This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — This pandemic holiday season is unlike anything we have ever experienced before.
It is a well-known fact that depression is linked to social isolation, and it typically increases around the winter holidays anyway, but this year we are adding masks, COVID-19 restrictions, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, family conflicts over gatherings, cold weather, dark days with less sunlight, and end-of-year deadlines. This time of year will be especially hard on people who are dealing with job loss, loss of income, divorce, separation from loved ones or mental health issues.
A School of Public Health study this summer found that the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has more than tripled the prevalence of depression symptoms from 8.5% of adults before the pandemic to 27.8% over the summer. The numbers during the 2020 holiday season are expected to be even higher.
If you are finding this holiday season is bringing more depression than joy, here are some things you can do to get through it:
Completely change your expectations
Whatever image you had in mind for the holidays, think about dropping that. Instead, plan on this year being unlike any Christmas you ever had.
We've never experienced anything like this pandemic, and we must go into the holidays with a sense of adventure. You may miss the family gatherings you are used to, but if there wasn't an expectation of family gathering it wouldn't matter to you. Decide that this year has no "shoulds" around it. It shouldn't be like any holiday you've had before and remember, and different isn't necessarily bad. Embrace the different and go with it.
Whenever you feel disappointed, remind yourself that it's your expectations causing the disappointment, and you can change your expectations. This is a good life skill to practice during this interesting time.
Drop the traditions and do something different
Don't decorate the way you have in years past. Try something crazy to mark the year as unlike any other. We put decorations in places we have never used them before. Put lights up in weird places and it feels really good.
If you can't have the traditional Christmas Eve or Christmas Day gatherings, do something so totally different. You won't even miss the usual way. Some families are not even decorating at all and are planning to order in Chinese food and eat at a low table in the living room, or something else they have never done before.
Keep counting your blessings
No matter what we have lost this year, we still have so much to be grateful for. Keep focusing on what you still have over what you've lost.
Focus on ways things could be worse
This is a strategy I learned from positive psychologist Dr. Paul Jenkins. No matter how bad things are, there is always a way they could be worse. Focusing on the ways things could be worse naturally makes you feel better about what you have.
Scale back and simplify
Drop all the extra things that aren't necessary. Everyone expects this year to be different, so let this be the year you don't do half the stressful holiday tasks you usually do — unless doing them keeps you busy and happy. Just drop anything that is making you feel stressed, anxious or worse.
Take a break from social media
If seeing pictures of other happy people living lives that look better than yours is making you feel worse, drop social media for a few weeks. It would be good for you on many levels. Instead, write heartfelt email letters to friends and family expressing your love and gratitude for them. Enjoy the letters you get back. They may lift you up more than scrolling through social media ever did.
Limit media exposure
Get some great books to read, do a puzzle, knit or crochet, work on some home improvement project, take up painting, or spend time outdoors. Do things that involve the real world around you instead of binging more Netflix or watching more movies.
Get regular exercise
Exercise will have an immediate effect on your mental and physical health. Even though it's cold outside, you can bundle up and get some fresh air every day. If you spent even a little time exercising daily, you will feel better about yourself on every level.
Avoid drinking or indulging in unhealthy treats
Poor nutrition and too much alcohol always make depression worse. Instead, find some healthy recipes and make good food to enjoy and take the time to savor it. If you are eating healthy meals and getting exercise, you can treat yourself to some special holiday treats and feel good about it.
Get some sunlight
Too much time without sunshine and a lack of vitamin D will affect your mental health. Go up to the mountains — above the inversion — and feel some sun on your face. Talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement. If you have seasonal depression, you can also talk to your health care provider about trying light therapy.
"A light therapy box mimics outdoor light," the Mayo Clinic explains. "Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)."
Get outside in nature as much as possible
Don't stay holed up in your house for weeks on end. Walking in the park or around your neighborhood daily will lift your spirits and give you needed exercise at the same time.
Talk to a therapist
I cannot stress enough how much this will help you. If you have never tried therapy before, you might be skeptical. But therapy can do wonders to help you process your feelings and the thoughts that come with them.
Create a schedule and follow it
People who have structure to their days and follow a schedule feel more fulfilled and productive, and this helps with depression. Even if you don't have much going on, schedule a time to wake up, cook and eat, exercise, read, watch something (for a limited time) and then move onto other activities. Having structure makes the day go faster too.
Avoid family conflicts
Everyone is functioning in a loss state right now, which means we are all more defensive and more easily bothered. Knowing this, you can recognize that when grouchy behavior shows up it's not really about you. Then you can choose to walk away instead of taking the bait and creating more conflict.
If certain people trigger you more than others, make a plan to avoid interaction with them as much as possible. The one good thing about the pandemic is you can bail on any social gathering and everyone will understand. Use that explanation if necessary to protect your mental health.
Deal with loss by trusting in the good
You can always choose to focus on the growth any experience brings. You can choose to trust the universe that the lessons this year brought us will be blessings in the future; and though things are not as we like them, they are perfect for right now.
Nothing exists that was not created to help us evolve and grow. Remembering this helps us see loss as a blessing in disguise. Sometimes it is a very good disguise, but there will be some good from it.
