This was first published on KSL.com
I am going through a divorce and it’s really depressing to be here over Christmas. I haven’t even had it in me to put up the tree. It’s the worst time of year to feel alone. Do you have any advice for how to make this a Merry Holiday when I’m lonely?
That is a hard situation to be in, but you must decide now if you are going to give into the sadness story or reject that thinking and choose to focus on the positive. You may have to make this choice every five minutes, as the sadness might creep back in, but you can do it and it gets easier with practice. Here are fourteen ways you can make your holiday season easier to get through.
1. Focus on what you do have — not what you don’t have.
How you feel is directly tied to how you're thinking about your situation. Focus on gratitude for everything you have every day. Take some time and write them in a journal each day if necessary.
2. Focus on self-care.
All that time and energy you would be spending on someone else, you can now spend on loving and caring for yourself. Take advantage of this and treat yourself extra good. Take bubble baths, get massages, buy great lotions and some fresh clothes (use the money you would have spent on presents for a significant other).
3. Don’t create a story around loss or victimhood.
And don’t dwell on the fact that you don’t have anyone to kiss under the mistletoe. That depressing storyline is an attitude option, but it’s not your only choice. You could choose to feel whole, happy and fulfilled. You really can. The one thing you always have power over is your thoughts. Think happy, whole, fulfilled thoughts about how great your life is. If negative story comes in, thank it for showing up with an opinion, but no, thank you.
4. Plan activities with family and friends.
Don’t sit home. Plan things you want to do and invite people to join you. Schedule in all your down time with activities you enjoy.
5. Do service.
When you focus on others, you forget about your problems. There are lots of wonderful places to volunteer and donate time around the holidays or you might pick a cause to work or gather donations or gifts for them.
6. Make sure you get lots of exercise, eat well and sleep.
These three things help all of us have more balanced mental and emotional health. If you feel down, go for a walk, get outside and move, or make yourself a healthy meal. These are important areas of self-care that make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and life.
7. Get a great book to read over the holidays.
Getting lost in a wonderful adventure or interesting storyline, keeps you from dwelling on your own life too much.
8. If family gatherings help you, then go.
But if they make you feel worse, don’t go. Don’t attend anything from obligation.
Instead, go out with upbeat friends or plan a party and invite everyone (who has nowhere to go or feels awkward) to join you. Some people call these “A Misfit Toys party”, but we would rather think of them as “Celebrate your perfect classroom even if it’s nonconventional parties”.
9. Create brand new traditions.
If the old ones don’t work right now, don’t create a sad story around that. Decide to create new interesting traditions and decide they will be just as good, just different.
10. Limit the alcohol.
Even though it can numb sad feelings, in the end it will leave you feeling more depressed. Eating healthy and working out would serve you more. Plan fun activities and get high on life, being with friends or having adventures.
11. When the inevitable questions begin about what you’re doing and are you dating, have a response ready that is positive and happy.
You might say you have decided to focus on loving yourself right now and it’s been really good for you. Or have a joke planned and then quickly start asking questions about them and keep them talking as long as possible. If you keep the focus off your life completely by asking questions about everyone else, the parties will be easier.
12. Buy yourself some awesome presents that are just what you wanted.
Get out of town. Sometimes the best way to handle the holidays is to plan a trip and skip the whole thing all together. Go on a fun adventure, a cruise or trip and focus on pampering yourself while you’re there.
13. If tears come, let yourself have a limited amount of time to cry it out.
Cry really good and loud and let all the pain out. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.
14. Watch funny movies, comedians or YouTube videos.
Laugh as much as possible! This really helps you stay upbeat, especially after that good cry.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are relationship and human behavior experts, authors and speakers. They host Relationship Radio every Thursday on VoiceAmerica.com Empowerment Channel.
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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My relationship and life are not going well. I’m not happy with where I am at work and my marriage isn’t helping. My spouse doesn’t validate me and she hardly pays attention to me at all. I get the feeling she doesn’t want to spend time with me and stays busy doing other things instead. I hate that I’m getting old and feeling like my best days are over and gone. How can I get a more positive outlook and improve my marriage? Is that even possible?
It sounds to me like you are unhappy with yourself and life, and when you are an unhappy person, it’s hard to maintain healthy relationships. I believe this happens because unhappiness puts us into a fear and lack state, where we feel unsafe and unbalanced. This makes us overly focused on ourselves, and when your focus is mostly on you, not a lot of love happens and your relationships suffer.
