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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My brothers have deeply hurt me and my family, and I've been upset towards them for years. I hear people say all the time "it just takes time to heal." My question is whose time, how much time and how does healing happen? Because time is passing but I'm not feeling any better. Do some offenses take more time? Is there a chance I may never be able to forgive them? I am honestly trying to let it all go, but every time I think about what they did I get upset all over again. Do you have some advice for me?
The truth is time doesn't change anything. You have to do the work to change how you feel yourself … and you can do this at any time. There are situations where some distance from the offense does lessen the pain a little and may make forgiving easier, but you are still going to have to change how you see this situation if you want to feel better.
Some people never do change their mindset and continue to suffer from past offenses forever. One reader told me his father hasn’t spoken to him since Thanksgiving and hadn’t spoken to his brother since 2002. Most of these people are stuck because they either don't know how to change their perspective (this is the most common reason) or they aren't willing to change it because they are getting some benefit from staying hurt.
A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about the quirky benefits of negative thinking, and if you suspect you may be staying mad for a subconscious reason, you may want to read that one.
You must understand changing, healing and forgiving are a choice. Some people make that choice quickly right after an offense and suffer for only a short time. Others hang onto misery and choose to suffer for a long time (again usually because they don't know how to choose something else.)
It is interesting that most people heal faster if the offense involves a stranger than they do if it involves a close relative. It appears the closer the relationship the deeper the wound. Your inner state also determines how much pain an offense causes. If you have really low self-esteem and someone criticizes you, it will cause a deeper wound than if you had good self-esteem. But in the end, you have the power to consciously choose whether an offense is a deep muscle tear or a scratch.
Buddha taught that when an offense happens you should decide right then, if this is going to be a cut through water, which heals immediately, a cut through sand, which will be gone by tomorrow, or a cut through stone, which could be there for decades. You are in charge of how much and for how long you suffer.
When you get offended you immediately create a story around the offense (either consciously or subconsciously) and that story determines the amount and length of your misery. You may want to take some time and write down the story you have created about this offense. Then ask yourself the following questions:
We believe the fastest way to change how you feel about an offense is to look at it from a different perspective. When you can see the positive it has created in your life, and you can see it as a perfect lesson in your classroom journey, you may find you don’t even need to forgive your brothers anymore. Clarity can do that.
Besides, holding onto hatred is like reaching into a fire to grab a hot coal to throw at your enemy, but then realizing 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.
You should hold onto the lessons this experience taught you (the positive gift) but then chalk the whole thing up to learning on every side. We are all struggling students in the classroom of life, with much more to learn. Also remember that when you are carrying a big pile of stinky old garbage from your past around with you, your arms are too full to receive the fresh, wonderful new things life is bringing you today.
It is time to set down that garbage and focus on the good in your world and choose love. Choose to see people accurately as struggling students and let them all be a work in progress, just like you. Choose to see their value as unaffected by their mistakes. When you do this, you will subconsciously see your own mistakes as not affecting your value and your self-esteem will grow.
We call this the Law of Forgiveness. You get what you give. When you criticize and judge others, you are giving power to the idea that people can be “not good enough” and this will, in the end, affect your self-esteem. You will never feel you're good enough either.
Coach Tim Eversole says there are two types of people.
People who aggrandize the good, who see more good in the world, tend to feel more joy. These people minimize the bad and therefore they feel less bad. By minimizing the bad they also create just a scratch when they are offended, and their scratches heal quickly.
Then, there are people who aggrandize the bad, who see more bad in the world and feel more sorrow and pain. They minimize the good and therefore see less good. By making the bad bigger they get big deep wounds and scars when offended that take a long time to heal.
Who do you want to be?
How do you want to live?
If you are holding onto anger thinking it is protecting you from future offenses, it isn’t. Being confident and bulletproof because you know your value cannot be diminished and doesn’t change — that is your best protection.
