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This was first published on ksl.com
I was visiting with a good friend the other day and he finally admitted that his life has been really hard lately and he and his family are going through things I had no idea about. We talked about how often people are pretending to be OK and when you ask how they are they say “fine,” but they really aren’t fine at all. How can you get people to tell you the truth about what they are going through instead of always saying “fine”? Is there a good question I could ask people that would get to the truth and open them up?
It was author Brad Meltzer who said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” And he is right, especially today, when many people are struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders or health problems. No family is immune from these kinds of serious challenges. You can assume everyone you know has something painful going on that they aren’t telling anyone about.
The reason we keep these challenges to ourselves could be that we fear judgment, criticism and looking bad. Some of us might not want to burden others with our heavy or dirty laundry, and we might not want pity or sympathy either. It just seems wiser and more practical to say we're "good."
If you want another person to open up and confide in you, then you are going to have to create a place that feels safe enough to do that. The other person has to know there will be no judgment and trust that you'll keep what they tell you confidential. They also have to know you won’t try to fix it or give them unsolicited advice, because that may not what they need.
What they might need is validation of their worth despite what they are going through. They may need validation about how tiring and difficult their challenge is and that it makes sense that they're struggling. They also have to know you will listen and not tell them what they should be doing differently.
Before you try to get another human to open up and tell you about their pain, you must be committed to honoring their right to be where they are and letting them know they still have absolute, infinite worth. You have to be prepared to validate without advising, fixing or giving them your take on the issue. In other words, it should stay about them, not about you.
Here's what I'd recommend saying when talking with a friend and have a hunch they aren't fine:
“If I could promise there would be no judgment and only unconditional love and support, would you be open to telling me about the hard stuff you and your family are going through? I promise I will just listen and be here. I’d really love to be that kind of friend to you.”
If they still don’t have anything to say, then that's OK. At least then they know if they ever do want a friend you are there. It sometimes helps if you are willing to open up and talk about some of your personal challenges, especially if you think they might be going through something similar. Your vulnerability and authenticity may encourage them to do the same.
If they do trust you enough to open up, then just listen. Don’t tell your story and how you got through. Don’t agree or disagree with anything they say (that would be making it about you). And don’t give advice or suggestions. One question that might help is, “What is the worst part for you?” When you ask that, you give them permission to go deeper and vocalize the depth of their pain.
If you really feel you can help and have some advice that could make a difference for them, ask for their permission to share it first. You could say something like, “Would you be open to a suggestion or idea around solving this? I don’t want to assume anything or infer that I know better, but if I had one bit of advice would you be open to it, or would it help you more if I just listen and be here?” In other words, give them a safe place to say “no thanks" if they choose.
You can do this.
Visit www.claritypointcoaching.com to learn more about Coach Kim Giles and take the Clarity Assessment, that helps you see where your fears and values are creating good and bad behavior in your life and relationships.
This was first published on ksl.com
It is the tendency to let differences create fear. Understanding this aspect of human behavior is critical to creating change in our world, and it's something you can start changing right now.
Here are three principles of human behavior that explain where hate comes from and how to change it:
1. When fear is triggered, we behave selfishly, in defense of ourselves
Many of my articles talk about how fear drives bad behavior because it makes us selfish and overly concerned with our own well-being (and less concerned about others). There are two core fears in play in every conflict or people problem.
The two core fears are the fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) and the fear of loss (losing out or having our journey diminished in some way). Fear of loss includes fear of physical harm, mistreatment, disrespect or being burdened, while fear of failure includes being criticized, judged, dishonored or insulted. Conflict, racism, discrimination and hate can happen when people trigger any of these fears in us, though it may often be subtle and subconscious.
For example, if your spouse or friend has a different political view than you have, you could feel dishonored, disrespected or criticized for your view, and this could make you defensive and behave in a disrespectful way to them. This bad behavior comes from your fears of failure and loss being triggered.
Read more about fear here.
2. Differences create judgment
As human beings, we are hard-wired to subconsciously judge everything. When we see any differences, in any two things, we automatically assume one is better and the other worse. This is a core foundational belief, and it may affect your perspective every minute of every day.
Imagine walking into a room and there is one stranger you have never met in the room. The first thing that happens for both of you, at the subconscious level, is measuring, comparing and judging. We hate to admit this is true, but our subconscious minds are trying to determine where we fit.
Should we be intimidated or comfortable? Are we socially or economically above or below them? Are they friendly or cold? Are they part of “us” or part of “them”? All of this judging happens very quickly and is mostly subconscious.
We also do this in other aspects of our lives. If we cheer for the red football team and someone else cheers for blue, our subconscious mind, again, assumes that one is better and one is worse.
We seem to love dividing ourselves by differences. We divide our world into groups like political party, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, school, neighborhood, hair color, clothes, even which soda we drink (Are you a Coke or Pepsi person?) or which sandwich spread we prefer (Are you a mayo or Miracle Whip person?). We look for differences everywhere and subconsciously find our way as the right one, and “them” as bad or less.
Take a minute and think about all the groups to which you belong — your race, religion, gender, nationality, neighborhood, school affiliation, profession, height, weight, hair color, etc. How often do you feel superior to the people who aren’t in your group?
This could be the beginnings of hate, and if we keep letting this subconscious tendency happen unchecked, it will create problems in our lives and relationships.