You need to figure out the cause of your unhappiness and work on fixing that first. Once you are able to show up happy with yourself, you will show up in your relationship in a way that feels positive and healthy to your partner.
Here are the four main causes of unhappiness. See if any feel familiar to you:
1. Low self-esteem or fears that you might not be good enough. Do you compare yourself with others? Are you haunted by insecurity and negative thinking about yourself? Do you feel you are less valuable or good than others?
2. Dissatisfaction with what is happening in your life. Do you feel life’s been unfair to you? Have you been taken from, walked on or mistreated? Are you depressed with where you are or discouraged your life won’t get better than what it is now? Do you always wish you were somewhere else?
3. Fear about either the future or the past. Are you haunted with guilt and shame over things in the past? Do you think your past experiences or mistakes define you? Are you constantly worried about all the things that could go wrong?
4. Choosing to be unhappy because it benefits you in some way. Does being unhappy earn you some attention or sympathy love or do you use it as an excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do? Do you get something from telling your victim story or does it protect you to hold onto it?
Did any of those resonate with you? Maybe even more than one? Once you know what is causing your unhappiness, you can own the responsibility for changing it. It is your responsibility to because you are the only one who has any control over you and your thinking. You cannot make your spouse responsible for your happiness (as it sounds like you might have by your letter). It is not her job to make you happy, it’s yours. You have got to figure out what you need to do, or change in your life, to make yourself more happy.
Here are five things that might help:
1. Change your policy on human value
Make a new policy that your value isn’t in question and can’t change because all human beings have the same infinite, absolute intrinsic value no matter what they do. This will require you to stop judging others too though. You must give this value to everyone if you want it to be true for you. If you can take a fear of failure out of the picture by believing you can’t fail, because you always have the same value as everyone else, it will increase your happiness in life immensely.
2. Worry less and trust more
Uncertainty is a beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing, it is just unknown — and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God or this amazing classroom universe you could walk into each unknown adventure without fear.
Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do. You can always choose in every moment to trust the process of your life and see it as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving. You can see it as always being on your side and if you see it that way, you will find there is nothing to fear or worry about.
3. Stop worrying about what others think
We all deal with the fear of judgment at some level. It makes no sense that we give other people this much power over how we feel about ourselves, but we do. If we practice trusting that our value is infinite and absolute (unchangeable) we will start to realize that no judgment, thought or idea in someone’s head can change our value or hurt us without our permission.
Julien Smith once said, "Judgment and fear will never stop, but they don’t actually do anything either." What other people think of you doesn’t mean anything or do anything. You are the same you no matter what they think. Remind yourself of this often.
4. Focus on everything you are grateful for
During the darkest hardest moments of my life I could still count my blessings and find myself more blessed than stressed. Focus on gratitude every day, even listing all your blessings, and you will find many reasons to smile and be happier.
5. Decide that happiness is your character
You get to decide what kind of person you want to be. Choose to see yourself as a happy person. Write a policy that you will choose to be a happy person in every situation because it is always the wisest choice to make.
Have more fun and be more fun. Laugh more often, collect jokes and funny stories to share with those around you. Make it fun to live with you. Be spontaneous, adventurous and positive. Be flexible and easy-going. Find ways to make whatever you do fun. Turn boring, frustrating things into a game. You have more natural ability to play than you realize.
If you will own the responsibility for your own happiness and stop expecting others to make you happy, you will find great power in determining the quality of your own life. Happiness sometimes doesn’t feel like a choice, because we all have moments of sadness, stress, loneliness, discouragement, loss, failure and struggle, but you always have the power to decide how long you stay there.
If you don’t know how to think or process your way through struggle into a healthier happier state, get some professional help. A little guidance and some new skills and tools will make a huge difference fast.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes,com. Her companies offer many free resources, worksheets and materials to help improve your life and relationships. Visit www12shapes.com and take the free survey.
I was deeply offended by my brother and his wife, and I’ve been carrying this anger for years. The things they did and said to me are really awful and so judgmental. Every time I think about them I feel hurt all over again. They have caused so much unhappiness in my life, how can I let that go?
The most important thing you must do, if you want to feel better and stop hurting, is to take responsibility for how you are feeling. As long as you see “them” as the cause of your misery, you will remain a victim, powerless to change anything; but if you step up and own that no one can make you miserable, because you ultimately have the power to choose how you are going to feel, you could take your power back.
Your subconscious ego programming likes to blame others for your unhappiness, to protect you from seeing your own faults, but that doesn't make the blame true. The truth is, no one can make you miserable without your participation and willingness to go there.
