This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — I had a reader write to me recently complaining about a friend who is always talking about the hard things going on in their life. Their question revolved around when it was justified to complain about your life and have a friend listen and show up for you, and when it becomes an issue of playing the victim card to get sympathy love and might not be a positive thing.
Talking about your struggles and woes is not necessarily a problem. For some people, it is the only way they learned to get love. They might subconsciously play the victim card without even realizing it; and when friends listen and show they care, it probably does make them feel cared about, important and loved.
The only problem is that there can be a cost to this behavior that you might not realize you are paying. While friends and family care about you and feel sorry for you, they may also be losing respect for you.
Before I get into how to check yourself and make sure you aren't in an unhealthy victim mentality, let me just say how important it is to have supportive friends and family around you — and to share your difficult experiences with them. Everyone needs that kind of support, and there is no shame whatsoever in talking about your struggles and getting support, help and love from the people in your life.
Your sharing or complaining only becomes a problem if you are sharing for one of the following reasons:
I have a dear friend who is battling cancer, and I love how she shares the challenges and hardships of the experience with me but never misses an opportunity to ask about my life and my challenges too. She never uses the hardship to manipulate others, and she always acknowledges that other people have it worse.
She shares her experience and lets her friends support her, but she has never had a victim mentality. I have to say, though, there are days she is very entitled to a good long pity-party cry — and occasionally she has one, as they are healthy and called for.
Here are some other ways to watch for victim behavior and change it:
Write it down
Write a description (on paper) of what your mindset and behavior would look like if you are playing the victim: How would you show up? How would others see you? What kind of energy would you be putting off?
Write about the payoffs you might get from rehearsing your struggles and stories. Are the payoffs so great they are worth possibly losing the respect of other people? Write about the ways you might be seen as weak, complaining or needy. Are there ways you share your experiences without coming across with these descriptions?
Examine your past
What stories about your past might you talk about too often? Do you have any beliefs about your life always going bad, or bad things always happening to you? Do you believe, "no one cares about me"; or "no matter how hard I try, things always go wrong"; or "people should let me off the hook for bad behavior because of how bad I have had it in the past"; or "I will never get anywhere no matter how hard I work."
Own any victim stories and beliefs you have and figure out why you might hold onto them. What do they give you when you believe they are true? What do they cost you? Is there something else (more healthy) that you could replace those beliefs with? Rewrite some better beliefs and post them somewhere you see them daily.
Explore letting go
Figure out who you could be if you let go of the victim identity. What would your mindset be? How could you respond to life if you saw yourself as strong, blessed, capable, fortunate and whole? What if you see yourself as a champion instead of a victim? This may take a while to clearly see yourself as a victor, but you can do it.
Write down the qualities and attributes you want to embody. How do you want people to see you? What qualities do you want to be known for? You cannot become something you can't even see. The first step is to get clarity on what you want.
Stop the blame game
Stop blaming others or circumstances for the way you are feeling. You are responsible for how you feel. Emotions do arise that you can't control; but once they arrive, you do have the power to process through them and choose your mindset. (Unless you are suffering from clinical depression or an anxiety disorder, which can make choosing your attitude difficult to impossible to do by yourself. Seek help from a medical professional.)
Most of us do have the power to choose our perspective, and our perspective determines how we feel. If you don't know how to use that power, you may need a counselor or coach to help you learn how. It is a skill and can be taught to most people.
Change your perspective
First, choose gratitude. In the very moment you are dwelling on what's wrong in your life, there are many things you could focus on that are blessings. Your blessings always outweigh the challenges. You may need to start a gratitude journal to help you focus on the good every day.
You can also work to change your perspective about how life and the universe work. Most of us have a subconscious belief that the universe is a dangerous place where we can lose, get hurt, or be cheated and unfairly treated. We see the universe as "against" us, messing with us, and even trying to trip us up. With this perspective, we are always a powerless victim who is blown about by chaos and bad luck.
