We moved to Utah from out of state and we are good Christian people with high standards and values, and like most people outside of Utah we drink coffee and wine. We also use a phrase that apparently is taboo here. We say “Oh my God” quite a bit and never in our lives considered that a swear word. But twice since moving, here my children have been told that’s bad to say that, and this has been very confusing for them because it is so normal at our house. The way they were scolded about their language was very judgmental of my husband and I as parents. We have also have had numerous families tell my children they can’t play with theirs, because we are not Mormon and have wine in our house. We have never had wine in front of their children and we actually don’t drink very often, but really, we’ve never experienced anything like this. My children have good manners and are kind, sweet kids, but they are cast as bad in our neighborhood because we are of a different religion. I am not sure how to handle it? I am shocked that religious people would be so unkind. Do you have any suggestions?
First, we would like to openly apologize to you (on behalf of our state) and say we are so sorry this kind of thing happens here. Please know there are many Utahans, who would never treat you and your family this way and are saddened to know this has been your experience.
As for some advice, you have two options in this situation. You can be angry, bitter, resentful and unkind back, or you can take the high road and demonstrate your beliefs better than they have theirs. Our advice would be to take the high road and treat them with kindness and love anyway. Do this, not because they deserve it, but because it’s the kind of person you want to be.
You might consider killing them with kindness, instead of being unkind back. Take them cookies, shovel their snow or find other ways to demonstrate what love looks like.
Let your children know these people are afraid. They have a fear problem around certain words or actions that make them feel unsafe. If we see their behavior as scared, instead of judgmental and unkind, it’s easier to have compassion for them. They are doing the best they can with what they currently know and see, though ignorance isn’t innocence.
Suggestion for righteous people everywhere:
We would also like to offer some suggestions to you, who find yourselves feeling uncomfortable with people who are different from you, or not of your faith.
We hope you will be open minded and consider you might have some subconscious fear issues that arise when interacting with people who are different from you, and this might trigger behavior that is less than loving.
We all have subconscious biases in play, but that doesn’t excuse unloving behavior. It is always your responsibility to identify your discomfort around certain things or people, and force yourself out of your comfort zone. This is the only way to grow and learn to accept and embrace people, who are different.
We believe this one lesson (loving people who are different from you) is the primary lesson we are on the planet to learn and it is why the universe is filled with diversity. Diversity gives you an opportunity to see “the limits of your love” as they show you the boundaries of your comfort zone and challenge you to learn to love bigger.
If you are uncomfortable around people of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation, people who drink coffee or wine, have tattoos, swear, or have gauged ears or piercings, you need to find some of those people post haste, and spend some time with them. Get to know them. It is simply a matter of choosing to expand your world. You will probably be surprised too, because these people are often the kindest you will ever meet.
We were at a conference recently and saw a transsexual woman sitting alone at a table. Because we haven’t had the opportunity to know many trans people, we could immediately see getting to know this person would be a good stretch for us. We asked if we could join her and had the most amazing time learning about the challenges she faces and feeling of her goodness. You must also do this kind of thing if you want to grow.
We also recommend asking yourself, what does being a righteous person mean to you?
The dictionary defines righteousness as: being morally right or virtuous.
This is definitely a noble pursuit, but that is about one’s own choices and behavior. You get to decide what your values are and what behavior you deem right, but it does not include putting those same values on others. As soon as you do that, you have moved from righteous to self-righteous.
The dictionary defines self-righteous as: believing one is totally correct or morally superior to others.
This is where it all goes wrong. When you believe you are morally superior to another person, you are no longer righteous, in our opinion. It is not right to push your beliefs on other people or scold them for language you have decided not to use. When you do this, it is not defending God’s name, it is making another person or family feel small. You are choosing to see some human beings as having more value (or being more right or better) than others, and this is a problem.
If you want to raise confident, loving, wise children, who grow into mature, kind adults, then teach them to see all human beings as having the same value, no matter the difference in their journeys, language or behavior.
We know you are trying to teach your children your values, which in this case includes the idea that drinking coffee and wine are bad. We understand the fear you have, that children, who don’t see drinking as bad, might be prone to do it. The problem is you are also raising judgmental children, who will miss out on getting to know a large number of amazing people all over the world, because their fear will overpower their ability to love them.
There is a way to explain to children though drinking is against your family’s personal values, it doesn’t make a person who drinks bad or less than you. You can teach the dangers of alcohol, while also teaching them to accept and love those who have different values. There are good kind people all over the world who drink responsibly and live healthy lives. You may also have a child who drinks at some point, and they need to know there is nothing they could do, to separate themselves from your love.
Most of all, make sure you are teaching children to accept and be kind to everyone and the only way to teach this is by example. If you have ever made a neighbor feel judged for being different, don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. It’s not too late.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I support gay marriage but my spouse is very against it. Every time the topic comes up, which is often, we end up in an argument. At first we agreed to just never talk about it, but that is proving hard to do. We both feel strongly about our position and we get emotional and angry. We really wish we were on the same page on this. It’s driving a wedge in our marriage. I hate that he sees me as wrong and he hates that I see him as homophobic and mean. Do you have any advice on this? What do you do when you fundamentally disagree at a core level with the person you love most?
