This was first published on KSL.COM
My life has been hard and I’ve made mistakes, I have a hard time forgiving myself and not feeling defined by my past. How do you not? How do I feel good about myself and as you say see my value as good enough?
Everything you feel comes from the way you are looking at the situation. Your perspective determines the story you tell yourself and how you feel about everything. The way you currently see your past and the feelings you have about it could completely change if you chose a different perspective.
Here are some ways you might change your perspective and look at your past differently. See if they help.
1. Choose to see life as a journey.
Imagine your life as a road trip. On this road trip there are high points and low points. Some of the experiences are fun, some are scary and others are miserable. Each of these experiences could be seen as a location on your journey through life. These experiences do not define who you are nor do they affect your value as a person. They are just places you've been. Just because you spent time traveling through Texas doesn’t make you a Texan. Texas was a location on your journey; it is not who you are forever.
2. See life as a classroom.
The thing you must understand about your past is that each experience — each location you have been through — has brought you to where you are today.
Each experience taught you things. Some experiences taught you about who you don't want to be. Some showed you options in human behavior and the consequences of those options. Each experience served a purpose in your life to help you become stronger or smarter. At least, you have the option of seeing them this way if you want to. You could choose to embrace what each experience taught you and remember that you are not there anymore.
You are a different person now. The person you are today wouldn’t make the choices you made then (though that is partly because of what you learned from making those choices before). You cannot change the past, nor should you want to. Your journey taught you important lessons. But you can refuse to let your past define you now.
3. Choose to see your value as infinite and unchangeable.
You have the option of believing every human being has the same intrinsic value and that value cannot change. This would mean that no matter what mistakes you have made, they don’t affect your value and you still have the same value as everyone else. You can see human value this way, by simply deciding to.
4. Let go of shame.
We define shame with the acronym: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. You are always a student in the classroom of life, so you can’t expect to have known everything, all along. That would make no sense. Shame is a waste of your energy. Instead, focus all that energy toward being who you want to be today.
5. Live in this moment, all the time.
There will never be a moment when it is not "this moment" and this is the only moment you have the power to make any choices. In this moment you can always choose to see yourself as good enough and let your past be experiences that taught you things and nothing else. Don’t waste time that could be filled with joy today, feeling pain over the past.
6. Focus your energy on what’s in your control.
Look at your current situation and write down what’s in your control and what’s not. Focus your time and energy only on what is.
7. Do something to metaphorically let the past go.
Write down the experiences you are having trouble letting go of emotionally. Then burn the paper, bury it, or tie it to a balloon and let it go, or rip it up and throw it in the trash.
8. Choose to trust life and the universe. Another option you have is to trust that your journey was the perfect one for you and that everything happens for a reason. Trust that you are on track and right where you are supposed and always have been. If you choose this perspective, it will change how you feel about yourself and your past.
9. Don’t worry.
Worry, guilt and stress do you no good. They will not prevent bad things from happening, and they just make you miserable. Choose to trust that good things will happen to you. Optimism may actually draw good things your way in the future because people will be more drawn to you.
10. Set aside a time each day to experience regret and guilt.
If you just can’t let the past go, choose a 15-minute block of time today to wallow in self-pity and shame. Dive in and immerse yourself in it during that time, but the rest of the day don’t think about it.
The key to a successful, happy life today lies in looking at the past, understanding it and learning from it, then, leaving it in the past and moving forward. Put the lessons you’ve learned to work by making better choices today. Choose to see the past as a location on your journey that taught you things and nothing else; do not let it define your value or who you are. If you see experiences accurately, you will be grateful for the lessons and even be empowered to be a better you.
You can do this.
Master Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders and creators of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com they are the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America and iTunes.
Impressive Olympic losers
Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
I think the most amazing part of the Olympics so far, has been watching the losers. Maybe I relate to the experience of having things go wrong since my own life has been pretty messy, but I find myself watching closely to see how athletes handle it when their dreams fall apart.