Arrange social connection via technology
You need connection with other human beings. Contact friends or family members and arrange time to communicate through Zoom, Facetime, or some other video chatting platform.
You need this kind of connection to battle the isolation, so ask for it. Let people know that you really need to talk and ask if could they arrange time for you. It is important that you realize asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Be brave enough to ask for help, friendship or connection when you need it.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Many mental health professionals say that during this pandemic mental health matters more than ever. There are serious mental health consequences that show up for people suffering from sustained fear. The American Journal of Managed Care notes that you can start to feel a dissociation from your identity, you can find it harder to feel loving feelings, you can experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, and/or learned helplessness, where you give up believing help or an end to suffering exists.
If you read my column on a regular basis, you know my passion for helping people deal with fear — and specifically what I call the two core fears: The fear of failure (which is the fear of not being good enough) and the fear of loss (which is the fear of not being safe).
Right now, people all over the world are battling a more than normal amount of fear that they aren’t safe. We are all afraid of loss. We are afraid of getting sick, losing family or friends, afraid of police brutality, protests or riots, afraid that the election might create more turmoil or violence, afraid of business failures and/or losing our jobs. The entire world is holding its breath to see what unknown problems lie around the bend next.
It might help your family to talk about safety and where a sense of safety can come from. The truth is life will always be uncertain and full of risk. Bad things happen and there is no way to protect ourselves from all of life’s dangers. You could make an argument that fear and stress are even warranted, but there is a high cost to living in fear of loss.
When you feel unsafe in the world, it diminishes your capacity to care for and love other people. It hinders your ability to connect, it makes you feel separated, isolated and alone. It makes you quicker to take offense and see yourself as mistreated, which creates more conflict.
You might have noticed that your family members have been more easy to offend lately, or that there have been more disagreements. Some of this is from spending too much time together, but part of it is also coming from the sustained fear of loss we are all experiencing.
'It's just a story' strategy
It would serve us all to learn a strategy for eliminating fear of loss and feeling safer. I teach my coaches that the best way out of the "I am not safe in the world" belief, is to remember it’s just a story. The way you feel about anything is coming from the story you are telling yourself about it. You might, in fact, be very safe at this moment and there might be good things around the next bend for you. There is no way to know what is coming next. No matter what you believe, it is a story.
This means that standing in this moment you have two basic story choices:
Trust God and the universe
You might want to gather your family and talk about what you truly believe the point and purpose of our being on the planet is. Talk about whether you see this universe is a place of chaos or a place of order.
Go through the following questions:
Start practicing trusting God and the universe that you are safe during the little inconveniences and problems that show up every day. Could you see a flat tire, a canceled plan, or an unexpected mess as your perfect classroom journey today? Could you choose to feel safe in those moments, trusting that God and the universe have you and the setback is a blessing in disguise? Playing with small losses now helps you to have strong "trust muscles" on a really bad day.
Choosing to trust that God and the universe are on your side, and constantly conspiring to bless and grow you, makes a big difference on your stress level. Give it a try for yourself. You can do this.
More tips and resources
Here are some other ways to help your family cope with stress and fear:
SALT LAKE CITY — The truth is, we all have a shadow side that encourages ego and bad behavior.
You are a nice, kind, caring person, but there is also a part of you that is selfish, petty, lazy, controlling and angry. You have this dark side because there has to be opposition in everything (the ying and the yang). Knowing this and understanding your two sides can actually help you to become a better person.
What psychology teaches us
Sigmund Freud taught that all humans have three sides: an id (our dark side), a superego (our higher thinking, moral side), and an ego that tries to manage and balance the other two in a way that will make other people like you. Carl Jung, who was the first to use the term "shadow side" said it is made up of all the qualities and behaviors society taught us are unacceptable.
We were taught as children that a “good person” functions only in their Superego — being nice, kind, proper, composed and self-sacrificing all the time. We were taught that taking care of our own needs is selfish and giving in to improper thoughts makes us a bad person. This isn’t necessarily true, though. If you do nothing but sacrifice yourself for others, you will soon have nothing left to give, and there is a high cost when you are too nice all the time.
Dark or improper thoughts don’t go away either. Sometimes the more we try to suppress them, the more insistent they become, whispering and nudging you to be selfish, take care of your needs, seek pleasure or be petty or mean. You fight this nudging and work to suppress that negative voice, but maybe you need to listen to it and make note of what it’s saying.
All human emotions teach you something
You are on earth to feel every aspect of the human experience firsthand for what these experiences can teach you. This means feeling joy, happiness, acceptance, love, success, empathy, sympathy and humility. But it also means feeling shame, guilt, anger, superiority, failure, hate, desire, passion, selfishness and jealousy. These are all the fabric of being human. If you try to suppress any part of this, without processing the emotion or the experience, you are suppressing part of who you are and missing part of your classroom.
Dark and negative emotions and thoughts are there to teach you lessons, and if you never allow yourself to process them, they will keep coming back until you do or they might get bigger. How can you work on changing or shifting negative thinking or behavior, if you never look at it?
