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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My life has been hard and I’ve made mistakes, I have a hard time forgiving myself and not feeling defined by my past. How do you not? How do I feel good about myself and as you say see my value as good enough?
Everything you feel comes from the way you are looking at the situation. Your perspective determines the story you tell yourself and how you feel about everything. The way you currently see your past and the feelings you have about it could completely change if you chose a different perspective.
Here are some ways you might change your perspective and look at your past differently. See if they help.
1. Choose to see life as a journey.
Imagine your life as a road trip. On this road trip there are high points and low points. Some of the experiences are fun, some are scary and others are miserable. Each of these experiences could be seen as a location on your journey through life. These experiences do not define who you are nor do they affect your value as a person. They are just places you've been. Just because you spent time traveling through Texas doesn’t make you a Texan. Texas was a location on your journey; it is not who you are forever.
2. See life as a classroom.
The thing you must understand about your past is that each experience — each location you have been through — has brought you to where you are today.
Each experience taught you things. Some experiences taught you about who you don't want to be. Some showed you options in human behavior and the consequences of those options. Each experience served a purpose in your life to help you become stronger or smarter. At least, you have the option of seeing them this way if you want to. You could choose to embrace what each experience taught you and remember that you are not there anymore.
You are a different person now. The person you are today wouldn’t make the choices you made then (though that is partly because of what you learned from making those choices before). You cannot change the past, nor should you want to. Your journey taught you important lessons. But you can refuse to let your past define you now.
3. Choose to see your value as infinite and unchangeable.
You have the option of believing every human being has the same intrinsic value and that value cannot change. This would mean that no matter what mistakes you have made, they don’t affect your value and you still have the same value as everyone else. You can see human value this way, by simply deciding to.
4. Let go of shame.
We define shame with the acronym: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. You are always a student in the classroom of life, so you can’t expect to have known everything, all along. That would make no sense. Shame is a waste of your energy. Instead, focus all that energy toward being who you want to be today.
5. Live in this moment, all the time.
There will never be a moment when it is not "this moment" and this is the only moment you have the power to make any choices. In this moment you can always choose to see yourself as good enough and let your past be experiences that taught you things and nothing else. Don’t waste time that could be filled with joy today, feeling pain over the past.
6. Focus your energy on what’s in your control.
Look at your current situation and write down what’s in your control and what’s not. Focus your time and energy only on what is.
7. Do something to metaphorically let the past go.
Write down the experiences you are having trouble letting go of emotionally. Then burn the paper, bury it, or tie it to a balloon and let it go, or rip it up and throw it in the trash.
8. Choose to trust life and the universe. Another option you have is to trust that your journey was the perfect one for you and that everything happens for a reason. Trust that you are on track and right where you are supposed and always have been. If you choose this perspective, it will change how you feel about yourself and your past.
9. Don’t worry.
Worry, guilt and stress do you no good. They will not prevent bad things from happening, and they just make you miserable. Choose to trust that good things will happen to you. Optimism may actually draw good things your way in the future because people will be more drawn to you.
10. Set aside a time each day to experience regret and guilt.
If you just can’t let the past go, choose a 15-minute block of time today to wallow in self-pity and shame. Dive in and immerse yourself in it during that time, but the rest of the day don’t think about it.
The key to a successful, happy life today lies in looking at the past, understanding it and learning from it, then, leaving it in the past and moving forward. Put the lessons you’ve learned to work by making better choices today. Choose to see the past as a location on your journey that taught you things and nothing else; do not let it define your value or who you are. If you see experiences accurately, you will be grateful for the lessons and even be empowered to be a better you.
You can do this.
Master Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders and creators of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com they are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America and iTunes.
This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Each January for the last seven years, I have written an article recommending one New Year’s resolution that would have a great impact on the quality of your life. This year we recommend forgiveness: total unconditionally forgiveness for yourself and others.
Here are some principles that will make forgiving yourself and others easier:
1. The secret to forgiving yourself lies in forgiving others.
We believe this is a profound and life-changing truth: the way you choose to see, judge, condemn or attack others also determines the way you see, judge, condemn and attack yourself.
If you are quick to see faults, flaws and mistakes in other people and you let those mistakes determine their value, or you see them as bad guys, you are giving power to the damaging idea that people can be "not good enough" and that human value is changeable and can go up and down.
If you give power to this idea, it will also affect the way you see yourself and your own value. You will also see your own value as changeable and in question, and you will constantly be afraid you aren’t good enough.
But it is human nature to subconsciously look for the bad in others, gossip and judge to make ourselves feel better. If they are the bad ones, we think we are the good one. But the more we put down, criticize or gossip about others, the worse our own self-esteem becomes. There is no escaping this cause-and-effect cycle once you start judging. But you don’t have to live this way.
You could decide to let all your and their past mistakes go, and see life as a classroom, not a test. This means letting everyone be a struggling, scared, amazing, divine, infinitely valuable, and innocent being who is doing the best they can with what they know at each moment. It means giving them and yourself the freedom to be a work in progress and not expect perfection from anyone.
