, beliefs and opinions on occasion. We all are guilty of some projection too, where we see our fears and judgments in others. We also tie our ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings to our value as a human being. This means if someone doesn’t agree with us, we subconsciously think they don’t value us.
This isn’t true, but it feels like truth.
After being brutally honest with yourself about how attached you are to your ideas and opinions, you must also be honest about how teachable you are and how much your ego or pride get in the way of learning from others. Ask yourself the following questions:
Bruce Lee said, “The usefulness of the cup is it’s emptiness”
It is only when we are empty that we can be filled with anything new. Being open and teachable means realizing there is always more to learn and being humble enough to embrace that when around other people.
With your EOE friend who struggles with this, you have three options.
1. You could have a mutually validating conversation where you ask questions about how he feels about your friendship first, then ask if he would be open to an observation if it came from love and wanting the friendship to be better. Then, using mostly “I” statements like: I have noticed … I feel … It would mean a lot to me if you would listen and try to respect my opinions a little more moving forward. Would you be open to that? There are worksheets on our website with more specific instructions for how to have these conversations.
2. If you don’t think you’d be comfortable addressing this directly or if you think he’d get defensive or mad, you could just decide to ignore it and love him as he is.
3. Or you could try what I call the “Encouragement Technique” and every chance you get mention how much you appreciate what a great listener he is, and how he validates, respects and honors everyone’s opinions. Even though this isn’t really accurate yet, showing someone the good behavior you know they are capable of often makes them want to be what you see.
This works because most people will want to live up to your highest opinion of them. Telling them they are the person they have the potential to be encourages them to choose that behavior.
If nothing you do changes your friend though, it might be a chance for you to grow in maturity, tolerance and love. Just choose to understand this is where he is and love him anyway.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" Nicole Cunningham is a master coach who works with teens and parents.
Many of us didn’t learn mature communication skills or how to process emotions with clarity from our families, and they don’t teach these skills in school or at church. Many people never have the opportunity to learn a better way or how to think positively unless they seek it out on their own. You cannot just sit back and blame your parents though, you must take personal responsibility for your lack of skills and find someone to help you. There are many courses, seminars, coaches and experts who can help improve your communication skills and gain tools to help you handle yourself better. And the truth is - You can’t do better, until you know better.
In this article I will show you five common bad “people skills” habits, with some suggestions for changing them. These come from Patrick King’s book People Tactics:
#1 Not being fully present in conversations:
You may think more about what you want to say next, than you really listen, or you might be thinking about something else altogether and not listening at all. You may give people the impression you don’t care about them or wish you were somewhere else. You are going to have to work on changing this if you want good relationships. If a conversation is boring you, you must own it’s partly your fault, because you aren’t engaged in making it meaningful by asking questions and getting to know this other human being.
One of the best new people skills you can practice is making every human being you talk to feel valued, by asking about and validating their ideas, opinions and stories. Choose to see every human being as having something important to teach you. Ask more questions, listen and give them all your attention. This will create rich, caring, respectful relationships. Choose to be more curious about other people, ask more questions about them and show they matter. Drop or set aside your concerns and opinions. Really focus on the person in front of you. Don’t just listen, but really hear them, especially the people closest to you. Echo back what they say and honor and respect their right to think or feel different from you. This takes commitment, but you can do it.
#2 Your world is black and white:
This means you believe your ideas, opinions or feelings are right and anything else is wrong. You also see the world with a strong moral compass, where there is no grey. Patrick King says, “This habit is particularly toxic because people who have this mindset are very judgmental.” They have a tendency to see themselves as better or smarter than others. If people sense this tendency in you, they may avoid conversations with you or avoid you altogether. If this is your spouse or child that isn’t engaging with you anymore – that is a big problem.
The way you can change this habit is to first, change the way you see the value of all human beings. You must choose to see all people as having the same value and that value doesn’t change – it is infinite and absolute. Choose to remember that though someone thinks or acts differently from you, they still have the same value. Remind yourself that your perspective is one perspective (it is not truth). Also understand the more opinionated and stubborn you are, the less connected you will be with others.
When you insist on being right and making others wrong, they feel you don’t value them as a person. This happens because most peole have attached their worth to their ideas and opinions. You must remember this and resist the need to be right all the time, so people will feel valued and like you. Choose to tell people you respect their right to their views and way of doing things (even your children). For some people with certain Psychological Inclinations, this black or white viewpoint takes a lot of work to change. If you’d like to know more about Psychological Inclinations check this link out.