3. Differences trigger fear and create bad behavior
Because we are all subconsciously afraid of being insulted or taken from, when “they” gain any power, gain in numbers, influence, recognition, fame or in any way threaten to be more or better than “us,” we get afraid. We could be afraid of physical harm, mistreatment, disrespect, being burdened or taken from, criticized, dishonored or insulted. Feeling fear of these things can make us feel justified in protecting ourselves. These fearful feelings might even make us feel justified in being selfish, rude, disrespectful or even hateful toward another human being.
Think about the last time you felt mistreated by a company, restaurant or store. Did you feel at all justified to be angry, mean or harsh to their employee because you felt taken from? Do you see how fear of mistreatment can subconsciously justify bad behavior?
According to the New York Times, the gunman in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting had expressed views online that Jewish people were the “enemy of white people.” He saw this particular group of people as a threat to his way of life. His fear of loss was triggered by "them," and he was afraid they would become more successful or more financially powerful than his group. His fear became so bad he even justified killing.
We cannot always influence other people and their fear issues, but we are responsible for ours. It is our responsibility to check ourselves for this tendency to see “us” and “them.”
You can start by watching for judgment and not seeing yourself as better than any other human being. This can start at home, by making sure you never cast your spouse or other family members as the bad or wrong one and talk down to them. Stop finding fault or judging other human beings for their choices, views or differences. Commit to seeing all human beings as having the exact same infinite value as you have.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a speaker and coach and the creator behind the 12 Shapes Relationship System — helping to create a more tolerant world app.12shapes.com
This was first published on familyshare.com
Most of the couples we work with admit that intimacy continues to be the most challenging part of their relationship. We believe the one thing that creates the most disconnection and lack of intimacy in relationships is disappointment, and this is a big problem because we are all disappointed with our spouse and our marriage on occasion.
Disappointment is a problem because it creates fear of loss, which is the feeling of not getting what you wanted or having unmet expectations. With this comes resentment and a marriage where you don’t feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, you cannot give yourself to your spouse intimately in a connected way.
Here are four important principles that can help cure fear of loss and disappointment, so you can have a better connection in your relationship:
Principle 1: We are on the planet to learn and grow — not to have all our expectations met.
We are striving for happiness in life, but we must also understand the real purpose of this journey is growth and learning. Because of that, we are attracted to a person who can help us grow and learn, not a person who will make us blissfully happy every day. In other words, you marry your best teacher, and they teach you by pushing your buttons and triggering your fears — so you can see them and work on them.
You must start seeing your marriage as school with the goal to learn to love and understand another person, get past your expectations and practice being responsible for your own happiness. When you see your marriage accurately, you are more prone to focus on growth and experience less loss and self-pity.
Principle 2: In every moment there will be things in your life that aren't the way you wish they were.
You may have health problems, financial problems, a husband that struggles with selfishness, a leaky roof, a mean neighbor or a wife who is struggling with love and intimacy. When these situations show up, you might have feelings of misery, anger or self-pity. Your disappointment and frustration towards these “less than ideal circumstances” creates unhappiness.
What’s important is that you recognize you are responsible for the amount you suffer with these. Your spouse and their issues cannot make you miserable. You are always in control of how miserable you decide to be. Of course, you will always do what you can to fix and repair situations you don’t like, but you must also choose to focus on the positive around all the blessings you have, too. People who are grateful have better connection than those who feel cursed by life.
The questions you must ask yourself are: “What could this experience of lack be here to teach me? How am I supposed to become better, stronger or wiser through this in my life?” When you approach disappointments this way, you will step out of the victim mentality and into a place of growth. Connection and self-pity can’t both happen; you will have to choose which you want.
Principle 3: In every moment of your life there are things you could be grateful for.
We understand that a lack of intimacy or poor connection is painful and disappointing, but if you step back and count your blessings and look at all the problems you don’t have, you could also be really grateful. The truth is, in every moment of your life, some things will be good and others will be lacking. So if you can’t focus on the good and be happy and grateful right now, you will never be able to. Or you could choose to happy and grateful all the time. It’s up to you.
Principle 4: The secret to quality intimate connection is being the cure to their fear.
If you become the safest place on earth for your spouse, a place of encouragement, appreciation and admiration, they will feel a whole new level of connection with you and their interest in intimacy will increase.
If you often criticize, complain about or act disappointed in your spouse, they will pull away emotionally and connection will not happen. After working with hundreds and hundreds of couples, we promise that becoming your spouse’s safest place works and quickly increases connection for most couples.
If it doesn’t work for you, there are probably issues in your relationship around your spouse not truly wanting to fix it, and nothing can improve if one of you doesn’t want to.
Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” He meant that your situation does not determine your happiness. The way you choose to think and feel about your situation does. You have the power to be at peace right now. Then, from this peaceful place, validate your spouse and make them feel safe — great connection will follow.
We know this is a hard one — but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com. She is also the author of several books “The People Guidebook for Great Relationships” and "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness. Kim is also a sought-after coach and speaker.
This was first published on familyshare.com
As master life coaches, we have found that human behavior is driven by what we value and what we fear; but unfortunately most of it is driven by fear. Even many of the nice things we do aren’t driven by love, but by the need to earn validation -- to quiet the fear of not being good enough.
