This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Last week’s article explained why most problems are fear related and how two core fears can be responsible for most bad behavior. This article explains how those two fears can create three different dynamics in your relationships.
Before I explain the three dynamics, the two core fears and the problems they cause at their worst are:
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A fear of failure dominant person with another fear of failure dominant person
In this kind of relationship both parties might be insecure and needy for reassurance that they are loved, respected and wanted. If both parties are functioning in a fear state this could mean they are focused on getting validation and no one is giving any. When I meet with these kinds of couples they are both saying the exact same thing — they both fear being unloved and unwanted. There usually isn't much conflict in these relationships, though, because both parties hate it. Instead, they both pull away and could start living around each other like roommates. To make this kind of relationship work, both parties need to work on their own self-esteem and stop making their partner responsible for their happiness.
In a balanced trust and love state, these relationships can be wonderful, safe and reassuring, where both parties are givers and able to show up emotionally for the other.
A fear of loss dominant person with another fear of loss dominant person
In this kind of relationship, both parties need control to feel safe in the world which can cause quite a bit of conflict. They are both on the lookout for offenses and mistreatment and may think it’s there when it really isn’t. When I meet with these couples I hear them say the same thing — they feel the other party is mean, controlling or irritating. Both parties need to work on letting go of their need for control and being right to make this relationship work. They need to watch how they speak to each other and be as understanding and as flexible as possible.
In a balanced trust and love state, these relationships can reach maximum productivity. These two people can get things done and have everything working like a well-oiled machine while having mutual respect and admiration for each other. The good work that one does can make the other person feel more secure and safe in the world, curing the other's core fear.
A fear of failure dominant person with a fear of loss dominant person
This is the most common of the three — perhaps because opposites attract. In these relationships, there can be a lot of misunderstanding, resentment and disappointment because you just don’t get the other person and can’t understand why they aren't more like you.
We all subconsciously might think of our way as being the right way. It is important that you remember we all have the same value and no way of being is better or worse than the other, they are just different.
In these relationships, the fear of failure dominant person can often feel criticized and judged as the fear of loss dominant person may be prone to correcting and pointing out what isn’t right. The latter may not mean to be critical and could just be trying to help or make things better, but their comments could trigger the person with the fear of failure, causing them to detach or even feel unsafe with the other person. This could start to drive a wedge between them.
The fear of loss dominant person might feel the other pulling back and this could make them feel mistreated, which will actually bring out more criticism. This vicious cycle plays out until there is a giant wedge and deep resentment on both sides.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
In a balanced trust and love state, the fear of loss dominant person has the ability to recognize the insecurity in the other and give them reassurance that they are admired, respected and wanted.
You shouldn't, however, be responsible for your partner's self-esteem — that is their job. But you can be a safe place and that can help improve the relationship.
In a balanced trust and love state, the fear of failure dominant person also has the ability to recognize their partner's need for control and where that stems from and can offer support when needed.
The trick to getting both parties into a balanced trust and love state is working on the following beliefs, which may eliminate the two core fears:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a life coach, speaker and author, and has a free quiz online where you can figure your dominant core fear and your Relationship Behavior Shape. Check it out at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Every few weeks I have KSL readers comment and say something to the effect of, “Coach Kim thinks everything is a fear problem and sometimes people aren’t afraid, they are just selfish or jerks. Why does she think everything is about fear?”
In this article, I would like to address why I see fear in every problem and why seeing human behavior in this way could be helpful.
First, understand my goal in writing this weekly advice column for the last eight years. It is to provide easy, usable advice, skills and tools to help solve people problems and improve relationships and self-esteem. In order for any advice, skills or tools to be usable, they must be simple to understand and easy to do. This is what I aim for.
For over 30 years I’ve been studying human behavior, psychology and personal development. My goal is to take the often complex ideas, theories and therapies down to their essence and make them simple enough to be useful in day-to-day situations. One of my frustrations with psychology is that though factual (and researched) it is not always simple enough to be usable — and if it isn’t usable, it isn’t helpful.
