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.
I got divorced years ago and since then I have been working on my self-confidence and self-worth, and I have become a happier, busier woman. My parents keep asking me if I am ready to find another man. They don’t seem to like my answer that I’m happy being single. I’m sick and tired of the online dating and the way it’s done now. The bottom line is I’m done with dating and I don’t know how to tell my parents that and get them to support me. How would you recommend I tell them (again)?
Before I recommend a way to get your parents support for your choices, I want you to understand how social norms or unwritten cultural rules can drive our thoughts, feelings and behavior, and how we all allow these socially accepted beliefs to create cognitive dissonance and suffering in our lives.
From the moment you were born, you have been gathering data about yourself, others, and the world around you. Everything you saw, heard or experienced helped you create conclusions about the rules in your family and community. You learned which behaviors earned you love, attention or approval. You learned what to do to avoid suffering or rejection. Your whole life you have been creating subconscious policies and procedures about living in your world.
The problem is many of these ideas, policies or rules are just ideas and many of them are not serving you either. Many of these beliefs are not even based in fact or reality: they are simply thoughts that have gained more power than they should. But they have been with you for a long time, and you have followed them simply because you didn’t know there was another option.
The following are some examples of these unwritten rules you might have adopted:
Here are 5 ways to challenges your unwritten policies and start consciously choosing new beliefs:
1. Remember you are the only one entitled to know the path through life that’s right for you.
Never let anyone tell you how you should live, what you should want or what you should do next. They are not in the same classroom as you, so their truth isn’t going to be your truth. Give yourself permission to explore many mindset options and choose the way that feels right to you.
2. Be unique.
Own that no one else on the planet will ever get the same journey as you. No one will ever have your genetics, your body, your family, your upbringing and your experiences. We believe this means your perspective and your truth are unique to you, and no one else can see the world the way you see it. This is why you must choose your own way and not let others make your choices.
3. Trust yourself.
Trust you have an inner guidance system (an inner GPS) that will always guide you toward your perfect classroom. It will nudge you and pull you toward the experiences you need to grow and learn in the ways you need. If you ask others for advice, do so because you want to research the options, not because you trust their judgment more than your own.
Once you clarify your options, write each one on an index card and place them in front of you on the table. Then one by one take an option off the table and throw it away, listening to your gut about which you should ditch. Do this until there is only one option left. This kind of exercise helps you practice listening to your own inner guidance system.
4. Let everyone else be unique and trust themselves too.
We all have a tendency to think everyone should see the world the way we see it. “What’s wrong with them that they can’t see what I see? It’s obvious.” They can’t see the world the way you do, because their unique journey has fashioned a unique perspective that you can’t possibly see.
You must give everyone permission to be on their perfect classroom journey. The more you do this, you will also be empowered to claim your journey. Refrain from any judgment about their choices; honor and respect their right to be where they are, and feel what they do.
Remember though, that though we are all very different, we have the exact same intrinsic worth and that cannot change.
5. The amazing and unique souls around you, who choose a vastly different path than yours, are often in your life to teach you tolerance and stretch your ability to love.
It’s easy to love people who agree with you and live like you and by your rules, but it’s much more challenging to love someone who is different. When you choose to see these people as different, but equal in value, and allow them to even teach you something, there will be an amazing richness in your life. They will give you fresh viewpoints and broader understanding of the human experience. Embrace them as they are and let their different choices teach you something.
Once you claim the right to live by the dictates of your own conscience, values, beliefs and preferences, and allow the people around you to do the same, you can then ask the people in your life to honor you, too.
We recommend you sit down with your parents and ask them some questions about why they feel so strongly about you dating and finding someone to love. Really listen to them and honor their right to think and feel the way they do. Spend some time here, and let them know you can understand why they might feel that way. Then ask if they would be willing to let you share what you feel about it, and if they would be willing to honor and respect your right to choose the right path for you. We think you will be surprised how supportive they will be if you share your feelings and ask them to support you moving forward.
We agree that for many people living as a single person can still be a rich, beautiful, happy and fulfilled life. Happiness does not require marriage or a life partner, though many people find great happiness that way. We think you should focus on building the life you want to live — you only get one shot at this life so be true to yourself and live big.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches and the creators behind Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com They host Relationship Radio every Thursday on Voice American and on iTunes.