You may also want to read my article Forgiving a grudge without getting hurt again from 2013. Keep working on this and you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com and the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." Tim Eversole is a certified claritypoint coach and speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I have made so many mistakes and I can’t repair the damage of my bad choices. My self-esteem is awful because I can’t forgive myself. How can I let these mistakes go when the reality of what I did is so bad? The fact is my value (especially in the eyes of other people) is forever affected by my choices. I know you say that my divine value is infinite, but what good is that if everyone sees me as a bad person?
It will only make a difference if you believe it does.
I believe you are not the sum of your past decisions and your value isn't affected by your mistakes. But these ideas have no power unless you decide they are truth for you. Trust me. You can see yourself and your life in a new way that will lessen the pain you are experiencing, and your changing your mindset may affect the way others see you.
Self-forgiveness is extremely important because it impacts the amount of love you have to give to others now. Here are my five secrets to forgiving your past mistakes:
I know it may see difficult right now to take control and change your mindset around your past — but you can do it with work and practice. (If it seems too hard you may want to seek some professional help.)
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.”
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I read your News Year’s article about all people having the same value, but I frankly disagree. People who hurt others, destroy property or cause trouble are bad people and those who work hard and do right things are good people. I also disagree with those who want to give a trophy to every kid, so no one loses or feels bad, and I think you are in that camp saying that virtuous choices don’t mean anything and we should all be treated the same regardless of our behavior. How can I teach my children to be good people if they have the same value either way?
Let me explain my philosophy a different way and see if it makes more sense. There are definitely human beings who behave in a more responsible, mature, kind, law-abiding (conscientious) way than others, but are they intrinsically of more worth than other people?
I personally would classify them as "more conscientious beings," not as having “more intrinsic value.” Can you see the difference?
I believe there are basically two mindset options when it comes to seeing the value of people.
This doesn't mean we trust everyone or want to hang out with everyone — but it does mean we respect everyone.
Let me explain this using the sports analogy you mentioned, because I agree with you that the winners should get the trophies. Having winners and losers in a game is healthy and teaches kids to work hard and roll with the punches in life, but they should also be taught that winning doesn’t make you intrinsically better than the losers. It just means you worked harder, were blessed with more athletic ability, or had parents who spent more time practicing with you. That is why you won, but winning does not make you more deserving of respect or kindness. You still have the same intrinsic value as the losers.
Your hard work and conscientiousness will pay off and benefit you in life, but your virtuous behavior does not make other people less than you. They are just "less conscientious" than you. They are in a different place in their journey.
It is really important that children learn this correctly, because if they start thinking that those who win are better than those who lose, this can bleed over into seeing people who are different from them as less than them. It is a short jump from seeing the T-ball team that lost as less than you, to seeing those of a different color, or who live in a different neighborhood, or who go to a different church, as less than you.
I think when you said you wanted to teach your children to be "good people" you weren’t talking about their value being higher than others, you were talking about them being conscientious, responsible, kind people who are driven by moral values and principles. This is something it would serve all of us to work on and teach our children, but it doesn’t involve being better than anyone else.
It is about virtues and principles — not value and worth. We must work on being good people without looking down on people who aren’t working on it yet. That is the trick.
Here are some rules for being a conscientious human to practice and teach your children:
In my New Year’s article I talked about changing yourself and changing the world. I still believe you are either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem, and the problems on this planet won’t be solved by pointing fingers at others. They will be solved by working on YOU — the only person you have any control over.
Robert S. Hartman said, “The good takes time; one cannot be good in a hurry. … This is why peace will not come through so-called strong men. They look for easy and fast solutions. It will come through men of patience, compassion and humility — men of faith.”
You are the solution and 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 coach and speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.com
My spouse has done some things that really bother me. He is now committed to making our marriage work, but I just can’t let his past bad behavior go. I’m trying to forgive, but I can’t seen to really get there and there is a definite wedge between us. I have no idea how to fix it? Is there anyway to fully repair our relationship and be happy with him again?
It is possible to fix your relationship and even fall back in love again, but it is only possible if you are both willing to forgive past mistakes and see this situation accurately as a lesson in love.
I believe life is a classroom and every experience you get here is a lesson with the primary purpose of teaching you how to love yourself and other people at a deeper level. If that is true, it makes sense that you would get a lot of opportunities to forgive past mistakes, faults, flaws, differences and disagreements. It is in doing this you learn real love.