Here is a list of common fears and how they may impact your relationships. Take your time and think about how each might be showing up in your life.
1. Do you fear failure (not being good enough)?
This fear is the root of low self-esteem, and we all have some of this, to some degree, every day. Low self-esteem is the main cause of relationship problems, because the insecurity it produces makes you needy for validation. That need for validation means you have an empty bucket and you expect your partner to fill it. You might even make your partner responsible for how you feel about yourself. This is a recipe for disaster, because he or she can’t give you enough validation to fill your bucket when you are emptying it with negative thinking about yourself at the same time.
If this is a big issue for you, you are probably getting angry with your partner on occasion for not giving you what you need. This creates a rocky love life filled with disappointment and frustration.
2. Do you fear being rejected, left or abandoned?
You may fear this if you have experienced some loss in your past. Even if you lost someone to death, and it wasn’t their fault, you may still subconsciously fear abandonment.
This fear can make you controlling, possessive and suspicious. You probably ask a lot of fear-based questions about what your partner is doing or where they are going. This shows a lack of trust (and is at some level an insult to your partner’s character). If this goes on for a long time, you might create what you fear, because this behavior can push your partner away.
This fear of abandonment creates a relationship where fear is even driving your loving behavior, making it more clingy.
3. Do you fear not being perfect?
If you have perfectionism fear, you believe your value is tied to performance -- meaning the way your house looks, the way your family behaves, the way you do everything in your life determines your value as a person.
With this belief driving your behavior, there is a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure behind everything you do. It also means that your need to feel good enough will come before everything else. You might even treat the people in your life like employees who work for you and are expected to follow your rules all the time. This can make you controlling and domineering at times.
This obviously damages relationships because people feel you care more about things, appearances and performance than you do about them. You can have everything perfect, exactly the way you want it, or you can have rich, connected relationships; but you can't have both. Eventually the people in your life will give up trying to meet your expectations and want out.
4. Do you fear not being loved or approved of by others?
This means you base your self-worth on what other people think of you. This can drive all kinds of bad behavior, depending on who you are trying to earn approval from.
If you are trying to earn validation from your spouse, you may become overly focused on managing their emotional state and feelings toward you. This could mean often betraying yourself, and constantly worrying about trying to be someone you're not.
If you are trying to earn approval from people outside your home, you may spend all your time and energy there and neglect your family. This can create resentment and damage the connection with those you love.
5. Do you fear not having control?
Being a "control freak" is all about fear. You subconsciously can’t feel safe or peaceful unless everything is going the way you think it should. This can be poison in a relationship, because your need for control will trump your need for connection.
You will often mistreat the people in your life, especially if they aren’t doing things the way you want them done. People will, again, feel you care more about things than you care about them. You might also be pushy or have anger issues when things aren’t "right." If this shows up in your relationship, your love life is probably often in conflict and disconnected.
6. Do you fear being taken advantage of?
Our clients with this fear tend to be controlling and constantly on the lookout for anything that could be seen as mistreatment or disrespect. They often see mistreatment in everything, even when it isn’t there. If this fear is present in your life, you are probably offended, angry or defensive much of the time. This can create a toxic relationship if you are constantly disappointed in or angry with your partner, who will feel insulted or attacked often.
If you want your love life to thrive, and for you and your partner to feel happy and safe, you must learn how to live from love, not fear. You must make sure your choices are love-motivated, and you are focused on making your partner feel safe, loved, admired, respected and wanted.
Remember that it is OK to seek professional help to confront subconscious fears that can wreak havoc in your love life. The right help can set you on the path to a happier, more love-filled life.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the hosts of Relationship Radio and master life coaches. Visit 12shapes.com to access free resources to help you create the relationships you want.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a difficult family problem. My wife has a daughter from her first marriage that is toxic, controlling, and alienating. I am trying to be "the wise, mature, strong and loving adult” you talk about in your articles, but it’s really hard. And we coming up on the holidays, Christmas, and other special events and her daughter wants her mother there, but I am not welcome. My wife is even starting to get pulled in that direction and siding with her daughter, which really hurts. How do I handle this? How do I heal our family? How do we stop all the finger pointing and should I let my wife go or insist on being included?
Life is rough, it is no easy, rose garden endeavor and everywhere there are people, there are problems, drama, fighting and defensiveness. This is true because everyone on the planet is dealing with a huge amount of fear, which puts us in a selfish, needy, defensive, and protective state - where we are incapable of loving, wise behavior.
Our fears of failure and loss keep us focused, every day, on getting something (validation, reassurance, attention or a feeling of superiority) to quiet our fears. Until we get this, many of us have an empty bucket and nothing to give.
This sounds dismal, but understanding this truth will help you to see human behavior accurately (as fear-based) and get yourself into a better space where you can rise above it.
Many people, who suffer from deep subconscious fear they aren’t good enough, cast other people around them as the villain. If they can do this and stay focused on your bad, they won’t have to deal with their own bad behavior or feelings of inadequacy. Chances are pretty good this daughter has cast you as the bad guy, to make herself feel better or she is haveing fear of loss (losing her mother’s focus, attention and love). This might drive her to use guilt to manipulate or control her mother into siding with her.