You have the power to choose a compassion mindset where we are all innocent, silly, sometimes stupid, learners, whose value is (fortunately) not in question or changeable. You could decide to see all humans and their value as infinite and absolute and see every human being as having the same value. This mindset will make you feel better about yourself, and you will also treat other people with compassion. But you must give up judgment and criticism to claim this.
Start today and eliminate judging others from your life. Forgive them (whoever they are) for all their mistakes. Focus on the lessons each experience taught you, and let a higher power (or the universe) be in charge of your and their classroom journey from here. Forgive them and move forward without any anger, hurt or pain around what happened. Bless them on their way.
Of course, sometimes you have to still associate with the person. Just remember, just because you forgave them, doesn’t mean you have to trust them again or want them in your life. But you can choose to see their value as the same as yours, because you don’t want your mistakes to affect your value, either.
Forgive yourself for all your past mistakes. They were just lessons and they don’t define who you will be moving forward. Use them to become a better version of yourself in the future and let go of shame and guilt.
2. You alone are responsible for how long you stay in pain.
When a painful event happens in your life, it is normal to feel pain and suffer for a while, but eventually, you must decide how long you will live that way. No situation or person can cause you pain forever, because it is your thoughts (about the situation) that are continuing to cause the pain, and you do have control over your thoughts.
Sometimes when an offense is fresh, you will need to feel the pain and can't expect to choose your way out of it yet. But eventually, you will have the power to decide how miserable and for long you want to feel that way.
In the end, no one can take away your peace or give you peace. No one can make you feel terrible or make you feel better. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You have the power to choose peace, joy, confidence and forgiveness in any moment. Owning this truth gives you the power to not continue to hurt over an offense or feel like a failure because of a mistake.
3. Remember your family (spouse, children and relatives) are your greatest forgiveness teachers.
Your family is your primary forgiveness classroom. This is especially true because the people closest to you are the ones you allow to hurt you the most.
When you see your family life this way (as your classroom) you will finally be seeing them accurately. Every fight, offense or disappointment that shows up is a chance for you to practice seeing human value as infinite and practice forgiveness toward yourself or others.
Your family, and especially your spouse, provide you daily opportunities to stretch the limits of your love and work on forgiveness.
4. Understand how pointless shame and guilt are.
We teach our clients that "SHAME" is an acronym that stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. If life is a classroom though, shame is ridiculous. You are a student in the classroom of life, there is no way you could have known it all, all along.
Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. You are learning and growing, and have much more to learn. You are on the path of self-improvement, and wherever you are at this point is good enough for right now.
You will do better in the future, but guilt, shame and beating yourself up for months or years does you no good. It doesn’t fix the past nor create a better a future. It makes more sense to focus your energy on working to be a better person today.
5. What other people think doesn’t matter, but what you think does.
Remember, the opinions of others are just thoughts and ideas in their heads, which have no power, mean nothing, and can’t hurt you, diminish your value, or change you in any way. They may influence events in your life, but if you trust the universe is a wise teacher you won’t worry about that because you know it only brings the experiences that are right for you. Don't worry about losing out or not getting the life you wanted, and see the opinions of others as irrelevant.
But what you think of yourself and your past matters a lot.
If you see life as a classroom and your value as absolute (and forgive yourself) you will show up with confidence and love, and everywhere you go people will feel that in you and respect you in spite of your past mistakes. Even if you made BIG mistakes in the past, if other people can feel that you have learned the lessons, moved on, and you now know your value isn’t affected by them, they will tend to follow your lead and let your past go too.
If you cannot do this, however, and continue to beat yourself up, carry shame and guilt around, and feel you are less than other people, other people will feel this too, and they will also have trouble forgiving you or letting your past go. Whichever stance you claim, they will follow.
6. Write down the positives each negative experience has or is creating.
We believe forgiving works best if you shift your perspective and look at your life in trust that it has always been your perfect classroom. Trust that every offense or mistake happened, because it could teach you something. See if you can name 10 positives that making the mistake (or being hurt in that way) has created in your life. This will help you see your life as your perfect classroom journey. When you no longer resist what happened, but embrace or accept it as something that served you, you will find forgiving gets much easier.
Focus on being the most forgiving person you can be this year, toward yourself and others. This powerful choice will take pain and suffering off you, and bring the light back in. If you still struggle to let mistakes go, check out another KSL article I wrote about the benefits of not forgiving. It might help you to see why you are still holding on.
If you make this a year of forgiveness, it will also be a year of more joy, more progress and more peace.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master executive coaches and the founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com You can download free forgiveness worksheets on www.12shapes.com in the Resources Section.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was recently blindsided finding out that my spouse has cheated on me, something I never saw coming. This is the last straw though, in a long line of other problems with him and so I have decided on divorce, which I know is the right path for me. But I’m seriously heartbroken, angry and really devastated that he was unfaithful while I loved him so much. The pain of this betrayal is intense and I would love some advice for moving on and recovering from this kind of heartbreak.