This means you are going to have to do some work on you if you want to suffer less. Or you can continue to suffer forever if you want to, but those are your only two options. 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.
It is interesting that most people heal faster if an offense involves a stranger than when it involves a close relative. It appears the closer the relationship, the deeper the wound, even if the offense is exactly the same. This means we give the people closest to us more power to hurt us. You give your power away when you let other people have control over how you feel, even people you love.
Your self-esteem also determines how much pain an offense can causes. If you have low self-esteem and someone criticizes you, it will cause a deeper wound than if you had good self-esteem. But you always have the power to consciously choose to see an offense as a deep wound or a scratch.
Buddha taught whenever someone offends you, you must decide right then if it 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.
Whenever you get offended your subconscious mind quickly creates a story around the offense and that story determines the amount and length of your misery. You may want to write down the story you have created about this offense with your brother. Then ask yourself the following questions:
If you saw it this offense this way, you might be able to see the hidden gift in the experience. There always is something positive that every negative experience creates. Some experiences make you stronger, wiser or more loving, or they give you empathy and compassion for other people or yourself. The fastest way to change how you feel about an offense is to look at it as a perfect lesson in your classroom journey.
It is time to set down the burden of this offense and focus on the good in your world and choose love. Choose to see people accurately as struggling students doing the best they can with what they need. Choose to let your relatives be a work in progress and imperfect, just like you. Choose to see their value as unaffected by their mistakes and their value as the same as yours. When you do this, you will subconsciously see your own mistakes as not affecting your value either and your own self-esteem will grow.
We believe you get what you give in the world. 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, make you feel not enough too.
If you choose to forgive and let everyone have infinite value and you see everyone as the same as you, you will feel your own worth is unchanging too and you will have good self-esteem. How do you want to live?
If you are holding onto anger thinking it is protecting you from future offenses, it isn’t. It is creating pain, fear and low self-esteem. It is time to be in charge of your inner state and not give other people the power to make you suffer.
Whatever the offense was, it was just words or deeds and they have no power or meaning unless you give power to them. Decide thoughts or words can’t do anything to you, they can’t diminish your value, they can’t take from your life journey (if you believe your journey is always your perfect classroom) and they can’t make you less than who you are. All they can do is facilitate lessons to help you grow. See them this way and let others go in peace with your blessing and good wishes. I promise this will make you feel stronger, wiser and better.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com and co-host of Relationship Radio on Voice America. You can go to her website to get free resources and take the 12 shapes survey.
This was first published on KSL.com
Last year was the worst year ever for me and 2017 has started out pretty bad too. So many things have gone wrong, including my family being ripped apart and my career taking a big hit. I am a good person, I treat others right, and am a giver not a taker. I live my religion and keep the commandments, but I am not seeing the promised blessings at all. I feel God has left me on my own and out to dry. Why do these things keep happening to me? What can I do different to change the course of my life?
Because I don’t know the details that created the situation you are in, I’m not sure what changes you personally need to make to change the results you are getting. I highly recommend you get a good life coach to help you work that part out, but I can tell from your question that some of your fundamental beliefs about life and the nature of the journey aren’t accurate.
This is a common problem because most of us picked up our beliefs about life (that define how we see everything that happens to us) before we were even 7 years old. Most of these are subconscious beliefs so we aren’t (obviously) consciously aware of them and the havoc they create in our thinking. And, if we did look at them and question their accuracy, we would immediately see how flawed they are and disregard them, but because we don’t even realize we have them, we never do.
Here are a few subconscious beliefs about the nature of life many of us have (unfortunately) accepted, which create negative attitudes and feelings and lots of discouragement.
It is very common for us to misinterpret the real reason, point and purpose of our being here and our higher power’s involvement in our lives. The real purpose of this journey is simply to learn and grow to become better, more loving people, and growth requires struggle, challenges and hard times. So, would it make any sense for God to promise you that obedience would get you out of rough experiences? The very rough experiences that are required for you to grow? Would it make more sense to believe that hard times are required so we can learn and become smarter, stronger and more loving?
In my book, "Choosing Clarity," I give readers the opportunity to change many of their faulty subconscious beliefs and replace them with beliefs or perspectives that create less fear and more peace. In the book, I encourage you to choose to view the higher power in the universe as love, not someone to fear. This alone can be a life changing shift. I also encourage readers to choose to see life as a classroom, not a test, where your value is on the line. I also encourage a belief that there is order, purpose and meaning in the universe and it is working with every choice you make, to create the perfect classroom journey for you, every day.