Instead, you can choose to believe the universe is ultimately on your side. It is a wise teacher, constantly using what happens to create your perfect classroom journey. You could believe that everything that happens is used to grow you and make you stronger, wise and more loving. Things don't happen to you, they happen for you. At least, you could choose this mindset if you wanted to and you would find your outlook would be more positive.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Have you noticed in yourself (or others) a never-ending pursuit to change your situation and get something better? Do you find yourself believing if you could just get “there” or have "that," you’d be happy? But when you get “there” you realize you are already wishing you were somewhere else even further along?
The truth is, as long as you believe “better” is somewhere else, you will never be truly happy or present.
As I mentioned in last week’s article on dissatisfaction, humans naturally seek change and improvement because it ensures evolution and the human race continuing. You’re wired this way for a reason, but it doesn’t always serve you. The good news is when you become mindful of this subconscious instinct, you can stop believing that somewhere else is always better than where you are now.
You must understand that where you want to go or what you want to get isn’t necessarily going to be better; it often just gives you a different set of problems. Think about the young woman who says, “I am finally getting married, and all my problems will be over.” Every married person can attest that her problems aren't really over, just replaced by different problems.
This is the nature of life: No matter where you are or what you have there will also be things you don’t have that you wish you had. Likewise, there will be things you do have that you wish you didn’t have. This might be a letdown for you because your subconscious mind really believes in a magical future where everything is right. But don’t worry, I’m going to explain how to get your happy back today.
In my work as a human behavior expert, I have come to believe there are 12 types of people in the world and four value systems we can be wired for. Understanding these four systems can show you what you subconsciously believe you need more of to be happy. Remember, seeing your craving behavior is the first step to changing it. Which of these value systems resonates with you?
People-focused people: If you are this type of person, you tend to crave more friends, better or deeper connection, influence, adventure or comfort, and a better love interest. If you are this type, you don’t like to be alone and are often seeking more time with your current friends or new humans to be in relationships with. You believe once this happens, then you will be happy.
Task-focused people: If you are this type of person, you crave solutions to problems, things being right, projects completed and jobs done. You get frustrated with jobs like dishes and laundry, which are never finished. You don’t feel safe and satisfied until jobs are done and off your plate, but your never-ending to-do list means you can’t ever get there. You seek accomplishments, money that is a reward for hard work and better performance. You believe once these goals are met, then you will be happy.
Things-focused people: If you are this type of person, the things you own are the scorecard of your worth. You can’t get enough, newer or nicer things. You could have high standards and need the right labels or brands, You could be a shopaholic or a collector. If you could just build, create, buy, or own something better than exists now, then you would be happy.
Ideas-focused people: If you are this type, you crave solutions, change, order, better systems, more knowledge, learning around an obsessive hobby, or just being right and making sure people know it. You seek change in the world and better behavior from other people, then you will be happy.
Does one of those groups sound more like you? Take a minute and own what you are currently seeking that your happiness depends on. Sit in your craving for that and consciously decide how much happiness you are willing to give up today, for that craving. What if you chose to be happy right now without that thing? The truth is, if you can’t set aside your cravings or need for something else and choose to be happy now, you never will be.
In his song "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." You can still have goals for the future and strive to achieve them, just choose to see where you are today as your perfect classroom too. Don’t waste too much time wishing you were somewhere else or you will miss the amazing sunset, fulfilling moment, or precious time with loved ones today.
A gratitude practice that might help is making a list of everything you are grateful you don’t have and everything you are grateful you do have, and choose to focus on those.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
I have a hard time being with my siblings and their spouses. We don’t have the money they have and we admit we are pretty jealous of the lives they lead compared to ours. It is hard being the ones who make the least amount of money in the family and can’t keep up with them all. They keep planning things like trips that we can’t afford. It’s becoming so bothersome, I am starting to pull away from them all. All my friend’s lives are significantly easier than ours too. Do you have any advice on how to handle these feelings of jealousy and that life is unfair?
If you look behind the jealousy, you may see this is a fear of loss problem. Some of my readers still question this simplified system around the two core fears, but after 18 years in personal development, I promise it makes understanding and changing human behavior easier.