My work tries to bring human behavior to its foundational core or “cause” level and make it simple enough to be usable and create real change in behavior. This means breaking it down into the smallest number of moving parts as possible.
I believe you can break all human motivation down into two categories, fear and love. If you look behind everything you do, you can find a fear-motivated or a love-motivated reason to do it. Many modern thought leaders and authors, like David Hawkins, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Elisabeth Kubler Ross and others, teach this same concept, because again, it’s not only true, it’s also simple, useful and helpful.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross says, “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it's more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They're opposites. If we're in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we're in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I believe every moment of your life you are functioning in one of these two states. You are either in a balanced, trust and love state (where you feel safe and have access to your love and best behavior) or you are in an unbalanced, fear state (where your worst behavior comes out). This idea is helpful because with only two states it becomes very easy to determine which state you are in.
All you have to learn is how to get from an unbalanced fear state into a balanced trust and love state again and your life becomes much happier. That is what I try to teach my coaching clients to do. If we simplify complex, emotional states and behavior down to their essence, then we can see what they are more accurately and we can behave better.
I also believe there are two core fears, which all bad behavior and negative emotions can be rolled into. This, again, makes bad human behavior easier to understand. The two fears are the fear of failure (fear you might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (fear your life may not be good enough). At first, you may not see how true this is, but when you start looking behind bad behavior to see if feelings of failure or loss are there, you will.
For example, last week one reader commented: “Some people aren’t scared they are just selfish."
If you look behind why someone is selfish, you will see they are afraid that they won’t have or get what they need — which is fear of loss. This fear keeps them focused on making sure they have what they want and need, which is selfish behavior, but could also be labeled as "fear of loss" behavior.
If you are angry because you feel insulted that might not look like a fear problem either, but think about why you are sensitive to feeling insulted. Could it be that you are functioning in a fear of failure state and are already afraid you might not be good enough? Anger often has criticism (failure) or mistreatment (loss) behind it.
People who are arrogant, insecure, easily insulted or can’t handle feedback, may come across as rude, but the reason for all those bad behaviors may be a fear of failure.
People who are controlling, territorial, defensive, bossy, grouchy, mistreated or angry, are functioning in a "fear of loss" state.
You have the option of seeing it that way if you want to. The benefit to identifying bad behavior as coming from fear is that it can create understanding in certain interactions. It also breeds compassion when you see difficult people as scared rather than selfish or rude.
So, you could see and label bad behavior in many different ways, but this system makes it easier and more usable. When you see others in a fear state, you will also know exactly what they need. They need validation and reassurance — something to quiet the fear and make it go away so they can feel safe and become less focused on their own lack or needs and more capable of showing up for you.
But, you are not responsible for their inner state — that is their job and you are in charge of yours. You must be responsible for your fear issues and learn how to get yourself out of fear and balanced again.
You certainly don’t have to like my system or perspective on human behavior or see it as accurate, but I do encourage you to play with it before dismissing it too fast. Anything that is helpful in managing your bad behavior and can help you get along better with others is worth exploring.
We have also developed a 12 Shapes Relationship System that reduces all humanity into 12 types of people (another simplifying strategy to make change easier). The shapes are based on what you fear most and what you value most, which are the real drivers of human behavior. It’s free to take the shape quiz and figure out which fear is a bigger issue for you. The link is below.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the authors of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com
We often let fear stop us from living the life we want and creating the relationships we deserve. Our fears make us defensive, controlling, know-it-alls, or insecure, timid, doormats. Fear creates most of our people problems and holds us back from living our true potential.
You know the old saying “Everything you want is on the other side of your fear/comfort zone.” Well, it’s true, but getting the courage to break free and march into that uncomfortable zone is scary.
In my 15 years as a master life coach, I’ve come to believe there are two core fears that cause most of our issues, the fear of failure (that you might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (that your life won’t be good enough). Getting out of your comfort zone becomes easier when you get those two fears out of your way.
You do this by choosing two beliefs that negate those fears.
1) You choose to see all humans as having the same exact, unchangeable value. This means you cannot fail or be less or more than anyone else, no matter what you do. This takes failure off the table (along with judgment too).
