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.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
Both of these questions were in response to my last article about dealing with toxic people. I received many comments and letters from people who are dealing with destructive relationships, so I decided to discuss this further.
I have elderly grandparents and an uncle, who didn’t want anything to do with taking care of them, but the second money came to be involved in the situation he immediately jumped in and demanded they live with him and he should have control of everything. He has taken a lot of their possessions and is consumed with what he can get from the situation. I am really struggling with terrible feelings towards this uncle. The only thing I can think to do at this point is cut him completely out of my life (once my grandmother passes) so I don't have to deal or be around that type of mindset/personality anymore. Any advice or perhaps a different point of view would be helpful. Is there another way to handle this?
I have a really difficult mother-in-law who constantly puts down her son and me. I always tried to show unconditional love for her but nothing is ever good enough. My husband decided for a while not to communicate with her because it was such a toxic relationship. He has now reconnected with her, but I am very standoffish. It's not that I hold anything against her, it's more of I simply don't care to try anymore. I don't want to live with these feelings, but at the same time I just feel that I need to protect my family. I don't know if I am wrong in not trying to fix things. I feel like I don't need to have a relationship, but I don't want to do anything to hurt my kids, husband or myself. Please help.
In both of these situations you have three options.
If you choose any of the three options above from a space of fear, bitterness, anger, defensiveness, selfishness or revenge, it isn’t going to serve you. But if you choose any of the options from a space of love, wisdom, accuracy and compassion, it will probably work out well. The trick is figuring out which option you are capable of doing from love.
Here are what the three options look like from fear versus love. See which love option you feel you can handle.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and professional speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
Thank you for your articles. They are very good. My question is in regards to being a stepchild who feels they have been wronged by a stepparent. In my current state, I feel it is not worth the time and work to fix the relationship I have with my stepmother, who was verbally and physically abusive to me when I was younger. To this day, she is very difficult to talk to and openly shows favoritism to her children over me. Being an adult, I no longer fear her, but find that I am angry with her and resent her for how she treated me and still treats me. I avoid her as much as possible when visiting my father. I have tried to talk to her and tried to be her friend, but every conversation I have with her involves her talking nonstop about herself and her children. She is never interested in me or my wife and children. I cannot overcome my angry feelings towards her. My initial thought is to discuss my feelings with my father, but I do not know if this is a good choice. How do you repair relationships like this and is it worth fixing? I would love some advice.
You asked, “Is it worth the effort to fix?” Of course it is. This situation (and every situation in your life) is here as part of your perfect classroom journey so you can stretch, grow and learn from it. I believe it is not only worth it, but it's what you are meant to do.
Though, the “fix” is going to be about changing you, not her. You have no control over her or getting her to behave differently. She also has some serious problems if she abused you as a child, and she is the only one who can fix them. She really needs some professional help to deal with her fear and pain. I know this because it is only hurt people who hurt people.
You can fix this situation by changing how you see it and feel about it. You can stop letting her inability to be kind bother you because it really isn’t about you. When you get this, you will also change the way you act around her and she will probably respond to you in a more positive way.
The first step to changing how you feel is seeing her behavior accurately. It is highly likely she was abused and walked on as a child too. That abuse has created huge fears of inadequacy (failure) and being mistreated (loss) in her. These fears make her selfish and overly focused on protecting herself and getting reassurance and validation.
She was only unkind because she was miserable and scared. That was no excuse, but I want you to see that it wasn't personal. It wasn’t about you. It was about her fears about herself. She took them out on you because you were an easy target. She found that if she focused on being angry with you, it distracted her from dealing with her pain. She just didn’t have the self-esteem or strength to be loving. Her fear and pain made her selfish.
I want you to understand this because seeing her accurately is the first step in forgiving her and you must forgive her if want to stop hurting about this.
You must also understand abusive people serve a role in our classroom. They help make us into the people we are today. They make us strong and they give us the opportunity to learn to love and see our value in ourselves in spite of them. Can you identify any positives that were created in you or your life because of what she did to you? Are you a better father because you don’t want to be like her? Are you stronger because of what you survived? Are you more aware of others and go out of your way to make them feel safe?
