This was first published on KSL.COM
I have heard from lots of people who are worried about family holiday gatherings and dealing with difficult relatives.
We all have some complicated family relationships that can trigger tension, defensiveness and fear because of what they do and say. During the holidays it is difficult to avoid these relatives, so it's helpful to work on becoming more resilient and "bulletproof" before these parties happen.
Note: The following advice is not advice for dealing with abuse or trauma. This advice is meant for people who have some annoying, rude and disrespectful relatives who say hurtful things or treat you in a judgmental way. If you are dealing with abuse, trauma or really toxic people, avoiding family gatherings might be the best call.
For the rest of your people-problem situations, I have one powerful truth that can help you to stay balanced around your challenging relatives and hurtful things they might say this year.
'I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts'
A Course in Miracles lesson says: "I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts."
This is a tricky concept that might take some thinking to understand, but it means it is not someone’s words that hurt you, it is the thoughts you have about their words that hurt you.
If someone makes a hurtful remark to you — something that triggers pain — it can feel like a poison dart fired straight to your heart. It will sting for sure, but how long it stings and how badly it stings is something you do have some control over.
Do you ever let a dart stay in causing you pain all day or all week? How often do you pull the dart out and throw it on the floor so you can move on, but then later pick it back up and stab yourself with it again and again — for months, years, or even decades? It’s over and it happened a long time ago, why do you still think about it when it just causes you pain?
When the event is over and you are still feeling the sting, it has become a self-inflicted injury. You have the power to stop the stinging if you can change the way you are looking at what the other person did. If you can change the way you look at it, you can change how you feel.
This is high-level emotional intelligence, and it might take some work to get it right. So don’t be discouraged if you are not here yet. The more you read, practice and learn, the easier it will get. This is not victim shaming, though, because the fault does lie with the other person; however, at some point, you have to process the situation and decide to stop letting it hurt you. You have to take your power back. You do this by thinking about words, thoughts and opinions that come from other people. What are they? What are they made of? What power do they hold?
They are nothing. They are wisps of ideas drifting through people’s minds and out their mouths. They have no form and no matter. They do nothing. They mean nothing. They have no power unless you give them power.
Your thoughts about what the person said or did are what create the sting, and you are so powerful you can create that sting from almost nothing. This is especially true if you have some deep negative beliefs about yourself in play — beliefs you have had since you were a child. These old subconscious beliefs are your open wounds; they are spots where others can barely touch you and it hurts.
I have a deep fear that says, “I am not good enough.” Because I have had this fear my whole life, it is my problem. It belongs to me. But just like an open wound, it's a place where it’s very easy for other people to hurt me.
These other people are completely responsible for any unkind things they say or do, but I am responsible for my original fear issue that makes their comments hurt me so much. I am also responsible for the thoughts I have that intensify and prolong the hurt.
Your ego thinks stabbing yourself with these old darts for decades is a good way to protect you from further pain. It thinks the constant stabbing will remind you to protect yourself from that person in the future, but the cost for this perceived protection is decades of pain anyway.
Instead of allowing thoughts that make mean comments hurt longer than necessary, practice the following:
1. Trust that your intrinsic value as a person is infinite and absolute.
Nothing anyone says or does can diminish your value. No matter what happens to you, you still have the same value as every other person on the planet. When anyone makes an unkind comment, remind yourself that it doesn’t have any power and changes nothing. You are still intact and fine. Imagine the dart bouncing off and landing on the ground. Then, leave it there.
2. Trust that every person around you is in your life for your own good.
Everyone who surrounds you is there for one reason: to help you grow and become stronger, wiser and more loving. Some of these people help you by pushing your fear buttons, to give you a chance to work on your insecurities and issues. When you see them as teachers in your classroom who are giving you chances to practice being strong and loving, you won’t take their comments as personally.
3. Remember that thoughts or words other people say about you are irrelevant.
These words mean nothing and do nothing. They are wisps of energy that are immediately gone and have no power to sting you. You can only have pain if you think about their actions stinging you. Instead, send them on their way with this thought: “Thanks for giving me a chance to practice being strong, but I am done with that lesson and moving on.” Send them on their way (figuratively) with a blessing and hope for their own growth and learning.
4. Focus all your energy on being the love in the room at your family gatherings.
Find others around you who need validation, love and support, and spend the whole party giving these things to them. Turn your party into a focused, giving love session instead of a minefield of offenses and insults. Go into it with a mission in mind and don’t let anyone knock you from that focus.