This means your journey cannot be ruined by anyone else, because you will always get the experiences that will facilitate the lessons you need most. So, if someone injures you or breaks your heart, that has to be the perfect next lesson for you or it wouldn’t happen. I encourage my clients to trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing. At least you have the option of playing with this perspective and seeing life this way if you want to. Try this perspective on for a week or two and trust you are right where you are supposed to be, learning your perfect lessons, safe in God’s hands, no matter what happens. Just see how this perspective feels.
I know some of you will be thinking that I cannot prove this idea is truth and it might be delusional or wishful thinking, and you might be right.
But you cannot prove I'm wrong either. You can’t prove the universe is random, chaotic and without order. So, where does this leave us?
This leaves us that we each get to choose our perspective. We can see the universe as conspiring to serve us and bless us at every turn, or we can see it as chaos or ambivalent to our needs. How do you want to see it? You get to choose.
If you don’t consciously choose a perspective that feels best for you though, your subconscious mind will choose for you, and it will probably choose chaos. Chances are this has already happened and it is why you aren’t feeling peace about your life.
So here it is, the big secret to a better attitude when things go wrong in your life (and this secret comes from one of my best coaches, Sean Barnett) lies in changing one little word from the question you asked me above.
Change your question from “Why do these things keep happening to me?” to “Why do these things keep happening for me?”
You could choose to see the universe as a wise teacher constantly conspiring to serve and educate you. You could choose to look for lessons, growth and knowledge in every rough experience that comes your way. You could choose to see every mistake as a lesson you signed up for, because you apparently needed the lesson that mistake would create.
This mindset would mean you always make the right wrong choices you need to learn something from. If you married someone, but it ends in divorce, you married the perfect teacher and the divorce must have served your growth in some way. At least you have the option of seeing it this way if you want to. You might try this perspective and see how it feels.
Here are four new belief options you might use to replace the inaccurate ones above:
Hard times are not a punishment or a sign God has forgotten about you or doesn’t care, but a sign that you have the capacity to grow a lot from this challenge. Take the rough times one day, one hour or one minute at a time, and stay in trust that you will grow past this and better days are coming.
I know this, because it’s the nature of the universe that nothing lasts forever. Rainy days always end and eventually the sun comes back out. If you are really struggling with the hard times consider getting some life coaching with a certified Claritypoint coach (we have options to fit any budget).
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am reading your book Choosing Clarity and love it. It has really helped me to change how I feel about myself, but my biggest struggle is the relationship with my boss. Most days I feel that he doesn’t care about me at all and thinks I’m no good, in spite of the fact that I’m good at what I do. I have asked for some positive feedback, but all I get is negative. There is no rapport or "how are you" or anything like that. I don't know what else I can do, other than avoid interacting with my supervisor and/or find another job. I don’t want to leave this job, but this person will never approve of me or treat me the way I deserve. I think I will always feel worthless here. Is there anything else can I do?
Yes, you have more control here than you think. Even when you cannot change another person or the situation, you can always change YOU and your perspective, which can completely change how you feel about it.
In this article I'm going to teach you a new technique for doing this.
You must first understand that everything you experience today is filtered through your past experiences. They have created a perspective that works like a filter and distorts or even creates what you think you see. There is no reality. Everything you see and feel is just perception. You cannot see your life outside of it.
But you can change your narrative and create a new perspective. As the wise Marcus Aurelius said, “Life itself is but what you deem it.”
You have the ability to create or drastically change the story you are telling yourself, which will change how you feel. But to do this you will also have to step back and own the emotions you are bringing to the situation, but blaming your boss for.
The late and great Wayne Dyer used to demonstrate this by bringing an orange on stage. He would ask the audience if he squeezed the orange would apple juice come out? Grape juice? Of course not, orange juice would come out because that is what is inside an orange. Squeezing doesn’t produce the juice though. It just brings out whatever is already inside it.
You are very much like that orange. When life squeezes you (through difficult situations or challenges) what comes out?
Does self-pity, overwhelming hopelessness, insecurity, anger, fear, pride, jealousy come out? If these things show up when you feel stressed, insulted or mistreated you must understand the situation isn’t creating these emotions. The situation is just squeezing you and what is already inside you is coming out.
This means you already had issues with these emotions and you owned this problem before this person showed up.
Take a minute and think about how you subconsciously react when mistreated or stressed. What emotions do you experience? Is there a pattern here? Is this an emotion or a narrative you have experienced again and again in your life, though the specific situation is different?
