First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares the different ways we argue, forgive and apologize — and how to honor each other's needs.
According to Gary Chapman, the author of "The Five Love Languages," each of us have a specific way we give and receive love. Likewise, we have a way we apologize and forgive best.
In my book, “The People Guidebook: For Great Relationships,” I explain how your unique values and fears make you different from other people and drive your behavior. In putting these different ideas together, I discovered there are four different ways we argue, forgive and apologize in communication with other people.
Read the “fighting styles” below to figure out the style that works best for you so you can see the pros and cons of it. You may also want to figure out the fighting style of your spouse, another family member or friend, as this will help you to resolve conflict and have difficult conversations in a way that works for both of you.
The 4 fighting styles
1. Long communicators with connection needed
These people are long talkers and always have lots to say, so they can argue or converse about a problem for a long time. This is fine, unless they are fighting with someone who is a short communicator (who can get easily overwhelmed or worn out by long talkers).
Long talkers often have a tendency toward a victim mentality and sometimes struggle to accept any blame or responsibility for a problem. They usually see themselves as the injured party. These people can get mean and ugly if pushed in an argument (which can be scary for less passionate and/or quieter people).
These people usually have lots of friends and highly value their connections. They often cannot resolve something and move on until they feel a close, caring connection has been restored. It’s easier for them to accept an apology after the person has taken responsibility for the slight or asked for forgiveness, or they have received validation about their feelings and feel cared for and reconnected again
2. Long communicators with restitution needed
These people are long talkers who need a person to restore their loss before they can let things go. They are very good communicators who can keep arguing for a long time. They are so good with words that they can twist the other person’s words around and use them against that other person.
These people tend to be very opinionated and stubborn. They have very black-and-white, right-and-wrong thinking styles, with no room for gray area. They are also very logical and practical (meaning not very emotional and sensitive) in how they see things. They can struggle to understand another person’s feelings if those feelings don’t make sense to them.
These people struggle to accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from.
3. Short communicators with validation needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out arguments, so don’t subject them to hours and hours of conversation. If you talk too much, they will start to shut down and will often say anything they have to just to make the conversation stop. If it doesn’t stop, they will pull back or leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people don’t like mean, ugly, personal attacks or fighting that is loud and scary. These are quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Angry criticism makes these people feel very unsafe. They need lots of positive validation before and after anything negative is mentioned.
The secret to engaging with these people is laying the ground rules before you engage. Tell them three things: how long this conversation will last (i.e. “30 minutes and no more, I promise”), how painful this is going to be (i.e. “I promise this is not an attack and you will get to give me feedback here too”), and what you are going to ask for in the end (i.e. “In the end, I am only going to ask you to change one little thing”). If you set up rules of engagement and stick to them, short communicators are more likely to stick with you and work things out.
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has given them some positive validation about how good they are. If they feel like a failure at the end, they will struggle to forgive you.
4. Short communicators with restitution needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out fights or arguments because they don’t have the patience for them. They are more likely to tell you off and then leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people can get mean, ugly, loud and scary, but they won’t stay in that emotional state for a long time. They will explode and then cool down. This behavior can scare quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Sometimes it will work best if you will let them explode and be mean, and then let them cool down before returning to the issue.
The secret to engaging with these people is to establish rules of engagement. Tell them the same three things from above: how long this conversation will last, how annoying or emotional this conversation is going to be (try to stay logical and practical), and what you are going to ask for in the end (let them know it won’t be asking for much).
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from, apologies won’t matter until the loss has been restored or they see you have really been acting differently.
This information might be a game-changer in your relationship, because arguments and difficult conversations are only productive when both parties feel respected, heard, understood, and honored for their right to be them. You want to practice the Platinum Rule to treat people the way they want and need to be treated (not the way you want to be treated).
Don’t assume that the way you show up and handle yourself is the right way. It’s just a different way. Everyone has the right to be wired the way they are wired. Respect that and honor their differences and you can easily resolve most problems.
You can do this.
first published on KSl.COM
My marriage is struggling, and over and over one of us gets defensive and we give each other the cold shoulder for days. It is so hard to get back to love and feeling good when we feel offended, insulted or mistreated so often. Once those walls go up it’s so hard to get past them. What can we do to stop this cycle and end the constant offending and fighting?
First of all, I need to clarify that the answer in this article is for the person asking the question above, and in their relationship there is no abuse happening. The fighting is garden variety offenses and grouchy behavior where they trigger each other and get bothered on a regular basis. Obviously, if your partner is abusive, the mistreatment needs to be addressed and stopped immediately, and I encourage you to reach out for professional help.
If you and your partner get defensive all the time and often feel like the other person is the enemy, this article is for you.