Try shadow journaling
I often recommend to clients — especially those that are trying really hard to be nice and loving all the time or who are really fighting with negative thinking — to start a shadow journal (or do shadow journaling on paper) that you will destroy after writing, because this will not be for your grandchildren to read one day.
This is a place to process your emotions in. When someone triggers a negative emotion or thought in you, get this journal or some paper out and write down every dark thought and impulse that shows up. Write down the awful ideas and responses your shadow side comes up with. Write about the jealousy or the anger you have toward this person. Write everything that you wouldn’t want anyone to know you actually thought. Let yourself be your worst self — that is the point of the exercise. Go where you usually would not allow yourself to go. Be petty, immature, angry, or full of self-pity.
Then, sit back and look at what your voice of fear/ego had to say. Process this by asking yourself these questions:
Some experts, like Dr. Aziz Gazipura, believe not processing your negative thoughts can lead to health problems down the road. In his book "Not Nice," Gazipura said, "Avoiding your shadow side creates a host of problems in your life, ranging from depression to physical pain. This is because it takes a great deal of energy to keep something down and out of awareness. The more we avoid it, the more scared of it we become… while befriending it gives you greater self-control and radically increases your self-esteem. It turns out your shadow is your greatest source of power."
Just like pain is an indicator that something is wrong that needs attention, negative emotions and dark thoughts also have something to teach you. Processing them and getting real about what they say, and the behavior they recommend (instead of hiding it away) gives you the chance to fix underlying beliefs and fears. For example, If a great deal of hate shows up toward a specific person, this is something you really need to explore. There is something in that hate that is tied to how you feel about yourself. You need to figure out what that person triggers in you and how that is your fear issue to solve.
You may want to find a coach or counselor, who can help you process these thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. If what shows up really scares you or is tied to addiction, abuse or mental illness, find a licensed mental health professional or program to assist you.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
I have a hard time being with my siblings and their spouses. We don’t have the money they have and we admit we are pretty jealous of the lives they lead compared to ours. It is hard being the ones who make the least amount of money in the family and can’t keep up with them all. They keep planning things like trips that we can’t afford. It’s becoming so bothersome, I am starting to pull away from them all. All my friend’s lives are significantly easier than ours too. Do you have any advice on how to handle these feelings of jealousy and that life is unfair?
If you look behind the jealousy, you may see this is a fear of loss problem. Some of my readers still question this simplified system around the two core fears, but after 18 years in personal development, I promise it makes understanding and changing human behavior easier.
Fear of loss is the feeling you get whenever you aren’t getting (or didn’t get) what you wanted from life. You might feel taken from, robbed or treated unfairly. If you get a more difficult journey than your friends, you may perceive it as a loss. But it’s only a loss if it does you wrong, hurts you or takes away what you should have had. This may feel like a loss to you because you assume you could have had (or should have had) something better. That assumption is the key to changing your jealousy.
Should you have had something else? Could you have had something better? Is your life journey ruined or off track from where it might have been? Is life supposed to be fair?
I encourage you to play with some different perspectives and assumptions and see if it changes how you feel. I believe how we feel is totally dependent on how we look at it and perspective is easy to change — even when you can’t change the situation. Here are a couple of ideas that might help you feel better about your journey:
1. Everyone deals with challenges in life. Some people whose lives look easy from the outside may actually be challenging on the inside, though they might be good at hiding it. Those whose lives really are "easy" might be experiencing ease right now, but their challenges might still be coming. Life is a classroom and the purpose of the whole thing is to learn and grow. We can’t grow when things are easy. Challenges, setbacks, loss, and unfairness are all parts of this educational experience. Try to remember that this is not a shopping excursion, a contest to get the most toys or a sightseeing trip. This life is a school and if we keep that in mind, then it may change our expectation and keeps our viewpoint more accurate.
2. The Buddha reportedly said, “It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering.” What I believe he meant by that is if you expect life to meet your expectations and give you whatever you want, then you're going to be disappointed.
If you keep resisting what you're getting by being upset about it, then you're likely going to suffer. If you're tired of the way this feels, then you can choose to believe that the universe is a wise teacher constantly conspiring to bless you with wisdom and educate you. Trust that the universe will only bring you experiences that serve you. This means there is no loss and no unfairness because you are always getting what is exactly perfect for you. If you're getting your perfect classroom experience then there is no loss.
You also have to give up comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Remember, they're in a different classroom and they're learning completely different lessons than you are. You only have two perspective options when it comes to your journey: You can compare, be jealous and resist “what is," which may make you suffer, or you can accept “what is” and even have gratitude for it, which may create peace and make you suffer less. How do you want to live?
3. Buddha also said it's your craving (for what you want, but don’t have) and your aversion (toward what you have that you don’t want) that make up your resistance to “what is” and cause your suffering. I recommend you get out some paper and make a list of everything you don’t have that you wish you did. Make another list of everything you have but wish you didn’t. Then, make a list of everything you are grateful you don’t have and all the things you're grateful you do have. Then, sit and look at all of these lists. All of these together make up the true nature of life. Every moment you are alive you have all four of these in play, and you always will. Your happiness depends on your focus. If you choose to focus on what you're grateful for, then you could be happy all the time.