#3 You are a conversational narcissist and dominate conversations:
Do you love to hear the sound of your own voice and like to talk about your opinions too much? Do you realize after a conversation that you didn’t leave room for anyone else? Usually this need to talk too much comes from a deep fear of not being good enough. This fear drives your need to talk so you feel validated or you are trying to prove how smart or important you are.
To fix this bad habit you need to do some work on your own sense of intrinsic value. Choose to see every person as having the same value, and you will soon realize that counts for you too. The more secure you get the less you will need to talk about yourself. Challenge yourself to spend every conversation asking questions and listening instead of talking, because it’s the kind of person you really want to be. Showing up for others and making them feel important, will in the end, make you feel better about yourself than talking does.
#4 You give unsolicited advice or opinions:
Be honest with yourself. Is this something you do? Do you honestly mean well and want to help others, but accidently come off as a know it all? You must understand unsolicited advice is an insult. It makes others feel small, dumb or helpless no matter how well intentioned it is. If this is something you do, make a new rule you never give advice unless you ask permission first. “Are you open to some advice on that?” This is a great way to make sure you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes. If they say no, honor that. Often people bring up a topic because they want to process out loud, more than they want your opinion. They need listening, more than input most of the time. Ask if they want help solving the problem, or just a listening ear? Then honor what they say. If they aren’t open to advice, respect that and let it go. It takes maturity and self-control to be this respectful, but it pays off big in most relationships. This one alone could completely change your relationship with your kids.
#5 Assuming you already know what someone feels and thinks:
If you haven’t asked questions and listened (today) then you don’t know where they are. One of the biggest insults in conversations is assuming you know what someone feels, thinks, does or did. Even if you were there, you don’t have any idea what went on in someone’s head or heart. To honor and respect other human beings, you must ask questions and listen to them, before you ever take action or say anything. Don’t assume anything.
If you want good relationships, you must listen more than you talk. You must work on controlling your fears, so you don’t let your emotions create dramatic reactions. I have written many articles on overcoming your fears and there is a great free e-book on processing emotions on my website that might help. You may also want to take our free Clarity Assessment because it will show you (on paper) your subconscious tendencies toward being right, talking too much or not listening to others.
If you are not creating the kind of relationships you want, or are getting consistent feedback that your reactions and behavior are out of control, immature or dramatic, own it and do something about it. I don’t know how to change – is no excuse. Life is a classroom and you are here to grow, so you must be actively looking for ways to improve yourself. Coaching is a great place to start, to gain new skills and have some support to get there.
You can do this.
By Nicole Cunningham and Kim Giles
This was first published on KSL.com
My wife continues to bring up all of my mistakes from the past with any little issue in our marriage. No matter how many times I apologize and try to make amends, it seems that nothing is ever good enough for her. I’m trying to be patient and hope things will change, but everything is always my fault. We have some really big issues in our marriage which I want to solve, but how can I even begin when she says I am the problem and she isn’t? There is fault on both sides.
In order for you to get some peace here and learn to communicate with your spouse without fighting, you must first see her and your behavior more accurately.
We all hurt people when we are in pain or fear. No matter what the circumstances are, it is only from our pain that we attack others. This means that attacks are really more about the attacker and their fears, than they are about you, the victim. Think about that for a minute.
To understand your wife (and her need to continually bring up the past) I encourage you to look deeper into her life and heart, with a greater level of compassion. When she brings up the pain she has experienced and holds it over your head, it’s just because she is still hurting and scared. She also finds it necessary to cast you as the bad one, because seeing her own faults would be more painful than she can emotionally handle.
All bad behavior comes from two core fears, the fear of failure, not being good enough and the fear of loss, being taken from or losing out. When you can clearly see which fear is in play with your wife (and it could be both of them) you will see the attacks differently. You will also have more compassion, because you will see her as scared more than mean or bad. When you see her bad behavior as fear, you will begin to disassociate yourself from the attack and experience more compassion for her and yourself.
There is a great Understanding Your Marriage worksheet on my website, which will help you to delve deeper into the fears that are showing up in your marriage. I encourage you to fill it out and be really honest with yourself.