You may have unresolved emotions in your past that created this issue and it’s now a sore (easy to trigger) spot with you. This means you are automatically quick to feel this way. I would guess from your question that you have some insecurity issues and fears of not being good enough (that you’ve probably carried with you for a long time). You may have fears around being disliked or not approved of. Your boss is triggering these in you, but he is not creating them.
It is very important you do not blame your boss (or anyone else in your life) for making you feel anything. No one can make you experience a feeling without your participation in creating it. If you didn't already have a weakness or tendency for that emotion or experience, his behavior wouldn't create it.
I believe because life is a classroom the universe is constantly providing teachers for you, who squeeze you so you can see what you have inside and need to work on. This interesting experience with your boss is giving you a chance for you to grow and become stronger, smarter and more in control of yourself and your perspective. Your boss is in your life to serve your growth.
I would encourage you to use this situation to overcome some of your subconscious insecurities and fears. Here is one way to do that:
Sit down with some paper and write out your current story about your horrible situation at work. Pour out all your anger, insecurity and fear. Let yourself vent and have a pity party about it.
Then, get a fresh piece of paper and write a different (healthier and more accurate) story or perspective about your situation. Use principles of truth to guide this, like the fact that your value is infinite and unchangeable, which means it isn’t tied to your boss’s feedback. Write about how this experience is just a lesson to help you grow. Write about how other people’s bad behavior towards you has more to do with their fears about themselves than it does about you.
Write a new attitude of compassion and love towards your boss and decide to see him as a great person with the same value as you, who is just struggling. Write a new attitude about how you are succeeding at work because you always do your best and create more value than required. Write a positive, powerful, optimistic perspective and make this your new mindset.
Then, read it daily or record it on your phone and listen to it throughout the day. Use the power of conscious choice to override your old story. You may even want to burn the paper with the old story on it and let it go. It was only a perspective option.
You are writing your life story (either consciously or unconsciously) with every thought you think. It is time to start controlling the story and living the life you want to experience. You can change the narrative and change how you feel completely. You can also apply this technique to any situation.
You really can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and mental health at work expert.
This was first published on ksl.com
I do not have the holiday spirit and I am actually so depressed I wish I could skip the whole thing. I dread the family gatherings and resent the fact I feel obligated to spend money on things we don’t need. I wish I could feel differently, but honestly I’m Scrooge at this point. Any advice on how to shake off these feelings?
Holiday depression can be caused by a number of factors, including fears about not being good enough (that are triggered by family parties) or sharp feelings of loneliness caused by divorce, separation or death of a loved one. You could feel down because of unrealistic expectations about how your holiday celebrations should look or you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder where the darker days with less sunlight affect your mood.
If you find yourself sleeping more than usual, overeating, feeling anxious or moody, having low energy, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, or if you can’t focus or think clearly, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to WedMD, about 11 million Americans suffer from SAD, a sensitivity to the shorter days and reduced sunlight, which disrupts your circadian rhythm or body clock. The lack of sun exposure causes your brain to work overtime trying to produce melatonin.
If you feel sad in the winter and suspect you might have SAD, you should talk to your doctor, get more Vitamin D, maximize sun exposure and possibly even take medication. Most doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of direct sunlight first thing in the morning, and sunlight through a window doesn’t count. You may need a sunbox or some trips to the tanning booths if it's too cold to be outside.
If you have experienced loss, a change at work or are struggling financially you may want to talk to a therapist or coach who can help you process your emotions in a healthy way. They can help you create a healthy mindset for surviving those family parties too. I wrote an article with tips for difficult family parties a few weeks ago, and make sure you get the Holiday Mindset Worksheet.
I also highly recommend the new book "The Depression Miracle" by Greg Thredgold. It is packed with great ideas for beating depression and feeling better about life.
If you just hate the holidays and resent the obligation to spend money, then you need to consciously choose a more positive mindset. We are all in the habit of letting our subconscious minds determine how we feel. When you live unconsciously, you are on autopilot, letting your past experiences and thoughts determine your current mood.
Don't do this.
You have the power to consciously choose your mindset in any moment, but most of us have not learned how to harness that power and control our feelings. We also don’t know how to process feelings in a healthy way. There is a great e-book on my website on processing emotions, which would help you with this. It gives you a procedure to follow when you feel down and guides you through choosing something better.
Whatever you are feeling, it is showing up for a reason. You may need to sit with the emotion and let it play out a little before you can figure out what it’s here to teach you. Life is a classroom, and every experience serves your education in some way. Every experience can make you wiser, more compassionate, stronger or more loving, but you must get conscious about the emotions to use them this way.