4. Make a new rule against comparing yourself with other people. There's no level where comparing yourself to others serves you. Be consistent in choosing to believe that each of us is getting the perfect classroom journey meant for us. Also, remember life is a package deal and each life path comes with some blessings and some trials. If you had another person’s blessings, then you would also have to take their trials, and trust me, you don’t want them.
5. Carefully choose your thoughts. Choose to think only positive, loving thoughts about yourself and other people. In doing this, you're choosing abundance and blessings for everyone. Choose to see the world as abundant and overflowing with enough for all. Every time a jealous thought pops up in your head, try choosing gratitude instead. Gratitude is one of the most positive emotions you can choose. When you live from a place of gratitude, you are accepting love from the universe and opening the door to receive more.
Also, remember that there are many people on this planet who would give anything for your life and would be jealous of you. It’s all about perspective. Count every blessing and trust the universe that everything that happens to you is happening for you.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a sought after human behavior expert who speaks to groups on improving people skills. Get a free Worksheet to help you fight fear of loss and have less jealousy here.
This was first published on ksl.com
I hear from a lot of people during this time of year who aren't fans of the holiday season. They say they dread it all — the pressure to spend money on gifts, the obligation to attend gatherings with people they don’t like, the commercialization and materialism, and the seasonal depression that might be brought on by overcast weather.
Do you feel like this in any way?
When you are unhappy, afraid you aren’t good enough or are struggling with relationships, you may have a tendency to project these feelings onto the holiday season. We all subconsciously project our feelings about ourselves onto things and people around us.
Here are a few ways to cope during the holiday season:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after speaker, author and business owner. She is the founder of www.claritypointcoaching,com and www.12shapes.com and provides simple solutions to every kind of human behavior difficulty.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share some ideas for coping with the hardest challenges of life.
I have a very serious illness that no one has ever heard of and I find it extremely devastating and lonely. What can someone like me, in my position, do? I've struggled with this for over 30 years and this is impossibly frustrating and miserable. You have no idea. Do you have any advice for dealing with this?
Many of life’s challenges are impossibly hard and painful. Many of these problems have no answers, solutions or remedies. They are painful and they are going to stay painful for a long time. In this situation, with no escape available, your options are limited. For the most part, all you can do is work on choosing your attitude and mindset inside the challenge.
Vivian Greene said it best: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Here are eight suggestions to help you dance in the rain (and find joy and peace) despite an impossibly hard challenge:
1. Accept what is.
"It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering," Buddha said.(Read more about this concept here.) It is your wishing and wanting things to be different, that is the real cause of your pain. You have created, and attached your happiness to, expectations about how your life should look or feel. The problem is, life rarely meets our expectations, and more often it takes us in a direction we never saw coming.
So, now that you are here, how much time and energy are you going to waste wishing you were somewhere else? All this time and energy is wasted and it might be making you suffer more. You will suffer less, if you stop resisting and choose to accept this path as the right one for you. You are here for a reason and that reason is to serve you (read more below).
2. Trust there is order in the universe and purpose and meaning in everything.
Choose to see the universe as a wise teacher, who knows what it’s doing. Choose to see life as a classroom whose objective is your learning ad growth. This would mean every experience you have is here to facilitate learning and make you smarter, stronger, wiser or more loving in some way. This means things don’t happen to you, they always happen for you.
During times of intense suffering, it is difficult to believe your pain is here for a positive reason and I cannot prove to you it is (though you can’t prove it’s not, either). Choosing to trust there is a purpose in your pain, does make you suffer less. I first learned this from reading about Viktor Frankl, who during intense suffering in the concentration camps of World War II, found if he chose to believe there was meaning in his suffering (that it was here for a reason) he not only suffered less, but also felt motivated to rise and get through in the best possible way. He wrote: “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning.”
If you choose to see the universe as a loving teacher that is on your side and working for you, not against you, and if you choose to believe every experience is therefore the perfect classroom journey for you — you will find more peace and joy in the difficulty. This might be one you have to play with and try before you believe me, but I promise it's truth.
3. Focus on this present moment only.
If you try to process the weight of all the coming years of loneliness or pain, it will crush you. It is too much, too scary and too discouraging. So set that weight down.
Focus only on this present moment or hour. Get through this hour choosing to be as positive and happy as possible. What can you do at this moment for yourself to relieve pain, create joy or just distract yourself?
You have great power in this moment to choose your mindset — it is actually the only time you have the power of choice at all. Use that power to choose loving feelings towards yourself and others. Choose gratitude and count your blessings. No matter how bad things are, there are still things to be grateful for. Choose to create a life of happiness, kindness, service, joy and fun, one moment at a time. Don't worry about what will or won't happen later at all.
4. Find a passion project.
During times suffering we can often find ourselves unproductive, stuck and useless. It helps if you can find a passion project of some kind that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and accomplished. Even if it is just a journal or blog, a puzzle or a scrapbook. What could you do with your time instead of wallowing? Find something productive you can do.
5. Allow yourself limited pity party time.
It is natural during times of suffering and challenge to feel self-pity, sadness and grief. You should feel and experience these emotions, and not try to suppress them all the time. It is actually important you give yourself time to feel these feelings and have a good pity party or cry every once in a while, just don’t live there.