Each January for the past four years, I have written an article for you with my best advice for a New Year’s resolution, which would make the biggest difference in your life. Here are the links if you’d like to read them:
When the kids mess up the house, if you see it as today's lesson to make you stronger, wiser and more loving, you will handle it much differently than you would if you saw it as just an aggravating event.
When you struggle at work, but you see the challenge as your perfect classroom, you spend less time complaining and more time working to solve the problem.
This idea came from the great Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II. In that horrible situation he found himself pondering on a powerful question, “Is it just random bad luck I am here in this place or is there meaning, purpose and reason in my being here?”
He eventually realized there was no way to know for sure which was truth. That left him with an interesting revelation … we get to and have the power to decide which perspective we want to have.
He also realized that believing things had no reason and were just random bad luck made his suffering worse. But choosing to believe there was meaning and purpose in our experiences and suffering lessened the suffering and made him want to rise to the occasion and turn whatever was happening into a human achievement.
He said, “Suffering ceases to be suffering, the moment it finds meaning.”
You can bring this powerful principle into your life too, so you can suffer less and have more joy. Each day you will be faced with situations, many which will disappoint, frustrate, anger or hurt you. When these show up, you can experience loss and feel cheated, wronged and mistreated by life, you can complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can choose to trust the universe that though this situation is rough, it is here for your benefit.
You can choose to see the universe as a wise loving teacher, who is constantly conspiring to educate and bless you. You can see life as on your side. Choosing to believe this is truth will completely change how you feel about your life and yourself for the better.
The only other option you have is to resist an experience, be bent out of shape by it, complain about it and refuse to learn from it. This attitude does nothing but magnify the suffering and discourage you. It may also make you less motivated to change and improve. Why work at things if they don't mean anything anyway?
When you choose to see a bad situation as a perfect lesson, you will always come through with more strength, wisdom and love, and you get to choose how you want to live. It is totally up to you.
If you are ready to embrace this idea and have more joy and less suffering this year, join us in a fun, life-changing exercise to record what you learned every day in 2017. Get yourself a fresh journal where you will record the lessons your unique journey provides every day. Each night before bed take a minute and write what your classroom taught you today.
Master coach Nicole Cunningham and I have both committed to this practice this year, and we also plan to leave room on the margins of each page to write the topic of each post so we can flip back through the book and find topics we want to read about again and again.
You could also do this on your Facebook wall, blog or in an electronic file (though don’t make this about showing off to others). Keep this as an exercise about you and your growth, and not about getting validation.
Take some time today and take stock of the ways you were stuck in fear or bad behavior last year, and make 2017 the year you learn your way out of it. I say “learn your way out” because "you can’t do better until you know better."
Make this the year you recruit some outside help and start creating the life you really want. Every coaching client I’ve ever had has said, “I wish I had learned this stuff sooner.” And they could have, but most wait until things get really bad, before they ask for help. Don’t wait.
There are resources and experts all around you that can make changing your life, relationships or results easier and faster. Sometimes we are afraid to seek help because the known (even if it’s bad) seems safer than the unknown. This is why we stay in abusive relationships or continue to put up with an unhealthy marriage or a bad job.
Please hear me on this: The problems in your life are easier and less painful to fix than you think, especially if you have help. You may already have a hunch about what help you need and how to find it, but you aren’t acting on it. Take action.
The universe will always guide you to the answers you need. It gently nudges you and drops hints so you can’t miss the path you are meant to follow. Life just waits for you to be brave enough to choose yourself and grow. It will not force you through your classroom, though it may hit you with a two-by-four, if the gentle nudges aren’t working.
Be honest with yourself today about the ways you may be hiding from growth or avoiding a class you need to take. Are there problems anywhere in your life you are ignoring, distracting yourself from or pretending aren’t there?
Are you keeping yourself busy or self-medicating with work, hobbies, TV, pornography, romance novels, alcohol or other interests, instead of working on fixing your life?
It may be time to admit you don’t know how to fix what is broken. That is the first step to change, and remember it’s not weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength. Ask for help.
There are some great worksheets and tools on our website to help you work through your problems and find solutions. My favorite is the Clarity Questions Worksheet, and you can access it here.
Choose to make 2017 your best year yet in personal growth. Choose to stretch out of your comfort zone, gain some new skills and tools and create a richer life. Making this happen isn’t as scary or as hard as you think.