I believe that your family (children and spouse) are going to be your primary forgiveness classroom because they are the ones who best push your buttons, scare you and hurt you. You must choose to see these family problems accurately — as lessons in love. This will change how you feel about them.
Here are a couple principles of truth that will help you to better understand and practice forgiveness:
If you continue to struggle with forgiveness, I really encourage you to work with a counselor or coach who can help you battle the mindset issues that make forgiveness difficult. I also have some forgiveness worksheets on my website that may help.
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 coach and speaker.
This was first published on KSL.COM
There is almost no physical intimacy in my marriage and I miss the sexual activity I thought I would have when I got married. I find myself resenting my wife and feeling frustrated because I did not get married to see how long I could go without sex. I feel discouraged with myself because I should be able to "suck it up" and stop having these feelings of resentment. I keep telling myself that maybe this is a challenge I am supposed to overcome, yet I sometimes talk to a friend who says I'm crazy to put up with it. Any suggestions?
I get letters with basically this same question at least twice a week, so you are not alone on this one. I’d like to address the problem and then give some suggestions to both husbands and wives on fixing this situation.
For many, the heart of the problem is that while most boys grow up hearing positive things about sex, most women grew up hearing nothing but shameful negatives. Women who were sexual were seen as sluts, and sex was talked about like it was dirty and wrong. As teens, many women are still curious about sex, which means they are open to learning about it, but now they have the negative subconscious programming. Needless to say, many women from Christian families are ill-prepared for marriage and don't understand how important sex is in their relationship and how beautiful it can be.
Then, add to that resentment, hurt feelings and betrayals of trust that often happen (like criticism that makes a woman feel emotionally unsafe) or to find out that a husband has been looking at pornography (which makes sex feel more dirty) and many women lose interest in the whole thing.
This is a complex issue and it can’t be fixed in an article, but repairing the intimacy in your relationship is vital. You cannot have a healthy relationship without it. There is a reason they call it “making love.” It is the most meaningful way to express love for another person. Also remember the main reason you are here on this planet is to learn and grow, and especially to learn to love. Your marriage is going to be the most important class you will take on this subject. So whatever the disconnect is between you and your wife, you are both going to have to grow and become more loving to fix it.
Here are some things each spouse can do to start the process of repairing intimacy in their marriage.
1) Be more kind, appreciative and validating: Most women can’t feel amorous when they don't feel emotionally safe. Does your wife feel resentful, angry or walked on at any level? If you are prone to criticism, sarcasm, negative comments or if you just don’t give enough positive validation, this could be a huge part of the problem. Your wife needs to feel admired, appreciated and cherished. She needs to see that you feel lucky to be married to such an amazing woman. (If you have been disappointed because of her sexuality issues and she feels this, it could be making her pull away further to protect herself.) She needs to be showered with praise and appreciation for who she is, as she is. Nothing makes a woman more interested in a man than him thinking she is the most amazing woman in the world.
2) Be the kind of man she can look up to: If you are voluntarily slacking in your responsibilities either in or out of the home, you need to step it up. This may mean exercising and getting in shape, spending less time in front of the TV or finding a better job. You may even ask her what you could be doing that would make her admire you more. She may want to see you deal with some of your own self-esteem, abandonment, career or emotional issues. This could mean getting some professional help and working on you. If you do this and gain some confidence, that will also make you more attractive.
3) Be more generous and giving: This means setting aside your own needs and focusing more on what she needs. This may mean helping around the house and with the children more. It could also mean honoring her feelings when she needs a good night’s rest. Being resentful or complaining that she isn't meeting your needs, isn't showing love and it makes you just as unloving as her. Most couples find it works better if you let the woman initiate sex. I know you fear that if you do this, it will never happen, but being patient and giving her a chance to do this could reverse the cycle of her feeling taken from and you feeling rejected. Now, she might feel more motivated to give to you, and trust me, it will mean more to you when she does. Remember, women must feel emotionally safe and totally admired, accepted and cherished for every part of who they are before they can give sex as an expression of love. When you give more to them, they will want to give more to you. (If she doesn't respond to this, there are deeper issues in play.)