People tend to get defensive when they feel mistreated, insulted, criticized, taken from or unvalued by the other person. These experiences make a person feel unsafe and threatened; in this state, a person tends to believe he or she has to defend or protect themself from the threat. But a sense of safety with one’s partner often has more to do with what he or she believes about themself than it does with how their partner treats them.
If you get defensive easily and often, you may feel unsafe in the world generally. You might have started feeling unsafe long before your partner showed up in your life. It might also be helpful to check for the following behaviors, which are signs of living in a subconscious fear state all the time, which means you might have a tendency to get defensive faster than the average person:
If you function in a fear state — always looking for slights — you cannot make your partner solely responsible for you feeling defensive. You can still bring up and discuss slights, but you should first run through the process below to make sure you are seeing the situation accurately. You should also seek out some coaching or counseling to work on your fear-based programming.
The 10-step process
When you feel slighted, insulted and/or defensive, follow these steps:
1. Own that you are feeling defensive, which means you don’t feel safe. Remember that your sense of safety with your partner may have more to do with what you believe about yourself and your life than you think. This means you must acknowledge that no one can make you feel unsafe without your participation at some level. Just be willing to own that your fears of failure and loss could be in play.
2. Ask the other person if they feel unsafe and defensive, too. Acknowledge that you understand that feeling and feel the same way. Acknowledge that this will be harder to resolve while you are both unbalanced and fear-triggered.
3. Agree that you are both safer than your feelings and your subconscious programming may believe. You both love each other and you both want this relationship to work.
4. Decide to be two people against the problem, not two people against each other. Agree to approach the problem by listening to how and why your partner feels the way they do. Commit to being willing to listen and really understand instead of trying to win.
5. Recognize your own fear trigger. Have you been fear of failure triggered — where you feel insulted or attacked by something, making you afraid you aren’t good enough? Or have you been fear of loss triggered — where you feel mistreated and/or taken from, ming you afraid you aren’t safe? Which are you struggling with right now? Knowing this will help you get balanced again.
7. Now you are ready to talk about the issue that started the defensiveness. Be willing to ask questions about what happened and how your partner feels Listen for the purpose of understanding them. Keep asking questions and listening (without sharing your thoughts) until you can tell they feel really heard and validated.
8. Ask if your partner would be willing to listen to you and give you time to explain your thoughts and feelings without interrupting you. If he or she agrees, then go to step 9. If he or she doesn’t agree, tell them you respect that and maybe the two of you can continue the conversation later when they feel more able to show up for you.
9. Carefully share your thoughts and feelings. Avoid "you" statements because they can feel like an attack. Use "I" statements and talk only about your perspective, your feelings, your triggers and your observations. Also, make sure you’re focusing solely on future behavior and don’t waste time talking about the past, which your partner cannot fix or change. Ask if, moving forward, they would be willing to do this or that differently.
10. Repeat. At this point, your partner might have more to say. Go back through steps 7-9 again. Keep doing this until you can reach an agreement or compromise.
Remember, your spouse isn’t ever a jerk, selfish, mean, or careless; he or she is more likely scared, and it is their fears that drive jerky, selfish, mean or careless behavior. We behave badly when we are worried about protecting ourselves. Reminding yourself that you are safe, is critical to the process of working through a fight maturely.
These 10 steps show you how to have a mutually validating conversation without letting fear triggers make you both defensive. This may take some practice to master, but you will be amazed at the clarity it gives you both, when you recognize the fears and why you are feeling defensive.
If you have felt defensive and unsafe with your partner for a long time, you may need some professional help to work through forgiveness and making some big changes in behavior. I recommend getting professional help sooner than later. Someone who knows how to help relationships heal can make the process much faster.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
Question:In your article on forgiveness, you mentioned that there are some situations in which we should forgive but definitely not let the person back into our lives. What does that look like to have boundaries? How do you handle that if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker? Why do I have to forgive if they aren’t sorry and aren’t going to change?
Answer:You asked a few different questions, so let me answer them one at a time.
Why do I have to forgive even when the person isn’t sorry and won’t change?
I could give you the usual answer — that you forgive so you feel better — but the truth is that your ego feels pretty good about staying mad. Instead, I encourage you to change what forgiveness is for you. Forgiving in the traditional sense meant you had to pardon someone for their mistake, because staying angry or hurt causes you more stress and unhappiness than it does the other person. So, you tried to do this for yourself, even though the person didn’t deserve it. This kind of forgiveness is hard and it’s the reason most of us struggle.
However, if you completely change your idea of what forgiveness means and, instead of pardoning people, make it all about changing your perspective about the incident and life in general, you can totally change how you feel about the situation. This can be done easily, even when someone doesn’t deserve it or isn’t sorry.