I was glued to the TV when American figure skater Jeremy Abbott, not only made a mistake and fell, but he fell so hard he almost didn’t get up.
After lying on the ice for what seemed like forever, he slowly rose to his feet with a hand on his injured hip and the crowd went wild with applause. The fans were applauding his simple effort to rise after a terrible fall.
The whole world watched as he took a couple seconds to think about his options: quit, call for help or go on. It appeared that the cheers from the crowd helped him decide. He was going to finish, even injured, even though all his hopes for a medal were gone.
It was the most inspiring Olympic moment so far in my opinion. Because Abbott now had nothing left to lose and the pressure to be perfect was gone, he skated for love for himself and his sport and left everything he had on the ice. He was amazing!
I admire the skaters who deliver a flawless program and earn the gold medal, but I admire people like Abbott even more.
I also admired the way Shaun White handled his loss, and how Body Miller and Ted Ligety, who were also favorites, handled losing. Interestingly, their losses allowed Sandro Viletta, who was in 14th place to take the gold, showing us that sometimes life hands you an unexpected win too.
The classroom of life never fails to surprise.
Another amazing Olympic moment came watching Dario Cologna, my new favorite Olympian, who took gold in the 15km. This winner waited around for hours to congratulate and shake the hand of the guy who came in last, Roberto Carcelen, the first Peruvian to ever make it to the Winter Games. Carcelen was skiing with a broken rib and barely even made it to the finish line.
Cologna deserves more than a gold medal for being a person who honored the effort of the guy who barely made it. Carcelen deserves a standing ovation, too, because he is not a loser in my book, he is a champ. He showed the world what he was made of even more than the winners did.
Sticking it out, staying in the game when you really want to quit, hanging on even though you’re in last place and embarrassed by your performance, getting back up when you fall, that takes a lot more courage than winning. It’s the man who doesn’t stay down that really deserves the applause.
We appreciate these moments because we relate. We all make mistakes and fall once in a while. Sometimes they are even big falls and we go down hard in front of everyone we know. Often we are ashamed by our stupidity and weakness and we could let these failures affect us.
We must learn three lessons from the Olympic athletes who don’t make the podium:
1. Mistake experiences don’t define you
They don’t diminish your value as a human being nor make you unworthy of love and admiration. These experiences show up in your life for one reason: to teach you things. They are lessons in the classroom of life or locations on your journey and they probably serve you more than winning does. Winning doesn’t give you the chance to trust that your value is infinite and absolute in the face of proof you aren’t good enough. It doesn’t put that trust to the test and require you to stretch. It is these magic moments when you get to decide to let go of your shame and claim your infinite and absolute value as a one-of-a-kind human being. If you choose to value yourself this way and you cannot be “not good enough” no matter how you perform.
2. Failure experiences are just part of the process of life
Keep in mind that life is a classroom not a vacation. You are to learn and grow and the process is not going to be an easy one. Most of the time, your life is not going to meet your expectations and will be disappointing. The question for all of us when things go wrong is, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do with what you have left? This is where you get to decide who you are going to be: a quitter or a guy like Abbott, who trusts that this losing experience is his perfect journey for some reason, and gets back up and keeps fighting no matter what. These moments do define you. They say more about your character than winning ever could.
3. Mistake experiences make you a better person.
Losing can make you stronger, it will also give you empathy and compassion towards the people like Carcelen who finish last because you know what it feels like. Losing on occasion makes you less judgmental. Losing on occasion turns you into someone like Cologna, who values the guy who finished last. If you won all the time you might turn into a critic.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is the not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without err and shortcoming…who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails, while daring greatly.”
Brene Brown wrote a wonderful book on this topic called "Daring Greatly." I highly recommend it.
Today, I salute the losers of the Olympic Games who were in the arena and dared greatly. I salute all of you, too, all of those whose lives have been difficult and disappointing, who have fallen, failed, stumbled and sometimes hit the ice hard. I salute you for sticking it out and staying in the game even though it was embarrassing. I salute you for using these failure to make yourself better not bitter. I salute you for getting back up and trying again.