When you can see how she served your education and growth, and acted as a teacher in your classroom, you won’t feel as angry. You also won’t see her as evil. You will just see her as a struggling, scared, suffering, student in the classroom of life, just like you. This perspective is one of wisdom, compassion and accuracy, and this should make you feel somewhat better. It should make you more capable of the next step.
Once you see the situation and her accurately you must shower her with kindness. It is the best thing you can do.
If you continue to be offended and avoid her, you are meeting her fear-based, unloving energy with more unloving energy, and that is never going to make things better. Most of us think if we act mad at someone they will feel our unhappy feelings toward them, feel guilty for hurting us and this will motivate them to change, but this doesn’t happen. Instead, they feel our dislike for them and it makes them dislike us even more. The more hurt you act the more they will mistreat you. Love is a better answer.
So, instead of acting hurt and mad, do these four things:
In your email you said, “I cannot overcome my angry feelings towards her.” But this is not true. You can let go and change how you feel. You just haven’t been ready to do it yet. You may subconsciously think you must hold onto your anger to protect yourself. A lot of abused people feel this way, but your anger is hurting you more than it’s protecting you.
I promise seeing her accurately and understanding it’s only hurt people who hurt people will help you to let it go. Being angry doesn’t hold her accountable, it is not revenge, it doesn’t protect you and it doesn’t fix or help the situation in any way. Your angry feelings are causing you to suffer. As you go through the four steps mentioned above you will be choosing trust and love over fear and you can let it go.
You also said “My initial thought is to discuss my feelings with my father, but I do not know if this is a good choice.” I would guess, at some level, your father already knows how you feel. He just doesn’t know what to do about it. He doesn't have the “people skills” to handle this or he would have. I think you are in a better position to change this — with your love — on your own.
There is a great worksheet on my website called "The To Be or Not To Be Offended Worksheet" marked with a yellow star, which may help too.
It will be a process to shift your perspective, but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach and speaker.
First published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on Spouses Who Can’t Forgive, but when the same problem happens again after your spouse has promised that it has ended. What do you do? Trust is a huge issue, how do you ever gain trust back after the continued lies and deception? Each time, I get upset, we fight, I forgive and try to forget. But then it happens again. I'm really struggling with continuing to be a forgiving spouse, when he seems determined to repeat this pattern. How should I handle this? Continue forgiving?
This is a tricky question to answer, because everyone’s situation is very different. Some marriages are struggling because of one spouse’s bad behavior, while the other spouse is doing their part to support and love. Others have an unsupportive or unaffectionate spouse, whose unloving behavior is part of the problem. I have no idea which situation you are in, but I believe that each person must check their own behavior first.
Make sure that you have honestly asked what you can do different to help your spouse to change. Are you showing them they are wanted, appreciated, admired and respected by you? I know it is difficult when they are behaving badly, but your ability to see their intrinsic value, despite their challenges, makes a HUGE difference. You can make the process of changing much easier if you are encouraging and loving. Having said that, if you have done all these things and the bad behavior continues without much effort to change it, it may be time to get realistic.
There is nothing heroic about staying with someone who is behaving badly and making no effort to change. Also remember, you are teaching your spouse how to behave by what you allow. If you continue to allow bad behavior with no real effort to change, you are going to get more of it. You are also teaching your children, by example, how to treat you and how to treat their future spouse. So if your relationship is setting a bad example and making everyone miserable, you may want to rethink staying in it.
I strongly believe you alone, though, are the only one entitled to know if you should stay with your spouse and keep fighting to make the relationship work or get out. If you listen to your heart, you will know if your perfect classroom journey is in this marriage, or if your perfect journey is elsewhere. Listen to your heart and act on it. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you what you should do.
You will know what is right for you.
If you can’t tell what your heart is saying because there is too much fear is in the way, you may need some professional help to work through the issues. If you decide to keep working on your marriage, remember that trust is like a building, which can be completely destroyed in a minute, but takes a long time to rebuild. Rebuilding takes courage, perseverance and patience. There is no quick fix.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for this process:
f you decide melted chocolate isn’t for you and your heart says it’s time to move on, don’t be afraid to make that decision. Sometimes it's better for everyone.
Follow your heart and you will know what to do.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach and speaker.
First published on KSL.COM
I read your article about not suffering more than you have to over and over again. I get and agree with everything in it except for the forgiveness part. I feel like I can absolutely NOT forgive my husband at this time, due to how severe the situation is and how hurt I still am. Do you have any advice?