Here are some other ways you can choose happiness this holiday season:
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
I worry too much and it is draining joy from my life, but I honestly cannot stop. I am really good at thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong with every situation. Even when things are going good, I can think of things to be worried about. My spouse says that I can rain on any parade. How does one turn that off? Do you have some advice?
First, understand that worries are nothing more than perspective. Everything you feel and experience is just perspective and in every situation there are other perspectives you could choose, which could make you feel different. I want you to take your thoughts (worries) less seriously. They are not facts. They are just ideas.
Unfortunately, it sounds like worry has become your autopilot or subconscious default perspective. You can look at anything and immediately see something to fear. This happens so fast, you don’t see the other perspective options available to you. You must slow down and become more mindful. This means stepping back and observing what you are thinking, then consciously deciding if it serves you.
Here are 10 ways to get control over worry and choose a different perspective:
1) Remind yourself worry never robs tomorrow of problems, it only robs today of joy. Studies have shown most of the things you worry about will never happen and the bad things which do happen, are usually out of your control and no amount of worrying could have prevented them. This means that worry is a waste of your time and energy. It does not change the outcome of the future and it does not protect you. It only robs you of your ability to thrive today.
2) If there is something you can do right now, do it. If there is nothing you can do right now, let it go. Choose to be present and focus on where you are. Look for people to serve or love, or action that would make a positive difference in your life. Stay present. George Macdonald said, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.” Take everything one moment at a time.
3) There is a difference between worrying and planning. When you have a big project you may need to spend some time thinking about the problems and figuring out how to handle obstacles, but you can do this planning in a state of optimism and trust believing everything will work out for the best or you can do this in a state of fear. Planning and should feel peaceful and wise, while worrying in fear feels anxious and out of control. Choose to plan not worry by choosing optimism.
4) Choose optimism. A state of optimism means trusting the universe that it is a classroom that is always conspiring for your good. Believe things always work out to serve you in the end. You don’t know they will work out, but you don’t know they won’t work out either. Given that it could go either way you might as well choose a positive, optimistic attitude because doubt, fear and worry are less fun and less motivating. Remember, worry saps your energy and leaves you less able to deal with what does happen.
5) Put worries in the worry closet. Don’t let yourself think about problems all day long. Instead set aside some time (maybe an hour late in the day) when you can sit down and process your concerns. When worry shows up during the day, put those worries in a worry closet and lock the door. The worries are still there, but you are not dealing with them right now. Don’t try to stop worrying. This actually keeps you thinking about not thinking about it, which is actually still thinking about it. Just put them in the worry closet until later. When the time comes, open the worry closet and walk inside. Give yourself a specific amount of time to dwell in worry, plan and process all the concerns. Use some of the strategies below to do that.
6) Figure out what is in your control and what’s not. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. on the right side write down everything that is in your control and on the left everything that is out of your control. You will find the right side list is usually shorter. Decide to take action on those things. The rest is out of your control and does you no good to worry about.
7) Focus on solutions. During your worry closet time, instead of dwelling on your fears, focus on solutions to the problem. Brain storm solutions and don’t stop until you come up with 50. This will push you to stretch your imagination and come up with new ideas. You might want to recruit family or coworkers to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one.
8) Uncertainty is part of life and it doesn’t have to scare you. Accept that uncertainty is beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing it is just unknown - and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God and this amazing classroom universe he created, you can walk into each unknown adventure without fear. Trusting God and the universe is the key to peace.
9) Spend time dwelling on positive feelings. Gay Henricks, Phd and author of the book The Big Leap says most of us are subconsciously programmed to sabotage ourselves if too much success and positive change starts to happen. We may think we don’t deserve the good or don’t believe it can happen to us. We may start worrying because it is a feeling we are more used to. Worry is more "in our comfort zone" than accepting the positive is. You should always step back from negative thinking or worry, and check yourself for subconscious self-sabotage. Ask yourself these questions:
What is this worry showing up for?
How could this worry be trying to keep me safe or protect me from something?
What positive thing might be manifesting in my life?
What do I fear about getting this positive thing that could make me push it away or deny it?
What would happen if I embraced the positive?
Instead of dwelling in the worry sit with the positive thoughts about what could go right for a minute. How would it feel to let this positive thing happen and not worry about it or doubt it? Feel the positive feelings and get used to how they feel. Embrace them and believe you deserve good things to happen. Practice accepting positive from the universe.
10) Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do.
Fear is a choice, and so is peace.