2) You choose to see the universe as a wise teacher and believe every experience that shows up in your life, is the perfect classroom journey for you, for some reason. This means you can grow and become better with every experience that shows up in your life.
When you practice choosing these beliefs as your truth, you will find it’s easier to take risks, and start stepping out of your comfort zone and doing the things that scared you before. Look for opportunities to do things that could make you feel stupid or embarrassed, and do them anyway. In trying these things, you will remove your fear of what other people think of you and discover the power to live your life to the fullest. You will also be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
Here are 25 ways to get braver and stretch out of your comfort zone:
1) Sign up for a class to learn something new. You will be bad at it at first and that’s good practice trusting your value isn’t attached to your performance.
2) Put on your head phones and dance in public to your own beat.
3) Try new recipes or order dishes you’ve never tried and usually wouldn’t order at restaurants. It’s time to stretch.
4) Find an opportunity to volunteer and do service, somewhere you have never been.
5) Make a prank phone call, not a cruel one, but something funny.
6) Plan a trip to somewhere you have never been.
7) Set a big goal like running a marathon or hiking a mountain.
8) Take a dance, painting, pottery, or woodshop course.
9) Leave positive messages in sidewalk chalk around your neighborhood
10) Pay for another tables dinner anonymously and just watch their surprise.
11) Walk up to an intimidating person and pay them a compliment.
12) Do something you are scared to do every day. Write these in a journal.
13) Ask for a raise at work.
14) If single, get out there and ask someone on a date. Hand your name and number to a handsome/beautiful stranger with a smile and walk away. It’s not about whether they call you, it’s being brave enough to do that.
15) Order and eat dessert first.
16) Go out and dance in the rain.
17) Jump in a pool with your clothes on, when no one expects it.
18) Put together different outfit combinations than you’ve worn before.
19) Drive home a different route every day this week.
20) Learn a new language.
21) Visit a church of a different religion.
22) Sit next to someone who is very different from you and get to know them.
23) Go for a drive and flip a coin at each intersection to decide which way to go.
24) Get some post it notes and leave encouraging notes inside books at the library, on the bus, on menus before you hand them back, anywhere people will find them.
25) Sing karaoke.
Stretching out of your comfort zone will be easier and more fun than you think. The things we fear doing, are always scarier in our minds than they are in real life. Research shows that new experiences and challenges also rewire your brain and make you smarter, stronger and healthier. “In the long-term, comfort is bad for your brain. Without mental stimulation dendrites, connections between brain neurons that keep information flowing, shrink or disappear altogether.”
When you stretch your limits, learn new things, and stay active, your brain regenerates. Michael Merzenich, a pioneer of plasticity research, says that going beyond the familiar is essential to brain health. “It’s the willingness to leave the comfort zone that is the key to keeping the brain new,” he says.
Getting out of your comfort zone increases confidence and make you more resilient. It increases your ability to handle challenges that would have intimidated you. So, make a goal to do something risky, embarrassing or uncomfortable every day and start living your life to the fullest.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a master executive coach and speaker. She is the founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com and has a new app for improving your life and relationships at app.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares what your reoccurring nightmares might mean in your real life.
I have a repeating nightmare that haunts me all the time, where all my teeth crumble and fall out. I wondered if you knew what this meant, as I assume it’s fear related because I am scared of that. My husband has another repeating dream of missing a class in school for a whole year and being in trouble. I’d love to know what that one could mean too. Any idea?
Some studies that show 70 percent of adults have a nightmare at least once a month, and nightmares or dreams might be a subconscious way to process emotions, stress and fears in our lives. The stuff in our nightmares can be symbolic of what we are battling all day.
They are not literal though. You are not actually worried about your teeth falling out, you are having anxiety around something though.
"Nightmares are a mix of memories, recent information you were exposed to and visual representations of your emotions," Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Science told Buzzfeed Life.
These nightmares create real fear reactions in your body though because researchers have found they happen in the visual cortex of your brain, which affects your amygdala, the emotion center. So, your body responds as if the situation is really happening, and you can get out of breath and sweat just like it's real.