4) Avoid pornography: Pornography will harm your marriage in two ways. One, it will create unrealistic expectations that a normal wife and mother will not be comfortable fulfilling and two, it will trigger body image fears and feelings of betrayal that are difficult for a woman to get past. If a pornography problem has already created these issues in your marriage, you may both need some professional help to repair them. The good news is that you can repair them. They are not the end of the world, but you must get some help.
1) See a doctor or mental health professional: If you suspect a physical or psychological problem is in play, seek out some professional help. There are hormone imbalances and medications that can negatively affect libido. You also want to make sure you don’t have experiences in your past that are creating negative feelings around sex.
2) Be more forgiving: I believe forgiveness is the No. 1 lesson you are here to learn in the classroom of life, and your marriage is the class where you will learn it. You must understand that you are no better than your spouse. You have the same exact value (even if he has made mistakes). You may not have made those mistakes, but you have made other ones, and your inability to forgive him is every bit as bad as his faults and weaknesses. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you need to hear this. You are in here to learn to become a better, more loving person. If you don’t learn this lesson now and forgive him for being imperfect, the universe will keep bringing this lesson back until you do. I have written numerous articles on forgiveness that may help, and there are two forgiveness worksheets on mywebsite that might help. (Obviously, if you have an abusive spouse, then you need professional help immediately. But most of you just have a struggling, scared and occasionally clueless spouse who should be forgiven and given another chance, just like you. )
3) Be more generous and giving: This means setting aside your needs and focusing more on giving to your spouse and caring for him. This will mean initiating sex and doing it often. Sex is a more meaningful experience for all involved if the woman initiates it and enjoys it. A man desperately wants to be wanted by his wife and honestly gets more out of pleasing you than getting his own needs met. Your man wants sex to be an expression of love for each other, and a “quicky” that gets it over fast isn’t fulfilling to him at all. (Imagine how you would feel if he told you to go take a relaxing bubble bath as his gift to you — “Oh but can you just jump in and out real quick.”) That is not an expression of love. I know that as a mother you give and give, and some nights you have nothing left, but you must set aside time and energy to give to your spouse if you want a marriage that lasts and a spouse who takes care of you.
4) Work on your self-esteem: If you have body image issues or suffer from fears that you aren’t good enough, you are literally incapable of giving love the way you should be. Most women suffer greatly from feelings of inadequacy, and these feelings must be repaired if you want a healthy marriage. We believe most people need professional coaching or counseling to change this. Ask your spouse to help pay for this, because a confident woman has more to give.
5) Communicate: Tell your husband exactly what he can do or change that would make you more attracted to him. Be frank and honest and kind. If there is no way that you can get past issues, or the issues are things he can’t change, you need to be honest about that too, so he can decide if this relationship is right for him.
I believe you should try everything in your power to repair your marriage and learn the powerful lessons your relationship can teach you, but for some of you the lesson could mean loving yourself enough to get out, especially if the other person isn’t capable or interested in changing. Only you know which path is right for you. Just make sure you have done the work on yourself first and learned how to forgive. That way you won't repeat the same pattern.
I would say don't "suck it up live with it." Instead, take action and get some help to fix the underlying issues.
You can do this!
First Published on KSL.comQuestion:
How do I get my family to appreciate all I do for them? I feel largely taken for granted and am rarely thanked. Sometimes I go overboard to do something nice for them, and I hardly get a thank you. Sometimes they even complain about the one thing I didn’t do. How can I get them to appreciate me?
Cynthia Ozick said, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” I would add, we often take for granted the people who most deserve our gratitude, too. Parents and spouses are often taken for granted because their service or help is expected, and therefore not seen as anything special.
There is no question this is wrong. We should appreciate every act of service, however small, done on our behalf. But it is a tricky thing “getting” the people in your life to appreciate you, especially if they weren’t raised with a gratitude attitude. You also have no control over other people, but there are some things you can do differently that may change their attitude toward you. This will mean changing your attitude when you serve people and creating a healthy balance between serving others and taking care of yourself.
