This was first published on KSL.com
I have a close relative who acts like he is perfect at everything, while he makes up terrible lies about my wife and tells them to me, just to cause problems in our relationship. He also says all kinds of weird and gross things to us that seem highly inappropriate. I once made a comment about how Santa Claus isn’t real, and he told me (in all seriousness) that I could be excommunicated for saying that. Obviously, he is not right in the head and I don’t really want to be around him, but as I said, he is a close relative so that isn’t an option. What do you do with a situation like this?
The truth is most human beings are a little quirky, but some are really quite unusual. It is easy with these people to go to a place of irritation, annoyance and judgment, and even see them as broken, weird or less than the rest of us. Some people are even unstable mentally or emotionally and may be dangerous, so it’s understandable to feel threatened or unsafe around them.
Here are some things you can do if you have to live with, work near or otherwise deal with a really quirky human.
1. Choose a system for determining the value of human beings.
There is no absolute truth about the real value of a human being. Every religion and philosopher on the planet has an opinion about it, but no one can prove their theory. This leaves us with the opportunity to choose a perspective. We believe you basically have two options:
(1) You can choose to see human value as changeable and in question.
This means our value can go up and down based on our performance, appearance and property. it means if you lose weight, make more money, or perform perfectly you may feel your value has gone up, and you might even feel better than other people. But if it can go up, it can also go down. So if you make mistakes, gain weight, lose your job or your family, you could also feel less than other people.
As long as you believe human value can change (and go up and down) you will also always see some human beings as having more value than other human beings because these two ideas go together. As long as you choose this system you will always be afraid you aren’t quite good enough too. You will feel this way because no matter how hard you try to perform perfectly or look perfect, you will always find people who appear better. This system for determining the value of human beings always leaves you feeling inadequate. But you can still choose it if you want to. Or you can choose this next option.
(2) You can choose to see all human beings as having the same, unchangeable value.
This means you decide to base all human value on our intrinsic worth as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, totally unique human souls, and all of us (no matter how quirky) will always be that and have the same worth. It is true that some humans will try harder, contribute more to society, and work to learn and grow, while others will not accomplish much, but these are differences in our extrinsic journey and choices and do not have to affect our intrinsic worth. At least you can see it that way if you want to.
You might want to consider choosing this system because it does two amazing things. First, it means you cannot fail, you can only learn. This perspective sees life as a classroom, not a test. With this perspective, you can make mistakes, which create amazing lessons and facilitate growth, but they never change your value. This helps you to have rock solid self-esteem (without arrogance or the tendency to see yourself as better than others, because they always have the same value as you).
Second, it helps you to stay out of judgment by seeing all humans as different (since no one on the planet gets the same classroom journey as anyone else) but all equal in value. This perspective creates compassion and makes it easier to tolerate and even accept the quirkiness in others.
2. Identify your Personality Type.
After 16 years as life coaches and working with thousands of people, we believe there are only 12 types of people in the world. When you know your type it helps you to accept your own strengths and weaknesses, and see your own quirky behavior more accurately. It also helps you to stop trying to be what others are, or expect them to be like you. Instead, you appreciate the interesting differences in us all. what are the personality types, how do we find out which personality type we are?
3. Identify your (and their) balanced and unbalanced behaviors.
Understanding human behavior is simple when you understand we all function every moment, of every day, in one of two states. A trust and love balanced state, where we are at our best, and a fear state where our worst behavior comes out. When you can accept your own quirkiness, you usually become more tolerant and accepting of other people’s quirkiness too.
We believe each of us has different bad relationship behavior that comes out when our fears are triggered, and understanding yours and theirs will help you have more compassion. You will also start seeing bad behavior as scared behavior. All bad behavior shows up when someone is in a fear driven state.
When your quirky relative behaves badly, you will understand that he is either trying to create a sense of value, to quiet his fear of failure (the fear he isn’t good enough) or he is trying to create a place where he feels safe from loss. Most of the time illogical, dishonest or irrational behavior comes from trying to cover a deep fear of failure or inadequacy. Or he may actually have a brain problem that means his thinking is just inaccurate and skewed. Either way, you must let the quirky be where they are in their unique journey.
4. Honor their right to be where and how they are.
Every one of us is experiencing a totally unique, interesting and difficult classroom journey. No one on the planet will ever get the same, genes, family, upbringing and the exact combination of life experiences that you got. This means (if we see life as school) that we are all in different classes. You will never know why their journey is what it is and what lessons they are supposed to be learning from their journey. But you can trust there is reason, purpose and meaning in everything being as it is.
The amazing Viktor Frankl, in a concentration camp during World War II asked himself the question, "Am I here by accident, is it just random bad luck? Or is there purpose for my being right here having this experience?"
He pondered this question trying to determine which idea was truth. In the end, he decided there is no way to know truth on this, and this leaves us with the power to choose our mindset. He found when he chose to see life as random bad luck he suffered more, but when he chose to see meaning and purpose in the experience, it made him want to rise and do something positive with it.
"In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning," Frankl wrote in his popular book "Man’s Search for Meaning."
We can choose, likewise, to trust there is purpose in our unique journey being what it is (and with this quirky person in it). We may never know the exact reason this experience was perfect for us, but we can still choose to trust there is one.
This will help us to allow each person to be who and where they are, without judgment that they should be anything different. We can live and let live and practice loving tolerance and wisdom.
5. Have the wisdom to choose your battles.
If we choose to see our journey (and interactions with the quirky people around us) as our perfect classroom, we know resistance is futile. Instead of resisting what is and expecting people and situations to be different than what they are, we embrace them and are grateful for what they can teach us.
This doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve situations or relationships, but when there is little in your control, you will see it is wiser to let the situation be whatever weird thing it is and you don’t let it upset you. Your weird relative is providing some interesting lesson in your life, choose not to suffer too much about it.
The amount that you suffer over the quirky people and lessons in your life is totally up to you. No one can make you upset without your permission and participation. You can choose peace, trust and a feeling of safety in every moment, even when things feel weird. Choose to trust there is order in the universe and the author of it all — is in charge. Trust that the universe is a wise teacher who knows what it’s doing it will make it easier to cope when things feel crazy.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are Master Life Coaches who host an internet radio show called Relationship Radio on Voice American and iTunea. Learn more at www.12shapes.com
I want you to address in a column what you do when family members aren't speaking. How do you tactfully handle family holiday parties when they refuse to be in the same place as each other, but you have to invite them both? One has issued an ultimatum that they want us to choose sides, which we feel is not the right thing to do. Is there any way to navigate these bad relationships or fix them? Please give us some advice.
Many people suffer from depression and anxiety around the holidays. Some have it because they have no family to be with, others have it because they do have family to be with. Family gatherings can be a real challenge if there is resentment, hurt feelings, and conflict between your guests.
We recommend you send this article to both parties and tell them you love and support them, and just want everyone to suffer less this holiday season. Explain that you have no judgment around this issue and totally understand how hard it is to deal with these conflicts, but you just want to help both sides heal.
I believe we are on this planet for one reason — to learn, grow and become better. Our main objective is to learn to love ourselves and other people at a deeper level. If this is true, forgiving would be the No. 1 most important lesson, and it's a challenging one too because our ego side really likes to hold onto judgment.
It’s easy to love people who are kind and good to us. Loving people who hurt us is the challenge that pushes us and forces us to rise. It shows us the limits of our love and gives us the chance to stretch and grow them.
If you are going to change how you feel about an offense, you will need to learn to look at the situation in a new way. This article is going to help you do that. You may feel like you aren’t ready, but "I'm not ready" is just an excuse we use when we can't articulate the real reason we don't want to forgive.
You must identify the real reason you are holding onto this offense and don't want to forgive it. Here are some possibilities:
1. Remember none of us are perfect.
This person did something wrong and it sounds like this was an especially painful wrong, but you aren’t perfect either. You may not have made this mistake, but you have made others. You must remember that you are both imperfect, struggling students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn, who both deserve forgiveness.
You don’t want every mistake you ever made held against you forever. In order to feel forgiven for your past wrongs, you must give others the same.
2. You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing.
No situation can cause you pain without your participation in it. Your thoughts and feelings are under your control and this means no one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my previous KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You must grasp the truth that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You can feel better right now if you want to. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready now.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.
You both have the same value no matter how many mistakes either of you makes. This is true because life is a classroom, not a test, and our value isn't on the line.
That does not mean we can sit back and stop improving though. It means our lack of knowledge and need for improvement doesn’t affect our intrinsic value. We have the same intrinsic value regardless of the amount of learning we still need to do. You want this principle to be true because you want it to be true for you.
4. Forgiveness happens best when you see yourself and others accurately
Forgiveness will happen when you see yourself and others as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn. Most of us think forgiving is about seeing people as guilty and then trying to pardon them for those mistakes. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact they are guilty. Forgiveness will never work when it’s a gift undeserved.
Instead, let all the wrongs, pain and hurt on both sides of this be wiped clean of all selfish, fear-based, bad behavior. It is time to let go and accept divine forgiveness for both of you. Let the other person be a “work in progress” and don’t crucify yourself or them for mistakes. Accept the gift of forgiveness and see life as a classroom where mistakes don’t count against our value. We can just all erase them all and try again.
5. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and it is the only way to peace, confidence and security.
This is universal law. The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over every day. What energy do you want to live in? You have two options — you can live in judgment, blame and anger energy? Or forgiveness, peace and joy energy?
Judgment energy means you stand in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes. If you choose this mindset, you are giving power to the idea that people can be "not good enough" and should be judged harshly, which will come back on you too. You will always struggle with your own self-esteem and this energy will feel heavy, negative and unhappy.
Your other option is a forgiveness energy. Here you choose to forgive yourself and others, and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake either of you has ever made. You choose to see these mistakes for what they really are, bad behavior born of confusion, self-doubt, lack of knowledge, low self-esteem and fear. In this place, you choose to see everyone as innocent and forgiven and let them (and you) start over with a clean slate every day.
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself and this energy will be light, peaceful and happy.
The question is: How do you want to live?
Consider letting go of the past offense and showing up at the family gathering with nothing but love and compassion in your heart. This doesn’t mean you have to be close to or deal with the other person, but it does mean treating them with respect, compassion and kindness. It means understanding that negative feelings hurt you more than they hurt them. It means choosing to focus on gratitude and being the love in the room, then on the past and casting blame.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com - She is the author of the new e-book Fearless Forgiving: The clarity path to peace - you can get this inexpensive e-book on amazon here.
This was first published on familyshare.com
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and it's funny how often at the end of a bad relationship, we wonder why we didn't see the red flags sooner. Were they there? Should we have see them? How did we miss them?
The truth is, we see what we want to see most of the time. At the beginning of any relationship, we are primarily looking for the good, especially if we want it to work out. We do this at work and in our personal relationships, but there are a few early warning signs it might help to flag when you see them. This may save you from unrealistic expectations and real disappointment. It might also mean protecting yourself and using some caution around people who could be toxic.
