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.
First published on KSL.COM
I am so unhappy with my current job. I have a boss who blames things on me when problems are his fault. I am hesitant to leave though, because I know there are always problems wherever you work. No job is perfect. Why leave this position if there is going to be another kind of problem at a new job. I think I have issues with not being content anywhere and I always want things to be perfect, which they never are. How can I be more content where I am?
Most of us think what we want in life is peace and security, the elimination of all problems, pains or worries. If we could just get rid of the problems, pains and worries then we would be happy. Because of this belief we are constantly trying to solve the problems, eliminate the pains and head off the worries. In the process of doing those three things, we learn, stretch and grow. Our greatest accomplishments and most important growth happens because of the problems we are trying to eliminate.
Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and writer, said, “I believe that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experiences and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do.” In the book Moral Knowledge it reads, “Some degree of discontent is necessary to encourage us to engage in the activities of self-realization through which we flourish”
I want you to understand this because life is not about being content and secure. You cannot grow there. You would not discover who you are.
Life is about growth and growth only happens through discontent and problems. You will find challenges wherever you work because that is the nature of life, but you can feel more content in your times of discontent if you see them accurately. If you feel bothered, unhappy or stressed by a situation, these feelings are telling you that it’s time to grow. It is time for some stretching, learning or changing. Pain is a signal that something needs to change.
If you find the same type of problems wherever you go or you keep suffering with discontent over the same types of issues again and again, there are a couple of reasons this may be happening:
You can try to avoid all pains and challenges, but you will find two problems with this. First, it is impossible and second, you will get bored pretty fast. The truth is that we are hard-wired to want challenges in life and to some extent we even seek them out. This is why we willingly participate in sports, push ourselves to run marathons, seek out games of chance and challenge, play with puzzles, mind twisters and video games (the more challenging the better). At a core level we like discontent, challenge and difficulty.
My grandfather is in his 90’s, and he still reads books to keep learning, pushes himself to run and spends time on difficult suduko or other puzzles. Human beings are bored without challenges.
Thomas Edison said, “Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”
Really successful people are never content for long. As soon as they find themselves content they look for another challenge. Some of you may attract challenging situations into your lives because you really subconsciously desire progress. Maybe you have challenges wherever you work because you are subconsciously desiring growth. Could this be you? Maybe you don’t want peace as much as you want improvement?
Buddha said life is suffering and we suffer because we are discontent with "what is." He encouraged men to stop craving and resisting "what is" and become equanimous with life (this means with equal emotion towards the bad and the good). He encouraged us to understand the real nature of life and embrace periods of discontent with the same emotion that we do periods of peace because they are both here to serve us and they will both pass because no state is permanent. To some this may sound like being content no matter what you get, but it’s more than that. It’s understanding discontent and content are both there to serve you. You must greet all experiences with gratitude and curiosity for the positive they will bring.
What I am suggesting is that you adopt a more positive attitude towards your pains, problems and worries. I realize this is not easy to do, but it is a worthy goal. When you see the classroom of life accurately, you will see that the universe is conspiring to serve you, educate you and bless you, and every experience is facilitating something positive in your life at some level.
I am battling chronic pain right now that isn't particularly fun, but it really is easier to handle when I focus on what this experience is teaching me and work to learn something from it I can use to serve others. I have an amazing friend who is battling Parkinson's disease with an amazingly happy attitude because he sees it as a grand opponent to battle and win.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal...it's a by-product of a life well lived.” Real happiness does not come through peace, security or easy living. It comes as a by-product of service, love, achievement, growth and other virtuous activities. We are happy when we are doing things, accomplishing things, growing, learning, creating, building and living. Yet all these activities are wrought with challenges to overcome and obstacles to navigate. So, I think we could accurately say - happiness comes from problems, pains and worries. Do you follow my logic?
You think that you are seeking contentment, peace, freedom from danger, risk, anxiety and doubt. You think that you want a state of tranquillity all the time, but seeking this may actually push happiness away.
Happiness comes from embracing the whole journey, especially the challenges, because you understand they are all part of the achievement. You will be happy when you focus on growing, becoming, giving and loving God, life, yourself and other people. You will be happy when you see the universe as a wise teacher and trust that every experience is here to serve you. You will experience the whole thing in a more positive way and suffer less.