You may have noticed I end every article I write with the phrase “You can do this.” I end this way because most of us have subconscious belief that says, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard and I’m not good enough” but that’s not truth. You are meant to do this, grow, rise, solve problems and succeed. You can use the power of conscious choice (in every moment) to choose to believe you are safe, on track, ready and perfectly able to succeed in your classroom … whatever it brings.
Make sure you join our mailing list by texting "Claritypoint" to 71441 (and get a free e-book by Kim Giles too) or follow us on social media this year, as we provide you with tips, skills, tools and advice and help you to suffer less and have more joy.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and a corporate trainer. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach for families, parents and teens.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
Web Tease: Coach Kim's yearly New Year's resolution article. This year she challenges us to see all people as having the same value and make a stand for human rights, tolerance and love.
For the last two years in January I have recommended one resolution that would have the biggest impact on your life. In 2013 I wrote about improving communication skills and thereby improving your relationships at home and work. In 2014 I recommended forgiving yourself and others as this would greatly improve your self-esteem and quality of life. This year, I would like to recommend a resolution that could not only change your life — but may also change the world.
There is a great deal of hate sweeping our planet right now. There is terrible racial conflict in our country and fighting over differences in religion, race and sexual orientation, happening around the world. As we have watched the fighting, beheadings, riots and terrorism on TV, we, at our house, find ourselves asking the same question over and over, “What can we do to change this?”
This question can leave us feeling powerless at times, but the truth is, one person can make a difference. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who successfully made a big difference in the world, started out as regular people like you and me. They were regular people who decided to speak out for truth, but because their ideas were truth, it resonated with people and movements were born.
I am going to tell how you can help, speak out, stand up and make your voice heard in defense of truth to encourage equality, respect, unity and love in the world, but before I do that I want you to understand the real root of the problem.
The real problem behind these conflicts is a problematic tendency of human nature that makes all of us subconsciously see those who are different from us (in any way) as less than or worse than us. We basically assume that if we are different from another person, one of us must be better and the other worse. Since we don’t want to be the bad one, we subconsciously look for the bad in the other person so we can cast them as the bad guy, making us feel like the good guy. This can happen in a split second without us even consciously realizing we are doing it.
If you put any two people in a room, they will immediately (subconsciously) either feel intimidated and less than the other person, or slightly better and above the other. The factors influencing this viewpoint may be racial, social, economic or educational, but the more different they are from each other, the more fear and discomfort will be generated. We are also subconsciously afraid of things we don’t understand. So, people who are vastly different from us make us even more uncomfortable. This is why we struggle to accept those of different cultures or sexual orientation. Since we have a hard time understanding them, the difference generates more fear.
Have you noticed how we flock to those who are most like us? We are always more comfortable around our own kind, though we can change this by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and over time we can become comfortable around anyone. The problem is that most of us don’t push ourselves to do this. We just stay with our group.
This simple subconscious tendency to fear those who are different is responsible for most of the conflict, fighting, war, prejudice, racism, discrimination and hate on the planet. This tendency to see ourselves as better than others and think that our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong — is dividing countries, communities and even families. It is separating us and drawing all kinds of lines of division. We divide ourselves by political party, religion, neighborhood, which mayonnaise we use, which soda we drink and which school or sports team we cheer for, and then we declare ourselves as better than ‘those people’ and cast them as the enemy.
This has to stop.
But the only way to stop it is to change the way we think about and see each other, and this change has to happen inside the head of every person individually.
The problem is, the only person you have any control over is you.
So, that is where you must start. You must work on changing you.
You can start this year by committing to see all people as the same as you. This is the resolution I recommend in 2015. Practice not letting differences scare you, make you uncomfortable, suspicious or angry. You can practice letting all men be free to be who they are and not see yourself as better than anyone else. You can commit to treat all people as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, amazing, divine human beings with the same value as you. You can work on treating people with respect, kindness and acceptance everywhere you go.
You can also check your behavior at all times by asking yourself if the behavior is lawful, kind, respectful, honest or helpful. If it isn’t going to further the cause of liberty, love and brotherhood with all people — don’t say it or don’t do it.
You can also join the march for tolerance, racial unity and peace online, right now. In the old days, people had to gather in a public place to march (to be seen and heard) and draw attention to a cause. You can now reach the world at home through social media.
Visit www.itakethechallenge.com to read more about how to join the march for tolerance and peace on social media. Make a sign, then film a video or take a picture and post them on social media with your commitment to be the solution. Use #iamthesolution with your post. I took the challenge and my video is on Facebook.