Love works miracles because you cannot do love and fear at the same time. If you are focused on love for other people and yourself, you don’t have time to be offended.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am very frustrated with my mother and some of her answers to things. I find that she lies or tells me things she doesn’t mean all the time. I just want her to tell the truth, even if it’s not what I would like. I think she tells me what she thinks the right answer is, instead. Like when I ask if she is going to go to something, she says no probably not, then she ends up going. Or she says she will talk to my sister about something and then she doesn’t. I have asked her repeatedly to just be honest, but this keeps happening. How can I get her to be honest?
This might be happening because she doesn't feel safe enough with you to tell you the truth. Before I explain how to make her feel safer, I want you to understand some things about human beings. I believe, there are only two types of people on this planet:
1. Fear-of-failure dominant people
2. Fear-of-loss dominant people
All fear-of-failure dominant people are severely challenged at speaking their truth, they avoid confrontation, shy away from conflict, and prefer to keep everything and everyone peaceful, no matter the cost. Because of these tendencies, they are often doormats and their tendency to people please can cause a lot of relationship problems.
All fear-of-loss dominant people are very good at speaking their truth, they usually win in confrontation or conflict, and they don’t mind a good argument. Because of these tendencies, they scare the crap out of group one.
From your email, I am fairly confident you are the latter group and it might be hard for you to even imagine why speaking the truth is so hard. It’s always difficult to understand people who are vastly different from us. But fear of failure dominant have a strong subconscious program that says, “It is safer not to speak up.”
Here are two reasons some people lie:
1. They might want to avoid responsibility, trouble or punishment.
2. They don’t feel safe enough to tell you the truth because they are afraid of your reaction.
It sounds to me like your mother is a fear-of-failure dominant person who is terribly afraid to speak her truth to you about some of these issues. This might be because you have had a tendency in the past to react badly, react selfishly, question her motives, argue with her decisions, and otherwise dishonor her right to be where she is and want what she wants.
It is not your job to fix your mother's problems with fear, people-pleasing and lying. But you could do some things to improve the relationship and start making her feel safer with you.
You can do that by doing the following things. (These suggestions would also apply to any relationship where you want the other person to feel safe with you.)
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of 12 Shapes Inc. and the host of a podcast Explain People on iTunes. She is a sought after coach, speaker and corporate people skills trainer.
This was first published on KSL.com
I love the way you make understanding people’s behavior simple, because there is a lot of behavior I cannot understand. I have a relative who is such a control freak she can’t even come to a family gathering unless it’s going to be her way. She bosses everyone else around and tells you exactly what she thinks about everything, even your life and family. She has no filter and no qualms about speaking her truth, and it honestly drives me nuts. How can we get her to stop being so controlling and obnoxious? How do I deal with such a control freak when her behavior is making me crazy?
I have explained before that we all — every person on the planet — battles a fear of failure (insecurity about our value) and a fear of loss (insecure or unsafe in the world) to some degree every day. We all have both fears, but we are all a little more dominant in one or the other.
The control freak you are describing is a fear-of-loss dominant person. I know this by her bad behavior. People who feel unsafe in the world need control to make them feel safer. They also tend to be opinionated and feel the need to share their opinions because this also makes them feel safer. In her mind, all of this controlling, opinionated behavior is actually an attempt to be helpful. She means no harm and is trying to create an environment that would be best for everyone. She is trying to help, but I understand why it doesn’t feel that way.
When a fear-of-loss dominant control freak gives unsolicited advice, suggestions, or correction to a fear-of-failure dominant person, it comes across as criticism, insult and control. Fear-of-failure dominant people get very triggered by those things because they add to their already debilitating fear of not being good enough. We (I am a fear-of-failure dominant person, too) often feel attacked, insulted and controlled when these people try to help us. This can feel very annoying.
The trick is understanding this isn’t about you at all. They aren’t seeing you as less valuable or wrong at all. They are controlling because they don’t trust people, the world or life to keep them safe. They think they are only safe if they control it all.
You might try allowing them control as much as possible with things you don’t care about, and then set loving boundaries on the things you do care about. You could also decide to let them be annoying and controlling and just not let it bother you. Stop being annoyed and just be at peace with what is, allowing them to be who they are until it crosses a boundary you can’t live with.
When a control freak is crossing your boundaries or making you feel disrespected or controlled, here is a good procedure for confronting the issue:
1. Find a private opportunity to talk to them
Don't embarrass them in front of anyone else. Ask if they have a few minutes and are free to chat.