The pain from betrayal is one of the roughest life experiences there is, and recovery is going to be a process and take some time. The most important thing is to be patient and kind to yourself and allow whatever emotions come up to be there. You will experience shock, anger, self-pity, shame, despair, sadness, and devastation, and these emotions will ebb and flow, coming in and out for a while.
There is no normal in trauma recovery, and the processing is different for everyone. Just don’t add any additional guilt or shame to it, by thinking you should be doing better at any point in time.
Here are some things you can do that will help you move forward:
1. Get the information and answers you need, because you do need to know what happened, how and when. Then, after you have these answers, cut off all contact, of any kind, with the other person.
Continuing contact, even through text or following them on social media, will add to the pain and can lengthen the recovery process. It is better to cut off all contact (as much as possible) and start getting used to not having them in your life. What they do now is none of your business and what you do isn’t theirs. Every time you open that door you are taking a step backward in moving on.
2. Don’t seek revenge.
It might seem like a good idea at first, but in the long run, you will be happier if you take the high road and be a person you are proud of.
3. Understand what is normal in dealing with betrayal and loss.
Searing emotional pain, exhaustion, sleeping too much, not being able to sleep, loss of appetite, comfort eating, anxiety attacks, brain fog, and even dizziness are all normal. Don’t worry this will pass (it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.) You will survive this and the pain won’t last.
4. Make your home or space fresh, new, more organized, or different or consider moving.
You need to reclaim your space as your own and remove anything that reminds you of your ex. You might repaint, rearrange furniture, clean out closets, sell your old stuff and buy new used stuff, anything to create a fresh, new feel and to move towards your new life.
5. Focus on self-care.
Put all the energy you used to put into loving them, into loving you. During this time, you need to give yourself permission to pamper yourself. Do things that fill you up and make you feel good and cared for. Plan time with friends, take bubble baths, get massages, take a vacation, exercise, eat healthy food, anything that is caring and compassionate towards yourself.
6. Make time for emotion processing journaling.
This can be the best therapy and it’s free. Spend time writing all your feelings and thoughts. There is a free worksheet of journaling topics at this link.
7. Make time to relax.
Your stress level is high at this time and meditation, yoga, listening to music, deep breathing, feeling the sun on your face, or enjoying nature will help.
8. If you must go back to work right away, create an imaginary room in your head.
All day when the sad, angry, grieving feelings show up, put them in the room and lock the door. Don’t deal with them now. Then each night, give yourself a specific amount of time to go into that room and feel them all. This might be a good time to journal too.
9. Start a long bucket list.
We recommend one that has at least 150 things on it. List out everywhere you would like to travel, everything you want to learn, every adventure, activity and person you would like to meet.
10. Take a break from your normal routine.
If you were ill or had a death in the family you would take some time off, but with emotional trauma, we don’t allow ourselves to have that. You are going through trauma and you may really need some time out of the rat race to recover.
Cut back to the bare essentials and don’t expect yourself to perform at normal standards. Your thinking will also be slower and you may have less bandwidth to deal with your life. That is normal and won’t last forever. Be patient with it.
11. When you are ready, create a new social life and get out there, have fun, go on adventures and create a life that is joyful and fun.
Find some new friends, look for meetup groups around things you are interested in, find fun things going on in your community and get out there.
12. Don’t jump back into dating too soon.
You are recovering from a major loss and will have some trust issues for a while. Give yourself time to get your balance, confidence and strength back before you’re ready to take on new relationships.
13. Find a support system of people who can help you process loss in a healthy way.
Beware of friends whose comments pull you further into despair or self-pity. Look for friends who validate you, but also help you to feel optimistic about the future.
14. Don’t use substances or food to deal with the pain.
Pain like this has to be processed and felt. If you numb out now, you are only delaying it. At some point, you will have to go through. It’s better to feel it now and move forward sooner.
15. Consider talking to a coach or counselor.
If the pain or despair gets too much reach out to a mental health professional or a coach who can give you skills and tools to process your way through.
There is no easy way through this, unfortunately, but doing these things will help. Know in the end nothing that happens can change your value. You have the same value as everyone else, no matter what.
Don’t worry about what anyone thinks about you either — this experience doesn’t define you or mean you are broken or not enough. It’s just a lesson and can end up serving you in some way if you choose to look for the positive.
Hang in there — you can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches with 30 combined years experience in helping individuals and families create healthy relationships and learn the skills and tools to get through life.
This was first published on KSL.com
How do I learn to forgive? I don't understand why it's so difficult for me to let go and forgive others. I find myself wanting to cut the people, who have hurt me, out of my life. It's like I'm trying to sweep it under a rug and forget the hurt, but I can’t, which I know isn't healthy. How can I get past my anger and really move forward?
We believe the problem is not in your ability to let go, but in your need to hold on to the grudge. There is a reason you (and most of us) struggle with forgiveness. The fact is there are very real benefits to staying mad or hurt. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest about why you might want to stay offended.
Which of these anger excuses are in play for you?
Forgiving also becomes easier when you adjust your perspective and make sure you see yourself, the other person, and the situation accurately. We see them inaccurately when we see them through a story we have created around them, which can distort the truth.