This happens a lot in blended families and can make everyone feel threatened and unsafe. But you can fight the fear in your family dynamics with strength and love. Here are three questions, which might change the way you see this situation and help you to be your best in spite of it:
1)Are you experiencing this situation for a reason? One of my hero’s is Viktor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps during World War II. During the midst of that horrible experience he asked himself this question, “Was it just random bad luck that I ended up here or did this happen for a reason, and there is meaning and purpose in my being here?”
After much thought, he decided there was no way to know for sure which might be truth. This left him with a powerful realization, when there is no way to know ultimate truth “We get to choose our perspective”.
You can choose to see your life as random chaos, and view others as having the power to take from you and even ruin your journey. You can experience pain and grief over this situation, or you can see life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher, who is co-creating your journey with you and every choice you make, to deiver the perfect educational experiences for you. This would mean this whole situation is here to bless you.
Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose” in how you see them. When you decide to see any situation as here to serve you in some way, you will suffer less and take things less personally. You may even be grateful for it.
You have the opportunity (if you choose it) to see this daughter is your perfect teacher. She is in your life for the same reason everything else is in your life – to grow you, to help you become stronger, wiser or more loving toward yourself and others.
This is the real purpose of everything in your life. When you get this, you will feel better about the situation.
2)How can I be a hero and turn this mess into a human achievement? The amazing Viktor Frankl decided to see his circumstance as having purpose and meaning (to grow him in some way). He decided if he was here for a reason, then he must turn this horrible situation into a human achievement of some kind. He could do this by choosing to stay in trust and love, and help and serve others every day, which was absolutely heroic in those circumstances.
He was dwelling deep in human fear and suffering, which meant there was a great deal of selfishness, anger and hate around him. It would have been easy to embrace negative thoughts and behavior. I am sure it took every ounce of power he had to stay in a place of love, but he proved it can be done.
We can rise with love, amidst hate and conflict. We have the power to behave with grace and strength when things go bad or people attack us. Remember we are eternal beings having a interesting educational experience here, but we cannot really be diminished or destroyed. Ultimately we are safe in God’s hands the entire time, and our infinite, absolute value cannot change. Therefore there is nothing to fear.
When we remember this and choose a fearless mindset, we can become a hero in any situation. We can dig deep for the love and strength (that is our true nature) and love our enemies, give to those that curse us, and even stay peaceful through an attack. We do this not because we are a doormat, but because we know they can’t really hurt us.
“Human potential at its best, is to transform a tragedy into a personal triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement.” - Viktor Frankl
You can do this too. Choose to view this situation as a story. Years from now someone will read this story and come upon this chapter (from today moving forward). What do you want them to read about you and how to handled this from today moving forward? Take the time to put write this story on paper and detail how you (the hero) will rise from here.
You might choose love towards your wife and her daughter no matter how they choose to treat you. You could ask them what would make them happy and if they choose to go alone, let them, without feeling slighted at all. But you must do this as a gift of love, not to claim moral high ground and beat them with your righteousness. You must take a completely generous, non-needy stance, showing them you are fine and will still stand in love towards them, no matter what they choose. This might make them see their unloving behavior and own it (but that cannot be your agenda).
Another possibility is that this lesson for you is about learning how to have mutually validating conversations so you can talk this through with your wife and daughter. There is a great worksheet on our website to help you with this. We also teach a relationship skills class each month, where we can show you how to have loving, mutually validating conversations and good boundaries so you can work through any problem.
3) What is in my control? You cannot control how other people think, feel or behave. You cannot make people like you or care about you. The only thing in your control is what you think, feel and do. You asked me, “How do I heal our family?” - the truth is you can’t, but you can heal yourself.
Viktor Frankl said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
Make this your focus every day. Heal yourself by turning anger over to God and choosing peace. Make some plans with your friends or family and show you wife and daughter what love really is. Love never forces or demands, or defends or attacks. It just says “I want you to be happy and I know I’m whole, loved and right on track in my classroom journey no matter what you choose.”
Choose to see your wife and her daughter as innocent, struggling, scared, students, doing the best they can with what they know (they may need more education, which you can trust the universe to supply right on time.)
Be the hero in this story by choosing an accurate perspective (that you have nothing to fear), strong thinking (based in principles of truth), and loving behavior (that is unselfish and giving). These are the only things in your control and you will at least be proud of yourself and like who you are.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I struggle knowing how to best motivate my husband to exercise. I find him attractive, but I'm concerned for his future health and I admit I also want to be attracted physically to him as we grow older. He has been willing to work out occasionally throughout our marriage, he even trained for and ran a marathon, but his body doesn't seem to change a whole lot. I've encouraged him to try different workouts and push himself, but he just gets mad at me for saying anything. I wish he would catch fire with diet and exercise, just because he wants me to be more attracted to him. Your advice would be very appreciated. I know I’m probably shallow and need to change myself, but is there anyway to motivate someone else to change too?
There are a couple ways you can motivate your spouse to lose weight, but before you try them, you must first step back and look at the story you are telling yourself about his weight. There is definitely a lesson here for you.
(Whenever something about someone else is bugging you, it's a sign you have some changing to do too.)
It sounds like you have created a story that says “I will only be happy if my spouse loses weight,” meaning you will be unhappy if he doesn’t. You have created a story, which attaches your happiness to an outcome. This is a problem.