2. Ask them about the situation that bothered you
Ask what they thought and felt about it. Give them a chance to express all their ideas and opinions first. If you don’t do this, they will have trouble listening to you. Letting them have the floor first and asking lots of questions will make them feel valued and cared about. They will begin to feel safer with you, which lays a great foundation for a difficult conversation.
After you have spent some time listening and honoring their right to think and feel the way they do, you should ask some permission questions to create a safe space for you to speak your truth.
3. Ask permission questions
Examples of permission questions are:
If they say no they aren’t able to give you that, say “OK, I respect that” and walk away. This shouldn’t happen because you earned this reciprocation by listening to them. If they say yes and are ready to listen, use the following rules to make sure you handle this right.
5. Use “I” statements
It's important to use "I" statements and make sure to only talk about your own perspective, feelings, ideas, concerns, observations, opinions and thoughts. When you talk about your feelings, opinions and experiences, no one can really argue with you. You have the right to see the world the way you see it and feel what you feel. But if you start using “you” statements, it starts to feel like an attack and makes the other person feel defensive.
Try statements like:
If you keep talking about how they behaved in the past, they are just going to get defensive and frustrated because they cannot change or fix the past. If you focus only on their future behavior, this is something they can control. Ask them next time this happens, if they would be willing to handle it differently. I demonstrated this in the example above.
Practice in your head a few times before you have the conversation in real life. Practice to find the perfect permission question and the perfect things you will ask for moving forward.
If this person does get offended by your feedback, that is not your problem. Your job is to speak your truth in the most loving and respectful way you can. How they process the information is none of your business. If they get offended and choose to be mean back, remember nothing this person says or does affects your value and however it goes, it will be the perfect classroom for all involved.
Fear-of-loss dominant people can be scary to talk to because they are fearless, strong, opinionated and often aggressive. For a fear-of-failure dominant person who is already scared of being insulted, wrong or judged, this is really scary. But you can be bulletproof and strong if you trust in your infinite value and perfect journey.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your fears and your shape at - app.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSL.com
My spouse and I argue about the same things again and again. It is like we are always having the same fight; we just take breaks of agreeing to disagree in between rounds. We have been to marriage therapy and have learned communication skills, but here we are in the same boat. Can you give us anything different to try?
Many people experience a fight that’s always the same issue again and again. This happens when both of you have dug into your position and keep defending it, and neither of you is open to learning, understanding or changing because that would feel like losing the argument. In an argument, your egos are only interested in protecting, promoting and winning for your side. Ego also wants to be right and have the other person be wrong.
The truth is, until you learn to set ego aside, stop defending yourself and communicate with the purpose of understanding the other person and their perspective, learning something new, or creating new solutions you haven’t thought of before, you are going to be stuck here.
Here are some ways to become more open, more creative and more productive when you argue:
1. Know your value isn't in question
Remember this argument is just a perfect classroom experience and your value isn’t in question, so there is nothing to fear. When you choose to see the fight from the perspective that you are safe and have nothing to fear because your value can’t change and your journey is perfect no matter what happens, you won’t get so defensive. In this place you can actually focus on giving love, understanding and validation to the other person because you don’t need anything. This requires practice.
2. Listen to learn
Instead of trying to win, try to understand and learn something you didn’t know before. When ego takes over you only care about being right, being better or getting your way. You are basically selfish and defensive. Instead, try this: Thank your ego for trying to protect you, but tell it you are going to try something new and see if you can learn something about the other person you never knew before.
This will require asking lots of questions, without any agenda other than understanding. If you are sincere about this intention the other person will feel that, and they might actually feel safe enough to really talk to you. Make a commitment to listen for more than just planning what you will say next. Listen with the intention of learning and you will be amazed at how much you didn't know about the other person.
3. Fight as a team
Instead of fighting against each other, make it the two of you — on the same side, as a team — against the problem. Stop trying to convince the other person you are right and pull them to your side. Instead, ask them if the two of you, together, could try to find a new solution.
Get out some paper and brainstorm solutions to this problem. Allow yourselves to bring humor in and get creative. Get online and look for solutions others have recommended. Write down places you could go for help. Don’t stop until you have thought of 50 crazy, creative, new ideas — with none of them being the places you started from.
4. Identify your core fear
In my experience, it’s either fear of failure (not being good enough) or fear of loss (feeling threatened or unsafe in the world). If either you or your partner is fear-of-failure dominant, meaning there is a subconscious tendency toward people-pleasing and insecurity, that person will need a lot of validation around their worth, their performance and their thinking.