Choose to trust the universe and the process of your life. See life as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving every minute of every day. It is on your side and if you trust your higher power and the amazing classroom universe more deeply, you will find there is nothing to fear because there isn't.
There is nothing to fear.
You can do this.
I have a tendency to see the worst in every situation and assume things are my fault. Apparently it is driving my spouse crazy. She says that I always look at the negative side of everything and I am too quick to blame myself. I guess I’m a pessimist. Is there any way to change that? Can I somehow get a more positive outlook on life and situations? I think better self-esteem would help, but I don’t know how to get there. I’d love some help on this.
Better self-esteem would help you, and I’ve written quite a few articles on changing the way you see yourself (that you should read) but I think you also need to learn about your attributional (or explanatory) style. Your attributional style is the way you subconsciously explain events, what caused them and what they mean. Every moment of the day you are attributing events to certain factors that explain why they happened. The secret to optimism is to attribute events in a more positive way. Learning to do this also helps you battle depression and anxiety too.
Many of us have faulty attributional styles (that we picked up in childhood) and we tend to automatically see events in a more personal, negative and depressing way than an optimist might interpret the exact same event. Your personal attributional style is determined by three factors. The factors are:
Pessimists tend to see events as being internal or personal, and they see this in a negative way. They assume the problem is always about their inadequacies. They could also tend to see every problem as someone else’s fault and therefore they take no responsibility for their behavior and feel powerless to change their lives. Pessimists also tend to see events as stable (like they are always going to be bad) or they see them as unstable with a feeling of powerlessness again. Pessimists also tend toward making global assumptions. When one bad thing happens they assume everything will be bad.
Optimists usually have better self-esteem and don’t blame themselves and their personal faults for creating problems. If something is their fault though they tend to take responsibility for it with the understanding that it doesn’t change their value as a person. Optimists usually tend to either see things as stable and mostly good or they believe in their own power to change the things they don’t like. They also tend to let a bad situation stay in that situation, and they don’t assume the negative is going to affect everything else.
Take some time with that worksheet and figure out your subconscious attributional style. Then understand you don’t have to let your subconscious programming drive. You have the power to change your perspective and see things a different way. This is one of the most important truths we all need to embrace more fully.
We are too quick to let our subconscious mind determine how we are going to feel about situations. Many of us are even attached to the idea that we can’t help how we feel. We think our feelings are out of our control. The truth is, your first subconscious reaction may be out of your control, but you can always step back from a feeling and see other options (as far as how you are going to see it, feel about it and respond to it). There are always positive perspective options.
It will take some time and practice to change your style and the way you see your life, but you can do it. I watch people change their perspectives on life and their self-worth every day in coaching.
To fix your self-esteem you will need to change your perspective about your value. Right now you subconsciously believe your value is changeable and unstable (that you can lose value and be worth less than other people, or you gain value and be better than others). You believe your value is in question and you must prove you have any. You could change your mindset on this right now and choose to see your value as stable, unchangeable and the same as everyone elses. You could see your value as a person is infinite, absolute and always good enough. This is a life-changing mindset shift that would do you (and everyone reading this) a lot of good.
You can also change the way you see your life’s journey. Instead of seeing life as out to get you and the universe as a dangerous place, you can choose to see life as a safe place and the universe as a wise teacher, who that is constantly conspiring to educate and serve you. You can choose to believe there is nothing to fear. Changing your thinking about this will literally change your life.
If you struggle to make these changes on your own, I highly recommend finding a coach or counselor to help you. A little professional guidance makes the process much easier
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
If you haven’t seen the movie "Inside Out" yet, take the kids or your friends and go see it. Get over the fact that it is targeted toward the very young and pay close attention to what it’s trying to teach you about your brain.
Pixar has provided a creative glimpse into what happens in your mind when you experience painful, life-changing situations. The movie shows how you process emotions and how emotions can drive your behavior. You can then use this knowledge to become a better, wiser more emotionally mature person.
Here is how.
We all have emotions or subconscious tendencies driving our behaviors every day. The ones mentioned in the film running the control center in the mind are Anger, Fear, Joy, Sadness and Disgust. These emotions are represented as little people, who live and work inside Riley’s head and take turns driving.
At one point, as she is processing her discouraging situation, Joy and Sadness start fighting, leaving Anger, Fear and Disgust alone at the controls. These emotions cause problems and drive some really bad decisions. Imaging little people (as the emotions) in your head may help you become more consciously aware or mindful about what you are thinking, and it could even help you gain control.