Here are five behaviors to watch for early in a relationship:
1. They speak ill of others and relish in gossip
If they are critical and judgmental of everyone around them, they will be critical and judgmental of you, too. People who focus on the bad in others usually suffer from a subconscious fear of failure themselves. In this state they find it temporarily makes their ego feel safer if they focus on the bad in others. If they cast others as the bad guy, it makes them feel like the better guy. Anyone who speaks ill of others on a regular basis has the potential to be trouble in a relationship. They may not have the self-worth and wisdom to be able to give the love and support you deserve.
2. Every situation is about them
If you notice that everything is about them, how they feel and how it affects them, you must label what you are hearing as "selfish focus." Again, people who have a fear of failure and low self-esteem are selfishly focused on themselves most of the time. If that is their focus, they won't be able to see situations from your point of view very easily. Just because someone is in this space one day, I would not write them off as toxic, but if it's a pattern all the time, make note of it as another red flag.
3. They're frequently upset and irrational
If someone gets triggered into an unbalanced upset state easily and often, and once their logic seems a tad off, that can be a big red flag. Mature, balanced people understand that feeling upset is a choice and nothing (or no one) can make you that way. You are in control of your choices, attitudes and behavior. You are responsible for how immature and over the top your frustration or anger gets.
We find some people tend to have over-the-top responses, drama and irrational thinking. This behavior is important to flag because one day it may be you they are upset at, and this immature behavior makes it difficult to talk things through and resolve them. If they aren't able to see things from another person's perspective, logically see what happened and why and talk about things without drama and emotion, they will have some unhealthy fighting behavior that could be directed at you eventually.
4. They don't trust you
There is a universal law that says we see the world as we are. This means anyone who doesn't trust you, accuses you of cheating, is dishonest or has ill intent might think you would act that way because they would. It's not true 100 percent of the time, but it is worth looking into. Those who would never be dishonest rarely are suspicious of others and are often taken advantage of. If someone is constantly accusing you or others of bad behavior, that could be a warning sign they aren't trustworthy.
5. Their moods and reactions are unpredictable
If you are never quite sure which version of this person you will get today and there is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feeling to the two sides of their personality, that could be a red flag. Toxic people are often moody, unstable and even may have borderline personality disorder, one of the more difficult mental illnesses to deal with. These people rarely admit they have a problem and rarely seek the help they need to have healthy relationships. If a person is normally very calm, kind and rational, but on occasion has a blow-up that is way different from their normal personality, you might not really know them as well as you think.
When dating, starting a friendship or thinking of promoting someone at work, you want to make sure you see the other person in stressful, upsetting situations and watch how they cope first. Everyone behaves fairly well when things are going great. You don't see their unbalanced behavior until things get scary, unsettled or threatening.
Just keep your eyes open and don't be afraid to love some people from afar.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.com
I work with a woman, who is very opinionated with severe black and white thinking. I find myself getting upset by the way that she voices her opinions all the time and won’t even consider anothers point of view. We all eat lunch together and honestly, it’s getting hard to tolerate. What do you do with people who are that opinionated and not open to life having any shades of grey?
We are going to answer three questions inside your question.
First, why do some people see the world in this black-and-white way and feel they have to constantly share or even push their opinions on the rest of us?
Second, how do you know if you are one of these opinionated people?
Third, what can you do so people, who are like this, don’t drive you batty?
It makes life a great deal easier if you understand what is really driving human behavior. Understanding what motivates people helps us to not take other people’s behavior as personally either.
We believe human behavior is driven (consciously or subconsciously) by what we fear and what we value. So, we are going to explain the fears and values behind very opinionated, black-and-white thinking.
These people often have fear failure (that they might not be good enough) and they have fear loss (that life won’t be the way they want it to be). We know this because these two fears are behind almost all bad behavior.
These people feel safer if they have a clearly defined moral code, a black-and-white clear and solid code of behavior (the way people should behave) and other rules of correct living. If they have these rules clearly defined, they know exactly what they must do to be good enough. These guidelines make them feel safe. They also get a sense of safety from finding fault in the rule breaking and incorrect thinking in the people around them. If they can find people who are worse or wrong, it makes their ego feel a little better or right, which quiets their fear of failure a bit.
People who are quick to judge others as wrong are usually getting a strong sense of safety and self-worth from believing they are right. The more fear of failure they have about themselves, the more they might focus on black and white rules that prove they are right.
They may also be a tad controlling too because having things done “right” also makes them feel safer in the world. They are often defensive, territorial and protective of themselves, which can come across as selfish, arrogant and inflexible. They are often more focused on things being right and fair than they are on caring how other people feel.
These people also highly value ideas. They like learning and teaching. They believe correct ideas and doing things right are critical to success and happiness, and they tend to assume that everyone has or should have the same ideas, beliefs and values they have.
They also fear what would happen if their ideas (and rules) are not upheld. For example, people who are passionate about the environment and global warming value environmental issues, as well as fear the outcome if the planet is not looked after. They can at times be a tad judgmental or critical when they feel others don’t value ideas, beliefs and opinions or have the wrong ones.
Now, the question is, are you this kind of person? Do you have a strong sense of right and wrong and often find yourself in judgment of others? Do you ever leave a situation and realize you may have talked too much or dominated the conversation? Do you get irritated when people disagree with you and do you see them as less than you, because of their choices?
If these are resonating as truth for you, don’t worry – we aren’t saying you are bad, wrong or less than others for being wired this way. The truth is the world needs people who care deeply about right and wrong, but we must all watch for unbalanced behavior that comes when we function from fear.