If you give a fear-of-failure dominant person a lot of positive feedback, they will feel safer and will be better able to communicate in a productive way. If they feel insulted, criticized or judged, they won’t feel safe with you and will probably stay very defensive.
If either of you is fear-of-loss dominant, meaning you have a subconscious tendency toward feeling mistreated and taken from, that person needs control, reassurance and help making things right, done or clean to feel safe in the world. If you can give a fear-of-loss dominant person these things, they will be better able to communicate in a productive way. This can be a game changer when you get it.
5. Cure the core fear
Become the cure to your partner's core fear every day. If you make sure they feel safe in the world every day — by constantly giving them the kind of validation, praise, help or control they need — they will feel safer with you, which means less defensive and less on edge. It will also mean when you argue, it likely won’t be as tense, scary or mean. If you do this right, your partner will be more likely to support you, too.
6. Learn their values
Figure out what your partner values most. Do they value:
The reason couples have the same fight over and over, is because that one issue is the one that triggers both of your core fears. When your core fears get triggered your very worst behavior comes out, and that usually perfectly triggers even more of your partner's fear. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle.
The couples I work with find the solution is very simple: Become the cure, not the cause, of their fear. Learn how to make them feel safe with you and you can talk through anything.
I also recommend a time-out rule that works like this: If either of you feels they are getting triggered and ego is showing up, you can call time out. You both agree to stop, not say another word, and walk away until you can get balanced and in trust and love again. Then you can continue the discussion. Give that a try.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
In response to my article on forgiveness last week, some readers have asked me to address forgiveness when the offender has what may be considered narcissistic behavior traits. These readers described some toxic behavior that should not be tolerated.
Having said that, you still want to forgive these people, (I will explain how), but that doesn't mean you should allow or subject yourself to their toxic behavior. Many people who have tolerated toxic behavior from family members for a long time can’t see how unacceptable the behavior is. They may start to think it’s normal because it’s normal in their family.
Here are some behaviors that may fall into this category:
You should still forgive them though. This means you will harbor no hate, anger, judgment, fear or resentment about them anymore. This means you have chosen to accept where and who they are, and place their fate in a higher power's hands. You can walk away from the prison of hate and pain and free yourself from any negative emotion toward this person.
Forgiveness is about letting them be a struggling, scared student in the classroom of life, just like you. Forgiveness means giving up judgment and seeing all people as having the same intrinsic worth, no matter what they do. This person is not less than you, they are just experiencing a different classroom journey than yours. They have signed up for different lessons and you can send blessings and love their way without actually spending time with them. I call this loving them from afar.
Often, this is the loving choice you must make.
If this person is someone you are forced to spend time with this may become harder. You will need to build a force field of trust and love around you to protect yourself as you interact with them.
This force field is built of trust that nothing they say or do can diminish your value and nothing they say or do can ruin your day, week or life journey. Whatever obstacles they create for you today are the lessons that can help you grow and learn. Trusting these two things will make you bulletproof to bad behavior.
Imagine they're shooting poisoned arrows your way but your force field of trust and love protects you, and the arrows just bounce off. Make sure you leave the arrows on the ground and don't pick them up and hurt yourself with them. Sometimes we do this. We may keep thinking about and repeating the insult in our mind, ruminating on it again and again. We may hang on to these insults for days or even years. This is self-inflicted pain.
Let their toxic words and behaviors bounce off. Don’t let them have the power to destroy your peace. Choose to see everything that happens as here to serve you. Every experience can help you become stronger, wiser and more loving.
Choosing a mindset this mature, wise and loving will take commitment and practice. Your ego may resist because it prefers judging, gossip, anger, the moral high ground and holding grudges. Resist the urge to let your ego go takeover.
Being a forgiving person does not mean allowing others to mistreat us. It means we don’t let their mistreatment rob us of our peace.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a master coach, author and corporate people skills trainer behind www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com. She is available for both individual coaching and corporate training.
This was first published on ksl.com
I can’t leave my job because I could never find one that pays this well, but I have a horrible boss that makes every day a bad experience. He has a quick temper and attacks us over things without even getting the whole story first. He obviously doesn’t care about anyone but himself and how things affect him and how he looks. How can I deal with this situation and survive working there?