As a writer, I also win some and lose some. Some weeks I get accolades for my brilliantly written column, other weeks I get torn apart on the comment boards for my poor advice. This has given me some interesting opportunities to experience failing and choosing how to process that.
It has, at times, tested my courage to continue. It is scary being vulnerable and facing the critics. Every time you put yourself out there in the public eye and try anything, you take a great risk. Other authors have quit writing for KSL because the negative comments became too much to bear. (Keep this is mind when you choose to criticize those who are doing things you aren’t brave enough to do.)
I also got to experience losing on national TV when I was voted off "Good Morning America" in an advice guru contest back in 2010. After a few moments of humiliation when I didn’t make the top seven, I decided to see this experience as a win. I was voted one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country right before I was voted off. I was a winner even though I was a loser and didn’t get enough votes to continue. (Click here to read my old blog post about getting voted off GMA with some more tips on losing.)
To be honest, I have been a loser most of my life. In junior high and high school, I ran for office, tried out for cheerleader countless times, and always lost. I lost so many times my dad started calling me Abraham Lincoln. He thought that was funny because old Abe lost eight elections, didn’t get accepted to law school, failed twice in business and spent the rest of his life in debt. He even had a nervous breakdown at least once before becoming one of the greatest presidents in our history. (I know in the end he also died, but we all die in the end.)
The point is that losing is not the end and failing doesn’t make you less of a human being. They are just a beautiful part of the human experience called life, though not your favorite part. They give you a chance to find out what you are made of, like Abbott, and stand back up and keep going.
They give you a chance to understand you have value above and beyond your performance or appearance. They force you to let go of your need for outside validation and stop worrying what other people think of you. They give you the chance to claim your right to choose how you will see yourself. They help you to discover your love, your compassion and wisdom.
Failures also give you the chance to understand and experience the real point of living – to learn and love, and especially to learn to love yourself and others as we are, in our imperfections.
Kyo Shiodaira said, “Rather than the strength it takes to not lose, it’s the strength to stand back up after a loss that is sometimes more valuable.”
When you get your turn to lose, which you surely will once in a while, remember Abbott, hold your head high, remember your value wasn’t on the line because life’s a classroom not a test. Don’t let it define you.
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.
I have just been called to be a welfare specialist in my LDS ward where we have more than 160 low-income housing apartments. I would like insights into how to coach those who need help in lifting their hopes and lives a little. How can I help them stay optimistic?
I would love to share some tips on choosing a positive mindset, and hopefully you will have opportunities to share these principles with the people you serve. I would recommend you do a lot of listening first, though. People must know that you care, before they care about what you know.
Listening shows people that you value them as they are, where they are, and are not just trying to fix them. Then, I would ask if they are open to some advice. Permission questions show people that you honor and respect them. Then you might share the following principles and suggestions.
Principle 1: You have the power to choose your attitude.
You may not have control over the events in your life, but you do get to choose how you will experience those events. It is the one choice no one can take from you. We learned this from Viktor Frankl, who spent time in Nazi concentration camps. They took everything he had, but they could not take away his power to choose his attitude, he said. Even though he was in the worst situation imaginable, he chose love over fear.
You have the power to choose love over fear, too.
Principle 2: When choosing your attitude, you have only two choices: fear, or trust and love (every other state falls under one of those). This makes the choice a simple one.
In every moment of your life, you can consciously choose a mindset of trust and love, or you can react unconsciously without thinking. If you do this, your subconscious mind will usually choose fear. I recommend consciousness.
Conscious choice requires you to wake up and become aware of what you are experiencing and how you are reacting to that experience. You have to get off autopilot and choose how you want to feel in this moment.
This will require practice and effort if you have been asleep most of your life. You may also have created some subconscious bad habits: things like taking things too personally, over-generalizing, catastrophizing or creating unnecessary drama to get attention. You will have to start catching these behaviors and consciously choosing something better.
The first step is choosing to see the process of life as a safe one.