Fear of loss is the feeling you get whenever you aren’t getting (or didn’t get) what you wanted from life. You might feel taken from, robbed or treated unfairly. If you get a more difficult journey than your friends, you may perceive it as a loss. But it’s only a loss if it does you wrong, hurts you or takes away what you should have had. This may feel like a loss to you because you assume you could have had (or should have had) something better. That assumption is the key to changing your jealousy.
Should you have had something else? Could you have had something better? Is your life journey ruined or off track from where it might have been? Is life supposed to be fair?
I encourage you to play with some different perspectives and assumptions and see if it changes how you feel. I believe how we feel is totally dependent on how we look at it and perspective is easy to change — even when you can’t change the situation. Here are a couple of ideas that might help you feel better about your journey:
1. Everyone deals with challenges in life. Some people whose lives look easy from the outside may actually be challenging on the inside, though they might be good at hiding it. Those whose lives really are "easy" might be experiencing ease right now, but their challenges might still be coming. Life is a classroom and the purpose of the whole thing is to learn and grow. We can’t grow when things are easy. Challenges, setbacks, loss, and unfairness are all parts of this educational experience. Try to remember that this is not a shopping excursion, a contest to get the most toys or a sightseeing trip. This life is a school and if we keep that in mind, then it may change our expectation and keeps our viewpoint more accurate.
2. The Buddha reportedly said, “It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering.” What I believe he meant by that is if you expect life to meet your expectations and give you whatever you want, then you're going to be disappointed.
If you keep resisting what you're getting by being upset about it, then you're likely going to suffer. If you're tired of the way this feels, then you can choose to believe that the universe is a wise teacher constantly conspiring to bless you with wisdom and educate you. Trust that the universe will only bring you experiences that serve you. This means there is no loss and no unfairness because you are always getting what is exactly perfect for you. If you're getting your perfect classroom experience then there is no loss.
You also have to give up comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Remember, they're in a different classroom and they're learning completely different lessons than you are. You only have two perspective options when it comes to your journey: You can compare, be jealous and resist “what is," which may make you suffer, or you can accept “what is” and even have gratitude for it, which may create peace and make you suffer less. How do you want to live?
3. Buddha also said it's your craving (for what you want, but don’t have) and your aversion (toward what you have that you don’t want) that make up your resistance to “what is” and cause your suffering. I recommend you get out some paper and make a list of everything you don’t have that you wish you did. Make another list of everything you have but wish you didn’t. Then, make a list of everything you are grateful you don’t have and all the things you're grateful you do have. Then, sit and look at all of these lists. All of these together make up the true nature of life. Every moment you are alive you have all four of these in play, and you always will. Your happiness depends on your focus. If you choose to focus on what you're grateful for, then you could be happy all the time.
4. Make a new rule against comparing yourself with other people. There's no level where comparing yourself to others serves you. Be consistent in choosing to believe that each of us is getting the perfect classroom journey meant for us. Also, remember life is a package deal and each life path comes with some blessings and some trials. If you had another person’s blessings, then you would also have to take their trials, and trust me, you don’t want them.
5. Carefully choose your thoughts. Choose to think only positive, loving thoughts about yourself and other people. In doing this, you're choosing abundance and blessings for everyone. Choose to see the world as abundant and overflowing with enough for all. Every time a jealous thought pops up in your head, try choosing gratitude instead. Gratitude is one of the most positive emotions you can choose. When you live from a place of gratitude, you are accepting love from the universe and opening the door to receive more.
Also, remember that there are many people on this planet who would give anything for your life and would be jealous of you. It’s all about perspective. Count every blessing and trust the universe that everything that happens to you is happening for you.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a sought after human behavior expert who speaks to groups on improving people skills. Get a free Worksheet to help you fight fear of loss and have less jealousy here.
This was first published on ksl.com
What advice would you have for someone who is tired, discouraged and burned out? Life has been rough the last few years. I’m just tired of struggling and watching other people have easy lives, while mine is all uphill and hard. Do you have advice for me?