1) Make sure you have a healthy sense of your own self-worth
If you suffer from low self-esteem, you are always in need of validation from other people to make you feel better. The people in your life can subconsciously feel your neediness, and it makes them see you as a taker, not a giver — even when you are giving to them. It makes them feel that your gifts have strings attached. You are giving to them so that you will get the appreciation and validation you need. Over time, this will even make them resent your gifts of service because they are really about you, not them. When you give gifts of service as real gifts of love, needing nothing in return, it feels like a real gift to the receiver and it is more likely to be appreciated.
(You can’t build healthy relationships if you are drowning in fear that you aren’t good enough. You may need to work with a counselor or coach to fix your self-esteem.)
2) Make sure what you are doing is really for them — not for you
What I mean is make sure they actually want or care about what you are giving them. Do you know their love language? Do you know what makes them feel loved or are you giving what you wish to receive? For example, I have seen housewives work hard to keep a perfect house when no one in her family cares about having a perfect house except her. You can’t expect them to value what you value. If appreciation is your goal, then do things that are meaningful to them.
You may want to actually ask them what gifts mean something to them. If a perfect house is important to you, then clean it for you and don’t worry about appreciation. Men who work night and day to make more money may want to ask their spouse and children if they value having that much money or if they would rather have more time with a happy dad.
3) Make sure you are taking care of your own needs
This means sometimes saying no and not doing as much for them. When you start feeling bothered by the amount you are giving and the lack of gratitude, it is usually a sign that you are out of balance. You are probably giving too much and neglecting your own needs. If you give too much and are constantly sacrificing yourself for other people, you are setting a bad example. Yes, that is what I said. You are actually teaching them that YOU don’t matter as much as they do. If you do this for a long time, they will come to see you as less important. They will expect you to sacrifice yourself all the time and they will take those sacrifices for granted. You will also start to resent them for not appreciating you, and this will further damage your relationship.
You must get your family used to seeing your value as the same as theirs. This will also make them appreciate the times you sacrifice to serve them. Your gifts will have more value if they are a little more rare. If you have a healthier balance between giving and taking, you will also feel happier and have more to give. Remember it is your job to make sure your needs are met. You must take time every week to nurture yourself and have some fun. Trust me, you will be a better parent and spouse if you do a little less for them and a little more for you.
4) Set an example of gratitude
Children learn gratitude by example. Let them see you sending thank-you notes or going out of your way to thank the people in your life. Encourage them to send thank-you notes for every kindness they receive. Make sure you are grateful for every act of kindness or service they render to you. Make appreciation a family tradition. It will also help if you make serving those who are less fortunate a regular family experience. My children had the opportunity to work in orphanages in Mexico growing up, and these experiences created lots of appreciation for their blessings. They also gained a new appreciation for having parents.
5) Tell them how much you appreciate their appreciation
Thank them for being thankful. This models good behavior, but it also helps them see themselves as a grateful person. People will become what they think you think they are. If they think you think they are kind, appreciative and grateful, they will want to live up to your high opinion of them.
I had the chance to interview Jeffery Froh, Ph.D., and Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., authors of the book "Making Grateful Kids," on the "Matt Townsend Show" in March. They have done some groundbreaking research on how kids excel in life if they learn to be grateful. Children who learned gratitude when they were young went on to create better relationships and experience more success in every area of life than those who weren’t. I highly recommend their book for great tips on raising grateful kids.
Instead of nagging, begging or asking for more appreciation, try taking better care of yourself and needing it less while modeling a gratitude attitude yourself.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
My mother is a very critical, judgmental person. She always has something negative to say about everything I do and everyone we know. I’m often embarrassed for her because of how quick she is to see the bad in people, and I’m really tired of being on the receiving end of her criticisms. It’s been hard to have a mother (who should love and accept me most) be so negative. Is there anything I can do about this? I’ve tried to talk to her about it but she gets really offended and attacks me for my faults. She thinks she is perfect.
First, you must understand why she is behaving this way.