If you feel these emotions coming up today, give yourself a limited amount of time (like an hour or 30 minutes) to deep dive into the negative emotions and cry if you need to. Giving yourself this time is an important part of the lesson this experience is here to teach you. You will also find you actually feel better after a good cry. It gets some of the pain out so you always feel better after.
6. Lower your expectations.
When you are going through an impossibly hard experience at least half your brain power and energy are being used to process the trauma of the situation. This doesn’t leave you with enough bandwidth for all the other tasks or interests you usually do.
Go easy on yourself and expect less. Give yourself permission to have a messier house or get less done. Be realistic with the energy you have and say no to things you know will wipe you out. Give yourself permission to lower these expectations without any guilt.
7. Give up envy and wishing you had someone else’s life journey.
It is really easy to find yourself in a place of envy when your life is hard. It does seem unfair that other people get lives that seem easier than yours, but dwelling on this does you no good and in fact, will make you feel even worse.
Remember, their journey isn’t over yet and all of us will face some challenges sooner or later. Remember, this journey, though painful, is the right one for your soul, or you wouldn’t be here. Trust the universe knows what it’s doing and that growth is its purpose. There are amazing lessons, knowledge, and strength to be gained from your journey, and though you would rather not go through this or gain them, there will be a benefit down the road.
8. Use this experience and the unique knowledge (on the human condition and suffering) it is giving you, to bless the world in some way.
Your misery can often become your message. If you suffer with chronic illness you could show others how to cope in a positive way. If you are a single mother, you could help newly divorced women handle their new reality with more joy. If you lose a loved one, you can be a resource to others who are suffering grief. There is always a way to use what has happened to you to make a difference in the world.
At some level that is why I write this column every week. My journey has not been an easy one at all. I apparently signed up for many hard classes in the classroom of life, and have experienced suffering on almost every level. I tell you this only because using my challenges to help others, helps me. Most of these articles are full of practical ideas that I have really used to get me through my hard times. When you can make your suffering useful to someone else, it helps.
There is nothing I could write that would take away the pain of your suffering, but I do believe you can lessen it (at least to some degree) by using these eight ideas. Every day is another chance to practice the power of choice, choosing joy, peace, happiness and laughter, and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just keep making progress.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches and the owners and founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com - They are sought after authors and speakers on human behavior and healthy relationships.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am going through a divorce and it’s really depressing to be here over Christmas. I haven’t even had it in me to put up the tree. It’s the worst time of year to feel alone. Do you have any advice for how to make this a Merry Holiday when I’m lonely?
That is a hard situation to be in, but you must decide now if you are going to give into the sadness story or reject that thinking and choose to focus on the positive. You may have to make this choice every five minutes, as the sadness might creep back in, but you can do it and it gets easier with practice. Here are fourteen ways you can make your holiday season easier to get through.
1. Focus on what you do have — not what you don’t have.
How you feel is directly tied to how you're thinking about your situation. Focus on gratitude for everything you have every day. Take some time and write them in a journal each day if necessary.
2. Focus on self-care.
All that time and energy you would be spending on someone else, you can now spend on loving and caring for yourself. Take advantage of this and treat yourself extra good. Take bubble baths, get massages, buy great lotions and some fresh clothes (use the money you would have spent on presents for a significant other).
3. Don’t create a story around loss or victimhood.
And don’t dwell on the fact that you don’t have anyone to kiss under the mistletoe. That depressing storyline is an attitude option, but it’s not your only choice. You could choose to feel whole, happy and fulfilled. You really can. The one thing you always have power over is your thoughts. Think happy, whole, fulfilled thoughts about how great your life is. If negative story comes in, thank it for showing up with an opinion, but no, thank you.
4. Plan activities with family and friends.
Don’t sit home. Plan things you want to do and invite people to join you. Schedule in all your down time with activities you enjoy.
5. Do service.
When you focus on others, you forget about your problems. There are lots of wonderful places to volunteer and donate time around the holidays or you might pick a cause to work or gather donations or gifts for them.
6. Make sure you get lots of exercise, eat well and sleep.
These three things help all of us have more balanced mental and emotional health. If you feel down, go for a walk, get outside and move, or make yourself a healthy meal. These are important areas of self-care that make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and life.
7. Get a great book to read over the holidays.
Getting lost in a wonderful adventure or interesting storyline, keeps you from dwelling on your own life too much.
8. If family gatherings help you, then go.
But if they make you feel worse, don’t go. Don’t attend anything from obligation.
Instead, go out with upbeat friends or plan a party and invite everyone (who has nowhere to go or feels awkward) to join you. Some people call these “A Misfit Toys party”, but we would rather think of them as “Celebrate your perfect classroom even if it’s nonconventional parties”.
9. Create brand new traditions.
If the old ones don’t work right now, don’t create a sad story around that. Decide to create new interesting traditions and decide they will be just as good, just different.
10. Limit the alcohol.
Even though it can numb sad feelings, in the end it will leave you feeling more depressed. Eating healthy and working out would serve you more. Plan fun activities and get high on life, being with friends or having adventures.