Then, directly challenge (call out) three of your friends or neighbors to do the same. Together we could literally flood social media with videos and pictures of people advocating for love, tolerance and unity. Then (and most importantly) back it up with your behavior this year. Make a commitment to actually live what you profess.
Don’t wait to act on this. Do it today. Don’t worry about how you look or the quality of the film. Just do it.
If Martin Luther King Jr. was still here and was organizing a march in your town today, would you join in? Would you be willing to speak out and let the world know that you commit to see all people as equal in value and deserving of respect, justice, tolerance and love?
This is your chance.
The world needs to see and hear from the silent majority who don’t make the news and who aren’t racist, angry or intolerant. It needs to hear from people who understand looting and anger aren’t going to change things. It needs to hear from you.
We need to flood the Internet in 2015 with commitments of peace, equality and love. Remember if you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Please do something.
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.
My husband is struggling at work and, frankly, everywhere else. He is constantly bothered by things people say and do. He is always afraid his performance isn’t good enough. His self-esteem isn’t good and he is almost always frustrated and offended by something. He seems to have lost himself and in some ways he is giving up. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help him (or advice you could really give me) but I thought it worth a try. I’d do anything to see him happier.
He has fallen into fear and drifting and doesn’t know how to get himself out. This happens to most of us at some point in our life. You may be in an unhappy marriage, but not doing much to change it or fix it. Instead you might be living around each other, carrying years of resentment and being slightly passive aggressive. You may be in fear at work, doing just enough to get by, but not going anywhere.
You may be just generally unhappy with yourself and life, but can’t see a way to change it. I call this state — stuck in fear drifting. I got that term from Napoleon Hill and his amazing book "Outwitting the Devil."
He says that drifters are the people who dwell in fear and neglect to use their minds to choose their way out. He explains that drifters let other people and situations influence their emotions and they mindlessly react to life with the same old patterns over and over.
He claims that 98 percent of us fall into that category.
“People who think for themselves never drift, while those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his own mind… A drifter accepts whatever life throws in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He doesn’t know what he wants from life and spends all of his time getting just that.”
“People who think accurately do not drift on any subject. They recognize the power of their own minds. Moreover, they take over that power and yield it to no person or influence” says Hill.
Everyone experiences hard times, failures, embarrassments and mistakes. They are part of the classroom of life, but drifters let those disappointments and failures stop them. They let the fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) convince them it’s safer to stop trying, stretching and shooting high, that it’s safer to pull back and stay where you are. When you set your sights high you are usually disappointed and you could embarrass yourself.
Take a minute and honestly assess if you are making plans and setting goals to get what you want out of life — or just drifting through?
Napoleon Hill also wrote the famous book, "Think and Grow Rich," one of the bestsellers of all time. In this book he lays out his research on creating success in life. One of the amazing things he discovered interviewing the most successful people of his day was that all of them had experienced great failures and set-backs. Every one without exception had experienced discouraging losses. The difference was their “capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged.” This was “the chief asset of every man who attained outstanding success in any calling.”
These people learned to use their minds to choose how they were going to experience those setbacks. They understood they had control over how those failures affected their value and what losses meant. They learned how to see themselves, other people and situations accurately (without fear of not being good enough in the way). They were people with defined purpose who set goals, believed in themselves and didn’t let any situation or person stop them. They understood the classroom of life gives you problems, but it also provides solutions.
Hill said, “There is a solution for every legitimate problem no matter how difficult the problem may seem.” But the solution won’t just be handed to you. You are going to have to fight, work, learn and stretch to find it. The important point though is that it is there — and you are meant to find it. The universe doesn’t want you to stay stuck and unhappy — ever. It wants you to learn and grow and change your life. Answers and solutions to your problems are available right now!
Here are some suggestions for breaking free from drifting:
If you are having trouble with how to choose them, you may want to find a coach or counselor to help you. I would also highly recommend reading Napoleon Hills books, "Outwitting the Devil" and "Think and Grow Rich."
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.
My spouse and I have struggled with marriage problems for years and years. I have begged to go to therapy or counseling but my spouse refuses to let anyone know we are struggling and not perfect. It’s like she would rather get divorced than admit we need help. What can I do? Why are people so reluctant to ask for help?
I’m so glad you asked this question. Just last week, Matt Townsend and I were discussing why so many couples wait until their marriages are hanging by a thread before they seek professional help. At this point awful things have been said and done, and it’s much more difficult to repair the relationship. It breaks our hearts that they don’t ask for help sooner. If you would seek out help at the first sign of trouble, repairing the relationship would be a hundred times easier and you could save yourself years of suffering.