It’s interesting that some experts believe women have more nightmares than men. Dr. AJ Marsden, assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, told Prevention it "might be correlated to the finding that women also have more issues with anxiety, and nightmares are often a reflection of our worries and anxieties."
Studies have found anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses can increase nightmares, too, along with many antidepressant medications, antihistamines and other drugs. You might ask your doctor if any of your medications could be making nightmares worse.
Below are some of the most common and recurring nightmares and what experts think they might mean. Just remember symbolic ideas mean different things to different people, so you should ask yourself the questions below each nightmare to explore other possibilities.
Your teeth cracking or falling out
This one is so common there is a website dedicated to it www.TeethFallingOutDream.org. They suggest all kinds of meanings to this nightmare fear of poor appearance, looking bad, powerlessness, losing things like your money, your youth, security, or that you are just going through a big scary change in your life and afraid of it falling apart.
Ask yourself: Am I afraid of what others think about me and how I look? Am I feeling helpless or powerless in any way? Do I feel I have no control over my situation? Am I having trouble speaking my truth or feelings about anything? What do my teeth represent to me?
Being late to something important
This could mean you are afraid you aren’t enough, adequate or prepared. It could mean you need to take care of something you keep forgetting or that you are afraid you will miss a big opportunity in your life.
Ask yourself: Do I have too much on my plate? Am I overwhelmed? Am I procrastinating doing something that needs to get done? Am I being responsible for myself or dropping the ball anywhere? What could the appointment I’m late for represent in my real life?
Being stuck or paralyzed
You might feel stuck in a situation in your life. You could feel helpless and out of control, or you might be ignoring a situation that you need to deal with.
Ask Yourself: Am I being honest with myself about my current situation? Do I really want to be there? What am I afraid will happen if I try to make a change? What will happen if you let fear keep you there? Am I speaking my truth and why not? What am I afraid of?
Being lost or losing something important to you
If you can’t make a hard decision you might have this nightmare, or your subconscious mind could be showing you that you aren’t focused or paying attention. It could mean you don’t know how to function or what to do in some situation. It might mean you are losing yourself and not being true to yourself, or that you are going to lose something if you don’t make a change in your life.
Ask yourself: Am I feeling lost in any real aspect of my life? Do I feel powerless to change anything? Am I losing anything important if I keep going the way I’m going? Do I need to make any healthy changes, that I’ve been afraid to make? Why am I letting fear stop me? Do I know where I’m going in life and what I want next?
You can’t find the bathroom
It might mean you are not taking care of yourself and your needs. It could mean you are frustrated because you can’t create the life you really want to be happy. It could also mean are afraid of not having the life you really wanted.
Ask yourself: Am I struggling to take care of myself and my needs, do they come last? Are there things you really want in life, but you aren’t making them happen? What changes do you wish you could make if you were braver? What could the toilet I’m seeking actually represent in my life?
Being chased by something or someone dangerous
This is a very common nightmare and it usually means you are avoiding something, often processing your emotions, speaking your truth or something like that you are scared to do. It might be time to deal with your real feelings and make a change. It could also signify anxiety in your life and frustration that you can’t have the life you want. You might also be overwhelmed by all the tasks on your plate right now.
Ask yourself: Am I overwhelmed and afraid of failing? Is there a problem, emotion or truth it is time to face and deal with? What am I avoiding dealing with? What am I currently afraid of that I might be running from? What could the thing I’m running from represent?
Being naked in public
This is another very common nightmare that signifies feeling exposed or afraid of judgment. It could also mean you have anxiety around self-worth or vulnerability. It could also mean that you are hiding something you don’t want others to know or see.
Ask yourself: Is there anything I am hiding and don’t want anyone to know? Am I keeping a secret that would be healthy to reveal? Am I afraid to be myself with others? Am I uncomfortable in my own skin and unhappy with who I am? Am I afraid of what others think of me? Is it time to get some help and work on that? Is the fear around being seen naked and what could that represent in my real life?