If you aren’t like this but have people in your life who are, here are some tips for dealing with these people:
1. Show compassion toward the fear that is driving their opinionated behavior and black-and-white thinking.
When we consciously choose to stay calm and not react to the behavior of others, we are able to look at what is motivating it. Think about this woman at work, what do you know about her story and what she has been through in her life? Do you think there is some fear of failure in her? Can you sense that her stand on issues is about feeling right somewhere? When you look underneath the behavior and try to identify where it comes from, we step into greater acceptance, tolerance and compassion. See if you can show greater kindness and compassion to her and recognize her insecurities, after all, you have those too, they just manifest themselves differently for each of us.
2. Don’t react to the bad behavior, instead listen intently and then ask for permission to share your ideas
In the moment, when people are on a soap box and speaking down to us or sharing their strong opinions that we disagree with, we can become triggered and feel frustrated or angry. Often our ego wants to retaliate by interrupting or arguing, which can escalate the situation to conflict and confrontation.
Now, you understand their opinionated behavior is about their fear and their need for validation and safety. So, in reality, what they need is validation (which we know is the last thing you want to give them). If you can have a mutually validating conversation and make them feel safe, you might be able to get them in a place where they can listen to you too. You might even teach them something. The formula to having these conversations is on our website.
But, you basically must ask them more questions about their opinions and listen and validate their right to think the way they do. If you are willing to go here, you then earn the right to have a turn to share your opinion with them.
After you have given them some time to share and you make sure they feel heard, you can ask permission to share your thoughts. “Would you be open to letting me share another opinion?” This permission question opens the door for you to now be heard and share your opinion. If the person interrupts or tries to speak over you again, you have earned the right to say, “Excuse me, please don’t interrupt, I listened to your ideas on this, and I would appreciate you respecting my turn to speak and hearing my thoughts.”
This can be done respectfully and without confrontation. But remember, it’s not about changing other people’s minds, it’s about coming to a place where both differing opinions are respected and validating everyone involved.
3. Don’t take it so personally.
Other people’s need to be right or feel superior is their fear of failure at work. It is about their fears about themselves — it isn’t really about you. Ask yourself, “Which part of you needs validation and recognition for your opinions and feels mistreated when you don’t get that?” Is your fear of failure being triggered?”
All of us have this fear, on some level, but healthy self-esteem comes from knowing you don’t need validation or recognition from others to have the same intrinsic worth as every other person on the planet. Remind yourself that you are a unique, one of a kind human soul and your value doesn’t depend on your opinions, whether you are validated or liked by others, or whether other people think you are wrong.
As you remind yourself of this truth you will find yourself needing less attention and acknowledgment from others, and you will be able to better tolerate listening to the black and white views of others without feeling bothered.
If you are this kind of person and can recognize a need to be heard and validated for what you think, this is a great fear challenge to work on. Practice asking more questions and listening more than you talk next time you are with people. You will find validating others opinions feels even better than sharing yours.
Knowing you are lifting others up always feels better than being right. Practice setting aside your need to be right about how things should be. Try allowing people to have the same intrinsic value as you, even though their beliefs and values are different.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice Coach Kim shares questions you can ask yourself to see if you might be the problem in your relationship.
I loved your article on toxic people, but I do have a follow-up question. Toxic people believe they are the ones surrounded by toxic people and that they themselves are not the toxic one. Is there a test or a question we can ask ourselves to determine who is actually the toxic one?
You are absolutely right, many toxic (difficult) people cannot see their part in the "people problems" around them. They are often overly focused on the faults and flaws in other people so they won’t have to look at their own. They usually suffer from a huge fear of failure, which means they can’t handle seeing their bad behavior — it would hurt too much if they did. Instead, they practice psychological projection.
Projection is a subconscious defense mechanism to protect us from pain, and we all do it to some degree. There are three types of projection we want you to understand:
Or a wife who is really bothered when her husband texts while driving, but she does the same thing. She knows she shouldn’t do it and feels guilty about it, though, so it bothers her a great deal when he does it.
We all have a subconscious tendency to project our bad behavior, thoughts and feelings onto others (missing our own issues completely). So how can we ever be sure we aren’t the difficult person? How can we become aware of our real behavior?
First, you might want to ask for candid feedback from the people who know you best. This takes courage, though, because your fear of failure will be triggered by their answers. If you remember you have the same value as everyone else and that can’t change no matter what you do, it is easier to handle though. You may also have to reassure the person you ask and convince them you are really open and can handle the truth because you want to learn and improve. If you really want to be a better person, you may want to ask the people closest to you to share one thing you could do to improve and show up for them better and do this on a regular basis.
If the thought of doing that scares you to death, you may want to work with a coach or counselor to build up your self-esteem first. They may also be a safer place to get feedback from because you don’t have a close relationship (like you do with friends or family).
An objective third-party person can often tell you things a family member or friend would be too scared to say. If you are resistant to both the idea of asking for feedback and working with a coach or counselor because both scare you, you definitely need to get some professional help to change your beliefs around your value and what it means to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of maturity and strength.
We also believe that no one is broken, bad, wrong or worse than anyone else. We are all just totally different and in a unique classroom journey, which no other person can really understand, and we have the exact same intrinsic value. We all have strength and weaknesses, good behavior and bad behavior, and being vulnerable enough to see yours and ask for help to become better means you are accurate, strong, out of your ego and humble enough to be teachable and ready to grow.
Here are some questions you might also ask yourself to determine if you are the problem or a toxic person:
Don’t have any shame around this. Just own that you may need some life skills you haven’t had the opportunity to learn thus far in your life. It does not make you less valuable than anyone else; it just means it’s time to upgrade your people, healthy thinking and life skills.