Principle 3: Choosing to see life as a classroom, not a test, will take your fear of failure off the table. When you choose to trust the process of life and see it as your perfect process of growth, it will take the fear of loss off the table. Living from this place will create more peace and joy.
I recommend you make this your official policy: life is a classroom and my value isn’t on the line. Give yourself permission to be a work in progress, a person who doesn't have to be perfect. This mindset will change the way you feel about mistakes and misfortune.
Dr. Martin Seligman, in his book "Learned Optimism," said the main difference between optimists and pessimists is that pessimists see failure and misfortune as permanent and personal, while optimists see misfortune as non-permanent and non-personal, meaning they don't let mistakes affect their value or define who they are.
You get to decide how you want to experience each situation in your life. I highly recommend seeing each experience as a lesson or a location on your journey, which has nothing to do with who you are.
Here are some other suggestions for a positive attitude:
I know that it is hard to stay positive when things go wrong, but the only other choice (fear and depression) will make you more miserable — so keep working at choosing trust and love, and it will get easier over time.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
I'd like advice on how to help someone who's going through a personal crisis. I know being a shoulder to cry on goes a long way, but what about when it's time to help the person get back on their feet? I have a hard time knowing when to offer advice and when to let the person find their own answers. How do I offer suggestions and guidance without pushing someone too far in one direction or another?
You’re asking for advice for giving advice? I love this question because it gives me the opportunity to share the core principles behind my LIFEadvice articles.
Here are my tips for giving good advice to others…
Principle: Listening is what they need most.
Listening to someone validates who they are at the deepest level. Being an active listener is more than just nodding and repeating what they say, though. A good listener is also a good question asker.
You can help someone find the answers they are looking for on their own by just asking questions that help them look at the problem from different perspectives. The most powerful way to help someone is empowering them to help themselves.
Principle: The person seeking advice is the one entitled to inspiration about his or her situation.
As a life coach, I have learned most people already know the answer to the question they are asking, they just don’t trust their own judgment. Don't let them use you as a crutch. It doesn't serve them.
Keep asking questions about what they think and feel until they own their inner truth. This technique leaves room for their inner guidance to direct them. All the answers they need (and are entitled to), God and the universe will provide for them right on time. If they aren’t getting the answer yet, they may not be ready for it. Don’t knock yourself out trying to explain a solution – if they can’t see it, they aren't ready.
When they are ready and if you are the right teacher for this lesson, you will be inspired with the right words to say. If the right words aren’t coming, trust there is a reason and keep listening.
Principle: Listen for inspiration.
You cannot possibly know what’s right for another person but God does know. Be very attentive, at these times, to the whispering of the spirit. It is sacred ground you walk here. Make sure you ask God for guidance and listen for it.
Principle: Honoring where the person is means asking permission before you share.
I strongly recommend asking permission questions before you give any advice or share what you think about anything. This is a powerful way to show each person you honor and respect them.
A permission question may sound like:
If they say no, respect that. Respecting how they feel this time will build trust, and they will be more likely to listen to you next time.
Principle: Base the advice you give on principles of truth.
I base all my advice on universal principles of truth. If I don’t know the answer, I review principles until they guide me to a solution that feels right.
Here are some basic principles which help people to see themselves and their situation more accurately. These are truths most people know, but forget in times of crisis when they are emotional or scared.
Principle: Recognize when professional help is needed.
If someone is dealing with addiction, mental illness, depression or any other serious situation, you must refer them to a mental health professional, counselor, therapist or doctor. If you aren’t sure whether a professional is appropriate, err on the side of caution and recommend it anyway.
I hope this helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker. Watch Kim on KSL TV every Monday at 6:15am. Follow her on Twitter @coachkimgiles
Romance novels can become addictive
Romance novels are a booming business in 2011.
Analysts believe book sales are increasing because romance novels provide a perfect escape during tough times.
A recent New York Times article by Motoko Rich indicated, “At a time when booksellers are struggling to lure readers, sales of romance novels are outstripping other categories of books.”