One of the most powerful things Buddha said is, “It is your resistance to what is that causes your suffering.” This means when you wish things were different than they are, you are creating optional misery that doesn’t have to be there.
This is truth because everything you experience is nothing more than perspective. No situation means anything (nor has any power to affect how you feel in any way) until you give it that power. Reality is objective. It is what it is and it means nothing and does nothing.
Your husband has genes that make him a larger person. That is the objective reality.
This situation cannot make you unhappy now or in the future. It’s the story you have created around the situation that determines how you feel. You’ve created a story that says you can only be attracted to a thinner person and if your spouse doesn’t work out and get thinner you won’t be attracted and therefore happy, but that isn’t necessarily true.
Whether you are happy or unhappy (in any moment) is a matter of choice and focus in that moment. It has little to do with your situation. We know this because in every single moment of your life you will have reasons to be unhappy and reasons to be happy. You will have things you don’t like and you will have things you are grateful for. There will be people who have it worse than you and others who have it better. These conditions will always exist in every moment. It is the nature of life.
The question is, what story are you telling yourself right now? Are you telling yourself a victim story about how bad you have it? Are you telling yourself a fear story about how bad the future might be? Are you telling yourself a shame story about how inadequate you are?
You will be a lot happier if you live in the objective present, stop creating misery stories and focus on what is right in your life. Stop worrying about how you are going to feel about your husband in the future. Choose to feel good about your life right now. Look at all the things that are right in your life and marriage, and focus on those. Create a story about how wonderful it is to be married to a person who has your spouse’s good qualities. Fill out the Nature of Life worksheet on my website, it will help you focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong.
If you are still struggling with control over your mindset, I strongly encourage you to find a coach or counselor who can help you.
If you want to have a better marriage and better intimacy, I can tell you exactly how to create that right now. Build your spouse up and tell him constantly how amazing and wonderful he is. Never make him feel he disappoints you on any level. The more admired, respected, appreciated and wanted you make him feel, the more he will love and adore you. This kind of loving behavior is what will create real happiness, connection and great intimacy — much more than weight loss will.
If you are really worried about your spouse's health and you feel you must talk to him about his weight, make sure it is a love-motivated conversation, not a fear-motivated one. If you approach him because you are afraid you aren’t going to be attracted to him when he’s older, that’s fear. Fear is selfishness (it’s about you) and your spouse will feel this and will immediately feel the need to protect himself. Fear breeds fear and selfishness. You can't approach your spouse from this place and expect a good outcome.
If you approach him because you want him to be healthy, strong and happy, and you are coming from nothing but love, he will feel this and the conversation will go better. Spend a lot of time validating him and telling him how wonderful he is first, though. These kinds of conversations trigger anyone’s deepest fear — the fear of failure that they might not be good enough. They will need a great deal of validation to go with your advice.
Follow the Mutually Validating Conversations Worksheet on my website to have this conversations in a validating way. Do more asking questions and listening than talking. Find out what he wants, what his fears and concerns are and what kind of support he wants. No matter what he says, don’t let your fears come into this. You have nothing to fear. Ask how you could support him to get healthier so you can have an amazing life together. Be his support and cheerleader, not his critic or coach.
Then, make sure if he tries to make changes you mention everything he is doing right and give him lots of positive encouragement along the way. Especially compliment who he is, his dedication and strength — not just what he looks like.
Most importantly, choose to be happy and grateful for what’s right in your life in every moment. It is the real secret to happiness.
You can do this.
I am upset by my church’s policy decision this week to exclude the children of same-sex couples from blessings or baptism until they are 18. I see it as a fear-motivated, unloving decision. I have read that their motivation was to keep families together and save them from conflict, but I’m still struggling with feelings of doubt that make me doubt my religion a little. I read your column because you teach love not fear, and I wondered if you would comment on this situation and help me find some peace around it.
Please don’t distress. There is another way of looking at this, which may bring some peace regardless of your personal beliefs.
First I want to remind you of three principles I believe are true. Read them and see if they feel like truth to you.
1) We are all irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, infinitely and absolutely valued, divine, good, loving children of God — and I mean all of us without exception (from the LDS leadership, to every LGBTQ person, to faithful LDS members and those that have decided to leave the church). We all have the exact same intrinsic worth, because we are all God’s children and part of him, no matter our beliefs, religion, race, sexual orientation or anything else. We all deserve to be honored, respected and loved.
2) The real point and purpose for our being on this planet is to learn (because life is a classroom) and we are here primarily to learn one lesson — love. God is love and we want to become like him someday so we must learn to love as he loves. This means every single thing that happens here in the classroom is going to be a lesson on learning love at a deeper level. Everything God has inspired or created is here to teach us love. (If you wonder why anything happened or happens in your life, it is to teach you to love yourself, others or God.)
3) God created this perfect universe and us exactly the way we are with many differences (including race, religion, culture, ideology, sexual orientation). He created differences for a reason, because these differences make us stretch and learn to love at a deeper level than we would have to go if we were all the same.
This world, with all the differences, is our perfect classroom.
When we use difference to cast any other child of God as bad, we are forgetting these important truths. All these people (the ones in your church, out of your church, leading the church, leaving the church, and those of other churches or no church at all) are God’s holy children, who he loves and has asked us to love. They are all here in the classroom to both learn love with us and to teach us by challenging us to stretch beyond the limits of our current love abilities.