It takes a brave, rational and objective person to be able to disassociate from their pain and fear, and see the ways they have contributed to a problem. Most of us are not good at this. Instead, we exhibit a lot of blaming, projecting behavior.
There are several ways you can bring more compassion and love into the conflicts and confrontation you experience in your home:
1) Choose to see every attack as a request for love. People who attack you are in pain, because of their fears for and about themselves. If they have a fear of failure they need reassurance and validation that they are still worthy of love and understanding. They need to be reminded that all people have the same value. If they have fear of loss they need reassurance that things will work out ok. I tell my spouse and children, if I get mad or upset, just remind me that I’m good enough and that God’s got me safe in his hands, and I will probably calm right down. (I only get upset when I have forgotten these two truths.)
2) Choose to see meaning in everything. I love to read about the strength and optimism of Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor. He was the first to discover that when you see meaning in every experience, even the most brutal ones, you will suffer less. I choose to see life is a classroom and believe we are here to learn and grow. This brings meaning to every interaction with my spouse, because I see it as today’s lesson on love. When I see every interaction as a lesson I naturally challenge myself to be more mature and show up with more love. This small perspective shift will allow you to suffer less in the problems.
3) Focus on improving yourself. Viktor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”This is one way to face negativity, criticism and fear. Take them as a challenge and rise above the attacks and choose love anyway. When you refuse to take the bait and join in the fight, it also highlights your spouse’s immature behavior and she can see it better. She would prefer you to sink to her level and behave badly back (this would give her more ammunition to cast you as the bad one). If you refuse to sink to her level and calmly show up with grace and kindness, she will be forced to see that she’s the one who is in the wrong. Don’t do this from ego though, to show you are better than her. Remember you have the same value all the time, you are just learning different lessons.
4) Healthy Communication - Accept responsibility that you are 50 percent of the problem in your communication. Even if the way your spouse behaves is not heathy, you can still create change and be more respectful and loving. It’s not easy to stay respectful when you are being attacked, but you can do it with some new tools and practice. There is a great worksheet on mutually validating conversations on my website. It involves being willing to see her as the same as you (not casting her as the bad one) and being willing to ask questions and listen first, before you ask her to understand you. When someone is in fear and attacking you, what they need most is validation and reassurance to calm their fear. Only when their fear is quieted will they be capable of hearing you.
5) Focus on the future not the past. Too often we drag up the past and use it to toxify the present. When we bring up the past we are also talking about things the other person can’t change and it makes people frustrated and defensive. Make the decision to keep the focus on future behavior not past behavior. The future they have control over and we can make changes there. Be prepared to ask your spouse if she would be willing to let the past go and focus on what you are both willing to do differently moving forward.
(You might want to each write down on paper all the things in the past you are still hurt about. Agree to let them go and forgive, so you can both do better moving forward. Put these papers in a box and bury them deep in the backyard. Make an agreement that you won’t bring up those past mistakes ever again, unless you are willing to go dig up the box first to do so.)
Healing relationships takes time and takes commitment. See if your spouse wants a better relationship than the one you currently have, and explain that you can’t create happiness at the same level of thinking you were at when you created the problems. You must learn something new.
Find a course, coach or counselor who specializes in dealing with fear and upskilling your communication, and preferably one who works with each of you independently. We find that couples do better when each person works to fix their side of the problems on their own first.
Despite all of the pain and the uncertainty, remain in trust that this is your perfect classroom. This set of circumstances has shown up for a reason (to help you grow) and it is exactly where you are meant to be. You always marry your best teacher and when you choose to see her as your teacher (who is meant to push your buttons so you can work on them) it will change how you feel.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
"Recently I watched a person who I’m close to and care about, treat another person I care about very badly. It made me so angry.
I found myself getting more and more angry the more I thought about it. I finally decided I had to say something because it was wrong and if no one else was going to speak up, I needed to.
I put them in their place, and I admit I might have been a little harsh, but I felt right about it. Now people are saying I shouldn’t have said anything.
So, I’m wondering, what would say is the right thing to do? Should we speak up and defend others when they are mistreated or should we just stay quiet?"
The answer is…it depends.
It depends on a number of important factors, but before I give those factors to you, I want to make sure you understand that most people believe there are only two ways to respond to mistreatment. They are...