It’s time to find a professional you feel safe with to help you change the underlying fears that drive your dramatic, selfish, protective or toxic behavior. You are not a bad person, though. You are just a scared, insecure, worried person, who needs to learn another way to process life and what happens to you.
You can do this, and it’s easier than you think.
To my reader who asked this question: Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the toxic people in your life would even read this article nor answer the questions honestly. They would feel too vulnerable and their ego would really resist going there. Again, this is just their fears at work. You would have to really reassure them of their value to you and your belief in them to make them feel safe enough to be open to looking in this mirror.
Kimberly Giles is a popular author, speaker and coach. There is a worksheet on her website to help you see if you are the problem in your relationship http://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
SALT LAKE CITY —In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares some tips for surviving your dealings with toxic, difficult people.
Why are ex-spouses so mean and vindictive? I've been divorced almost seven years and my ex still never misses a chance to tell the kids what a loser I am. It can be petty things like,"Your dad doesn't know how to make healthy meals" and "You'll get fat if you stay with him" or "Your dad no longer believes in (our church) and is not capable of loving you like I do because real love comes from Jesus." How do I even address this type of nonsense? I can cook, by the way, let's be clear on that. How do you deal with this kind of person?
You asked a bunch of questions here, so let me address each one, and for my readers, these answers can apply to any toxic person in your life, not just an ex-spouse.
First, you asked, “Why are ex-spouses so mean and vindictive?”
Most of them are committed to a story that casts you as the bad one, and they need to put you down constantly to distract their focus from their own fears of inadequacy and loss. Most hurtful people are hurt themselves and they focus on judging and criticizing you because dealing with their own issues would be too painful. They usually have a huge fear of not being good enough (or being inadequate, broken or messed up in some way). We all have it to some degree and it drives a lot of our bad behavior too.
Having a marriage fail usually triggers the fear of failure in a big way, so most people after divorce (consciously or subconsciously) create a story that casts the other spouse as the problem. They can be very attached to this story because their self-worth is literally dependent on it. They may even need to feed the story and make it bigger by adding new faults and flaws all the time. Adding to this story may even become their safe place and they may spend a great deal of time here.
Remember, they do this to avoid the deep pain that comes with recognizing they might have issues and problems too. The more fear of failure they have, the more committed they may be in blaming you and making sure everyone knows you were/are the problem.
We call this behavior the “Shame and Blame Game” and we all play it to some extent. You might notice it when you forget to do something you promised to do, and instead of owning the mistake, you go off about the stupid people at work that messed your day up. When any shame experience hits you, you will subconsciously jump to the nearest plausible person to blame.
(If you watch for this behavior you will see it in yourself and others all the time. It’s a common tendency of human nature.)
You will also see people (or you might be someone) who is quite judgmental of others and find yourself involved in gossip, criticism and backbiting now and then. We do this because, again, it subconsciously and temporarily distracts us from our own fears of inadequacy. We might also complain about the company, the schools, the government, the church, the neighbors or anyone we can see bad in, because this subconsciously makes us feel like the good guy, in light of how bad all these other people are. This is just a trick our egos play to feel better.
Really toxic people (I’m talking about those that are almost impossible to have a productive, respectful relationship with) are usually deeply afraid they aren’t good enough and are afraid of being mistreated or taken from. They may hide these fears behind a great deal of ego and act very arrogant, but underneath it, they are a very scared person. Seeing them as scared, and not just offensive, will help you to have more compassion and less anger around them.
We consider these types of people toxic because their fears keep them focused, day and night, on getting, doing, saying or creating whatever they need to quiet those fears. In this state, they are very selfish and are mostly incapable of showing up for anyone else. They are so busy guarding, protecting and promoting themselves, they have nothing left to put into relating with the rest of us.
I tell you this, not so you can stand in judgment of them, but so you can have some accuracy and compassion for what’s behind their bad behavior. Having said that, it does not mean you have to continue to deal with them. Your best bet is usually to love them from afar. It is perfectly reasonable to have firm boundaries and stay away from them as much as possible.
It sounds like your ex is one of these fear-driven, scared people, who sink to the level of tearing others down, so they can feel better. It sounds like she has launched a campaign to convince your children she is the good guy and you are the bad guy. That is really sad because, in the end, it is your kids who will be hurt by this behavior. Your ex may also feel threatened by you and be afraid the kids will end up taking your side or liking you better, and this drives even more bad behavior.
Your next question was, “How do I address this type of nonsense? How do you deal with this kind of person?”
Here are some tips for dealing with toxic people:
1. Take the high road. Don’t sink to her level and say negative things about her to the kids.
The kids will figure out on their own the truth about who both their parents are. You show them every day with your behavior. If you continue to be mature, kind, respectful, loving and calm, your kids will adore and respect you no matter what your ex may tell them. If they believe her lies now, be patient because the truth rises to the surface on its own. If they ask you directly about things she says, answer honestly, but be careful not to sink to her level.
2. Remember your value is the same no matter what she says about you.
She cannot diminish you! She can’t change the truth about who you are. Hold onto that and don’t react to her darts. Let them all bounce off and don’t even be offended by them. They can’t hurt you unless you pick them up and stab yourself with them.
3. Choose to see this situation as an interesting classroom that apparently has something to teach you or is meant to grow you.
If you choose to, you can see every experience in your life as something that is here to serve and grow you. If you choose to see life this way, it feels like life is serving you, not trying to crush you. In this place, you will see each experience as a chance to rise and do better or become better.
Take the challenge to rise and be a better version of yourself in spite of (or even through) this experience. I believe difficult people are here to show us the limits of our love and stretch us and help us learn to love (or have compassion) at a higher level. This doesn’t mean you accept abuse from them, but it does mean you handle it with as much class, maturity and kindness as possible— while protecting yourself too.