Given these as facts, the question you must ask yourself whenever anything happens (like the church stating a new policy) is, “How could this experience be a perfect lesson for me to learn love at a deeper level?”
You must ask yourself this question when anything happens in your life, because everything that happens is, in fact, a lesson on love.
That is just how the classroom of life works.
(Think about what is bothering you at work, in your family or in your marriage, and ask yourself that question again.)
Imagine if everyone could see this situation as their perfect lesson to love God’s children at a deeper level. Some may need to stretch and learn to love LGBTQ people, which may be slightly out of their comfort zone. For others it may be about learning to love and forgive Mormon leaders as they are. For some it might be learning to love and embrace family members or friends, who have different beliefs.
Whatever your situation is — just focus on loving all involved.
The thing we can’t do is let fear, suspicion, judgment, hurt and pain overcome us and further divide us from each other. God created all of us (in his image) as part of his divinity, and nothing can destroy the truth God declares, change the infinite he created, or diminish the value of his children. You will be released from fear the moment you accept this.
Our job isn’t to judge anyone or anything, attack anyone or anything, or defend (because to even defend is to give power to the illusion that you are diminishable). Christ said to turn the other cheek and not defend when you feel attacked. I think this means to turn to your brother and show him he cannot hurt you, because you are undiminishable and so is he, therefore you hold nothing against him. This is real love and forgiveness.
Forgiveness happens for me when I see all human beings accurately (as divine, students with much more to learn, just like me). Seeing them accurately means there is nothing to forgive, because the universe was just providing me a lesson.
I believe all human behavior is either love or a request for love. So, if I’m not feeling loved by someone, it’s time to increase my love for them (that might be something I do from afar though). If you feel mistreated, taken from or unloved, remember it is just a lesson to help you become smarter, stronger, better and learn to love at a higher level.
I believe all the children of God are divine because they are part of him. This includes all the children and adults on both sides of this issue. Our only job is to ask ourselves, “Am I seeing all the children of God accurately and giving them honor, respect and love?” This is the only thing in your control in most situations.
Focus on seeing everyone as love, because love is who we are. One of my favorite books, the "Course in Miracles" (CIM) says, “All fear comes from a denial of authorship.” Think about that one. Basically we are afraid because we are forgetting who we are, who created us, and by whose hands this classroom journey was created.
When you are afraid or confused, be still and know that God is real and you are his beloved child and so is everyone else. “Love everything he created of which you are a part or you cannot learn of his peace and accept his gift for yourself. You cannot know your own perfection until you have honored all those who were created like you.” (CIM)
We must learn to love all God’s children — to really know God.
If you will make your focus love (not defending, attacking, doubting, agonizing or fearing) and work to be the love (God’s love) that is in you, you will feel at peace.
Send thoughts of love and forgiveness towards those you disagree with on either side. Love them where they are. Love is the only fitting gift for anyone God created. Love them because they are part of him, just like you.
You can do this.
For those who are members of the LDS Church and struggling with this, I also highly recommend reading David Peterson’s blog — it will help. Here is the link.
This article was first published on KSL.COM
Web Tease: Coach Kim's yearly New Year's resolution article. This year she challenges us to see all people as having the same value and make a stand for human rights, tolerance and love.
For the last two years in January I have recommended one resolution that would have the biggest impact on your life. In 2013 I wrote about improving communication skills and thereby improving your relationships at home and work. In 2014 I recommended forgiving yourself and others as this would greatly improve your self-esteem and quality of life. This year, I would like to recommend a resolution that could not only change your life — but may also change the world.
There is a great deal of hate sweeping our planet right now. There is terrible racial conflict in our country and fighting over differences in religion, race and sexual orientation, happening around the world. As we have watched the fighting, beheadings, riots and terrorism on TV, we, at our house, find ourselves asking the same question over and over, “What can we do to change this?”
This question can leave us feeling powerless at times, but the truth is, one person can make a difference. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who successfully made a big difference in the world, started out as regular people like you and me. They were regular people who decided to speak out for truth, but because their ideas were truth, it resonated with people and movements were born.
I am going to tell how you can help, speak out, stand up and make your voice heard in defense of truth to encourage equality, respect, unity and love in the world, but before I do that I want you to understand the real root of the problem.
The real problem behind these conflicts is a problematic tendency of human nature that makes all of us subconsciously see those who are different from us (in any way) as less than or worse than us. We basically assume that if we are different from another person, one of us must be better and the other worse. Since we don’t want to be the bad one, we subconsciously look for the bad in the other person so we can cast them as the bad guy, making us feel like the good guy. This can happen in a split second without us even consciously realizing we are doing it.
If you put any two people in a room, they will immediately (subconsciously) either feel intimidated and less than the other person, or slightly better and above the other. The factors influencing this viewpoint may be racial, social, economic or educational, but the more different they are from each other, the more fear and discomfort will be generated. We are also subconsciously afraid of things we don’t understand. So, people who are vastly different from us make us even more uncomfortable. This is why we struggle to accept those of different cultures or sexual orientation. Since we have a hard time understanding them, the difference generates more fear.
Have you noticed how we flock to those who are most like us? We are always more comfortable around our own kind, though we can change this by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and over time we can become comfortable around anyone. The problem is that most of us don’t push ourselves to do this. We just stay with our group.