If you didn't do that, the best time to ask for help is today.
Ask your spouse if she would be open to at least read this article and consider changing her mind.
People are reluctant to admit they need help because somewhere in the course of their life they picked up an inaccurate idea (policy) around what it means to ask for help. Here are some common fear-based policies they might have learned in childhood. See if any of them sound familiar:
Refusing to ask for help can also create isolation and make you come across as arrogant. You are literally putting yourself above other people (the mere mortals who need help from other people). You are giving power to the idea that we should all be perfect from the beginning instead of struggling students in the classroom of life.
The truth is, we are students in the classroom of life. We are works in progress who at no point are ever going to be perfect and have it all figured out and not need any help from anyone else. There is no such thing as independence. We are all interdependent here. We all serve each other as teachers and students.
There is no shame in being the student on occasion. It is what you are meant to be. Learning is what you are here for. Have I shared with you my favorite definition for the word SHAME?
It is an acronym — Should Have Already Mastered Everything.
How ridiculous is that? You can’t know everything and be an expert at every dimension of living. That isn't possible. You must learn to be honest, genuine and vulnerable and admit you need help once in awhile. You must also remember that doing this does not affect your value.
Your value is infinite and absolute (it is not changeable or on the line because life is a classroom, not a test). This means that whether you ask for help or not, your value is the same.
When you really understand this principle, it will take the fear of looking bad off the table. You will stop worrying about what others think and focus on learning and growing instead.
What you really want is to be a strong, wise person, right? But strong, wise people aren’t those who are trying to impress others with their perfectness. People who are trying to impress are actually terribly afraid they aren’t good enough, which is why they feel they have to impress. They think they must pretend to be perfect to even have value.
Real strong and wise people don’t need to pretend anything because they know their value is infinite either way. Real strong, wise people are basically fearless.
This means they have no fear of doing anything (or at least they know how to choose this mindset in any situation), which means they can ask for help, be vulnerable and even look stupid, and none of these experiences change how they feel about themselves.
Their value is the same regardless of what anyone thinks of them.
Strong people ask for help because they understand that in being real enough to admit they don’t know it all, they give other people permission to be imperfect (and still have infinite value) too. They make other people feel more accepted and honored despite their faults.
We all like people who are genuine and not trying to impress us.
Asking for help in front of your children is the only way to teach your children they have nothing to fear by asking questions and admitting they didn’t know it all. And this is a lesson you want your children to learn. Don’t pass on inaccurate fear-based policies to your kids.
Here are some ways you can ease into asking for help (and being more strong and wise):
You can do it!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness." 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.
If you want to have a happy and successful life, you must be good at relationships. The core issue that determines the quality of your relationships is your ability to communicate.
If I could recommend one change this year (that would change everything else), it would be to improve the quality of your communication with others. If you could learn to communicate with love, making others feel respected and honored in every conversation, you would change your relationships in a profound way and you would have a better marriage, better friendships and do better at work.
Here are nine suggestions for improving your communication.
1. Don’t be afraid to communicate. You might be leaving important things unsaid because you are afraid of confrontation, hurting another person’s feelings, or losing love or respect. You may think it’s safer not to talk too much. The problem is, not communicating enough will damage your relationships. You must learn how to communicate your thoughts and feelings instead of stuffing them. The suggestions in this article can help you learn how to communicate in a way that won’t create as much confrontation, hurt or loss. You may want to practice by visualizing yourself having conversations following these guidelines.
2. Check yourself to make sure you are seeing the situation accurately before you talk to someone about it.
4. Be a master question asker. Before you say anything, ask more questions. You will be amazed at what you learn. You will also make people feel valued. Listening to someone is the deepest way you can show them you value who they are.
5. Be a dedicated listener. Listen more than you talk in each conversation. Be an active listener, repeat things back and keep eye contact the whole time. It’s insulting when you are looking around the room (or at your phone) while you’re supposed to be listening to someone. Do not agree or disagree with them at this point.
6. Validate what people say. This does not mean you agree with them. It means you honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. When you validate their right to have their perspective (as wrong as it may be), you make them feel valued and you create relationships of trust. When a person feels validated, honored and respected, they become more cooperative, open and respectful toward you. Always ask questions, listen and validate before going to step No. 7.