You will be happier at work if you step back from the problems and focus on what you can learn from them and turn them into achievements. How could this experience make you better, stronger or more loving? If you can get more content with your discontent, you will find joy wherever you are.
You can do this.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
I read your article last week about processing emotions and choosing my inner state, but I’m really struggling with negative thinking and I think you underestimate how difficult some of us have it. My life has been so much more difficult than most people get, and my situation is frankly miserable and unfair. When I try to choose gratitude for what I do have or think positive, I can literally feel my subconscious mind resisting this whole idea. I’m not sure it’s possible for everyone to just choose to think positive. I find myself complaining about my situation quite often but I think that expressing how I feel helps me. Isn’t it good for us sometimes?
Expressing negative emotions can be healthy (some of the time) as long as it is part of your process to work through them and get to a better place. If you are constantly expressing your negative feelings though, without working through them, you are just complaining, which is giving more power and energy to the negative and making it bigger in your life. This doesn’t serve you.
The steps I gave you last week to process through emotions would serve you much more, but there could be another factor in play that is making it difficult for you to choose a positive outlook. You might be getting some quirky subconscious benefits from the negative state and you might not be ready to let those benefits go.
Let me give you some examples of how this happens. Someone who is holding onto feelings of anger or hate toward another person may be getting the benefit of staying distracted from their own feelings of inadequacy. By staying focused on anger toward another person, they don’t have to deal with their own faults. If they let go of their anger they would have to deal with their pain, so anger feels like a win.
People who are constantly dwelling in feelings of inadequacy or have low self-esteem often apologize a lot, worry about what others think and need to vocally explain every aspect of their behavior. At the subconscious level they may think this fear mindset protects them at some level, because it makes them very careful what they do and say. It might even make them more polite or gracious toward others so people will like them.
They could be afraid that thinking positively about themselves would make them selfish and less cautious. They may also see self-deprecation as humility and think it's righteous. This means that low self-esteem may make them feel better in some ways. The problem is that low self-esteem makes people see you as weak and lose respect for you. Loving strength and confidence are much more attractive.
Someone who is overburdened with work, who feels stressed out and exhausted all the time, may get all kinds of benefits from these negative feelings. They may subconsciously believe this state means they are working really hard (they may believe if you don’t feel this way you aren’t working hard enough). So, they get a sense of accomplishment or self-esteem from being stressed. Complaining about being overworked may also protect them at some level, discouraging others from asking anything more from them, or giving them an excuse to say no to anything they don’t want to do. They may also like the sympathy love they get from others, who feel sorry for them when they complain.
Sympathy love is a common benefit to being in a negative state and many of us learned to use this as children to get the attention or love we needed. You may subconsciously complain about life mostly for this reason. Why else would you need to voice your complaints out loud so often? Why not just feel this way on the inside and keep it to yourself?
If you find yourself complaining a lot about how unfair your life is, how difficult you have it, how awful you are, or how miserable you are, you must ask yourself these questions:
One other thing you mentioned was that your life is unfair and more difficult than most people get. I want you to see that you have placed a label on your experience, and just because you have chosen to do this doesn’t make it true.
Beliefs like these are only true in your life if you believe they are true. They are a perspective you have chosen, but you could just as easily choose a different perspective, one that might make you feel more grateful, loved, safe and blessed even in the very same circumstances.
When I was going through a difficult time in my life, I wasn’t very happy with people who gave me the very advice I’m giving you. I felt they needed to walk a mile in my shoes (and suffer like me) before they could know how impossible it was to be positive here.
Then I read about Viktor Frankl, who suffered through the concentration camps in World War II, lost everything and everyone he loved, and who (in much more miserable circumstances than mine) found the power to choose his attitude, to find meaning and purpose in his experiences and to choose love over fear, and I realized that if he could do it — I had no excuse.
Having said that, I also know it isn’t easy and it takes time and work. I usually work with a coaching client for 3 to 6 months to teach them how to process their experiences in a different way and learn how to choose their inner state, but I promise you can get there if you keep reading, learning and practicing.
Steven Richards, who wrote "Think Your Way to Success," said, “You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.”
I believe this is true. You can change the way your life is going! I see people do it every day. Just know that you are way more powerful than you realize and you can create change by changing your thinking.
You can do this.
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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.