First, be very careful who you compare your life journey with. There are just as many people out there whose lives may be more difficult than yours as there may be people whose lives are easier. If you catch yourself feeling jealous of someone else’s life, try thinking about the large percentage of the world that might give anything to have yours.
Of course, it’s better if you don’t compare at all and choose to see each person as getting the life journey that will serve them best. I believe each situation in your life is meant to teach you something, and you can choose to have this perspective, too.
The issue of feeling burned out and running on empty could mean it’s time for some better self-care. It's your job to make sure your emotional tank stays full — especially if you're going through a lot of draining experiences right now. This may mean time alone or time with friends, more rest, hobbies, exercise or whatever. Let's you put stress aside and simply relax.
Some people in your life might see taking time for yourself as selfish, but it’s not. Self-care is not self-indulgent — it is a sign of self-respect.
Here are some self-care suggestions to help fill your emotional tank and avoid burnout:
Sometimes, when things feel really discouraging, all I can handle is 5 minutes at a time. If you try to carry the burden of all your troubles for the coming year right now, it might begin to crush you. So just focus on a little at a time.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after corporate people skills trainer, life coach and business owner. She is author of the book Choosing Clarity and the founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on ksl.com
I hear from a lot of people during this time of year who aren't fans of the holiday season. They say they dread it all — the pressure to spend money on gifts, the obligation to attend gatherings with people they don’t like, the commercialization and materialism, and the seasonal depression that might be brought on by overcast weather.
Do you feel like this in any way?
When you are unhappy, afraid you aren’t good enough or are struggling with relationships, you may have a tendency to project these feelings onto the holiday season. We all subconsciously project our feelings about ourselves onto things and people around us.
Here are a few ways to cope during the holiday season:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after speaker, author and business owner. She is the founder of www.claritypointcoaching,com and www.12shapes.com and provides simple solutions to every kind of human behavior difficulty.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim Giles explains how to separate your self-worth from your stuff.
I live in a smaller old home in an area where lots of beautiful new large homes have popped up over the last several years. I generally love where we live and the people who live here, but I hate that I feel the nagging impulse to "keep up with the Joneses." I understand it's fear-based, that I'm wanting to feel like I'm just as good as those around me. But I'm hoping you can give some helpful advice to navigate this. It's hard when my kids have friends over and I perceive they aren't having as much fun because we don't have all of the fun "stuff" that they have. I know I shouldn't care, but I do. How do I explain to my kids that we don't have what others around us have and that it's OK? How can I teach them that their own worth isn't tied to stuff?
You need to teach your children where the belief that your value is tied to your appearance, performance and property comes from, and then, how to change it.
This belief actually stems from a simple, but foundational belief about human value and how it’s determined. This is a foundational belief that impacts how you see yourself and everyone around you, and it's critical to understand. Somewhere along the way you, as a child, might have gotten the idea from your parents and watching the other big people around you that human value can change. You started to believe it could go up and you could feel better than other people, and it could go down and you could feel less than other people.
This idea that human value can change also lead you to another negative belief — that some people have more value than other people. These two beliefs are wreaking havoc in your life and with your self-esteem, and they are also responsible for most of the problems on this planet. All of the terrorism, war, racism, discrimination, and even the political divide in our country are all at their core, caused by this idea that some people have more value or are more important than other people.
This is a belief that really needs to change.
Since we all believe human value can change, we also believe you can earn more value by looking good, doing well, or having nice things. We believe that good-looking, thin, tan people have more value than other less attractive, larger people. We believe people who live in big houses, make more money, or have more success, have more value than less successful people. But understand these are not facts or truths, they are just beliefs.
Let me clarify the difference. Truths can be proven and don’t change. Beliefs are just ideas that exist in our heads — they can’t be physically proven — and we can change them whenever we want to or whenever we learn something new. It’s important to understand the difference because every day you are basing your self-esteem on flimsy, though widely held, beliefs, which are not real and are not doing you any good.
This is also a system you can't beat. As long as you choose to believe human value can change and some people have more worth than other people, you will always be afraid you aren’t good enough. No matter how hard you try to improve your appearance, performance and property, you will always find people who have more or have it better. You will never win, nor feel good about yourself using this system.