This question may benefit all of us, because your marriage is just a microcosm of our society right now. Both sides of this issue have strong opinions and emotions are running high. Maybe it would help if we all learned how to appreciate each other, honor our differences, and respect those who disagree with us.
I believe life is a classroom (you hear me say that often) but I believe this classroom was specifically designed to teach us how to love ourselves and other people at a higher level. In order for us to stretch and learn to love at a higher level, God made us all different.
God could have made us all the same race, color, size and sexual orientation, but that would have made accepting each other way too easy. What’s the challenge in that?
Instead people come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, races and sexual orientation. I believe these differences were intentional, they are here for a reason — so we get the opportunity to learn to love those who are different, which is more difficult to do. Differences give us all kinds of challenges to overcome and grow from.
Every experience, issue, difference and disagreement is a lesson to teach you love, though. I believe this is especially true in your marriage. This unique relationship can teach you things you can’t learn anywhere else, because your spouse can push your buttons better than anyone else. Your marriage is your perfect classroom.
On top of that, sexual orientation is a tough difference to process for many people, because they just can’t get their head around it or understand it. These types of differences can also cause us to lump whole groups of people into “them” groups opposed to “us” groups and subconsciously see them as the bad guys or the wrong ones. We literally see “these people” and everyone on “their side” as the enemy at the subconscious level. They are the enemy because either they are wrong or I am. Both can’t be right.
So your question is really, "How do I genuinely love my enemies and those who strongly disagree with me and see me as wrong?"
Here are some things you can do (and we all can do) to stop the fighting and increase our compassion and tolerance for others:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and speaker.
This was first published on KSL.COM
How can I teach my children to be kind? I have noticed a tendency to put down, gossip about, or find fault in others. I also have family members who love to judge others and do a lot of joking at others' expense. It's very upsetting to me. What can I do to encourage my family to be kinder?
First, I want you to understand that we all have a subconscious tendency to see people in a negative light, which is at the heart of our unkindness (and our low self-esteem). We do it to ourselves and others.
Without consciously realizing it, you automatically look for differences in everyone, and we are constantly trying to figure out where we fit and how we compare to others. This creates a subconscious tendency to focus on the bad in other people, because if you can find a reason to see them as worse than you, it makes you feel like the good guy, or better and safer (and you have less fear of failure). It doesn’t even matter what the criteria of comparison or division is; we latch onto anything that sets us apart. We look for any difference that makes us feel better, kinder, taller, richer, or more anything than the other people around us. We will even divide ourselves based on our preferences seeing Coke people as better than the Pepsi people, Mac people as smarter than PC people, or mayo people as better than Miracle Whip people. Then, we see these others, whether they cheer for the other college team or look different or act different from us, as the enemy. We also look for others, who are on our side, who validate our worth in their mutual hate for the enemy. Remember, we do this because if we can cast another group as the bad guys that makes us feel like the good guys. This fear-based tendency is the cause of most of the problems on the planet. Most of our wars, racism, prejudice, backbiting and bullying all come from our ego’s need to feel better than other people. This behavior is driven by a deep subconscious core fear of not being good enough that we all have to some degree. We create these divisions to give us a sense of self-worth and make us feel special. The problem is that though this behavior may make you feel better about yourself for a moment, it doesn't last. It doesn't produce real self-worth, and it is literally giving power to the idea that some people are better than others and you must prove your worth, which will create a lifetime of low self-esteem.
If you watch human nature enough you will see low-self esteem and judging and criticizing others always go hand in hand. They create each other, and the more you do one, the more you get the other.
The most important thing you must teach your children is that all human beings have the same intrinsic worth no matter what. We are all unique, divine, irreplaceable, infinitely valuable souls, fighting our way through the classroom of life, scared and struggling most of the time, doing the best we can with what we know. Because life is a classroom, not a test, our value isn't in question though. It is not on the line at all. Our value is infinite and absolute and does not change ever. You must teach your children to see every person on the planet as having the same intrinsic value they do. These people may be in very different classes and in a different place in their unique journey, but their value is the same. Teach your children (and adopt for yourself) this idea as a core belief and it will make your entire life better. You will have more compassion for others and better self-esteem. If you will work on establishing this idea as a core belief in your family and talk about it daily with your children, it will make a profound difference on their kindness. Also, watch for the tendency to compare and divide and use teaching moments to talk about truth and bring compassion to the situation. Here are a few other suggestions for teaching your children to see other people as the same as them:
You will do this even if it's not true. This is not lying, it is seeing the highest best in them before they are even demonstrating it. They have this goodness in their somewhere. This is about seeing the wonderful loving person they have a capacity to be and helping them to see it.
You should only have to say this once or twice and this person will not gossip or be unkind to others in your presence again. They may stop gossiping completely. This will work because people want to live up to our highest opinion of them. If you see them as a kind person, they will want to be that.
People are also more motivated to change themselves when you see good in them than they are when you point out their flaws or mistakes. This technique works with any kind of human behavior you want to change. Just sincerely compliment them in that area often, and you will project them with positivity in that direction.
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
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.