Romance novels revenue topped $1.36 billion last year, while religious, self-help and inspirational books combined sold only $770 million. Romance novels accounted for 55 percent of all the popular mass-market fiction sold.
"Twilight," which was named one of the Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books in 2005, was the top-selling book of 2008 and to date it has sold over 17 million copies. The "Twilight" books and other children’s books like them are not considered part of the romance book genre, though they are romantic.
If the “Twilight” numbers were added to the romantic genre, the number would be considerably higher.
Shaunti Feldhahn, a best-selling author, was concerned to learn that many romance novels are not as harmless as they look.
“In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography,” she wrote.
According to author of “Finding the Hero in your Husband” and psychologist Dr. Julia Slattery, there are similarities between what happens to a man when he views pornography and what happens to a woman when she reads a romance novel.
“There is a neurochemical element with men and visual porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels," she wrote.
Men are very visual, and viewing pornography produces a euphoric drug in the body. This drug is the reason pornography becomes addictive. When the natural high wears off, a man will crash and feel depressed (as happens with any drug) and crave another hit.
Women are more stimulated by romance than sex, so they read romantic stories (and they don’t have to be explicit to work) they can experience the same addicting chemical release as men do.
She said she is seeing more and more women who are clinically addicted to romantic books.
The Romance Writers Association said, “Romance readers are a very dedicated audience who don’t see these books as a luxury, as much as a necessity."
These books may be more than a necessity; they may be an addiction.
Many women do not see their love for reading romantic books as a problem, while others are admitting dissatisfaction in their marriages that may stem from reading these types of books.
“For many women, these novels really do promote dissatisfaction with their real relationships,” Slattery wrote.
Women may find their standard for intimacy begins to change over time because may not be able to get as satisfied with their partners as they can reading a book.
Pornography addiction counselor Vickie Burress said reading romance novels or viewing pornography may eventually lead to an affair for some women.
"Women involved in pornography have a hard time keeping their family together,” she said.
Kimberly Sayer Giles is the founder and president of LDS Life Coaching and www.claritypointcoaching.com and was named one of the top 20 Advice Guru's in the country by GMA. She is a popular speaker and life coach who resides in Bountiful Utah.
The Kinetic King, Tim Fort, got a second chance to perform on "America’s Got Talent" this week. America eliminated Fort from the competition a few weeks ago when his chain reaction gadget didn’t work.
On the show's Wild Card segment, Piers Morgan brought Fort back for another live performance. This was his last chance to redeem himself and get back into the competition.
Fort created a giant chain reaction contraption, built from sticks, soda cans, plastic balls and garbage cans, covering the entire stage. The audience held its breath waiting to see if Fort would again go down in flames.
This time, the contraption worked.
Fort received praise and adulation from the judges, but it was left to America to decide his fate. Would America vote the Kinetic King into the finals?
Wednesday night on the live results show, it was announted that the Kinetic King had made it through. The crowd went wild.
This is where the story gets interesting, though. The other performers who won Wednesday night said things like, “Wow, this is the best moment of my life!” “I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true.”
They were overjoyed. They had stars in their eyes. They were one step closer to winning a million dollars and headlining a Vegas show.
The Kinetic King handled his moment of triumph a little different.
There was no jumping up and down. He smiled but his only comment was, “Yay, another week of hard work, frazzled nerves and the chance to look goofy in front of millions of people.”
There was an awkward moment of silence.
Wasn’t he happy about winning?
The interesting thing about Tim Fort is he takes everything in stride. He handled winning with the same amount of enthusiasm he did losing. He met both experiences with the same curiosity. He wasn’t crushed when he lost and he wasn’t giddy when he won.
This guy has talent and it has nothing to do with his act.
He understands that nothing is necessarily good or bad. Each experience is just interesting. They both leave us wondering what will happen next. He understands that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.
He understands the law of impermanence.
In this life, everything is subject to constant change, to rise and fall, there is no permanent state that exists.