We could all use a better understanding of human nature and why people do what they do. This knowledge will help us to see situations accurately and handle them more appropriately.
Here are some basic universal principles of truth regarding human behavior that it would serve us all to learn.
1. Everyone on this planet is scared to death.
2. They are primarily scared of two core things: failure and loss. (They are scared of looking bad and being taken from.) This means they are constantly on the lookout for insults or mistreatment and are quick to be offended by anything that could be construed as either.
3. These fears play out in our subconscious programming and are responsible for 95 percent of our behavior. This means most of the time we don’t know what we are doing or why.
4. Being driven by fear produces a lot of selfish, negative, bad behavior. Fear keeps you focused on yourself. It makes you incapable of showing up for others. Most people are functioning in this state most of the time.
5. Fear also makes us see other people as different from us, which means we see them as either better than us or worse than us. We would subconsciously prefer to see them as worse than us so our subconscious mind looks for the bad in them (casting them as the bad guy) which we think makes us the good one. I call this the Shame and Blame Game.
You must understand how the Shame and Blame Game works so you can accurately see when you are playing it and stop yourself and so you can stop getting offended when other people play it.
This is the bottom line, the more shame you experience (fear that you aren’t good enough) the more you will subconsciously focus on the bad in others (blame) to distract you from your fear.
Your mother is negative because she is scared to death. I would guess from your description that she is has a lot of fear around not being good enough. She may even have some subconscious self-hate going on. This is why she looks for the bad in everyone around her. Her ego actually thinks this will make her feel better, which it doesn’t.
I feel bad for her living in all that fear and negativity. It must be an awful place to live. She may also have fears of loss and be easily offended by anyone who makes her feel cheated or taken from. Does she get overly offended if someone cuts in line? Or cuts her off in traffic? Or has things she doesn’t have? Does she hate feeling put out or walked on? She may suffer badly from both core fears.
You also want to check yourself for being easily offended by insults or mistreatment. We all do it to some degree, but is it a real sensitive issue for you?
I hope understanding the Shame and Blame Game helps you to get conscious about this behavior and have more compassion for her. I hope you can see that her criticisms say more about her than they say about you. This is another important principle of human behavior.
6. Most bad behavior is about the person’s fears about themselves. It is not about you. They may be projecting it at you and casting you as the bad guy, but it is really about their shame.
People without shame, don’t need to see the bad in others. As a matter of fact, they usually don’t see it at all. People with good self-esteem are more likely to see the good in others than the bad. I want you to understand this so you won’t take your mothers criticism personally.
The reason your mother attacks you if you even hint that she is anything less than perfect is that she is so scared she isn’t good enough, she can’t handle hearing anything that might confirm that. People with low self-esteem can’t handle feedback, it’s too painful.
So how do you deal with difficult people like this?
"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving."—Dale Carnegie
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." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
I want to make some changes and improve myself this year. If you could recommend one thing (I could work on) that would have the greatest impact in my life, what would it be?
I answered this same question in January 2013 and my answer was to improve your communication skills, thereby improving your relationships at home and work. You can read that article here.
Improving your relationships will make a huge difference, but I would like to re-address the best way to do that. I now believe, after a year of personal growth myself, the best resolution you could possibly make (that would have the greatest impact on the quality of your life) is to forgive yourself and others.
Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
Think about what you really want most. Do you want peace, confidence or happiness? Do you want a better marriage, a greater sense of self-worth, a sense of safety and security, or just some hope?
Forgiveness will give you everything you want.
Forgiveness is not easy, though, and I am not going to make light of the horrible things people have done to you. I know firsthand how difficult it is to let go of these grievances, but you must do it if you want peace, self-esteem and joy.
To make forgiving easier I am going to teach you some principles that will help you look at these situations from a fresh perspective.
Principle 1: You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing. No situation can cause you pain, because your thoughts about the situation are in your control. No one can take away your peace or give you peace. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my article about choosing to be upset.
You have the power to choose peace, joy and confidence. You cannot be hurt or diminished unless you choose to be.