1) You allow the bad behavior to go on (and even allow yourself or other people to get walked on) because you are afraid it would be unkind or mean to speak up.
In this case you may be overly selfless, but also feel you are being nice and loving. People often refer to themselves as too nice here, but usually it is about feeling scared of hurting others. You would rather be mistreated and be a doormat, than speak up and risk hurting another person’s feelings or have them not like you.
2) You speak up and defend yourself and other people, because it is more important to be strong and right, than nice or loving.
In this case you tend to be overly selfish and strong, but sometimes too harsh and unkind. You feel OK about this because you see the other person as a threat to you or others.
People may say you are blunt, but it is more than just being strong enough to be honest, because it often comes from ego and even enjoyment in being right. You may think it’s better to err on the side of harsh and mean, than to be a doormat.
Think about those two options for a minute. Do you subconsciously believe these are your only two options? I’d like to introduce you to a third option.
3) I call this “the middle way” and you basically take the loving (from the 'weaker perspective) and the strong (from the 'mean' perspective) and putting them together. You learn to be both strong and loving at the same time.
This approach means speaking up, but doing it in a validating, kind, uplifting way that honors the value of both parties at the same time.
In order to find the "middle way" you must learn to quiet your fear and come from a space of trust and love instead.
This middle way may be foreign territory to you though, if you never had a parent or role model who behaved like this. You may need some coaching or to get some people skills in order to master it.
Here are 6 factors that should be in place if you are going to speak up or defend against mistreatment the right way:
My answer is YES, you should speak up if you can speak up, with the 6 factors above guiding you. If you aren't the right person or can’t do it the right way, then you should stay quiet until you can.
It means in cases where you value the relationship with this other person, and want to have a healthy one relationship, you might check your anger and ego at the door first, so you don’t destroy the relationship.
Kimberly Giles is the president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
I am constantly asking nicely for my family to help with simple everyday chores, or just get ready for family outings. My family waits for me to wake them up, tell them what to do, and even though I tell them how much time we have, they drag their feet and I find myself loading the car and doing all the work to get there on time by myself. By the time everyone's in the car, I'm stressed and upset and they’re all mad at me for rushing them. If I just leave to be there on time, my husband gets mad at me for leaving him behind, but he lays in bed until right before we have to leave then gets in the shower. I'm left yelling at the kids to help me get everything else ready so we can leave. The kids feel like I make them do all the work their dad should be helping with, but no matter what I say or do, I'm the bad guy all around. Can you help me get my spouse and kids to be responsible?
I can help with this, but you are going to have to be more responsible too if you want to fix this. You have taught your family how to treat you, and you have accidently taught them to be lazy and make you feel guilty about rushing them. Or you may be so controlling that you have created natural resistance against whatever you try to make them do.
You may also be what we call an "Organizer," which is one of 12 psychological inclinations that all humans fit into. (If you want to read more about them, you can on my website.) Organizers have a strong need for order and control, and it can feel, at times, more important than people. If you are like this, you may need to do some work on letting go of control and loss. It may even require some work with a coach or other professional.
You are also going to have to stop shouldering responsibility for everyone’s choices. Right now you are either being a doormat or you are over-controlling, selfish and mean. You are most likely going back and forth between these two states, because you can’t get either one to work.
In order to change this behavior, you must understand the three choices you have in response to other people’s bad behavior. (There is a Boundaries Worksheet on my website that shows these in detail.) Your three options look like this:
It sounds like being on time is important to you and it’s not important to your family. You should have a family meeting and explain that you’ve been trying to make everyone have the same values and needs as you, and that’s not fair. From now on, you are going to do better to honor what they want and you are going to ask them to honor you back.
So, you will be getting up and getting ready and leave on time. If anyone wants to come with you they are welcome to, but you will be leaving at this appointed time and if they aren’t ready (you will go without them) but that’s fine too. You will be happy either way. Make sure they all understand you love and respect them no matter what they choose. Then, you do your thing, and if they are mad that you left without them, that is their choice. They are also totally welcome to get ready earlier next time, and you (again) will love them either way.
If you are going on a trip though and you can’t leave without them, you might let them choose which tasks they would like to own to get things ready and packed and you will be in charge of the rest. Let them know that you plan to leave at a certain time so you will have your stuff ready then. If they aren’t ready at that time, you have made plans to go get a pedicure or sit on the patio with a good book (or choose something that’s a real treat for you) so you will be happy and occupied while you wait for them to get ready.