There is an old story from India that explains this principle. There once was a king who called upon his wise men and asked them," Is there one mantra or suggestion that works in every situation, in every circumstance, in every place and in every time? Is there one mantra that could help me when there is no one is available to advise me?”
After a lengthy discussion, the wise men came up with something. They went to the king and gave him something written on paper. But the condition was the king was not to see it yet. He was to wait until a moment when he found himself alone and in extreme danger, and only then should he read it. The king put the paper under his diamond ring.
After a few days, the kingdom was attacked. The king had to flee on his horse. Suddenly he found himself standing at the end of a road. Underneath there was a rocky valley a thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished…and he could not return because his enemy was approaching fast.
In that moment, he saw the diamond ring and remembered the message. He pulled out the paper and read it. The message was very small but very great.
"This too will pass."
Only a few days ago, the king realized, he was enjoying his riches. He was the mightiest of kings — and today, the kingdom and all his pleasure were gone. However, just as those days of luxuries were gone, this day of danger would also pass. The revelation of message had a great effect on him.
He reorganized his army, defeated the enemy and took back his empire. When he returned home after the victory, he was received with much fanfare at the door. The entire kingdom was rejoicing.
Again, the diamond of his ring flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message, "This too will pass."
This is the nature of life.
Happiness comes and goes. Sorrow comes and goes. Nothing in life is permanent. Everything changes. One day you lose but another day you’ll win. Life is a beautiful dance between the two.
The lesson Tim Fort taught us this week is an important one for our time. He taught us to take both the wins and the losses in stride. You are the same you during both experiences. They are just experiences. They don’t define who you are.
Don’t be so quick to judge a situation as good or bad.
They will often surprise you.
Greet each experience with curiosity and gratitude, and remember if you are down and out today, it isn’t a permanent state. We have survived tough times before and we will make it through to brighter days again.
Americans have always had that talent.
How would you handle a major “fail” on national TV?
On "America’s Got Talent" Thursday night, the Kinetic King (aka Tim Fort), a nerdy inventor who uses tongue depressors and dominos to create moving gadgets that work by chain reaction, went down in flames.
He had hoped to make it to the next level on the program and at the same time break a world record with a once-in-a-lifetime performance. The nerdy Minnesota native was not going to get another shot like this.
Fort spent 36 hours putting his “biggest gadget ever” together, but when the big moment arrived, it just wouldn’t go.
The act was a dud.
As expected, Piers Morgan was not kind. “Rarely have we seen an act go this badly,” Piers said. “On a scale of 1 to 20 million, the performance was a -1.”
But the Kinetic King kept on smiling.
He showed America how to handle failure with style and laughed at his predicament. “If you’re going to blunder, you should blunder big!” he said.
Fort was baffled over why this gadget didn’t work while his others always did. He said, “woo hoo” over and over, almost finding excitement in the outcome he never expected.
This was the kind of act Americans needed to see right now. There were no tears, no drama and no self pity. Things often don't go the way we plan. The question is how are we going to choose to experience that. The Kinetic King chose to smile.
“You gotta be famous for something,” said Fort, “and I’m going to be the biggest loser on AGT.”
Fort was stumped as to why his gadget wouldn’t go. He’s done this thousands of times and never had a problem, until this one — the big one that could have changed his life forever. But he met this disaster with optimism. "It was inspiring to watch," said one viewer.
It reminded us of when Thomas Edison's workshop containing irreplaceable research work burned to the ground. The famous inventor woke up his wife and friends and encouraged them to come down and watch his work go up in flames, saying you’ll never see another fire like this.
Edison rebuilt and made his greatest discoveries after that event.
If you ask me, handling humiliating failure with dignity and good humor makes him a winner.
Watch the failed performance here: http://youtu.be/v_H0OubcD54.
Kimberly Sayer Giles is the founder and president of LDS Life Coaching and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought-after life coach who has a popular radio show LIFEadvice on Utah's AM 1430 Saturday mornings at 8 a.m.
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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.