So I recommend you choose a new system for determining the worth of human beings. I recommend you choose a system or belief that serves you and humanity more and makes you feel better about yourself, too. My suggestion is you adopt the belief that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value and that value can’t change, no matter what they do or have.
Choose to separate your value from appearance, performance and property altogether, and base human value on something that doesn’t change, like your uniqueness. Anything on this planet that is a one-of-a-kind is extremely valuable, if not priceless. You are a one-of-a-kind, original, the only YOU there will ever be. You are irreplaceable and therefore of infinite, absolute worth — just like everyone else.
When you start to see human value as unchangeable and remind yourself and your children every day that property, performance and appearance don’t mean anything about your value, you will very quickly feel better. Because you are changing a foundational belief across the board applying to everyone, you will start to internalize it and also apply it to yourself. This is the beginning of real self-esteem.
Now, in order to make this powerful change work in your family, you also have to give up judgment of other people too. Every time you or a family member start to gossip or criticize another person, remember their mistakes or faults don’t change their value. If anyone mentions the fact that other people have larger homes, better clothes or more toys, simply remind them property doesn’t determine value and those people have the same value we do.
Making this belief sink in and take hold so you really believe it just takes time and repetition. The more you talk about it, the better — but it doesn’t change the reality that there may be less to do at your house.
I would focus on making sure there is good energy, safety and love for all people when they hang out at your house. Focus on the one thing you have to give, no matter your financial position: LOVE. Be the house where everyone feels valued and important. In the end, people care more about how you make them feel than how many toys you have.
You might also want to read this previous KSL.com article I wrote about that contains a parable about self-worth and houses.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert, author and speaker. Learn more at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com Take the Survey and find out your relationship shape today.
My spouse has pointed out that I’m never happy where we are and I always wish we were further along and somewhere else. He says no matter what’s happening, I act like we are behind schedule in life and am frustrated. I can see it now that he has pointed it out and I don’t like this about myself. I’m always stressed, bothered and feel under pressure to get to the next level faster. I also feel like I didn’t make the right choices in the past and because of that, we are behind, too. I can see this makes me hard to live with at times, but I have no idea how to change it and actually be happy in the now when I honestly don’t like where we are now and do wish we were somewhere else. How can I be happy in the now and still work towards being where I want to be? How can I stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”? Any advice?
This is a great question and this is something we all struggle with at times. Here are six ways to change your perspective on where you are today so you feel more content:
1. Meditate to focus on the present
Imagine a timeline, mapping out your life, with a dot (on one spot) that represents today. Notice that everything behind that spot is in the past and you cannot change it. As matter of fact all of the time, choices and experiences to the left of the dot that brought you to where you are today, are set in stone because you cannot change the past. You also cannot change where you are today. That is a fixed point, which is a result of past choices over and gone.
2. Accept you are in control
Standing in that spot today recognize the only thing you have control over is your mindset and you have only two mindset options. You can be in fear and believe the past was wrong, that you are off track, and somewhere you shouldn’t be (which will make you miserable, stressed and sad), or you can choose to believe the past was your perfect classroom journey and it played out perfectly, as the universe delivered it, to help you learn perfect lessons you apparently needed (which will make you feel more content and in peace).
3. Choose a perspective
There is no way to prove either of these perspective options are truth. So, they are both just ideas, but you are required to choose one. If you don’t consciously choose one, you will subconsciously choose one, and it will probably be the fear mindset, which makes you miserable. If there is no provable truth around whether you are on track or off track, so you might as well choose a mindset that brings peace.
4. Focus on improving today
Now, look at everything in front of the dot. Starting right now, in this moment, and moving forward, you have the power to make choices and create different or better circumstances. This is where you get to focus on improving. This present moment is the only moment where you have any control or power. So, make sure, in every moment, you are choosing to be both content with the past (seeing it as your perfect classroom) and motivated to do your best with whatever is in your control, in this moment, to make the future better.