If your pedicure goes long, they may be waiting for you, but let them know ahead of time this is what they can expect. Whatever you do, don’t go to a place of loss and anger, behave maturely and kindly at all times and have clear expectations ahead of time.
These are examples of healthy, love and strength based boundaries that honor your needs and are also respectful of others.
Make sure you also forgive yourself for being weak or mean in the past. These situations were perfect lessons, and they now give you the chance to look at all your behavior options and see the results each produces, which is very valuable information. Past behavior has nothing to do with your value as a person. Focus on the beautiful lesson this situation is providing you to help you grow, and let the anger go.
You can do this.
My older brother can be really sarcastic not only to me but to his wife and children. The last argument we had was about a sarcastic remark he made about me and how it feels like a passive aggressive way to say what he really feels without getting in trouble for being mean, yet he is mean. How can I get him to see how he is hurting the people close to him with this sarcasm and how can I get him to correct his behavior without making him even angrier at me?
Send him an email filled with positive validation about what a good person he is and how much you love him, but include at the bottom a question: “If it comes from a place of love for you, would you be open to some practical advice about sarcasm? I found this article, which might help you build better relationships, but if you aren’t open to any advice, you don’t have to read it. Just know it comes without judgment, because we all have some flaws. I have lots. Just thought it was interesting.”
Then copy and paste the rest of this article from here down. Once he understands why he is sarcastic, he may be more motivated to change it.
The dictionary defines sarcasm as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt; a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark.” Sarcastic comments, though humorous, are usually passive-aggressive, mean and really uncomfortable for the people receiving them.
If you use sarcasm you must ask yourself the following questions:
Here are some common reasons you might be sarcastic. See if any of these resonate with you:
1. You fear you aren’t good enough, so you subconsciously need to put others down so you can feel superior.The worse you feel about yourself the more biting your remarks toward others could be. Insecure people have to put others down or tease them, in order to feel important and of value themselves. If this is your issue you may need some professional help to improve your self-worth. If you felt better about yourself you wouldn’t need to make fun of others.
2. Sarcasm is also a way of asking for what you want when you are scared to ask for it directly. You might crack a joke about your wife’s crazy shoes because you don’t know how to say you don’t like them in a nicer way. Your sarcastic remark doesn’t work though because it leaves your wife unsure about what you really think. Were you joking or serious? If you don’t know how to say things in a way that won’t hurt, you make a joke, which usually still hurts, but creates a situation where if she takes offense, it’s her problem if she can’t take the joke. If this is your way to use sarcasm, you really need to improve and learn some better communication skills.
3. Sarcasm may be passive-aggressive anger. This happens because you feel taken from, insulted or annoyed by other people and taking a jab at them makes you feel better. Sarcasm is a clever way to take a jab without being seen as outright mean. A joke can absolve you of responsibility for how you made the other person feel. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to resolve the real issues you are angry about. You could really benefit from some coaching or counseling on processing emotions.
4. You may feel jealous or angry at life for the disappointments or abuse you have suffered. Sarcasm can be a clever way to take out your anger toward life or vent your frustrations. The more life does you wrong, the more biting your remarks toward others might be. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to use your life experiences to make you better, not bitter.
5. If you were teased in a cruel way, put down or made to feel inferior as a child, you may be subconsciously trying to get the upper hand now. You may look down on others and jokingly strike out at them as a way to feel powerful. Again, you may need some help to improve your self-esteem so you can show up with love and let the pain from your past go.
6. You like to get attention by entertaining those around you with humor. You probably need this attention to validate your worth, because you again, have fear you aren’t good enough. You need this attention so badly you will do it at the expense of other people. All fear creates subconsciously selfish behavior, but this can be fixed. There are lots of ways to learn to be funny without being hurtful.
7. You may have a psychological inclination that is just prone to mean sarcasm. You may want to find out what your personal psychological inclination is. Some PI types are more prone to sarcasm and biting comments than others. You can find out more about your PI and what that says about you on my website.
Just take a minute, if you are the sarcastic person, and honestly ask yourself if any of these issues could be behind your sarcastic comments and is this who you really want to be?