To see yourself, the other person and the situation accurately you have to first realize your value is infinite and absolute and does not change as a result of this mistreatment. Your value comes from the fact that you are an amazing, divine, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable soul. Your value cannot change and you cannot be diminished. No matter what someone else does or says about you, you are the same you and what they did to you doesn't change your value.
The tricky part is, the other person, the one who offended you, also has infinite value and their worth doesn’t change because of this incident either and you must embrace this truth if you are ever going to feel better. If you want this principle of infinite value to be true for you, it has to also be true for them.
In order to become bulletproof and move forward from this offense, you must know who you are, claim your value, and refuse to let anything diminish you, and you have to also let go of judgment, and stop casting them as not good enough. Also remember that holding onto anger, hurt and angst doesn't do you any good. It doesn't punish the other person, it doesn't protect you, and it doesn't make you feel any better.
Choosing to forgive and let things go makes you feel better. When you claim the power to release the resentment, you will feel strong, mature and wise. It takes a pretty amazing person (with a lot of strength) to love people who don't deserve it.
That doesn't mean you trust this person again though — it just means you choose to love them, in and with their flaws and mistakes, even if you need to do this from afar. Not having them in your life is still a healthy option within your forgiveness.
After you are more accurate about your own value, you must work to see the offender and their behavior accurately. Ask yourself why did they hurt or mistreat you? What was really going on in their world that motivated the bad behavior?
We believe that like all of us, the person who hurt you is probably terrified they aren't good enough and they are afraid of being taken from or mistreated too. These fears can create immature, selfish and unkind behavior. They can keep you focused on your own needs and prevent you from showing up for other people.
When you look underneath the mistreatment and see the fear that’s driving it — we believe you will see this person as desperately scared, which will create more compassion for them. Perhaps this person made you the bad guy in their story, so they could feel superior, and relieve their terrible fear of not being enough. Can you see that dynamic in this situation?
Most people are doing the best they can with what they know at the time. The problem is they don’t know much about how their fears affect them, so their behavior is lacking.
Most people do not plan to hurt us though, and they don’t have bad intentions or malice. They are usually intending to be kind people, they just get afraid and may behave badly or say the wrong thing at times. Can you see this intention in the person who hurt you?
However, some people do intend to hurt us, but it is more uncommon. If you encounter this type of person, you must also see them accurately and understand they just aren't capable of better behavior, and it isn't about you.
Once you have realigned your perspective, you can then see your life accurately, understand life is a classroom and this person, who offended you, therefore showed up to teach you something.
The people who hurt us are important teachers, because they give us a beautiful opportunity to step into more mature, loving and wise behavior. This situation might be giving you a chance to step back and gain a more mature mindset, learn how to forgive or overcome your fears. Ask yourself these important questions, “What could this situation be here to teach me? How could it make me stronger, wiser or more loving?”
This situation may also be here to show you things about yourself. It might be showing you how strong your fear of failure (not being good enough or approved of) is, so you can work on it. This other person might be serving as a mirror for you, to show you things about yourself you need to see. We believe you can absolutely trust this experience is here to serve you. Your life is a divine process created for your benefit and growth. Your life, and every situation in it, is about you becoming a better person.
When you can see yourself, the other person and this situation accurately, it will change how you feel and experience this offense, and it will become easier to forgive.
If you still can’t forgive, you may be stuck in your fear and in one of the anger excuses mentioned above. You may want to reach out to a counselor or coach who can help you overcome your own self-esteem and resentment issues. We believe your fear of not being good enough might be keeping you in this defensive, protective, angry mindset. If you improve your own self-esteem first, forgiving will get easier.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches behind the 12 Shapes Relationship System and Claritypoint Coaching. Visit http://www.upskillrelationships.com/worksheets to get the To Be or Not To Be Upset Worksheet - a great free tool.
My ex-husband hurt me so deeply I cannot even express the depths of my anger, hurt and devastation. He has moved on and is happy in a new relationship, but I can’t seem to stop hating him and wishing horrible things would happen to both of them. I think I would feel better if he would just get what he deserves, but his life is just grand and happy instead. How can I stop being so bothered and angry at them for being happy while I’m not? People say I should forgive for me, but I can’t even see how that is possible. Help me.
There is a reason you (and most of us) struggle with forgiveness. The fact is there are very real benefits to staying mad or hurt. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest about why you might want to stay mad.
Forgiveness may feel impossible right now, but that is because you think forgiveness means something it doesn’t mean. You think it means pardoning the offense or saying it’s OK that he hurt you. But it is not OK, it was wrong, and this fact is keeping you stuck.
But there is another way to approach forgiveness that involves looking at this situation in a different way, which will completely change how you feel about it. It comes down to choosing one of two mindsets about life. You need to examine which of these is your current life perspective, and consciously choose which way you really want to live
(If you don’t make a conscious choice about your life perspective, your subconscious mind will choose for you, and it might make a bad choice.)