There are two kinds of leaders: Those who function in an insecure, unbalanced, fear state and are mostly focused on themselves, and those who function in a secure, balanced state and can focus on the needs of others. I call these fear-driven leaders and love-driven leaders.
It sounds like your boss is a fear-driven leader. You can usually tell a person is in an unbalanced, fear state when their behavior is negative. Anyone who needs to threaten and intimidate employees to control their behavior doesn’t feel safe in the world themselves. They may be insecure, afraid of loss and worried about their bottom line. Their focus might be on protecting and promoting themselves because that is what makes them feel safer.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you work better with a fear-driven boss:
1. Make sure you are seeing this person and their bad behavior accurately
Understand that most of their bad behavior is caused by their fears about their own success, reputation and bottom line. When they feel these things are at risk, they may feel threatened by their own team. In their eyes, their team's mistakes or lack of knowledge could cause the boss to fail or look bad, so the team may become the enemy and is treated as such. Remember, when you are treated as the enemy, it really isn’t about you. The boss may just scared about their own welfare. Remind yourself that their stress and fear doesn’t have to become yours. Not your monkey, not your circus.
2. When a boss is overly critical and fault finding, this may be a sign that they're struggling with the fear of not being good enough themselves
Casting others as the bad ones and pointing fingers might be a way to make someone feel safer. When someone is insecure about their value, they may be selfish and put others down in the process. When you work with someone who does this don’t take anything they say personally. Understand blame is a coping mechanism and doesn’t make what they say factual. As much as you can, ignore the bad behavior.
3. Remember bad behavior comes from fear of failure or fear of loss, so it's really a request for validation and reassurance
Look for opportunities to reassure or validate the boss, including building him/her up. Compliment them when they do or say anything you can appreciate. I know this may be the last thing you want to give them, but making them feel better about themselves could result in less bad behavior.
4. Stay in control of your emotions and reactions
The more mature and wise you behave, the more this person may respect you. Do not whine or let them make you cry. Be kind, respectful, calm and centered. You can stay here by not taking anything personally and remembering no one can diminish your value. When you stay strong, calm and rational in tense situations, you may also earn your boss' respect — whether they will admit it or not.
5. Document everything
Quietly keep track of unethical, immoral or manipulative behavior. There may come a time you’ll be glad you did. Make sure you keep this documentation at home and not at work.
6. Say as little as possible
When you do need to speak, ask questions and listen to the responses, then choose your words carefully. Anything you say can and may be used against you. So limit your communication to only what is necessary.
7. See your boss as the same as you — a struggling student in the classroom of life
He is not better than you, so don’t let him intimidate you. He is not worse than you, so don’t spend time making him the bad guy. See his intrinsic value as the same as yours. This brings compassion, strength and wisdom into the situation.
8. Don't create drama
Do not gossip or backbite your boss with your co-workers. Be very careful that you don’t add to the drama and make the already negative situation any worse.
9. Notice good behavior
When he does behave like a love-motivated leader and gives positive feedback, behaves respectfully or honors a team member, be sure to notice and thank him. Let him know how much you appreciate it. This might encourage more good behavior in the future.
If none of these suggestions help your situation, you may want to update your resume and search for a new job with a better work environment.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after life coach, author, speaker and business owner. To learn more about her programs and to take the Clarity Assessment, Visit her website www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on ksl.com
Most of the questions readers submit to me are about resolving conflict with other humans. The trick to resolving conflict lies in taking the problem apart, understanding the triggers each person experiences and the bad behavior those triggers might create. This process is what I call an emotional autopsy because it allows you to understand the motivation and emotions underneath the surface that may cause the problem. This also gives you the power to calm the emotions and deal with the actual problem.
Think about the last fight or argument you had with someone and follow my process by asking yourself the questions below. See if you can identify the underlying cause of the conflict and how to resolve it in the future.
1. What event or situation started this conflict or problem?
Can you follow it back to the original issue that may have triggered a negative emotion and made each party behave badly? This issue could stem from something that has been happening for a long time, or something they've experienced their whole life. We're going to call the person who was triggered by something that created the conflict Person A. We'll call the other party Person B.
2. What negative emotion showed up in Person A because of the triggering event?
Did they feel insulted, rejected, unwanted, unimportant, unappreciated, not good enough, controlled, pushed, defensive, protective, or mistreated? Do they have a story about how the situation has made them feel the emotions they've experienced in the past? What is that story?
3. How did Person A behave because of this emotion?
What kind of behavior or language showed up as a result? Did Person A pull back from Person B, try to control them or have walls up to protect themself? Did they get defensive, say something insulting or do something equally triggering to Person B? What does that behavior look like?