Principle 2: You cannot be diminished because your value is infinite and absolute. Whatever mistakes you have made, they don’t change your value. Your value cannot change because life is a classroom, not a test — and your value isn't on the line. You are always perfect as you are, where you are, right now in your journey of learning and growing — and so is everyone else.
At least you have the option of seeing people this way if you want to.
If you hold onto anger and the right to condemn others because you think you must do this to defend yourself, you are actually giving power to the idea that you can be hurt or diminished. You are choosing to see yourself as vulnerable and thereby giving people power to hurt you.
When you see yourself as bulletproof, you let attacks roll off because they have no power.
Principle 3: Life is a classroom and every offense or mistake experience is here to teach you something. Every situation that shows up in your life is there to teach you to forgive and love at a deeper level. We know this because learning to love is why you are here. When you make a mistake you should learn from it, then forgive yourself and let it go. When someone else does, you point it out in a loving way so they can learn, then forgive and let it go.
(Just FYI, your spouse and children will be your greatest teachers. Your family is your primary forgiveness classroom. When you see your family life this way, you will finally be seeing it accurately. Every fight or disappointment is a chance to practice and all marriage problems are forgiveness issues.)
Principle 4: Real forgiveness means seeing yourself and other people accurately — as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots still to learn.
Forgiving does not mean seeing these people as guilty and condemning them for their mistakes, and then trying to pardon them because you know you should. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact that they don’t deserve it.
Forgiveness cannot be a gift undeserved, because that mindset is still wrapped up in judgment. Real forgiveness only happens when you let go of judgment.
Real forgiveness happens when you understand that perfect love has already forgiven all the wrongs, pain, and hurt on both sides anyway. It is about understanding that the entire past has already been wiped clean of all fear-based behavior and every moment is a chance to start over and do better.
We are all scared, struggling students in the classroom of life, doing the best we can with what we know — and more learning, love, wisdom and understanding will come to all of us eventually. We will figure out what we did wrong and why. In the meantime, we must give each other permission to be a student who is still learning. We must not crucify each other for every mistake or fault.
Real forgiveness is about giving the gift of innocence to others because you want it for yourself. It is about understanding that you get what you give.
The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over, every moment of your life, and it is a simple choice because there are only two options:
1. You can live in judgment of yourself and others, condemning and crucifying yourself and others for every mistake. But if you choose this, it will also mean experiencing guilt, pain, self-pity, anger and low self-esteem. This happens because when you choose a judgment mindset toward others, you will also feel subconsciously judged and suffer from a fear of not being good enough.
If you want to escape that fear, you must choose option two.
2. You can choose to forgive yourself and other people, and let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake either of you has ever made. You can choose to see these mistakes for what they really were — bad behavior born of fear, confusion, self-doubt, and lack of knowledge. You can choose to see everyone as innocent and forgiven by perfect love, and in doing so let them and yourself start over with a clean slate every day.
If you choose this mindset you will feel safe, loved, whole and good enough all the time, no matter what you do.
How do you want to live?
(You should not put up with mistreatment or abuse though. You should ask other people to honor your value the same way you will honor theirs. If someone refuses to do this, you may choose to love them from afar and not maintain a relationship with them, but you must still see them accurately and forgive them, if you want peace.)
If you struggle with forgiveness, I encourage you to work with a counselor or coach this year who can help you battle the issues that make forgiveness difficult. I also have some forgiveness worksheets on my website that may help.
You may also want to follow me on Facebook or Twitter this year. Starting Jan. 1, 2014 I will be posting daily lessons from the “Course in Miracles.” Practicing these simple lessons will change the way you see yourself and your life forever and help you to escape fear.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in eliminating drama in the workplace. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
Life has not been a picnic for me. It has been mostly full of disappointments and hard knocks. It isn’t turning out anything like the life I had planned. Hence, I experience a lot of jealously and resentment toward others. I’m trying not to be bitter and feel like a failure, but I can’t see I’ve accomplished much and don’t have much to show for all my work, pain and suffering. Not sure what my question is, but I guess I could use some advice to feel better about life?
Your question might be: What is the point or purpose of this difficult life? Is there meaning in the painful and often fruitless experiences I’ve had? Is my difficult journey benefiting me in some way?