The most interesting perspective shift to try is to decide to see life as a classroom and this person and their mistake as being something that will ultimately serve you and make you stronger, wiser or more loving. This means that the hurt they caused can be used to bless and serve you in the long term. If you see the difficult person as a teacher in your classroom and their behavior as something that is serving your growth in some way, you might find you don’t even need to forgive. You can just let it go.
How do you handle forgiving if the difficult person is a family member or a person you are forced to see regularly, like an ex-spouse or co-worker?
Forgiving and changing your perspective does not mean you have to associate with or have that person in your life. You can and should limit contact with people who are a negative influence, a drain on your energy, or makes your life harder or more miserable. But you can still have forgiveness and even compassion for them and how miserable it must be to live that way.
You can love them from afar. This means you don’t harbor hate that would keep you in a miserable state. You can release all that negativity and choose to trust God and the universe that you are OK and let this person go in peace, while also choosing to stay away from them.
You must give yourself permission to make your needs important. Taking care of yourself and making sure you are balanced and happy is actually your No. 1 job, and that isn’t selfish. Your job is to make sure your needs are met and your bucket is full so that you have something to even give other people. This will often mean limiting the contact you have with people who make you miserable and drain your bucket.
Ultimately, it would be great if you could get to a place where you could be around this person (when necessary) and not be negatively affected by them, but that doesn’t come easy. In the meantime, you should stay away from them and protect yourself from further abuse or mistreatment.
What does that look like to have boundaries?
If you cannot limit contact and are forced to associate with the difficult person, then you need to define and enforce some boundaries. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you figure out what boundaries are needed to make this relationship work:
It is important to make some new rules and write them down. Just deciding in your mind is not nearly as powerful as putting them on paper is. When you write the new rules on paper, there is a different commitment level that happens in following them. Remember though, boundaries are rules you enforce on yourself to save yourself from your own weakness. Write down which behaviors you are no longer going to allow and how you will enforce it.
The most important part of having boundaries and enforcing them is not letting other people’s reactions to your boundaries bother you. Chances are, they won’t like your new rules and they will make you feel guilty for having them. That is not your problem and, on some level, it isn’t even your business. You are in charge of your own behavior, thoughts and feelings; you are in charge of being the best, strongest, most loving version of yourself you can be. Focus all your energy on that and let other people deal with their own feelings or issues themselves.
Giving yourself permission to have boundaries is the hardest part, especially if you have been a lifelong people pleaser. This may take some time to give yourself permission to make your needs important without feeling selfish.
If you are dealing with a really toxic, difficult person, you might want a coach or counselor to help you process the emotions and learn to be easier on yourself. Be patient with yourself and just keep working on it.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am struggling with my brother who did something really inconsiderate, and I can’t seem to let it go. I know that it’s probably causing me more pain than it’s causing him, but I just can’t forgive him yet. My whole family is bugging me to forgive him, but it’s not that easy. Any suggestions to make this easier?
There is a reason most of us struggle with forgiveness: There are very real benefits to staying mad or hurt. Here are some possible reasons you might not want to forgive someone:
Choose a mindset
Forgiveness may feel near impossible right now, but changing your perspective and looking at the issue a different way might make you feel completely different. In this situation, you have two perspective options and you must choose one of them. If you don’t consciously choose a mindset, your subconscious mind will choose for you — and it is usually going to let your ego drive.
Option 1: A judgment and condemnation mindset.
With a judgment and condemnation mindset, you believe life is a test and we (human beings) must earn a sense of value. Here, any mistakes you make count against your value, which means some people inevitably end up seeming better than other people. With this mindset, you see human value as changeable and 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. This fear-driven mindset makes you focus on the bad in others and cast them as worse than you so you can feel like the better person. This mindset creates anxiety, insecurity, and fear of failure. If you choose this mindset, you will always struggle to forgive others because you must condemn them to feel safe and good about yourself.
Option 2: A trust and forgiveness mindset
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, you believe life is a classroom where humans are meant to learn and grow. In this classroom you can erase any mistakes and try again, and no mistake affects your value. With this mindset, 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 you then get to work through — but, you always have the same value as everyone else.
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, insults and mistreatment happen to make us stronger, wiser and more loving, and you can believe there is purpose and blessings that come from 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. With this mindset, you don’t need to condemn others to feel safe because you believe you are safe all the time. With this mindset, you understand your value is infinite and absolute, and so is everyone else’s.
Forgiveness is easier here because you trust that you can’t be diminished, or have your journey ruined, because it is always the perfect classroom for you. When you trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing, it is easier to let offenses go and forgive.
The question you must ask yourself is: How do you want to live?