The first mindset option is a judgment and condemnation mindset. In this place you believe life is a test and we (human beings) must earn our value. Here, any mistakes we make count against that value, which means some people end up being better than other people. With this mindset you see human value as changeable, based on our behavior, appearance, property, etc. In this place there is judgment, criticism, attack, gossip, guilt and a constant fear that you aren’t good enough because you believe that is possible. This fear mindset makes you focus on the bad in others and cast them as worse than you so you can feel better. This mindset creates anxiety, insecurity and fear of failure. If you choose this mindset you will struggle to forgive others because you must condemn them to feel safe and good about yourself. (This is where most of the world lives, but it doesn’t sound too enjoyable, does it?)
The second option is a trust and forgiveness mindset. In this place you believe life is a classroom, where humans are here to learn and grow. In a classroom you can erase any mistakes and try again, and no mistake affects your value. Here everyone has the exact same intrinsic worth and that worth cannot change no matter what bad choices we make. Bad choices just sign us up for some interesting lessons and create educational consequences we get to work through, but we still have the same value as everyone else.
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, hurts and mistreatment happen to make you stronger, wiser and more loving, and you can trust there are reasons and purpose in having them. Here, you can see the positives that each negative experience creates and you are grateful for the strength and wisdom you gain from them. Here, you don’t need to condemn others to feel safe, because you understand you are all safe the whole time. You understand your value is infinite and absolute and so is theirs. Here, forgiveness is easy because you trust God that you can’t be diminished and your journey is always the perfect classroom for you. You trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing, and from here it is easy to let offenses go and forgive.
The question is, “how do you want to live?”
Holding onto anger and judgment is like reaching into a fire to grab a hot coal to throw at your enemy, even though you are the one being burned. It would make a lot more sense to pour water on the whole thing and let it wash away. A trust and forgiveness mindset is the water.
Staying in condemnation of others is like choosing to be the warden guarding the prisoners at the jail (making them stay guilty) even though neither of you can ever leave. If you stay at your post to keep them in, you are still there with them (in prison) the whole time.
Let yourself out of prison, even if it means letting them leave too! Choose to let everyone out and do it for selfish reasons — because you want a better, happier life, free from pain.
Remember, forgiveness is not about pardoning the guilty or saying it’s OK that they hurt you. It is about choosing to see life as a classroom and seeing all human beings as divine, amazing, scared students in the classroom of life whose poor choices are driven by misconception, fear, confusion and stupidity but whose value is the same no matter what. It is about choosing to see every experience in your life as something that happened to serve your education. If the hurtful experience served you on some level, does it make sense to stay mad about it?
This is the one point in this article I want to make sure you get. You must choose a forgiveness mindset if you want to ever feel good about yourself. You must choose to see everyone as a guiltless student for you because it is the only way you can escape your own fear of not being good enough and create peace.
If you insist on staying in judgment and condemnation, you will be giving power to the idea that humans can fail and not be good enough, and this will have to be true for you too.
If you choose to give power to the idea that human value is infinite and not tied to our mistakes, that counts for you too. Remember, there are no benefits to not forgiving that are worth feeling horrible yourself.
There is a High Level Forgiveness Formula worksheet on my website that would also help you shift your perspective. Make sure you answer every question on paper and process your resistance to forgiving.
You can do this!
My spouse hates her mother. She hasn't seen or spoken to her in nearly a decade and still says she is not ready to forgive her. I try to visit her mother with our kids when I can. My youngest is getting baptized and I invited her to his baptism and my wife is furious. I feel like the baptism is not about my wife; it's about my son and he wants his Grandma there. My wife is threatening to not attend the baptism. What should I do? I need help!
See if you can get your mother-in-law to write a sincere apology letter to your wife. Make sure the letter honestly owns her mistakes and asks for forgiveness. Then give the letter to your wife along with this article. Tell her you reached out to me only because you didn’t know what else to do because you don’t want her to suffer anymore. Ask her to read it all and consider the possibility that she could feel differently.
But, keep in mind that you can’t push your wife into forgiveness. It has to come from her heart in order to be real. She must change her mind to see this whole mess differently. All you can ask is that she be willing to read some things and think about it.
It’s very important that she doesn’t feel judged by you for struggling with this. She has every right to be where she is. Your job is to forgive her for struggling to forgive her mom.
We are all here (on earth) to learn and grow, and our main objective here is to learn to love ourselves, God and other people at a deeper level. If this is true, forgiving is the most important lesson. It’s easy to love people who are kind and good to us. Loving people who hurt us is a challenge that pushes us to the limits of our loving abilities. Forgiving your enemies makes you stretch and grow.
If you are going to change how you feel about an offense, you must learn to look at the situation in a new way. I’m going to help you do that. You may feel like you aren’t ready, but "I'm not ready" is usually 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 don't want to forgive first, so you can work past it.
Here are some possibilities:
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 (by God) 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?
You may also want to download some of the forgiveness worksheets on my website to help you change your perspective.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I’ve been with my fiancé for 5 years now. In those 5 years, there has been some unfaithfulness and pain she has caused me several times. I will go for long periods of time where I can be happy and just love her but every so often that pain comes up again. Something small can remind me of the hurt she caused and I’m back to square one. I want to truly forgive her so I can be a good husband and won't constantly remind her of what she did to me. But I am still fearful she will hurt me again. Though, I do not want to be. Do you have any steps or any advice for me to get completely healed, so I can love and forgive 100 percent? Please help in any way that you can.