4. When you have to respond and interact with a toxic person, choose to make yourself bulletproof and undiminishable so that nothing they do or say can anger or upset you.
You are in control of how much another person’s actions affect you. No one can anger or upset you without your participation and willingness to experience that. You are responsible for how upset you choose to be. You may have an unconscious upset reaction to a situation that shows up so fast you didn’t consciously choose it. But as you realize you are upset, you then have the power to choose how miserable and upset you want to stay and for how long.
5. Give yourself a set amount of time (a reasonable amount) to be really angry and upset. Then choose something better.
I usually need 15 minutes to really be mad and upset about what someone said or did, and I make those 15 minutes really count and I allow myself to really suffer in the hurt and anger.
Then, I decide I really don’t want to live in this state because it will hurt me more than the person who upset me. I choose another emotion that I deserve to feel instead. (I sometimes have to take my anger and put it in a closet and lock the door for now. That way I know I can go back in there and dwell in it again if I really need to.) But for now, I will choose something more constructive, like gratitude for what’s right in my life, love for my kids, or kindness toward others.
Do not let other people decide how happy, miserable, peaceful or upset you will be today. Consciously choose for yourself. Choose the emotions inside you in every moment because letting others dictate how you feel is letting them have power over you, which is what they want.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and is a popular speaker. Get her Don't get Upset Ebook here at this link http://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
How do I deal with in-laws that treat our family horribly but still need and expect our help with money. Their behavior is horrible towards us. My mother-in-law is verbally abusive to my husband, but he feels a need to continue to help his mother financially. I am often asked to choose between helping them and seeing my own family. When this is asked of me, I get very emotional. I hate how my husband and our kids are treated by them.
How do I help in-laws, who are mean to all of us, but still expect our help, without resenting them?
There are two parts to this answer for you. First, I want to explain why you feel resentful giving to people/relatives who are ungrateful, unkind or take you for granted, and it might surprise you that it’s more complicated than you think. But when you understand it this way, you will also know how to choose a different perspective and feel a bit better. Then, I will give you some hints for dealing with rude, difficult people in general.
First, we at Claritypoint Coaching have some ideas about human nature and what drives our behavior. We believe all bad behavior is driven by fear of failure or loss. We believe everyone who is mean or unkind to you is hurting at some level because they are battling some big fears about themselves and their life. They are usually either afraid of failure and feel inadequate, or they fear loss and feel life has been unfair to them, or sometimes they are suffering from both.
Your in-laws sound like they might be in a loss state and feel mistreated (by life, God or the universe) for giving them so many challenges and trials. They may be functioning in a victim state and they could also have some shame around their situation and their lack of funds to take care of themselves, so failure may be in play, too. People who live in this state (experiencing fear of failure and loss) can often be selfish, resentful and mostly focused on themselves. They don’t want to be selfish, but fear by nature affects us subconsciously and keeps us focused on our pain points.
We want you to understand this because these same fears are in play for you and are causing your pain and resentment. (This usually happens when we deal with people who are in fear because their bad behavior triggers our fears and we then end up behaving in a less than loving way too.)
It sounds like you feel mistreated by them and are then asked to help them, too, which makes you feel even more taken from. These relatives are triggering your fear of loss and it is creating the resentment and fear about your own quality of life, and it probably feels bad because you are not functioning in love, which is your real nature. You also know that resentment is self-inflicted misery and totally unproductive. So what do you do instead?
Look at your options and find the most love motivated one.
You will also have to remind yourself that only hurt people, hurt people and their abusive, unkind, rude behavior is a reflection and projection of their own inner pain. They are mean because they are miserable and scared. When you see bad behavior accurately for what it is, it becomes easier to let it bounce off. People can throw insults at you, but you decide if you are going to pick them up and carry them. Don’t do it. Let the insults bounce back to the sender because they are more about them than you.
If you have difficult relatives, co-workers or friends who are this unkind to you, you always have the right to protect yourself and just stay away from them. But if they are people you cannot avoid, you must become bulletproof and not allow them to hurt you. It is not selfish or mean to have healthy boundaries and insist that others respect you and treat you kindly. It is also not selfish and mean to have a limit to what you give to others. It’s healthy and wise.
You must officially give yourself permission to take care of you and have boundaries. You must love yourself and other people, not one or the other. Don’t have any fear around hurting their feelings by enforcing boundaries that are healthy for you. If they are offended and hate you, that is none of your business. Keep being the strong, loving, wise person you are and trust that the universe is in charge of them.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSl.COM
I work in an office with all women and there is so much cattiness, fighting, gossiping and judging that it is a pretty unpleasant place to work. I realize you might say I should leave and find another job, but jobs that work with my schedule and pay this well are hard to find. Is there anything I can do to be an agent of change or influence others to be kinder and more compassionate to each other? Or is there a way I can at least stay above it all and not let it bother me so much?
Unfortunately, businesses who have a lot of female employees often have more office drama and gossip than offices with more male employees, but we also get calls from human resources directors whose companies are going through a merger, have high stress environments or are in fast growth, because stress and change always create people problems.
This happens because change and stress cause fear of failure and loss issues to rise to the surface, and these two fears are the hidden cause behind most bad behavior and relationship clashes. If the issues can’t be resolved by HR, they often bring us in for executive coaching and performance evaluations to figure out and solve these people problems fast.
Every single employee brings some pain, stress and fear around their families, money or relationships to work with them every day. These pressures in their personal lives mean they come to work almost every day in a fear state.