Choosing a trust and forgiveness mindset means you don’t hold onto offenses or mistakes. You let yourself and everyone else be a work in progress or a student in the classroom of life with much more to learn. You give forgiveness to others because you want to feel good enough yourself.
More tips to help you forgive
Here are a couple of other tips to make forgiveness easier:
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself, and life will be more peaceful and happy.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was asked recently what changes in your people skills that would most improve your relationships. This is a great question, because your ability to create healthy relationships is the key to happiness in life. You can’t feel happy, fulfilled, and good about life, if your relationships are stressed, unsafe, or confrontational.
This is especially true with your significant other. If that special relationship is strained or in trouble, it can suck the joy from every other part of your life.
Below are my top five people skills tips that would improve your relationships fast:
I realize this may be a new and even mind blowing perspective for some of you, which might even take a while and some work to understand, but it is the path to amazing relationships and greater happiness.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
My husband sent me your article about a victim mentality to read. I do have a hard time with that. My husband had an emotional affair with a co-worker a few years ago, and I am having a hard time letting it go, even though it’s been over for a while. How do you not feel like a victim when your husband hurt you, and now he also wants to blame you for what he did and the effects it has had on your family? We have gone to counselors but it hasn’t helped. Yet, he says my behavior is having a negative effect on everyone and everything. Can you help me change how I feel about his affair and let it go?
The way out of a victim mentality when you have been offended lies in two things: 1.) Changing your perspective and trusting in the universe that this experience is here to teach you something, and 2.) Learning how to truly forgive others for disappointing you.
I explained how to change your perspective in last week’s article, now I want to explain why you might be struggling to forgive. The fact is, you may see "rewards" in not forgiving and as long as holding onto anger is serving you, then you may not want to change it. Forgiveness can only happen when you are ready to let go of these perceived rewards and grasp onto different rewards that are even better.
Here are some common perceived rewards for not forgiving along with the costs associated with them:
Be honest with yourself, are any of these the reason why you might be holding onto an offense? Can you see the benefits you may be getting from staying angry and the costs you may pay for it? It is your ego that wants to hold onto the offense and stay angry? Sometimes your ego thinks it has to protect you from getting further hurt.
Instead of being the person your ego wants you to be, choose a different mindset around this situation so you can show up strong and loving. You have two options:
1. Stay mad
Play the victim. Don’t forgive. Let your fears create bad behavior that may push people away and make them lose respect for you.
This victim, fear-driven mindset may also keep you in a place of judgment toward others and yourself, which could mean you may want to put others down to feel better. In the end, you may not feel good about who you are. This judgmental mindset might be why you're being blamed for the effects his emotional cheating has had on your family. You might be creating negative effects with your reactive behavior. Sometimes, our reaction to the offense can cause more damage than the offense itself and we alone are responsible for that behavior.
2. Let it go
Choose to feel whole and safe. Forgive him for being a struggling student in the classroom of life and let this mindset create behavior others will respect.
Choose to see all humans as having the same value no matter what they do. You might not have made that mistake, but chances are you've made others. If you honestly feel that you can’t trust a person anymore, then you might need to make a decision about whether you stay in a relationship with them, but you should still do that from a place of forgiveness. In your case, it sounds like your husband deserves another chance to earn your trust back.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a sought after executive coach, author and corporate trainer. There are many more worksheets to help with forgiveness available on my website https://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
I’m a 40-year-old woman and I am truly struggling with the relationship between myself and my parents. From the time I was 19 to now, our relationship has continually gone downhill. I believe this has to do with differing life choices, values and lack of respect for our different views. At times I would like to resolve the issues, but the majority of the time, I’m fine not having a relationship with them. What would be your advice on how this should be handled? Should I try to get counseling with my parents and I? Should I just accept it’s an unhealthy relationship and move on? Avoid and evade them? I acknowledge that I’m as much of the problem as they are ... and that I’m holding on to some hard feelings. So what could or should I do?
Most relationships are worth trying to salvage and improve, especially with your family members. It's hard to avoid your relatives and if you are going to have to interact with them, you will want these hard feelings repaired. So here are some things you could try:
Work on Forgiving all involved (them and yourself) for all your past wrongs to make this easier — work on these 5 perspective shifts.
Get a professional involved to help you have a conversation with them. We do these types of meetings with families all the time, and we have found it works best if we meet with each person separately first, to prepare them for the meeting together. Find some professional who will do this prep work so a family meeting session accomplishes as much as possible. This also makes people more willing to attend this kind of meeting because they have had the chance to tell their side to the professional beforehand.
If family members are unwilling or unable to change
If they feel threatened or unsafe about any kind of conversation or meeting, or if they are unable to accept any fault on their side, or show any willingness to change or work with you, you are then left with two options:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show on
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.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.