If you can’t let go of the past and forgive, you cannot have a healthy relationship. Healthy, loving relationships are built on a foundation of trust, admiration for each other’s character, respect and appreciation. If you don’t have these things, you won’t be happy and the marriage won’t work.
But, I would advise you to take a minute and make sure trusting this person is a good idea first. These feelings could be your intuition telling you this person can’t be trusted. Because there was infidelity more than once, just make sure your distrust comes from irrational fear, not your intuition warning you there is a problem. I wrote an article on When your intuition says your spouse is cheating you might want to read. It explains how to tell the difference between intuition and fear. If you are sure your distrust is fear (and, therefore, your problem to overcome) follow the advice in this article.
Here are some ideas to make forgiving faster:
1. Understand you are responsible for your pain. No situation or person can cause you pain. You choose it because your thoughts and your attitude are in your control. No one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, download the To Be or Not To Be Upset Worksheet on my website. You must understand you are in control if you haven’t let go of this issue, and it is because the fear has driven part of you that wants to hold onto it. What does holding onto anger about this give you? Answer that question to make sure ego isn’t in play and you don’t have some victim issues. You could subconsciously benefit from your victim story and you could need some help to change that.
2. Choose the perspective that life is a classroom. If this is true, life is constantly conspiring to educate you (make you stronger, wiser and more loving) and this experience is a perfect lesson in your classroom for some reason. It might be here to deepen your loving abilities or teach you how to forgive (the most important skill needed to create a good marriage). If you see your past experiences as your lessons, ones you apparently needed, you won’t take her behavior so personally. It wasn’t really about you being good not enough or you her inability to love you, it was a lesson to help you both grow and become strong enough to make a good marriage work now. At least you could choose this perspective as your story if you wanted to and you will feel more peace about it. Everything you experience is filtered through perspective, so you might as well choose a perspective that serves you, rather than a fearful one.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.This is true because your intrinsic value as a human being cannot change (at least that is a perspective I highly recommend). Forgiveness is easier when you see yourself and other people as innocent, struggling, scared, messed up, but still perfectly valuable students in the classroom of life with lots to learn.
This is a very different way to go about forgiveness. The old way is to see someone as guilty and condemn them for their mistakes, and then try to pardon them, because you know you should. This never really works because you are always hung up on the fact that they are guilty. Forgiveness is easier when you let go of judgment altogether and choose to see both of you as infinitely valuable students in the classroom of life, who have nothing to fear because your value isn’t in question. Every mistake is a lesson, but it doesn’t change your value. This idea may take some work to internalize but it will make forgiving much easier. Choose to remind yourself often that all people have the same value.
4. You get what you give. You must give innocence and infinite value to the other person if you want it for yourself. You can’t have it both ways. You can live in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes if you want to, but if you choose this, you will always experience low self-esteem yourself too. This happens because you are choosing a judgment mindset, and giving power to the idea that people can be NOT good enough and if you choose this, it will always affect how you see yourself too.
Your other option is to forgive everyone and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake you or they make. Choose to see both as innocent and forgiven by perfect love, and let them and yourself start over with a clean slate every day. If you choose this you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself. Every time you choose a judgment or mindset remember that you reap what you sow. Choose forgiveness because you want it too.
5. You create what you believe. If you choose distrust and fear your fiance doesn’t really want you, you may literally push her feelings that direction. This happens because your distrust will make you behave in a suspicious, fear based way (that isn’t loving) and this unloving, suspicious behavior will eventually make her fall out of love with you. If you choose distrust you will be the poison that kills your relationship. If you choose to trust and behave in a loving way every day, you could be the love that makes the relationship work and keeps her there. Choose trust because it creates what you want to happen.
6. Bury the past. I recommend you both write down all the past mistakes that you are still holding against each other. Then get a box and put all those mistakes inside it. Together find a spot to bury the box and bury it deep. Commit to each other to let the past go and promise to never bring up anything in that box again unless you are willing to dig up the box first. This is a great way to commit to forgiveness.
There is also a Forgiveness Formula Worksheet on my website which may also help you forgive faster. You may want to fill that out.
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
My wife seems to love our children a lot more than she likes me. She isn’t enthusiastic about intimacy either, and this is a great disappointment to me. Because I don’t feel loved, I find myself frustrated and even angry towards her. I know I hurt her feelings sometimes, but I’m not happy, and this isn’t the marriage I wanted. Having said that, I also don’t want to leave. I want to keep my family together. I am trying to forgive and love her as she is, but it is hard. How am I supposed to deal with this? Is there any way to encourage her to change?
It sounds like what you want is to feel more important, loved and wanted by your wife. The trick to making this happen is to get rid of disappointment. I know it sounds illogical, but your disappointment can be relationship poison that does further damage and infuses your relationship with fear (of failure and loss).