11. When the inevitable questions begin about what you’re doing and are you dating, have a response ready that is positive and happy.
You might say you have decided to focus on loving yourself right now and it’s been really good for you. Or have a joke planned and then quickly start asking questions about them and keep them talking as long as possible. If you keep the focus off your life completely by asking questions about everyone else, the parties will be easier.
12. Buy yourself some awesome presents that are just what you wanted.
Get out of town. Sometimes the best way to handle the holidays is to plan a trip and skip the whole thing all together. Go on a fun adventure, a cruise or trip and focus on pampering yourself while you’re there.
13. If tears come, let yourself have a limited amount of time to cry it out.
Cry really good and loud and let all the pain out. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.
14. Watch funny movies, comedians or YouTube videos.
Laugh as much as possible! This really helps you stay upbeat, especially after that good cry.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are relationship and human behavior experts, authors and speakers. They host Relationship Radio every Thursday on VoiceAmerica.com Empowerment Channel.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was recently blindsided finding out that my spouse has cheated on me, something I never saw coming. This is the last straw though, in a long line of other problems with him and so I have decided on divorce, which I know is the right path for me. But I’m seriously heartbroken, angry and really devastated that he was unfaithful while I loved him so much. The pain of this betrayal is intense and I would love some advice for moving on and recovering from this kind of heartbreak.
The pain from betrayal is one of the roughest life experiences there is, and recovery is going to be a process and take some time. The most important thing is to be patient and kind to yourself and allow whatever emotions come up to be there. You will experience shock, anger, self-pity, shame, despair, sadness, and devastation, and these emotions will ebb and flow, coming in and out for a while.
There is no normal in trauma recovery, and the processing is different for everyone. Just don’t add any additional guilt or shame to it, by thinking you should be doing better at any point in time.
Here are some things you can do that will help you move forward:
1. Get the information and answers you need, because you do need to know what happened, how and when. Then, after you have these answers, cut off all contact, of any kind, with the other person.
Continuing contact, even through text or following them on social media, will add to the pain and can lengthen the recovery process. It is better to cut off all contact (as much as possible) and start getting used to not having them in your life. What they do now is none of your business and what you do isn’t theirs. Every time you open that door you are taking a step backward in moving on.
2. Don’t seek revenge.
It might seem like a good idea at first, but in the long run, you will be happier if you take the high road and be a person you are proud of.
3. Understand what is normal in dealing with betrayal and loss.
Searing emotional pain, exhaustion, sleeping too much, not being able to sleep, loss of appetite, comfort eating, anxiety attacks, brain fog, and even dizziness are all normal. Don’t worry this will pass (it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.) You will survive this and the pain won’t last.
4. Make your home or space fresh, new, more organized, or different or consider moving.
You need to reclaim your space as your own and remove anything that reminds you of your ex. You might repaint, rearrange furniture, clean out closets, sell your old stuff and buy new used stuff, anything to create a fresh, new feel and to move towards your new life.
5. Focus on self-care.
Put all the energy you used to put into loving them, into loving you. During this time, you need to give yourself permission to pamper yourself. Do things that fill you up and make you feel good and cared for. Plan time with friends, take bubble baths, get massages, take a vacation, exercise, eat healthy food, anything that is caring and compassionate towards yourself.
6. Make time for emotion processing journaling.
This can be the best therapy and it’s free. Spend time writing all your feelings and thoughts. There is a free worksheet of journaling topics at this link.
7. Make time to relax.
Your stress level is high at this time and meditation, yoga, listening to music, deep breathing, feeling the sun on your face, or enjoying nature will help.
8. If you must go back to work right away, create an imaginary room in your head.
All day when the sad, angry, grieving feelings show up, put them in the room and lock the door. Don’t deal with them now. Then each night, give yourself a specific amount of time to go into that room and feel them all. This might be a good time to journal too.
9. Start a long bucket list.
We recommend one that has at least 150 things on it. List out everywhere you would like to travel, everything you want to learn, every adventure, activity and person you would like to meet.
10. Take a break from your normal routine.
If you were ill or had a death in the family you would take some time off, but with emotional trauma, we don’t allow ourselves to have that. You are going through trauma and you may really need some time out of the rat race to recover.
Cut back to the bare essentials and don’t expect yourself to perform at normal standards. Your thinking will also be slower and you may have less bandwidth to deal with your life. That is normal and won’t last forever. Be patient with it.
11. When you are ready, create a new social life and get out there, have fun, go on adventures and create a life that is joyful and fun.
Find some new friends, look for meetup groups around things you are interested in, find fun things going on in your community and get out there.
12. Don’t jump back into dating too soon.
You are recovering from a major loss and will have some trust issues for a while. Give yourself time to get your balance, confidence and strength back before you’re ready to take on new relationships.
13. Find a support system of people who can help you process loss in a healthy way.
Beware of friends whose comments pull you further into despair or self-pity. Look for friends who validate you, but also help you to feel optimistic about the future.
14. Don’t use substances or food to deal with the pain.
Pain like this has to be processed and felt. If you numb out now, you are only delaying it. At some point, you will have to go through. It’s better to feel it now and move forward sooner.