4. What negative emotions were triggered in Person B as a result of Person A’s behavior?
How exactly did Person B feel mistreated? Did Person B feel unappreciated, taken from, unwanted or rejected? It's important to identify these emotions and what might be triggering them. If they're ignored for too long, they may continue to cause conflict in Person B in other situations.
5. What kind of bad behavior showed up when Person B reacted to their emotions?
What did Person B’s unbalanced behavior or language look like? Did they try to understand Person A, or did they react just as badly?
6. How might have Person B further triggered Person A?
What emotion might have showed up in Person A now as a result of Person B’s reaction? What might Person A and Person B be feeling at this point? Being clear on this will help you step back and see how the emotions might be driving the conflict more than the original issue.
7. What does each person need in this situation?
What could you give the other person that might help quiet the emotion that is causing the conflict? For example, if you know and understand that no one can diminish your value, you may feel less threatened by conflict and can create a safer space for those around you. Then, you may be able to better work through problems by giving the other person involved in the conflict what they need to feel safe and help them want to resolve the issue at hand.
8. Go back to the original emotions that showed up in steps No. 2 and No. 4. Are these emotions that Person A and Person B experience often?
Is it an emotion they've experienced throughout their life and in many different situations? Sometimes, people and situations can trigger certain emotions in people, but they're not the real cause. The real cause may be something that happened in that person's past and certain situations might stir up emotions and reactions in them.
9. What does someone who may carry these emotions around need?
Remember, bad behavior may be a request for love, validation or reassurance. You might not want to validate or love a person who is behaving badly, but if you can see that it isn’t really about you, conflict resolution can get easier. You can't fix another person and you aren't responsible for their behavior, but if you can quiet the negative emotions in them during conflict, then you can more easily deal with the problem at hand. You may also need to enforce boundaries to protect yourself from certain people, and that's OK, too.
If you choose to see life as a classroom, it means every conflict or emotion is part of your classroom journey and is meant to serve you. Knowing this might make some people problems less difficult and increase your capacity to resolve conflict with others. The more you practice this process, the easier it may become to see conflict accurately and resolve people problems more maturely.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after master life coach who is provides coaching and help to anyone struggling with people problems or relationship conflicts. She also trains and certifies life coaches in her system with new classes starting soon.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I get many questions submitted by readers asking how to deal with "irritating," "annoying," "rude," "grouchy" and "unkind" humans. Some say they have a terrible boss, others have complaining neighbors, and some have hard to handle in-laws. Wherever there are people, we have people problems.
The first step in dealing with bad behavior is understanding what actually causes it. Understanding why people do disrespectful things or say negative things may help you understand what they need and how to communicate with them.
My goal in these articles is to make human behavior simpler to understand, deal with and improve. Some of my ideas or perspectives may seem overly generalized, but if you try them out, you may find they are accurate. After 17 years of research, I have found almost all bad behavior is caused by fear — though I define fear in a broader sense than you may be used to.
I've found that people may become selfish, defensive, angry or grouchy when they feel unsafe or threatened — either with insecurity about their worth or about being taken from or mistreated. In a state of fear, they are focused on one thing only and that's getting whatever they need to feel safe and secure again. It's only when they feel safe and secure that they can access their love and show up selflessly for other people.
To make this simple, I've identified two fears that I believe drive all bad behavior. If you really think about that terrible boss, difficult neighbor or annoying relative, you might be able to see one or both of these fears in play:
1. The fear of failure or the fear of not being good enough
We all battle this one to some degree every day, but people who have a lot of it and are seriously insecure may have all kinds of bad behavior issues. Some of them may overcompensate for their insecurity by showing off or being an arrogant person. Others may gossip, criticize or judge other people as a subconscious way to make themselves feel better. Or they might be the opposite way and be overly shy, quiet and reserved, because that feels safer. These people might play small and avoid situations that could make them look bad or feel less than other people.
If you have a terrible boss that is critical and hard to please, then he/she might have a fear-of-failure problem and just take it out on their employees.
If you have a difficult mother-in-law who is quick to point out what is wrong, then she may be insecure about herself and needs to show off her superior knowledge or put you down to quiet that fear and make herself feel better. Many of the people we may find annoying might just be insecure and trying to cope with that.