The truth is we are all disappointed in our spouses at some level, because no one is perfect and anyone you marry is going to have some faults and flaws. There is a down side to being married to everyone, even you. When you become frustrated with your spouse’s flaws they feel this and subconsciously pull away from you to protect themselves.
This happens because all of us are battling two core fears every day, which cause most of our pain and bad behavior. The first is a fear of failure (the fear that we aren’t good enough) and this is our deepest and most painful fear, but fear of loss (the fear of missing out, being robbed or mistreated) is also painful and scary.
When you or your spouse experience either of these fears, you end up in a selfish space where your focus is primarily on yourself and getting what you need. In this space you are literally incapable of love. You can’t do fear and love at the same time.
I would guess you are both living in fear and therefore not giving enough love to the other. Your wife is probably afraid she isn’t good enough (most women are) which could make her less comfortable with intimacy. Her disinterest in spending time with you triggers your fear of loss. When you feel loss you then act disappointed in her, which makes her feel like a failure even more. This can become a vicious cycle and suck the love from the relationship.
This is fixable, but it is going to require a shift in your perspective, some forgiveness and a commitment to being more loving and validating than you ever have before. Here are some things you can do to create more positive feelings, less fear and less disappointment in your marriage:
1. Allow your emotions in and sit with them. Take some time to experience the disappointment you are feeling. You may want to journal about your feelings so you have a chance to express them without further hurting your spouse. What expectation did you have that is causing your greatest pain?
2. Ask yourself, "Are these emotions going to create what I want?" What is it going to create if you keep telling yourself this story of disappointment and continue to feel anger and resentment toward your spouse? Is this going to motivate your spouse to give you what you want?
The answer is no, it won’t. Holding onto feelings of disappointment toward your spouse will only trigger more fear of failure in your spouse, which will actually make her less loving toward you. Fear, sadness, self-pity, begging, blaming, nagging and sulking do not create loving feelings. These are fear and lack behaviors, which only create more fear and lack.
If you want more love you have to give love, encouragement, praise, appreciation, admiration, respect and kindness. These create more love.
3. Ask yourself, "How can I create what I want?" We recommend you try the encouragement approach and shower your spouse with appreciation, respect, admiration and praise. Instead of focusing on your disappointment, write on paper all the good things about her and who she can be and choose to focus on those. The opposite of disappointment is gratitude. Show your spouse you are grateful to have her in your life and mean it!
We have found that when a person feels greatly loved, appreciated, admired and wanted, they become a lot more giving back. Tell her how lucky you are to be married to her and make sure you are not being loving with strings attached. You cannot expect anything back. You must build her up and give to her because you are working on becoming a more loving person, not just to get what you want. If you will consistently show up for her and give more, it should start to change how she feels about you.
(If you try these things for a long time and still get nothing back, you may then decide this relationship isn’t working for you. But don’t throw in the towel until you have done your part to give love, to the best of your ability first.)
4. Never cast your spouse as the bad one. It is human nature to want to see others as worse than us. We subconsciously do this because casting anyone else as the bad one makes us feel like the good one, but this is rarely accurate. And all human beings have the same infinite, intrinsic worth and deserve to be treated and respected as your equal. You must also remember that though you may not have the same flaws as your spouse, you do have flaws. Committing to see your spouse as the same as you, especially during conversations with her, will make her feel safer and less defensive. Admit when you are wrong, apologize often and let your spouse see your heart is soft, teachable and open. This will create a safer space for her to do the same.
Seeing her as the bad one will not make her want more intimacy either. We like and are drawn to the people who like us. Show her she is wanted, admired and liked, and she will grow more and more fond of you again.
5. Trust that your life is the perfect classroom for you. You are here to learn and grow, and your marriage is the class that will teach you the most important lessons on love. We always marry our greatest teacher (for better or worse) we sign up for this class. This person is going to help you grow by pushing your buttons, triggering your fears and thus help you to stretch and become stronger, wiser and more loving. That is the real purpose of this relationship. (I know this because it's the purpose of our whole journey.)
So, figure out and focus on the lessons your unique marriage experience (with your spouse) could be meant to teach you. This is your opportunity to grow in love, strength and wisdom. Marriage is hard because you get to see the very worst of another person, and they get to experience the worst of you, yet you both must learn to forgive and accept each other anyway. This is a challenge, but you are meant to conquer it. You can do this.
The more you accept this person and this situation as your perfect classroom and focus on improving you, the better the relationship will be. Once you have created a more safe and loving space in your marriage, you can then communicate with your spouse about what you want to change. You should ask her what you can do better to make her happier and then share what you would really appreciate in the future from her. Just don't have these conversations while in fear and judgment. Communicate only when you are firmly grounded in trust and love.
Get a free worksheet to help you process disappointment or take the free fear assessment and start working on your fear issues here.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the CEO of claritypointcoaching.com and an expert in simple psychology. Kristena Eden is a Claritypoint certified coach who works with couples and families.
This was first published on KSL.com
I always read your articles and think they are great, but I’ve been hoping you would address guilt, which works on me much like worry. It hangs over me all the time and makes me feel like I’ll never be worth anything. Do you have advice for someone who is haunted by guilt?