15. Consider talking to a coach or counselor.
If the pain or despair gets too much reach out to a mental health professional or a coach who can give you skills and tools to process your way through.
There is no easy way through this, unfortunately, but doing these things will help. Know in the end nothing that happens can change your value. You have the same value as everyone else, no matter what.
Don’t worry about what anyone thinks about you either — this experience doesn’t define you or mean you are broken or not enough. It’s just a lesson and can end up serving you in some way if you choose to look for the positive.
Hang in there — you can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches with 30 combined years experience in helping individuals and families create healthy relationships and learn the skills and tools to get through life.
This was first published on KSL.com
Last year was the worst year ever for me and 2017 has started out pretty bad too. So many things have gone wrong, including my family being ripped apart and my career taking a big hit. I am a good person, I treat others right, and am a giver not a taker. I live my religion and keep the commandments, but I am not seeing the promised blessings at all. I feel God has left me on my own and out to dry. Why do these things keep happening to me? What can I do different to change the course of my life?
Because I don’t know the details that created the situation you are in, I’m not sure what changes you personally need to make to change the results you are getting. I highly recommend you get a good life coach to help you work that part out, but I can tell from your question that some of your fundamental beliefs about life and the nature of the journey aren’t accurate.
This is a common problem because most of us picked up our beliefs about life (that define how we see everything that happens to us) before we were even 7 years old. Most of these are subconscious beliefs so we aren’t (obviously) consciously aware of them and the havoc they create in our thinking. And, if we did look at them and question their accuracy, we would immediately see how flawed they are and disregard them, but because we don’t even realize we have them, we never do.
Here are a few subconscious beliefs about the nature of life many of us have (unfortunately) accepted, which create negative attitudes and feelings and lots of discouragement.
It is very common for us to misinterpret the real reason, point and purpose of our being here and our higher power’s involvement in our lives. The real purpose of this journey is simply to learn and grow to become better, more loving people, and growth requires struggle, challenges and hard times. So, would it make any sense for God to promise you that obedience would get you out of rough experiences? The very rough experiences that are required for you to grow? Would it make more sense to believe that hard times are required so we can learn and become smarter, stronger and more loving?
In my book, "Choosing Clarity," I give readers the opportunity to change many of their faulty subconscious beliefs and replace them with beliefs or perspectives that create less fear and more peace. In the book, I encourage you to choose to view the higher power in the universe as love, not someone to fear. This alone can be a life changing shift. I also encourage readers to choose to see life as a classroom, not a test, where your value is on the line. I also encourage a belief that there is order, purpose and meaning in the universe and it is working with every choice you make, to create the perfect classroom journey for you, every day.
This means your journey cannot be ruined by anyone else, because you will always get the experiences that will facilitate the lessons you need most. So, if someone injures you or breaks your heart, that has to be the perfect next lesson for you or it wouldn’t happen. I encourage my clients to trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing. At least you have the option of playing with this perspective and seeing life this way if you want to. Try this perspective on for a week or two and trust you are right where you are supposed to be, learning your perfect lessons, safe in God’s hands, no matter what happens. Just see how this perspective feels.
I know some of you will be thinking that I cannot prove this idea is truth and it might be delusional or wishful thinking, and you might be right.
But you cannot prove I'm wrong either. You can’t prove the universe is random, chaotic and without order. So, where does this leave us?
This leaves us that we each get to choose our perspective. We can see the universe as conspiring to serve us and bless us at every turn, or we can see it as chaos or ambivalent to our needs. How do you want to see it? You get to choose.
If you don’t consciously choose a perspective that feels best for you though, your subconscious mind will choose for you, and it will probably choose chaos. Chances are this has already happened and it is why you aren’t feeling peace about your life.
So here it is, the big secret to a better attitude when things go wrong in your life (and this secret comes from one of my best coaches, Sean Barnett) lies in changing one little word from the question you asked me above.
Change your question from “Why do these things keep happening to me?” to “Why do these things keep happening for me?”
You could choose to see the universe as a wise teacher constantly conspiring to serve and educate you. You could choose to look for lessons, growth and knowledge in every rough experience that comes your way. You could choose to see every mistake as a lesson you signed up for, because you apparently needed the lesson that mistake would create.
This mindset would mean you always make the right wrong choices you need to learn something from. If you married someone, but it ends in divorce, you married the perfect teacher and the divorce must have served your growth in some way. At least you have the option of seeing it this way if you want to. You might try this perspective and see how it feels.
Here are four new belief options you might use to replace the inaccurate ones above:
Hard times are not a punishment or a sign God has forgotten about you or doesn’t care, but a sign that you have the capacity to grow a lot from this challenge. Take the rough times one day, one hour or one minute at a time, and stay in trust that you will grow past this and better days are coming.
I know this, because it’s the nature of the universe that nothing lasts forever. Rainy days always end and eventually the sun comes back out. If you are really struggling with the hard times consider getting some life coaching with a certified Claritypoint coach (we have options to fit any budget).