2. The fear of loss or the fear of being mistreated or taken from
Any time you are not getting the life you want, you might be put in a fear-of-loss state. In this state, you may be focused on protecting and defending what you want and need. This could make a person controlling, bossy, territorial or defensive. People in this state may often mistreat you in an effort to avoid mistreatment themselves.
A difficult co-worker may see you as a threat because you could get the promotion that they want. A fear-of-loss neighbor might be bothered with your yard and weeds because they affect his property value. When parents blow up over kids messing up the house, they may become angry because the kids are costing them time, energy and possibly money if they wreck anything. Whenever we feel mistreated, we might go on the defensive and behave badly ourselves.
A difficult mother-in-law may feel taken from because she doesn’t get the time with her son that she wants, or she may feel it’s unfair that you spend more time with your parents than you do with her. Can you see how mistreatment may create bad behavior?
Even being stuck in traffic might be a fear of loss experience and can create road rage. If you believe someone cut you off, then you might lash out at the offender and feel justified in doing it. You might not have called this behavior fear before, but it's based in the fear of losing your quality of life.
Once you understand which fear might be driving the other party's bad behavior, you'll understand what the person needs to calm their fear-based feelings and access their love. If you can quiet the fear, then you can encourage better behavior.
If they're insecure and afraid they aren’t good enough, then they may need validation. This might be the last thing you want to give a person who you believe is being arrogant, but it could be what they need to quiet their fear.
If someone is being a showoff or a know-it-all, try telling them how amazing they are. They may soon realize that they don’t need to show off. You can’t fix their self-esteem issues — they're the only one who can do that — but you can make them feel safer with you, which could mean better behavior around you at least.
If they're feeling mistreated or taken from and are in a loss state, then they need reassurance that they're cared for and that you're aware of their concerns. They need to know you'll do your best to honor what they need. Let that annoying neighbor know you're aware of his concern and will do your best on that yard. Let your mother-in-law know you care about how she feels. Just knowing you're mindful of their concerns may make them less adversarial.
When you need to communicate with someone functioning in a fear state and behaving badly, first take time to ask questions and listen to all their concerns, thoughts and feelings. This shows them you care about them. It will make them feel honored and respected, even when you can’t give them what they want.
Now, there are some people who are so deep in a fear state that there's nothing you can do to fix it. These people might be nearly impossible to deal with. They might be irrational or their perspective might be so inaccurate that you can’t begin to deal with it. These people are often referred to as toxic because you just can’t get anywhere with them.
In dealing with toxic people, you should stay away as much as you can and not take anything they do or say personally. Work on having thick skin around them and not letting their fear-driven, selfish actions or words hurt you. When you cannot change another person and their behavior, you get to work on changing yours and becoming stronger.
Just remember, most bad behavior in others has nothing to do with you (even if they're attacking you). It's usually about the other person's fears about themselves that they just project onto everyone around them. Knowing this will help you let most problems roll off.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is the author behind the new books The People Guidebook Choosing Clarity. She is a sought after corporate people skills speaker and trainer, and a master life coach.
This was first published on KSL.Com
I enjoy reading your articles on KSL, thank you for your insights on life, they are very helpful. I've had a situation that I'm wondering if you might have some advice on. Last night my in-laws came over, without warning, and said they wanted to talk to us about something. They then expressed concern that our son wasn't getting enough attention and that I needed to spend more time with my son.
We're still very confused and pretty hurt about this criticism. We feel like they overstepped their bounds. They are on business trips every other week and we don’t even see them much anymore. So, I'm not sure how they can think that we don't give our son enough attention. Additionally, I am working full-time and in graduate school, doing the very best I can to spend quality time with my son, so it was especially hard for me to hear them express these feelings. What do you suggest we can do about the situation? How can we heal from the pain this has caused us?
I think they may have overstepped too. If they wanted to give you some feedback or advice, they should have asked permission first. That might have been a more respectful approach. They could have asked if you'd be open to some observations or suggestions around your parenting and given you the chance to say "yes" or "no."
Unsolicited advice can sometimes be construed as an insult. So, it's understandable that you were offended to some degree. The problem, however, is that being offended isn’t going to serve you, your son, or your in-laws in any way.
I’d like to suggest another way to process this situation or any situation where you receive hurtful feedback because this can happen to any one of us.
The next time you receive hurtful feedback or criticism from someone, try following these steps:
— See if there is any merit or something you could learn or improve on. Is the feedback warranted and could you do better in any way? You can always look for a lesson in the experience even if you don’t think it’s accurate.
— Consider the other person's agenda in giving you the feedback.