You may need to practice THINK before you speak (a good idea for all of us). This means checking yourself before you make a comment. Is it:
You can be funny all you want, but if you do it at the expense of other people, they will not feel safe with you or like you, and if the people on the receiving end of your sarcasm are your friends or family, this cost could be high.
My best advice to you is slow down and pause before saying anything. Think about why you want to say (what you are about to say). Is it love motivated? Does it really need to be said? You may want to create a reminder to avoid sarcasm and make it the wallpaper on your phone. That way you see it 500 times a day to remind you to think first.
If you are living with a sarcastic person, here are a couple suggestions for dealing with it:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I’m a good looking woman in my 50s and I’m devastated right now because the man I was dating, who I was in love with and who said he was in love with me, broke up with me last year and I still feel horribly torn up about it. I know I have a tendency to be a teller and a screamer, and I don’t like this about myself, but I really think if someone loved me, they should give me a chance to learn how to approach disagreements in a more positive way. But he didn’t give me that chance. I know I also have trust issues, but I just need a good partner to stay with me and help me overcome these issues and communicate better. I am now thinking he didn’t really ever love me, because he wouldn’t stay with me to help me. How can I get someone who will give me a chance to do better?
I’m assuming when you say you are a “teller and a screamer” that you have a subconscious tendency to talk a lot, get upset easily, and handle confrontations badly. You also said you have trust issues, which I assume means you are subconsciously on the lookout for mistreatment and insults all the time, and you probably find them quite often too, because you always find what you’re looking for.
I’m going to be blunt with you here, because I really want to help you. The truth is, you cannot expect anyone to love you enough to put up with drama, fear, constant defensiveness, yelling and immature behavior for long. You are going to have to do some serious work on yourself, learn how to process emotions and situations in an accurate way and communicate how you feel with respect towards others. Screaming might make some people listen to you, but I guarantee in the long run it is making people lose respect for you (even your children).
You may have learned screaming and yelling worked for getting what you wanted when you were young, but it’s never going to work for you as an adult. It is time to grow up and get control of yourself. I have some good worksheets on my website for learning to process emotions you should read. They may help you to recognize why you are upset and find some better ways to respond.
If you get offended and see mistreatment often and you are not good at handling disagreements or mistreatment in a calm, respectful way, it’s time to take some responsibility for your relationships and stop looking for others to blame.
I have another important worksheet on my website called the Are You The Problem worksheet and I highly recommend that you fill it out and score yourself. Maybe you will find out you aren’t as bad as you think, but if you are honest with yourself and find you are high on most of the questions, it’s time to get to work changing some things, starting with your policies and procedures.
From 0 to 7 years old, everything you see or experience creates policies, beliefs or conclusions about the world, your value, your family and how things work. You are also experimenting with different procedures or social techniques, and whatever worked (or what you saw most often) became your procedures for dealing with others. If you grew up around some dysfunctional relatives, you may have learned some really bad procedures, but you can break that chain and change your behavior. It will take some work, but you can do it.
I believe changing your subconscious relationship behavior must start with changing some of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, others and life. If you see these things in a fear-based way, you are going to react badly to most situations. With my clients, I start by helping them adopt these two basic principles or policies:
If you get insulted easy, keep working on seeing all human beings as having the same infinite value. If you experience loss more, practice seeing your life and every thing that happens as your perfect classroom every day. These will help you over-react less and become more mature and calm.
I also recommend that you consider getting some coaching or attend classes on relationship, communication and mindfulness skills. They would make a huge difference in your next relationship. I also think it's time to let go of the hurt over that last one. It was a lesson and taught you some things, but it's time to move on and trust that better things lie ahead.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My wife seems to love our children a lot more than she likes me. She isn’t enthusiastic about intimacy either, and this is a great disappointment to me. Because I don’t feel loved, I find myself frustrated and even angry towards her. I know I hurt her feelings sometimes, but I’m not happy, and this isn’t the marriage I wanted. Having said that, I also don’t want to leave. I want to keep my family together. I am trying to forgive and love her as she is, but it is hard. How am I supposed to deal with this? Is there any way to encourage her to change?
It sounds like what you want is to feel more important, loved and wanted by your wife. The trick to making this happen is to get rid of disappointment. I know it sounds illogical, but your disappointment can be relationship poison that does further damage and infuses your relationship with fear (of failure and loss).