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
I have noticed when I do something unkind or selfish, I have a tendency to explain the behavior away as someone else’s fault, which gets me off the hook. I don’t decide to do this, I just notice I’m doing it in the middle of doing it. So, it’s almost subconscious but not all the way. I can also get caught up in anger at a friend and start thinking about what’s wrong with our friendship, and the more I think about it the worse I feel. She says I am not seeing it accurately and it’s not that bad. I feel like a drama queen at times. How can I stop doing this?
Have you heard the warning, “Just because you read it online, doesn’t mean it’s true.” The same goes for the content of your thoughts. Just because you think it — and you feel horrible about it, depressed because of it, or upset about it — doesn’t mean it’s true either.
Your amazing imagination is constantly creating stories around everything you see, hear or experience. You are such a creative being it is almost impossible for you to see any experience as it really is, as just facts, without your imagination adding to it.
Your thinking patterns today are literally the sum of all your past experiences, and these experiences have created a lens that filters everything you see, hear and perceive. Some of you have a very negative lens, clouded by fear. You may see everything and everyone as a threat (even though it isn’t accurate). Your lens might make you create stories that constantly prove you aren’t good enough. You might see the world through a lens of criticism and blame, which means creating stories where nothing is ever your fault, or your lens might be prone to self-pity, anger or conflict.
A fear-clouded lens distorts the truth and leads your imagination to create stories that fit your biased ideas about the world. You will then confabulate reality to match your story, so you can be right about your negative perspective. Your confabulation helps you to believe your story and think it’s accurate.
In psychology, to confabulate means to produce a fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted view of reality, and we all do this, to some degree, every day. It’s therefore very important you don’t believe everything you think because a large portion of your thinking isn’t true and is creating self-inflicted misery in your life.
It’s hard to wake yourself up and out of these stories because your emotions (very quickly) get involved and they make you feel strong emotions about your story. You then believe the story must be accurate or you wouldn’t feel this way, right?
Your brain creates very real emotions around the perspective you end up with, and these emotions make you buy into the story hook, line and sinker, but that still doesn’t make the story accurate. Your emotions aren’t proof.
Feelings cannot be trusted any more than thoughts can.
You are right about how you feel though. You do actually feel the way you feel and no one can argue with that. But you may be completely inaccurate in the perspective or story you made up, which created those feelings, which means the emotions aren't warranted. (Read that again!)
It is time to grow up and become more personally responsible for your thoughts and emotions. It is time to learn to be mindful and consciously choose your perspective instead of letting your subconscious program choose it.
You deserve to learn this because a large amount of the suffering (you are currently experiencing) is unnecessary and self-inflicted.
So, stop it.
Step back from each situation and observe your mind at work confabulating, justifying and creating made up stories and emotions around it. You are literally creating your entire life in your head. Your life is not as it appears, it is as you are choosing to see it.
Everything is perspective and your perspective is in your control. It may not feel in your control at first because ideas do pop-up (from your subconscious) but once they show up, you have complete control over whether you embrace them and add emotion to them or replace them with something else.
You may resist believing this though, because it’s much easier to find some like-minded people who look at the situation in the same distorted way you do, who will validate you and tell you that you’re right. You will always be drawn to friends and co-workers who see the world with the same filter you have because you crave validation.
Have you noticed that like-minded people are drawn to each other? The complainers and blamers always end up friends. This means if you want to change your thinking and become more accurate and positive, you may have to change your friends.
Here is a procedure you can follow when you want to check your perspective, feelings and thoughts for accuracy:
1. Ask yourself this important question, "If I stopped feeding this story and thinking about it, and instead labeled it as inaccurate and dropped it, would the problem still exist?" Try it and see.
2. Own responsibility for how you are feeling, without any blame on anyone else. If you own it, you also have the power to change it. Wayne Allen, the simple Zen guy, says it’s an odd thing that people will be living in a pile of [crap] and still insist it appeared by magic, they had nothing to do with their being in it, someone else is to blame, and someone else should dig them out. If you live this way you will always be a miserable victim. Don’t do it. Own that you are creating your life and change your thinking.
3. Write down the facts of your situation without any emotion or story around it. You will be surprised how short, simple and benign the facts really are.
4. Write down as many perspective options as you can think of. Get creative and let your imagination go crazy with positive spins you could embrace. You are going to create a story around this situation anyway, so you might as well pick a better, less miserable story that makes you feel good, right? Pick a victor story that gives you a chance to rise to the occasion and be the person you want to be.
5. Feed positive mindsets by hanging out with people who see situations clearly and aren’t prone to drama or negativity. Feed your mind with good books and uplifting content that encourages you to create positive perspectives.
Most of us are unhappy because we don’t know another way to think about our experiences. We were never taught the skills nor given the tools to process life in a more positive way. They don’t teach this stuff in school or church (though they should), so where are you supposed to learn it?
If you have emotional reactions and often feel out of control or stuck in negative thinking, it's time to do something about it. Get some professional help. There are experts all around you who can help you learn these skills. I believe positive, clear, accurate thinking, free from fear, is easy to learn and teach. Our Get Clarity workshop might be a good place to start. My website is also filled with resources to help you get more clarity in your thinking and take control of your life.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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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.