— Read some of my past articles on forgiveness and work on seeing them as imperfect, struggling, scared students in the classroom of life — just like you. Remember, they have the same intrinsic value as you no matter what they do or say.
— Understand forgiveness becomes easier when you choose to see every experience as one meant to help you grow. If you begin to see them as perfect learning opportunities, then you may begin to see the people involved as your perfect teachers. Those teachers might push your buttons or bring up your fears and weaknesses to the surface so that you can work on them. This can be a painful process, but it's still here to serve you.
Hopefully, this process will help you see your in-laws as well-intentioned and help you let the part you consider insulting to roll off. I see these insults as poison darts — you can choose to let them hit you and hurt you or you can let them bounce off your force field of love, truth and wisdom. I recommend you let them bounce off and don’t suffer from them anymore.
If your in-laws do this kind of thing often, you might want to ask permission to give them some feedback. If they agree and are open, explain that you consider unsolicited feedback as an insult and you would appreciate them asking permission the next time they have some for you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a popular executive life coach and speaker. Check out her articles on forgiveness at https://coachkimgiles.weebly.com/apps/search?q=forgiveness and learn about becoming a life coach at www.claritypointcoaching.com
I hate family holiday parties because there is one person who completely ruins them for me. They are negative and critical, and they never fail to insult me in some way. Do you have any advice for managing this situation, since I am expected to attend like it or not?
You are not alone in dreading this part of the holidays. Many people find family gatherings trying. If it’s not annoying relatives, it’s dreading the questions people will ask about your life (and your lack of good answers). Most families today are made of people with different beliefs, values, standards and ideas too, and these differences can create conflict, defensiveness and arguments.
There are a couple key things to remember to help you survive these parties:
1. Differences don’t mean better or worse, or right or wrong — they just mean different
The reason differences might scare us and make us feel judged and criticized by others is we might assume someone is right and better, and the other is wrong or worse. That's not true, it's just a perspective option, but it’s not your only perspective option.
You could choose to believe that all human beings have the same, unchanging, infinite, intrinsic worth — no matter their differences. This means different can’t make anyone better or less than anyone else. If you choose this perspective, you can be bulletproof at family parties or any other social setting. No one can judge you as less or worse and hurt you with their opinions, unless you let them. You can choose to believe you still have the same value as they do. If you choose this though, you also have to give up judgment and stop seeing them as bad or worse. Can you do that? Can you give infinite, absolute value to everyone else? If you can you will at the same time choose it for yourself, and no one can hurt you with their opinions again.
2. Give up judgment of others and let them all have the same value as you
You may subconsciously like being in a place of judgment toward certain family members and like spending the holidays complaining about them. You may do this because placing blame on these “bad people” makes you feel superior in some way. If you have low self-esteem (and are afraid you aren’t good enough) blaming or judging others might be part of your coping strategy. Be honest with yourself. Is there an ego part of you that likes complaining and gossiping about this person? Or are you ready to change yourself to feel better?
3. Choose to see life as a classroom and your relatives as your perfect teachers
I believe the real purpose for our being on this planet is to learn and to grow and the most important lesson we are here to learn is to love ourselves and other people. If this is truth, it means every single thing that happens to you here is a lesson on learning to love at a deeper level.
It also means the annoying, hurtful, bossy, rude people in your life might be here to serve as teachers and bring your fears, defensiveness and weaknesses to the surface so you can work on them. It's really important you see your family as your perfect classroom. It's no accident that this person is in your life and you are in theirs. Think about that annoying relative and ask yourself how they could be the perfect teacher for you. Do they trigger a fear or insecurity that you need to work on? Do they inspire you to be different than how they are? In what way could they possibly be here to help you grow? When you see them as here to serve you, you might be less bothered and more compassionate toward them.
4. Everyone is in their own perfect classroom journey experience, learning different lessons from yours, but they still have the same value
This also helps you stay out of judgment and stop comparing your life with theirs. The lessons you need to learn are different from theirs, so your experiences and struggles will be different too. Allow them room to be a work in progress with much more to learn (just like you).
5. Ask yourself these questions to help process your feelings toward this annoying relative:
Do this because it’s the kind of person you’ve decided to be. Spend your time at the family party asking questions and listening to others. Show people you value them at the deepest level and see their infinite worth. The more you do this, the better you may feel about yourself.
During those family parties, remember no one can hurt or diminish you because your value is infinite and absolute. Don’t give anyone the power to take away your peace and joy.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.