This simple subconscious tendency to fear those who are different is responsible for most of the conflict, fighting, war, prejudice, racism, discrimination and hate on the planet. This tendency to see ourselves as better than others and think that our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong — is dividing countries, communities and even families. It is separating us and drawing all kinds of lines of division. We divide ourselves by political party, religion, neighborhood, which mayonnaise we use, which soda we drink and which school or sports team we cheer for, and then we declare ourselves as better than ‘those people’ and cast them as the enemy.
This has to stop.
But the only way to stop it is to change the way we think about and see each other, and this change has to happen inside the head of every person individually.
The problem is, the only person you have any control over is you.
So, that is where you must start. You must work on changing you.
You can start this year by committing to see all people as the same as you. This is the resolution I recommend in 2015. Practice not letting differences scare you, make you uncomfortable, suspicious or angry. You can practice letting all men be free to be who they are and not see yourself as better than anyone else. You can commit to treat all people as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, amazing, divine human beings with the same value as you. You can work on treating people with respect, kindness and acceptance everywhere you go.
You can also check your behavior at all times by asking yourself if the behavior is lawful, kind, respectful, honest or helpful. If it isn’t going to further the cause of liberty, love and brotherhood with all people — don’t say it or don’t do it.
You can also join the march for tolerance, racial unity and peace online, right now. In the old days, people had to gather in a public place to march (to be seen and heard) and draw attention to a cause. You can now reach the world at home through social media.
Visit www.itakethechallenge.com to read more about how to join the march for tolerance and peace on social media. Make a sign, then film a video or take a picture and post them on social media with your commitment to be the solution. Use #iamthesolution with your post. I took the challenge and my video is on Facebook.
Then, directly challenge (call out) three of your friends or neighbors to do the same. Together we could literally flood social media with videos and pictures of people advocating for love, tolerance and unity. Then (and most importantly) back it up with your behavior this year. Make a commitment to actually live what you profess.
Don’t wait to act on this. Do it today. Don’t worry about how you look or the quality of the film. Just do it.
If Martin Luther King Jr. was still here and was organizing a march in your town today, would you join in? Would you be willing to speak out and let the world know that you commit to see all people as equal in value and deserving of respect, justice, tolerance and love?
This is your chance.
The world needs to see and hear from the silent majority who don’t make the news and who aren’t racist, angry or intolerant. It needs to hear from people who understand looting and anger aren’t going to change things. It needs to hear from you.
We need to flood the Internet in 2015 with commitments of peace, equality and love. Remember if you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Please do something.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
This article was first published on KSL.comIn this edition of LIFEadvice, I’d like to address the tragic death of three young missionaries this weekend, Sister Nancy Vea, 19, of West Jordan, Elder Connor Benjamin Thredgold, of the Springville Utah West Stake, and Elder Yu Peng Xiong, of the Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stake.
(This has hit close to home for me, since Connor’s father is a dear friend, a Claritypoint coach and even a co-contributor to this column.)
My heart is aching for these families, as I am sure your's is, so I’d like to address some ideas that may help us make sense of it all, find a place of trust and peace, and if possible, let this tragedy change us for the better.
First, always remember the objective of life is to learn to love. As I always say, "Life is a Classroom," and every experience you have is to teach you to love yourself and other people at a deeper level. You do not go through painful experiences for nothing. There are no accidents, and everything happens for a reason to serve us, but some of these lessons are so extremely painful, and the loss of a child is one of the worst.
Sometimes when tragedy strikes we can see the meaning or purpose in the experience, but other times we can’t. It will always provide some measure of comfort though, if we choose to trust God that there is a reason, even if we can’t see it. We can trust that nothing will happen unless it will serve us or mankind in some way. I trust God has a reason that these three young people were called home so early. Though this doesn’t remove the pain, it can help a little.
I felt these same feelings after the Sandy Hook shooting, and I wondered what good children dying could possibly serve in the world. One thing I noticed in the days following that tragedy was a heightened sense of love for the people around me, and I noticed almost everyone was feeling it.
We were all holding our children a little closer and had a greater appreciation for our family and friends. The experience of loss was changing us. It was bringing strong feelings of love to the surface.
Along with the pain, during times of grieving, we also experience amazing, tender feelings of love, both toward the people who are gone and just toward the people around us. You might find your feelings of love for family and friends will be stronger than what you usually feel. This heightened sense of love, which always follows loss, is an amazing and beautiful thing.
You may even find it is easier to forgive old offenses or grievances while you are experiencing the unique love associated with loss. Things that mattered before may not seem to matter anymore. People may seem more important than issues, and it may seem easier to see the good than the bad.
When tragedy strikes, we are reminded of the connection we share with all our fellow human beings. We gain heightened levels of empathy and compassion for others. Think back to the months following 9/11. Do you remember how connected you felt to your fellow Americans? Do you remember how suddenly our differences seemed smaller and the things we had in common seemed bigger?
We all experience a deeper love for each other when tragic things happen. Could this be part of the reason?
When the loss is personal or has happened to someone you know, you will experience amazing feelings of love toward that person you didn’t realize you had at that depth. If this loss hadn’t happened, you may never have discovered the depth of your love. You may be curious as to what this poignant emotion is all about. Just sit with it and understand it is showing you the size of the love inside of you. Pay attention to this feeling. Remember that the pain of loss is inseparably tied to the wonder of love.