5. Don't focus on the past
Do not waste any time wishing you could change the past. That is a complete waste of your time and energy. It does not good and it distracts you from the good choices you could be making right now.
6. Make goals with a positive mindset
Set optimistic intentions on what you want to create in your future. Choose to believe wholeheartedly that this intended future is possible for you. Feel confident and peaceful around this happening, but don’t attach your happiness to it. You still must stay in trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. If the future you intended and hoped for is what is best for you (your education and growth) you will get it. If what you intend is not your perfect classroom journey, you won’t get it, but that will be OK because you will always get something that is better for you in the long run.
If you find yourself unbalanced (feeling grouchy, bothered or unsatisfied) around where you are now, you know immediately you are not trusting the universe nor using your power to choose your inner state in this moment. Quickly reclaim that power, be responsible for how you are feeling, and choose a positive mindset like gratitude for what is right, optimism about the future or trust in God. How content you feel right now, is totally up to how you are thinking about it and looking at it. Change your perspective and you can change how you feel.
You can do this.
I love your radio show. It is the only reason I am not completely a mess right now. I could use some help though on a specific challenge I am going through. I feel like I need some tools to deal with disappointment. My husband’s job sent us away to live in another country and I’m miserable. I do not like living here at all. I am really struggling as I hate everything about this experience. It has meant putting my education on hold and I’m totally out of my comfort zone. There was a job opening back home and I got so excited that we could move back, and then my husband didn’t get it, which has just shattered my mental well-being. How can I cope with all of this better?
Life can be miserable, disappointing and frustrating at times, but a part of our suffering over these disappointments may be self-inflicted. Even though you cannot change the situation, we believe you can change the way you see and experience it.
The answer to lessening your suffering lies in changing your perspective about the nature of life altogether. We are going to help you do that by recommending you adopt a new policy about the nature of life: It is what it is.
If it was supposed to be something else, it would be.
If you look at the universe and the planet we live on, you will see perfect order everywhere. Everything from the smallest insect to the largest planet in the galaxy — they do what they do, when they do it, for a reason. The entire universe is perfect order, beauty and purpose. Can you see that?
Do you really think your life is an exception? Is your life really a bunch of bad luck accidents that mean nothing and serve no purpose?
There is no way to know for sure. There is no absolute, provable truth on whether there is order in your journey or it’s all just random bad luck. This means you can choose a perspective for yourself.
You can choose to believe there is perfect order in the universe and everything happens for a reason.
With this mindset you will spend your time looking for the lessons and the blessings, instead of complaining about, resisting and regretting that things aren’t different. But you are also going to have to change your expectations, which are nothing but thoughts and illusions you make up and become overly attached to. They aren’t real. You must let go of your expectations so you can make peace with life as it is.
We recommend that you get some paper and write down all the expectations you had for your life (write every small thing you expected to be different than it is). Then tie that paper to a balloon and let it float away up into the sky and let those expectations all go.
Decide to embrace what your life is right now as perfect. This doesn’t mean you give up working to make things better, though. You can keep working on improving things and finding another job in the states, while at the same time understanding that you are where you are for a reason. There is some beautiful lesson you are meant to learn by being exactly where you are right now.
Here are four more things you can do to change how you feel about your life:
1. Accept responsibility for creating the expectation that your life should be different than it is. You created this illusion so you can uncreate it. Choose a mindset based in truth about the nature of the journey. This will produce less self-pity and suffering. Live in optimism that things will get better, but also in trust that what is — is perfect, for some reason.
2. Practice gratitude. If you are going to compare your life with other people’s — at least make sure you compare yourself with those who have less or have it worse than you, not just those who have more or better. There are plenty on both sides. Choose gratitude for what you do have and count your blessings daily.
3. Accept there is meaning and purpose behind every experience. See if you can list 10 positives that the hard situation in your life has created. Look for how your experience could be improving you. Choose to focus on being a better person.
4. Understand that your journey doesn’t define you or have any effect on your value.Your current experience is just a location on your journey. It is a class you were signed up for, but it doesn’t have any bearing on who you are or your value. We believe you aren't being punished with these experiences but you are being blessed by them. You just don’t know why or how yet.