I get letters daily from heartbroken men whose wives are stuck like you are stuck and not ready to forgive. It breaks my heart because these husbands desperately want to change, have changed or are working on changing, but the wives can’t let go of the past and forgive. This is causing great suffering on both sides. (I realize in some marriages it is the husbands who can’t forgive — the same principles apply.)
Forgiving your spouse can be very hard to do, especially if the offenses feel personal, but you must not make excuses and put off doing it any longer. Forgiving is the most important lesson you are here (in the classroom of life) to learn, and the consequences of putting it off are a great deal of pain and suffering for YOU and your family.
I'm sorry, but I'm going to be blunt here, "I'm not ready" is an excuse you use when you can't articulate the real reason you don't want to forgive. You need to identify the real reason you don't want to forgive so you can work past it.
Here are some possibilities:
Do you think staying angry towards your spouse protects you from further mistreatment and that forgiving would allow more of it? Is staying mad (and casting them as the bad guy) allowing you to avoid looking at your own faults, mistakes or pain?
I have had many spouses admit that if they put down their anger towards their spouse they would have to deal with their faults and that is just too painful.
Are you using anger and hurt as an excuse to keep your spouse away from you, because you actually have issues around intimacy (discomfort or lack of desire) and you would rather avoid it? Is your anger justifying or giving you a reason not to have a healthy intimate relationship — but blame it on him?
Are you waiting to see more shame and guilt before you can forgive? Do you feel like your spouse hasn’t been punished enough? The truth is it’s healthy for people to understand the wrong and then let it go and move forward without guilt. Drawing out the shame and guilt isn’t necessary for someone to change. Are you stuck in the need to be right? Have you cast your spouse as the bad one in the marriage and you must continue to see him this way in order to feel good about yourself? Be honest.
Now, here is the truth about each of those:
Remember you aren’t perfect either. Get off your high horse. Your spouse did wrong and it sounds like this was an especially painful wrong, but you aren’t perfect either. You may not have made this mistake, but you have made others, and I guarantee there is a downside to being married to you too (there is for all of us).
You must remember that you are both imperfect, struggling students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn, who both deserve forgiveness. You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing. No situation can cause you pain without your participation in it, because your thoughts and feelings 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, read my article about choosing to be upset. You must grasp the truth that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready. Your spouse is guilty of bad behavior, but he is not less of a person than you are, because you both have the same infinite and absolute value. You both have the same value no matter how many mistakes either of you make.
This is true because life is a classroom, not a test, and your value isn't on the line. That does not mean you and your spouse don't have more to learn and need to improve your behavior, but your lack of knowledge and need for improvement does not affect your value. Forgiveness is about seeing yourself and others accurately — as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots still to learn. Most of us think forgiving is about seeing people as guilty and then trying to pardon them for those mistakes. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact they are guilty.
Forgiveness will never work when it’s a gift undeserved. Real forgiveness means letting go of judgment completely and understanding that God has already forgiven all the wrongs, pain and hurt on both sides of this. The entire past has been wiped clean of all selfish, fear-based bad behavior. It is gone except for the resentment you are holding onto. It is time to let go and accept forgiveness for both of you.
You must give each other permission to be a “work in progress” and not crucify each other for mistakes. Forgiveness is the key to happiness. It is the only way to peace, confidence and security. This is just universal law. The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over every day.
What energy do you want to live in — judgment, energy or forgiveness energy?
Judgment energy means you stand in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes. If you choose this, you must understand that it will also create low self-esteem in you. This happens because you are giving power to the idea that people can be "not good enough" and this will subconsciously feel true about you too. The energy you will live in that comes with a judgment mindset is also heavy, negative and unhappy.
Your other option is a forgiveness mindset. 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) for all mistakes, and in doing so, 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 all the time. This energy that comes with this state is light, peaceful and happy.
The question is: How do you want to live?
(This obviously does not mean you should put up with abuse. If your spouse is emotionally, verbally or physically abusive, you should seek professional help.)
If you continue to struggle with forgiveness, I encourage you also to work with a counselor or coach who can help. I also have some forgiveness worksheets on my website that may help you work through specific offenses.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and speaker.
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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.