Instead of letting your random emotions take over, you could start consciously choosing how you want to experience your life. In the movie, the young 11-year-old Riley wasn’t mature enough to control what was playing out in her head, but you are, and imagining your emotions as little people will help. (It may sound a little schizophrenic, but go with it because there is great value is separating yourself from your emotions so you can look at them objectively).
The first thing I recommend you do it figure out which emotions drive your behavior from time to time. Do you have times where Sadness drives and you feel under a dark cloud all day? Does Sadness make you feel depressed and discouraged? Does she see the negative in everything? Does she encourage you to complain or criticize others?
Do you have moments where Anger drives and encourages behavior you later regret? Do you fly off the handle and treat people badly?
Do you have Disgust in you? Does your Disgust get offended too easy and take over too often? Does she grab the wheel at even the smallest offense? Does she lash out and hurt the people you love because Love can't show up while Disgust is at the wheel?
Can you hear a voice of Fear in your head that is scared of everything? Does he worry about everything that could go wrong? Does he encourage insecurity and tell you that you aren’t good enough?
You may have other emotions that aren’t featured in the movie but play a large role in your life. Like a Drama Queen, who overreacts, blows things out of proportion and wants the attention and focus on you all the time. If this little person drives your day it may encourage really immature behavior at times. Are you later embarrassed at how you behaved?
I have one in my head I call Focus, who is really good at focusing on whatever I’m doing, which can be a good thing at times, but when Focus is driving I could also miss the needs of people around me and completely forget to be nice to them. Focus can even make me rude at times, because he’s just too focused on whatever I'm doing.
The good news is these emotions and their behaviors aren't the real you. They are just voices in your head. You can even tell an unhelpful emotion to sit down and shut up. You can decide to let Gratitude, Joy, or Love drive today. You have that power.
This isn’t about suppressing emotions though. It is about processing them and becoming aware or mindful, so you don’t let your subconscious mind drive your life. None of your emotions are bad and they all serve you at times. That is even a major point of the movie. All emotions should be processed and experienced when they show up. They all teach you things about the human condition and give you empathy for others. Emotions, like Sadness, definitely have their time and place, but you don't want to let them drive all the time. You want to be aware of Sadness and understand it. If you struggle to process your emotions in a healthy way there is a great e-book on my website on processing emotions I encourage you to read.
For now, just think about what other emotions may be causing trouble in your life? Do you have a Stubborn part inside you, one that gets latched onto to being right and can’t let go? Do you have a Lazy, who just doesn’t want to do anything but lay on the couch? Do you have a Criticizer, who likes to pick at the flaws and faults of those around you? Does it take over and gossip about other people, when being like this isn't the real you at all? Do you have an Ego that has to be right and sees other people as less than you at times?
The good news is you also have Joy and Love inside you (I think these are the real you). These beautiful parts of you can see the world, yourself and other people accurately and treat them with kindness and respect. If only these would drive more often! Take some time and own these wonderful parts of you and teach your children they have these inside them too.
Once you have figured out which emotions drive your behavior, it is time to start getting them under control. I believe you can go through each day one of two ways: You can either take control and decide who is driving, using the power of conscious choice to put Love, Joy or Motivated Work in charge, or you can let your subconscious mind drive, which means any of you emotions could and might take over at any time. If you go through life this way, you are at the whim of emotion and immaturely reactive.
Viktor Frankl, author of the book "Man’s Search for Meaning," found himself in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and discovered a powerful truth he has shared with the world. He said, “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.”
The problem is that most of us either don’t realize we have this power or we aren’t using it. Instead, we let whatever emotion grabs us in that moment take over. We may even think we are powerless against them, but this isn’t true.
You have the power to decide how you are going to feel and think in this moment.
As mature adults, we want to be awake and aware of what is playing out in our heads. We strive to recognize the emotions we are feeling, experience them, process what they are here for, and then choose behavior that serves us and those around us most.
This amazing film gives you the opportunity to teach your children about their emotions and to recognize what’s happening inside them. It also gives you, and them, language to better explain what you are feeling. You may ask them if Anger just took over? How does Anger want you to behave right now? How mad is he? What is going to happen if you listen to him? Do you have any other options? How could you get him off the wheel?
Is sadness driving today? How come he wants to drive? Maybe he just needs to talk about his Sadness? Often children feel bothered but can’t put words to why. This movie may help.
Make sure you take the time to talk to your family after seeing the film and explore what they learned. This may open the door to some great conversations and discoveries about how you children think and see their world. Hopefully, it will help you too. Have fun with it.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach and speaker.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and speaker. She was named
one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly
on local and national TV and Radio.