I often quote Viktor Frankl in my articles because his discoveries in the concentration camps during World War II have greatly influenced my philosophies on life. He found that life did have meaning and purpose, even when it consisted of nothing but horrible suffering. He believed that every man must, at some point on his journey, find meaning in his individual experiences, especially the bad ones.
He said, “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”
Personally, I believe there is meaning in the difficulties you have experienced, because I believe you are here in this world to do two things. You are here to learn andlove.
I believe this purpose is hard-wired into all of us. We seem to innately know life is about growing, learning, stretching and becoming the best version of ourselves we can become. We also seem to know we are here to love others and help as many people as we can, along our way. (Most people who find a specific mission in life find it around one or both of these two ideas.)
I believe — as part of the learning process here — we must experience many different aspects of the human condition, including suffering, grief, disappointment, joy, happiness and peace to learn what each of these experiences can teach us.
Unfortunately we learn more from the difficult experiences.
Suffering gives us empathy and understanding; shame teaches us compassion; disappointment teaches us to shift, change, adapt and persevere. Miserable, heart-breaking and discouraging situations usually serve us and refine us.
I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.
It is important you remember this truth, though — the amount of difficult experiences you get here is not a reflection of your value or your abilities, as much as it is about the specific lessons you were meant to learn.
You must remember that your value is the same as everyone else’s. Every human being on the planet has the same infinite and absolute value, no matter how successful or unsuccessful their life may appear. This means they aren’t better than you just because they accomplished more. They just got signed up for different classes and different lessons than you did.
No one on this planet got signed up for the same classes you got. So you cannot compare your journey or your results with anyone else.
When you say you have nothing to show for your efforts and your life has been a failure, all I hear is you apparently got signed up for some really hard classes. But your results here don’t affect or determine your value.
You are an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, divine, amazing human soul. You are basically an irreplaceable diamond, which has the same value no matter it's setting or where you find it. If a diamond is thrown in the mud, it still has the same value. If it is thrown in the garbage, it still has the same value. You have the same value no matter where you end up. Do you get this?
Your journey has nothing to do with your value.
Some of us get signed up for harder classes here in the classroom of life than others. I don’t know why things are unfair here, but I believe there is a reason.
I’ve often tried to drop a few of my more miserable classes, but apparently they were required courses because the universe didn’t let me out.
I was not happy about this, but I realized that stuck in that situation, I only had two choices. I could choose to trust the universe that this difficult path was serving me in some way, focus on the lessons and let the experiences make me better, stronger and more loving, or I could dwell in fear, anger, jealously and bitterness — which would only push other people away and create more negative in my life.
These are your only two choices when you are stuck in a required class. I highly recommend choosing trust and love!
Here are a couple more things you could do to change your perspective on life:
1) Write down as many positives as you can about what your journey has given you, things you have learned, qualities you have gained, traits you’ve developed. Then write down some things you could be gaining or developing if you tried a little harder.
2) Remember your value is as infinite and absolute as a diamond, no matter your results or performance. Claim your power to determine your own value and see it this way, despite your results.
3) Remember, life is really about what you learn, understand and develop through your experiences. It is not about what a smooth ride you had. It is about who you become on the inside not what you have to show on the outside.
4) Whenever you feel jealous of others, remember that their hard classes are probably still coming and you have things (empathy, understanding and wisdom) they may not have yet.
5) Don’t live to please other people — follow your heart and your intuition. Make sure you are doing what feels right to you in every situation. Honor your truth and your values no matter what.
6) Choose to be grateful for what is good in your life, for every small blessing or moment of happiness. Choose joy in every situation you possibly can.
7) You may not be able to change your situation, but you always have the power to choose how you will experience that situation. There are two choices: fear or trust and love. Fear will create more suffering — trust and love will create peace. You get to decide where you want to live.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” Frankl said.
He continued, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” I recommend that you work on changing the way you are looking at your life. When you look at it from a new perspective, it may totally change the way you feel. If this is proving difficult, you may want to seek a coach or counselor to help you.
I hope this helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
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.