5. Forgive life for disappointing you. You might want to write a letter and vent about your disappointments. Write that you aren’t happy, but you don’t want to live in bitterness, regret, rejection, resentment, judgment, criticism and pain any longer. Choose to embrace what is — and live in love, trust, acceptance, forgiveness and peace instead.
Every moment of every day you must consciously make this choice. Some days when things are rough we live five minutes at a time. Decide for the next five minutes you will accept your situation as a blessing and choose some form of joy. The anger and sadness might creep back in, but you have the power to choose again. As you practice this it gets easier and lasts longer.
We know it’s not easy, but it is that simple.
You can do it.
"I am a 29-year-old single man, living in Utah with no family and I am often lonely. I adopted a dog three years ago and she has helped me tremendously, but still at times I get down. What advice can you give to those that are looking to be able to enjoy life to the fullest without yearning to be in a relationship? What could I do to live a more mentally healthy life and turn off the empty feeling that without a relationship, my life isn’t good enough? I see your advice tends to be more towards couples, but I hope to hear your take on this."
The idea your life isn’t complete without a relationship is just belief. Even if your religion emphasizes marriage, the truth is that many people, besides you, don’t have families and are undertaking a solo journey.
There is no universal law that states "Happiness can only happen in a relationship and being by yourself is lonely or sad." That is not truth — it’s just a belief.
How you feel about every situation in your life is dependent on your beliefs and perspectives about it. You can tell yourself that being single is sad and be depressed every day, or you can tell yourself another story. You can choose a story that focuses on the upsides to the solo journey — and there are many.
There are pros and cons to being in a relationship, and there are pros and cons to being single. One is not necessarily better, easier or worse than the other.
You could choose a story about how wonderful it is to have freedom and time to take care of yourself and do things you like to do. You can always choose to focus on the positives. You could also choose to believe you have the exact same value as every other human being on the planet, in a relationship or out.
One life outlook can make you miserable and one can make you feel better. How do you want to live?
Here are 10 other ways to increase your happiness as a single person:
1. Stay away from media that depicts happy couples, families, romance and relationships and shows they all as blissful. It’s not reality. Being in a relationship is just as hard (or harder) than being alone. It just has a different set of challenges. Be realistic about how challenging relationships can be and appreciate the good parts of having some freedom and alone time.
2. Remember you aren’t really ever alone. There are people all around you. You may not have a romantic partner, but you have friends, co-workers, family and other humans you could put effort into spending time with. Make more friends and build your circle of support.
3. Start a bucket list. But don’t stop with 10 things. Write a list of at least 150 things you would like to do, see, learn, eat or experience before you die. With a list that long you will have to get started today making your life full, interesting and fulfilling.
4. Plan trips and travel alone or invite friends to join you. Getting out and seeing the world enriches your life in ways a stable relationship never could. One isn’t better or worse they are just different.
5. Join meet up groups and take classes. Learn new things, make new friends and take on passion projects or service opportunities.
6. Get more exercise. I often ask clients to imagine their family disappeared and they were all alone in the world, what would they be doing with their time. On the top of everyone’s list is more exercise. Those are the things you need to be doing now. Spend all the time you would be putting into a relationship, taking care of yourself.
7. Eat better, be healthy and make self-care a priority. Did you know singles are more likely to be fit and healthy than people in relationships? They eat better and get more exercise. One study showed singles gained an average of 14 or more pounds when they started a relationship and singles get more sleep too.
8. Focus on what you do have. Practice gratitude daily. See the magic and beauty in the small things of life.
9. Work on your home space and make it your own. Decorate and create a space where you love to be.
10. Remember that nothing lasts forever. Every chapter of your life changes eventually. When life is dark you can count on it — the next light chapter is coming because nothing lasts.