If you didn’t love so deeply, it wouldn’t hurt this much.
Take time when you feel pain for these young people and their families to remember the pain is tied to the love we have for each other as human beings, a community and families. Celebrate the fact that you can experience profound love this way. Isn’t it amazing to feel that you would gladly carry this pain for them if you could. Your love is amazing!
The power of our combined love and heightened sense of connection can create an amazing energy that will help to heal us. This is always felt at funerals as we gather together in loss. Also notice, in each moment, that you can focus on the pain or you can focus on the love. As much as you can, choose to focus on love and understand that the pain makes the depth of love possible.
We often get so busy with the duties and obligations of life, we forget about this deep love that connects us. It often gets set aside. Tragedy, though terrible and painful, can bring these feelings of love back into your life. My suggestion, in this time of tragedy, is simply this: Focus on the feelings of love and live them. Love everyone in your life, in whatever way you can. Treasure every moment you are alive and able to love. Make sure everyone in your life knows how you feel about them.
In honor of those whose lives have been cut short this week, let’s make the most of ours and fill the world with love on their behalf.
Honor them by showing a deeper appreciation for your spouse, children, friends and neighbors. Speak out against injustice and cruelty more often. Love people more passionately and take more action to alleviate suffering wherever you can.
Let this loss make us better, kinder, wiser and more loving.
Aron Moss wrote a wonderful article on this topic in which he explains, ”We don't really want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. … We want an end to suffering … but we shouldn't leave it up to God to alleviate suffering. … He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.”
Honor the memory of those we have lost by being a force for love in this world. Perform more random acts of kindness, pay it forward more often and love the strangers all around you. Don’t wait for someone to ask for help, see the need and step in without being asked. Reach out to those who are suffering even if all you can offer is a hug.
You can do this — and we can do it together.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
I read your article on intimidation. However, if the other person has the power to harm us and our career due to his or her position of authority, like refusing a promotion or a pay raise, or even worse, firing us, how then can we not be intimidated and how can we not fear them? After all, they can cause us real problems. I also have a spouse who is threatening to leave the church we both belong to and this scares and intimidates me too. How can I not be scared of these situations when they could really mess up my life?
I’m going to answer your question by giving you a different perspective on these relationships. If you can change the way you see yourself and these people they won’t feel as threatening to you.
It is true these people could create some challenges in your life, but the extent to how these challenges causes you to suffer is completely up to you. You have control over how you feel about these people and their behavior. You could see yourself as safe and choose to believe you have nothing to fear.
At least you have the option of seeing your life this way, if you want to.
You basically have two options when it comes to how you will see and experience your life:
Option 1 - You can see your life as a scary and dangerous place where all kinds of bad things can happen, thus robbing you of the journey you deserved to have. You can see people as threats and feel intimidated and scared of them. You can spend your energy protecting and defending yourself from all the hurt or problems they could inflict upon you.
Option 2 - You can see your life as a safe, classroom experience where you always get the perfect lesson you need next to help you learn and grow. You can see people as teachers and focus on the ways their behavior could help you become more loving. You can spend your energy giving love to others, loving yourself and creating a peaceful life.
I highly recommend Option 2. You can choose to see the perfect in every situation, focus on the lessons, and choose love and forgiveness over judgment and fear. You not only can do this, you are meant to learn to do this as well. You are meant to live in abundance and peace, in spite of the challenges around you.
Here are six principles that can help you adopt a more peaceful mindset:
Wisdom means seeing yourself, the other person and the situation accurately. Even if they get you fired, you are still the same you with the same value and the experience of being fired can only hurt you if you let it. It will also not happen unless it is your perfect journey to have it happen because you are meant to learn something from the experience.
If your spouse leaves your religion, which disappoints you and affects your children and their faith, then it was the perfect lesson in their classroom journey, too. The universe sent them to your family with these parents for a reason and whatever way you mess them up will be the perfect way they were meant to be messed up so they can have their perfect journey figuring themselves out.
No matter what happens your journey — and theirs — is safe and perfect. At least you have the option of seeing your life this way if you want to.
Forgiveness means choosing to let go of judgment, condemnation, criticism and fear toward another person because you don’t want to live in fear yourself. There is a universal law we call “You get what you give." This means if you choose to judge people, you will also feel judged by everyone around you. If you see anyone as not good enough, you will feel not good enough yourself. If you choose to see this person as threatening, you will feel threatened everywhere.
If you choose to see yourself as bulletproof and this person as an innocent student in the classroom of life with infinite and absolute value no matter how they behave and allow them to be as they are, while still having healthy boundaries and speaking up for yourself when necessary from a space of trust and love, you can change the dynamic of the relationship completely.
When you choose to live in trust and love, these people will feel safe with you and stop seeing you as a threat. When they feel safe, they will treat you a lot better. Love has the power to completely change the energy in any relationship.
When you choose to see people with wisdom and forgive them for being lost, scared, confused and behaving badly (because you get this way on occasion too), they will also respect you more. They have to.
There is a great “High Level Forgiveness Formula Worksheet” on my website resources page that can help you to adopt this mindset. If it sounds difficult, that is only because you aren’t used to seeing life this way, but you can do it with practice.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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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.