People functioning in a fear state will be easy to offend and quick to feel criticized, taken from, threatened or unsafe. These employees may be subconsciously looking for mistreatment and they could have a short fuse and a rather selfish viewpoint. Understanding the fear behind the behavior is the key to gaining compassion for them and seeing their gossip and bad behavior accurately.
Every person in your office is fighting a battle at home you know nothing about.
They are very likely in pain and fear, at some level, almost every day, and this is the real cause of their bad behavior. If you want to change how you feel at work, you must get a more accurate perspective about bad behavior and you must not take it personally.
People behave badly because of their fears about themselves. It is rarely about you.
Also remember — it is only hurt or hurting people that hurt people. This means the people whose behavior is bothering you most are the people in the most pain about their value and their journey. Bad behavior is always a sign of inner suffering.
We talk a lot in our articles about the two core fears (the fear of failure and the fear of loss) and how they drive human behavior. The truth is, whenever people are in a fear state they are completely focused on one thing: getting anything or doing anything they can to quiet the fear.
In this state they are incapable of thinking about what others may need or want. All they can focus on is "What would make this fear or pain stop?"
If someone functions in fear of failure, they are deeply afraid they might not be good enough. When the fear is bad and they experience shame or feel insecure, one of the most common ways they react (subconsciously respond) is they focus on any bad in the people around them.
The more they focus on other people's bad behavior, they don’t have to think about their own. We call this the Shame and Blame Game and we all play it at times. The more shame we feel, the more we blame others, criticize and gossip. I suspect many of the gossipers in your office are doing so, because they’re covering their deep insecurities or shame.
If any of you are prone to gossip yourself, ask yourself if your fear of not being good enough might be in play. Be aware of the safety you might feel if you put others down or focus on their bad. The first step to changing any bad behavior is being conscious of why you do it.
If someone functions from a fear of loss, they are deeply afraid of being taken from, mistreated or losing control. These people may be territorial, defensive, protective or controlling and they will be quick to be offended and see mistreatment everywhere, even when it’s not there.
We want you to understand the real cause of bad behavior so you will have more compassion for yourself and the people you work with. We recommend you don’t try to "stay above it" though, as that can be a place of judgment looking down at the "bad" people involved and that isn’t accurate as we all have the same intrinsic value.
Just see bad, immature gossip or dramatic behavior accurately, as fear-driven behavior that happens when people are afraid they aren’t good enough and need to look for the bad in others to distract them from their own.
If you see bad behavior accurately you may also see what these people need, which is to quiet their fear, so they can stop criticizing others to feel better. What they need is validation and reassurance about their worth. This is often the last thing you feel like giving someone who is acting haughty, arrogant or better than others, but it is what they need.
Look for opportunities to point out kindness, compassion and good behavior in your gossiping co-workers. Tell them often how grateful you are to work with such kind, encouraging and non-judgmental people.
You may even say that when you first came to work there you heard a lot of gossip and backbiting, and you are so grateful that doesn’t happen as much anymore. Tell the people who do it the most how positive they are and you admire the way they never say an unkind word about anyone.
I know this may seem like lying, but it’s really helping them see who they have the potential to be before they even show up that way. This positive encouragement literally encourages better behavior, because people always want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
When you point out their good qualities you literally push them in that direction. This is the most compassionate way to encourage better behavior. When you help them to see their light, instead of their darkness, you push them toward being their best.
It may also help you to remember that all unloving behavior is a request for love. Every unkind word or fearful reaction is a request for validation and reassurance they are good enough.
This is true for the people in your home, too. We have seen one person completely change the culture at work or home by just giving more compliments and validation to the team. When people start to feel safer, more appreciated and even admired at work, they are happier and show up with more respect and kindness.
Go get them with your positive uplifting attitude and help them rise into better behavior. Don't criticize or point out their bad behavior because that will increase their fear and will only make it worse.
If you do all this and they still remain in negativity and drama, see this as your perfect classroom, take nothing personally and work on being a source of light and love in your office anyway.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders of claritypointcoaching.com and Identiology.com. They are human behavior experts who help companies and individuals to be their best.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a friend who is driving me crazy with the way he knows more about everything than I do. Whatever I say, he knows better or has a different opinion, and I swear he would take the opposite view on anything, just for the sake of argument. I don’t want to quit being friends with him, but I wish there was a way to change his behavior and get him to stop being the expert on everything all the time. There is some great value I could offer this person, but he is not open to hearing what anyone else has to offer. Any advice?
My first question for you is “Are you sure you aren’t also a little attached to your own ideas and your need to be right?”
You seem very bothered by your friend's egotistical behavior, and usually we are most bothered by behaviors that also show up in us. That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. There is a law in the universe I call “You Spot It You Got It.” It means other people serve as a mirror for you, and you often possess the very behaviors you love and appreciate or are irritated over in them.
Whenever you find yourself in judgment of another person, you need to step back and look for that same beam in your eye. It’s highly likely you do the exact same thing to some degree. Bossy people are always bothered by bossy people, and "know it alls" are always bothered by EOEs (experts on everything).
There is a valuable You Spot It You Got It worksheet on our website that can help you check yourself to see if this is happening for you.
Take an honest look at your own need to be right, because we all get overly attached to our ideas, ideals, beliefs and opinions on occasion. We all are guilty of some projection too, where we see our fears and judgments in others. We also tie our ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings to our value as a human being. This means if someone doesn’t agree with us, we subconsciously think they don’t value us.
This isn’t true, but it feels like truth.