Claim your power to choose your attitude moment by moment each day. Choose joy, choose to focus on the good in your life and count the small blessings. Even if it means choosing joy for just five minutes at a time.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show
This was first published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on adult children rejecting the parent’s religion and I agree with what you’re saying, however, my heart is still hurting. I understand my pain is all about me and that I need to just love them, but I can’t help resenting my son and his wife for causing me this pain. He is my only son and I resent his wife taking him away from the way he was raised. I find myself resenting them and not wanting to hang out with them. I don’t want to feel this way, but my heart is so sad that there will not be baby blessings, baptisms and temple marriages for my grandchildren. I'm just not sure how to bridge the gap, stop grieving and feeling so emotional about it. Thank you for any thoughts on this.
First, we want you to choose a perspective about why we are on this planet. Most people feel we are on the planet to do two things: 1. Learn, grow and become the best version of ourselves we can be and 2. To love and serve others and try to make a difference in their lives. We find these two ideas are consistent with most religions and life philosophies.
If you think these two ideas feel like truth to you, you might consider seeing life as a classroom. This philosophy means that everything that shows up in your life is there for one primary reason — to help you learn to love at a higher level.
We believe this experience might be in your life for that very reason. It has the potential to stretch you out of your comfort zone and teach you to love, forgive and accept people when it’s harder to do. It’s easy to love and accept people that are the same as us, it’s much more challenging to love those who are different. It’s especially difficult if their choices trigger fear of loss in you.
We want to make sure you really understand what a “fear of loss experience” is, as we define it. We believe there are two simple core fears which cause most of our suffering.
The first is the fear of failure and you experience this whenever you feel you aren’t good enough, or get insulted or criticized. This fear causes suffering, insecurity, stress and sadness as it makes us feel inadequate. This fear is easier to understand since you experience it to some degree every day.
Fear of failure experiences give you wonderful opportunities for growth. They can help you practice not caring what others think of you, getting your self-esteem from your intrinsic value instead of your appearance, or trusting that all human beings have the same value.
Fear of loss is also a wonderful classroom opportunity for growth. Loss is triggered whenever this moment or event (that you didn’t want to happen) is taking away from the quality of your life. If you get stuck in traffic, on the way to a big meeting, and you hate to be late — you are having a loss experience.
You can feel loss whenever people mistreat you or take from you, but you can also experience loss when life itself doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. You can feel robbed by life when you don’t get blessings or experiences other people get. Whenever you find yourself in self-pity around what you have been dealt, you are having a loss experience.
This is the most important part of this article we want to make sure you get this point – Life isn’t fair and no one gets the journey they wanted. They get the journey that fosters their growth best.
If we always got what we wanted, we wouldn’t grow, and that’s the point of the whole thing. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to throw all your expectations about how your life should look out the window now.
Life is not going to meet your expectations. It’s going to be messy, ugly, painful and even embarrassing at times. It’s going to include some wins and some losses and sometimes it’s going to pull the rug out from under you completely. If you haven’t had those experiences yet, they are probably still coming.
We are not telling you this to scare you, because life is also going to be rich, wonderful, sweet, beautiful, amazing and thrilling too. The point is it’s going to surprise you and if you stay attached to your expectations, about how it should look at each stage, this is only going to create misery.
Instead, we recommend that you choose to trust the journey, the universe, or your higher power that it knows what it’s doing. Whatever interesting twist or turn your life has taken, that you didn’t see coming or didn’t want, it has a purpose for being here, and that purpose is always to serve you.
Having your son leave your religion is definitely not what you wanted, but it’s not as bad as a lot of other challenges you could be having. Talk to some people who have a child with cancer, or a child that died, or people who have a host of other awful challenges that life can throw at people. The truth is that you still have much more to be grateful for than you have loss.
Here are some things you can do to feel better about your situation:
You can see yourself as at risk of having your life ruined, being taken from, robbed or deprived if you want to, but it will only create suffering. Or you can play with seeing yourself as whole, blessed and well. You could actually believe you can’t be deprived because the whole universe is conspiring to bless and educate you all the time. If it is always for your benefit, it’s not a loss. From this place of wholeness, it is a lot easier to love others unconditionally and let go of the pain.
Play with it and see how you feel.
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.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.