Guilt is actually much worse than worry. Worry is at least about the future, a place where you have some control. Guilt is angst about the past, a place where you have no control and cannot change anything (which is why it produces such awful feelings of despair). You blew it and you can't fix it.
You only have two choices at this point. You can spend your days in regret wishing you could change the unchangeable, which is a waste of your time and energy. Or you can learn to forgive yourself and get focused on creating a better future. Obviously you should choose the latter, if you know how to do it.
Here are some secrets to finally making it happen:
Change the way you determine the value of a person
Every person on the planet has one inaccurate, subconscious belief, which causes more trouble than any other. It is the belief that your value as a person is changeable. This would mean you can earn more value through your appearance, performance or what other people think of you, and you can also lose value if you fail in those areas.
This an idea which most of us have accepted as truth and it leads us to seeing some people as “better” than others and creates a terrible fear of failing. It makes life feel like a test to determine your value. But this idea is not truth, it is just a perspective, which means you could change it. You could choose to see human value a different way if you wanted to. (I recommend changing this immediately because this belief is hurting you.)
You could instead choose to see all human beings as having the same, infinite, absolute value that is based on their uniqueness, as an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, divine souls. You could embrace this idea as truth and decide your appearance, performance and the opinions of others don’t affect your value at all. You could see them as interesting lessons, but trust your intrinsic value doesn’t change, because it is set by God and is therefore absolute.
You could choose to see life as a classroom, not a test, where your mistakes don’t affect your value, but are lessons to make you stronger, smarter and more compassionate. You signed up for these lessons (by making mistakes) because they were the exact lesson you apparently needed. This doesn’t mean you should keep making them. You should learn the lesson, make amends where you can, and move on, but separate the mistakes (lessons) from your value. This powerful change in perspective may take a little while to get your head around, but it will change your life when you get it.
The secret to forgiving yourself lies in forgiving others
This is a profound and life changing universal truth you must understand. The way you choose to see, judge and condemn others determines the way you will see, judge and condemn yourself.
If you are quick to see the faults, flaws and mistakes in others and let those mistakes determine their value, and even condemn them as bad guys or not good enough, you will be giving power to the idea that people can be “not enough” and fail. If you give power to this idea, it will also determine the way you see yourself. It will create a great fear of failing in you and you will be constantly focused on your faults, flaws and mistakes too. They will haunt you.
The more shame you experience around your mistakes, the more you will look for the bad in others to make you feel better. The more you put down, criticize or gossip about others, the worse your own self-esteem will be — and around and around you will go. There is no escaping this cause and effect, it is just how universal law works. You don't want to live this way.
If you want to feel better about yourself and let your past mistakes go, you must decide to see life as a classroom and let everyone (including yourself) be a struggling, scared, amazing, divine, infinitely valuable, innocent being who is doing the best they can with what they know at the time. You must choose a compassion mindset where life is a classroom and we are all innocent, silly, sometimes stupid learners, whose value is fortunately not on the line. This mindset will make you feel much better about yourself and you will also treat other people with compassion and understanding.
Start today and eliminate judging others from your life. Forgive them for their mistakes by focusing on what lessons you learned. When you eliminate anger and blame, you will also eliminate shame. (There are some great forgiveness formula worksheets on the resources page of my website that could help you with this.)
Understand how pointless shame and guilt are
I teach that "shame" is an acronym that stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. If life is a classroom, shame is ridiculous. You are a student in the classroom of life. There is no way you could have known it all all along. Give yourself permission to have been an imperfect work in progress. You were learning and growing. You are on the path of self improvement, and that is enough. Understand that guilt, shame and beating yourself up for years does no good. It doesn’t fix the past nor create a better a future. It makes more sense to focus on who you want to be today.
What other people think doesn’t matter, but what you think does
Remember the opinions of others are just thoughts and ideas in their heads, which have no power, mean nothing and can’t hurt you, diminish your value or change you in any way. (They may influence events in your life, but if you trust the universe is a wise classroom, you won’t worry about that, because it only brings experiences if they are your perfect lesson.) But what you think of yourself matters a lot.
If you see life as a classroom and your value as absolute, you will show up with confidence and people will feel that and respect you, in spite of your mistakes. Even if you made BIG mistakes in the past, if other people can feel that you have learned the lessons, moved on and now know your real value, they will tend to follow suit and let your past go.
If you cannot do this however, and continue to beat yourself up, they will feel this too, and they will also have trouble forgiving you.
Gary Zukav, who wrote "Seat of the Soul," said, “By choosing your thoughts and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others and the nature of the experiences of your life.”
I believe forgiving works best if you shift your perspective and look at your life in trust that it has always been your perfect classroom. Trust this mistake experience happened because it could teach you something. See if you can name 10 positives that making the mistake has created in your life. This will help you see it as your perfect classroom journey. Then focus on being the most forgiving person you can be. The more you forgive others and allow them to be innocent, struggling students with much more to learn, the better you will feel about yourself.
That is the secret.
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.