After being brutally honest with yourself about how attached you are to your ideas and opinions, you must also be honest about how teachable you are and how much your ego or pride get in the way of learning from others. Ask yourself the following questions:
Bruce Lee said, “The usefulness of the cup is it’s emptiness”
It is only when we are empty that we can be filled with anything new. Being open and teachable means realizing there is always more to learn and being humble enough to embrace that when around other people.
With your EOE friend who struggles with this, you have three options.
1. You could have a mutually validating conversation where you ask questions about how he feels about your friendship first, then ask if he would be open to an observation if it came from love and wanting the friendship to be better. Then, using mostly “I” statements like: I have noticed … I feel … It would mean a lot to me if you would listen and try to respect my opinions a little more moving forward. Would you be open to that? There are worksheets on our website with more specific instructions for how to have these conversations.
2. If you don’t think you’d be comfortable addressing this directly or if you think he’d get defensive or mad, you could just decide to ignore it and love him as he is.
3. Or you could try what I call the “Encouragement Technique” and every chance you get mention how much you appreciate what a great listener he is, and how he validates, respects and honors everyone’s opinions. Even though this isn’t really accurate yet, showing someone the good behavior you know they are capable of often makes them want to be what you see.
This works because most people will want to live up to your highest opinion of them. Telling them they are the person they have the potential to be encourages them to choose that behavior.
If nothing you do changes your friend though, it might be a chance for you to grow in maturity, tolerance and love. Just choose to understand this is where he is and love him anyway.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" Nicole Cunningham is a master coach who works with teens and parents.
My older brother can be really sarcastic not only to me but to his wife and children. The last argument we had was about a sarcastic remark he made about me and how it feels like a passive aggressive way to say what he really feels without getting in trouble for being mean, yet he is mean. How can I get him to see how he is hurting the people close to him with this sarcasm and how can I get him to correct his behavior without making him even angrier at me?
Send him an email filled with positive validation about what a good person he is and how much you love him, but include at the bottom a question: “If it comes from a place of love for you, would you be open to some practical advice about sarcasm? I found this article, which might help you build better relationships, but if you aren’t open to any advice, you don’t have to read it. Just know it comes without judgment, because we all have some flaws. I have lots. Just thought it was interesting.”
Then copy and paste the rest of this article from here down. Once he understands why he is sarcastic, he may be more motivated to change it.
The dictionary defines sarcasm as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt; a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark.” Sarcastic comments, though humorous, are usually passive-aggressive, mean and really uncomfortable for the people receiving them.
If you use sarcasm you must ask yourself the following questions:
Here are some common reasons you might be sarcastic. See if any of these resonate with you:
1. You fear you aren’t good enough, so you subconsciously need to put others down so you can feel superior.The worse you feel about yourself the more biting your remarks toward others could be. Insecure people have to put others down or tease them, in order to feel important and of value themselves. If this is your issue you may need some professional help to improve your self-worth. If you felt better about yourself you wouldn’t need to make fun of others.
2. Sarcasm is also a way of asking for what you want when you are scared to ask for it directly. You might crack a joke about your wife’s crazy shoes because you don’t know how to say you don’t like them in a nicer way. Your sarcastic remark doesn’t work though because it leaves your wife unsure about what you really think. Were you joking or serious? If you don’t know how to say things in a way that won’t hurt, you make a joke, which usually still hurts, but creates a situation where if she takes offense, it’s her problem if she can’t take the joke. If this is your way to use sarcasm, you really need to improve and learn some better communication skills.
3. Sarcasm may be passive-aggressive anger. This happens because you feel taken from, insulted or annoyed by other people and taking a jab at them makes you feel better. Sarcasm is a clever way to take a jab without being seen as outright mean. A joke can absolve you of responsibility for how you made the other person feel. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to resolve the real issues you are angry about. You could really benefit from some coaching or counseling on processing emotions.
4. You may feel jealous or angry at life for the disappointments or abuse you have suffered. Sarcasm can be a clever way to take out your anger toward life or vent your frustrations. The more life does you wrong, the more biting your remarks toward others might be. If this is your issue, you need to learn how to use your life experiences to make you better, not bitter.
5. If you were teased in a cruel way, put down or made to feel inferior as a child, you may be subconsciously trying to get the upper hand now. You may look down on others and jokingly strike out at them as a way to feel powerful. Again, you may need some help to improve your self-esteem so you can show up with love and let the pain from your past go.
6. You like to get attention by entertaining those around you with humor. You probably need this attention to validate your worth, because you again, have fear you aren’t good enough. You need this attention so badly you will do it at the expense of other people. All fear creates subconsciously selfish behavior, but this can be fixed. There are lots of ways to learn to be funny without being hurtful.
7. You may have a psychological inclination that is just prone to mean sarcasm. You may want to find out what your personal psychological inclination is. Some PI types are more prone to sarcasm and biting comments than others. You can find out more about your PI and what that says about you on my website.
Just take a minute, if you are the sarcastic person, and honestly ask yourself if any of these issues could be behind your sarcastic comments and is this who you really want to be?
You may need to practice THINK before you speak (a good idea for all of us). This means checking yourself before you make a comment. Is it:
You can be funny all you want, but if you do it at the expense of other people, they will not feel safe with you or like you, and if the people on the receiving end of your sarcasm are your friends or family, this cost could be high.
My best advice to you is slow down and pause before saying anything. Think about why you want to say (what you are about to say). Is it love motivated? Does it really need to be said? You may want to create a reminder to avoid sarcasm and make it the wallpaper on your phone. That way you see it 500 times a day to remind you to think first.
If you are living with a sarcastic person, here are a couple suggestions for dealing with it:
You can do this.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and speaker. She was named
one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly
on local and national TV and Radio.