The truth is we are all disappointed in our spouses at some level, because no one is perfect and anyone you marry is going to have some faults and flaws. There is a down side to being married to everyone, even you. When you become frustrated with your spouse’s flaws they feel this and subconsciously pull away from you to protect themselves.
This happens because all of us are battling two core fears every day, which cause most of our pain and bad behavior. The first is a fear of failure (the fear that we aren’t good enough) and this is our deepest and most painful fear, but fear of loss (the fear of missing out, being robbed or mistreated) is also painful and scary.
When you or your spouse experience either of these fears, you end up in a selfish space where your focus is primarily on yourself and getting what you need. In this space you are literally incapable of love. You can’t do fear and love at the same time.
I would guess you are both living in fear and therefore not giving enough love to the other. Your wife is probably afraid she isn’t good enough (most women are) which could make her less comfortable with intimacy. Her disinterest in spending time with you triggers your fear of loss. When you feel loss you then act disappointed in her, which makes her feel like a failure even more. This can become a vicious cycle and suck the love from the relationship.
This is fixable, but it is going to require a shift in your perspective, some forgiveness and a commitment to being more loving and validating than you ever have before. Here are some things you can do to create more positive feelings, less fear and less disappointment in your marriage:
1. Allow your emotions in and sit with them. Take some time to experience the disappointment you are feeling. You may want to journal about your feelings so you have a chance to express them without further hurting your spouse. What expectation did you have that is causing your greatest pain?
2. Ask yourself, "Are these emotions going to create what I want?" What is it going to create if you keep telling yourself this story of disappointment and continue to feel anger and resentment toward your spouse? Is this going to motivate your spouse to give you what you want?
The answer is no, it won’t. Holding onto feelings of disappointment toward your spouse will only trigger more fear of failure in your spouse, which will actually make her less loving toward you. Fear, sadness, self-pity, begging, blaming, nagging and sulking do not create loving feelings. These are fear and lack behaviors, which only create more fear and lack.
If you want more love you have to give love, encouragement, praise, appreciation, admiration, respect and kindness. These create more love.
3. Ask yourself, "How can I create what I want?" We recommend you try the encouragement approach and shower your spouse with appreciation, respect, admiration and praise. Instead of focusing on your disappointment, write on paper all the good things about her and who she can be and choose to focus on those. The opposite of disappointment is gratitude. Show your spouse you are grateful to have her in your life and mean it!
We have found that when a person feels greatly loved, appreciated, admired and wanted, they become a lot more giving back. Tell her how lucky you are to be married to her and make sure you are not being loving with strings attached. You cannot expect anything back. You must build her up and give to her because you are working on becoming a more loving person, not just to get what you want. If you will consistently show up for her and give more, it should start to change how she feels about you.
(If you try these things for a long time and still get nothing back, you may then decide this relationship isn’t working for you. But don’t throw in the towel until you have done your part to give love, to the best of your ability first.)
4. Never cast your spouse as the bad one. It is human nature to want to see others as worse than us. We subconsciously do this because casting anyone else as the bad one makes us feel like the good one, but this is rarely accurate. And all human beings have the same infinite, intrinsic worth and deserve to be treated and respected as your equal. You must also remember that though you may not have the same flaws as your spouse, you do have flaws. Committing to see your spouse as the same as you, especially during conversations with her, will make her feel safer and less defensive. Admit when you are wrong, apologize often and let your spouse see your heart is soft, teachable and open. This will create a safer space for her to do the same.
Seeing her as the bad one will not make her want more intimacy either. We like and are drawn to the people who like us. Show her she is wanted, admired and liked, and she will grow more and more fond of you again.
5. Trust that your life is the perfect classroom for you. You are here to learn and grow, and your marriage is the class that will teach you the most important lessons on love. We always marry our greatest teacher (for better or worse) we sign up for this class. This person is going to help you grow by pushing your buttons, triggering your fears and thus help you to stretch and become stronger, wiser and more loving. That is the real purpose of this relationship. (I know this because it's the purpose of our whole journey.)
So, figure out and focus on the lessons your unique marriage experience (with your spouse) could be meant to teach you. This is your opportunity to grow in love, strength and wisdom. Marriage is hard because you get to see the very worst of another person, and they get to experience the worst of you, yet you both must learn to forgive and accept each other anyway. This is a challenge, but you are meant to conquer it. You can do this.