7. Ask permission questions before you say anything. Before you give advice, share your opinion or tell someone what you think, ask them if they would be open to hearing your thoughts. This is a powerful way to show the other person that you honor and respect them. You may want to ask a series of permission questions, such as:
8. Use more “I” statements than “you” statements. When you use “you” statements, the other person will feel judged, criticized and blamed. This will create defensiveness and the conversation won’t go well. Using “I” statements means you are speaking about the only part of this situation you know anything about — your part.
9. Focus on the future. Focusing on past behavior, which the other person cannot fix or change, creates frustration, defensiveness and may encourage the other person to attack you. Instead, ask the person if they would be willing to behave differently in the future (don’t even bring up the past). Ask them if, moving forward, they would be willing to treat your differently. This they have control over.
Changing the way you communicate is not easy, but it will be worth the effort. Just make sure every person you talk to feels heard and validated, and ask permission before sharing your thoughts and your relationships will thrive.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
Every January I get excited about the fresh start of a new year. I’m excited to set goals, make changes and become a better me — but by February I’ve fallen back to my old habits again. What can I do this year to make my New Year’s resolutions stick?
When you consistently fail to reach a goal, there is probably a counter-intention in the way. A counter-intention is a strong desire to do something that is the opposite of — or counter to — your goal.
In the past, your counter-intention has been stronger than your resolution to make a change. The good news is, this year you can do it.
To overcome your hurdle, identify what your counter-intention is, then choose a more passionate positive intention to eliminate it.
Here are four examples:
1) You may have fear about the responsibilities and commitments accomplishing this goal brings with it. You want the goal but you may not want the other things more. Your desire to avoid these commitments and responsibilities is your counter-intention. For example: You may be afraid that if you lose weight, people will expect you to keep it off. They may expect you to diet and exercise forever. Avoiding long-term commitment can stop you from achieving what you want.
To beat this counter intention: Don’t look so far ahead. Take it one day at a time. Decide who you want to be today. Decide what actions you will take today. Trust that when you reach the future, your abilities will have expanded and you will be able to handle what comes. Don’t let a fear of the future stop you from being the person you want to be, right now.
2) You may have a strong aversion toward the tasks required to accomplish your goal. You may love the idea of being thinner but hate the idea of dieting and exercising. If you hate exercise and the foods available to you on a diet, your counter-intention is your strong desire to avoid those things. You may force yourself for a while, but when you’re motivated by “I have to” or “I need to,” there’s just no joy in the tasks and the motivation doesn’t last.
To beat this counter intention: Change the tasks and make them enjoyable. Find a form of exercise you “love to do” or “get to do,” something that is fun and brings you joy. There are many fun ways to exercise that don't feel like exercise. Try Zumba, playing basketball or ice skating. Then find some healthy foods that actually taste good (yes, there actually are some). It is easy to stay motivated when you're doing something you want to do.
3) You may be getting a benefit from staying where you are, so there is a counter-intention that doesn’t want to change. For example, you may feel there are benefits to being overweight; you may use your weight as an excuse to get you out of things you don’t want to do. If you lose the weight you may lose the convenient excuse. Or you may love chocolate cake more than you love the idea of being thin (that’s the problem for me).
To beat this counter-intention: Decide who you really want to be and consciously choose to let go of the benefit.Decide that accomplishing this goal has greater benefits than excuses (and cake). Consciously make the decision to let the old benefits go. You may want to write them down and burn the paper as a symbol of your commitment. Focus on the benefits of success.
4) You may have an all-or-nothing attitude. This means that if you mess up once, you will throw in the towel and wait for next year. Your counter-intention is a perfectionist mindset. It says, “If I can’t do it perfectly I might as well give up.”
To beat this counter-intention: Change your standard of success. A mistake doesn’t mean you won’t make it. Talk to anyone who has quit smoking and they will tell you they tried to quit numerous times before they finally did it. If you fall off the wagon for a week, don’t let the mistake stop you. You don’t have to do it perfectly to benefit from the effort. Taking two steps forward and one step back will still win the race in the end.
My goal this year with LIFEadvice is to give you principle-based, time-tested solutions, which can change your life for the better. If you will read this column each week, I will teach you principles and give you the tools to solve many of life’s problems. Please send in your questions to email@example.com
Life is a classroom and it's time to learn.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker. Watch LIFEadvice with Coach Kim on KSL TV every Monday between 6-6:30am
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Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
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