The more you accept this person and this situation as your perfect classroom and focus on improving you, the better the relationship will be. Once you have created a more safe and loving space in your marriage, you can then communicate with your spouse about what you want to change. You should ask her what you can do better to make her happier and then share what you would really appreciate in the future from her. Just don't have these conversations while in fear and judgment. Communicate only when you are firmly grounded in trust and love.
Get a free worksheet to help you process disappointment or take the free fear assessment and start working on your fear issues here.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and an expert in simple psychology. Kristena Eden is a Claritypoint certified coach who works with couples and families.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Our daughter recently told us that she no longer believes in God and hasn't for a long time. This came as devastating news to us. Although we were aware that she hadn't been attending church, we thought she was still a believer. I have read your article on When your child rejects your religion every day since and it has been helpful, but I am still finding myself having moments of great sadness, anger, and even panic. Your advice makes sense in my head but my heart is broken. I would like to understand how she came to this conclusion but don't want to put her on the defensive. The result is, I don't contact her as much, because I'm concerned my emotions will spill out. I am praying for her many times a day, as well as for the rest of our family. Any additional advice would be appreciated.
If you are still experiencing sadness, anger and panic, are pulling back and even struggling to spend time with your daughter — you are still coming from fear, not love. I understand why this situation is triggering this fear of loss and failure in you. I really do, but those emotions aren't doing you or your child any good and they may make the situation worse.
In the other article on this I explained why unconditional love is the answer when a loved one rejects your religion. The problem is that as long as you are entrenched in fear, you aren’t capable of love.
If you can’t change your perspective and get out of fear, your child is going to see you and your religion as unloving. It isn't and you know that you're scared because you love her so much, but your fear energy could make her pull even farther away. You cannot let your fear be bigger than your love.
You have to get you more fully in trust about this situation (and out of fear) so you are capable of showing up with real love, peace and acceptance towards your daughter. I encourage you to read and practice trusting the following idea every day for a while:
I am not a failure and neither is my loved one. We are here on this planet to experience all kinds of interesting and painful experiences so we can learn and grow, but at no time is our value on the line because life is a classroom, not a test. This means our value is infinite and absolute. It cannot change no matter what we do. None of us have anything to fear. My loved one may sign themselves up for some interesting lessons here, ones I would rather not have them learn. That is not about me. They are choosing their journey and they will find their way through it and in the end it will be OK. I trust their value and mine is secure and that this is the perfect classroom journey for both of us. I choose to trust God, there is nothing to fear, and every experience here is a lesson. I choose to let God's love fill me up every day so I can share his unconditional love with others. I choose to shine with pure love every day. I have the power to do this because there is nothing to fear.
(If you want to understand more about why life is a classroom not a test, read this article from December.)
Trusting these truths will show your loved one that your religion and your God are based in love. The God you believe in provided a way for all to return safely. He loves us all. Being fearless about this will show her that your faith in God’s goodness, your love for her and your strength are all bigger than your fear. This will earn her respect for you and make her see your religious beliefs as beautiful and inviting. Love is much more attractive than fear.
I also have a worksheet for frustrated parents on my website that might also help you with this situation. I encourage you to get it. It will ask you to identify your fear issues (that are really behind you being so upset about your child). You had fear issues about failure or loss (before this) and this situation with your child has just triggered them. This situation is therefore as much your lesson as it is hers. This is your chance to learn how to overcome fear and become stronger, more faithful and more loving.
So, instead of trying to fix your child, work on you. Trust God more and choose to act from love and fully accept her as she is, even being proud of her and never say anything negative, critical or guilt-producing. You can do this. You are a child of God (a being who is the essence of perfect love). You have the love inside you to overcome fear.
The worksheet will also ask “What does your child need right now?” The answer is your strength, faith, acceptance and love. She needs you to be strong enough to set your needs aside. (Your needs for her to fulfill your wishes, expectations and believe what you believe.) She needs to know you can let go of your needs and show up for her.
Spend time with her and (the entire time) keep choosing to trust there is nothing to fear. Spend every minute you have with her building her up. Look for the highest and best qualities in her, and tell her what you see. Focus on her goodness as a person and let her know you are proud of her. This is putting love first.
You can do this.
“Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don't tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all His children. Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell or preach or teach, as I am in how you choose to live and give." — Cory Booker
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and speaker. She was named
one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly
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