Failing a test or missing a test or class
This nightmare can mean you are overwhelmed and just can’t do it all. It could mean you are scared of dropping the ball and handling everything on your plate. It could mean you are scared of being irresponsible or making mistakes.
Ask yourself: Am I overwhelmed with too much on my plate? Are there things out of my control, I need to let go of? Am I overly task focused and afraid anything I miss means I’m not good enough? Is there anything the test or class might represent, that I’m afraid I’m going to forget?
This usually represents anxiety about a situation you can’t control. It can mean your life is out of balance and you need to look at your priorities. Some experts say if you are falling straight down, it’s a fear of failure issue; if you are tripping, it’s a fear of mistakes; and if someone pushes you, you feel threatened by someone or something.
Ask yourself: Do I feel insecure or threatened by any situation in my life right now? Do I feel out of control or helpless? Where and why? Am I trying to control things I cannot control?
Sleep experts suggest not dealing with stressful issues like paying bills, resolving conflict or discussing emotional issues right before bed. You will sleep better if you do calming activities right before turning in. Listen to meditations or soft music and lay down in trust that everything in your life will work out for the best in the long run.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles owns the Claritypoint Coaching academy and certifies people who want to be life coaches www.claritypointcoaching.com and owns www.12shapes.com to help people have healthy relationships.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim Giles explains how to separate your self-worth from your stuff.
I live in a smaller old home in an area where lots of beautiful new large homes have popped up over the last several years. I generally love where we live and the people who live here, but I hate that I feel the nagging impulse to "keep up with the Joneses." I understand it's fear-based, that I'm wanting to feel like I'm just as good as those around me. But I'm hoping you can give some helpful advice to navigate this. It's hard when my kids have friends over and I perceive they aren't having as much fun because we don't have all of the fun "stuff" that they have. I know I shouldn't care, but I do. How do I explain to my kids that we don't have what others around us have and that it's OK? How can I teach them that their own worth isn't tied to stuff?
You need to teach your children where the belief that your value is tied to your appearance, performance and property comes from, and then, how to change it.
This belief actually stems from a simple, but foundational belief about human value and how it’s determined. This is a foundational belief that impacts how you see yourself and everyone around you, and it's critical to understand. Somewhere along the way you, as a child, might have gotten the idea from your parents and watching the other big people around you that human value can change. You started to believe it could go up and you could feel better than other people, and it could go down and you could feel less than other people.
This idea that human value can change also lead you to another negative belief — that some people have more value than other people. These two beliefs are wreaking havoc in your life and with your self-esteem, and they are also responsible for most of the problems on this planet. All of the terrorism, war, racism, discrimination, and even the political divide in our country are all at their core, caused by this idea that some people have more value or are more important than other people.
This is a belief that really needs to change.
Since we all believe human value can change, we also believe you can earn more value by looking good, doing well, or having nice things. We believe that good-looking, thin, tan people have more value than other less attractive, larger people. We believe people who live in big houses, make more money, or have more success, have more value than less successful people. But understand these are not facts or truths, they are just beliefs.
Let me clarify the difference. Truths can be proven and don’t change. Beliefs are just ideas that exist in our heads — they can’t be physically proven — and we can change them whenever we want to or whenever we learn something new. It’s important to understand the difference because every day you are basing your self-esteem on flimsy, though widely held, beliefs, which are not real and are not doing you any good.
This is also a system you can't beat. As long as you choose to believe human value can change and some people have more worth than other people, you will always be afraid you aren’t good enough. No matter how hard you try to improve your appearance, performance and property, you will always find people who have more or have it better. You will never win, nor feel good about yourself using this system.
So I recommend you choose a new system for determining the worth of human beings. I recommend you choose a system or belief that serves you and humanity more and makes you feel better about yourself, too. My suggestion is you adopt the belief that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value and that value can’t change, no matter what they do or have.
Choose to separate your value from appearance, performance and property altogether, and base human value on something that doesn’t change, like your uniqueness. Anything on this planet that is a one-of-a-kind is extremely valuable, if not priceless. You are a one-of-a-kind, original, the only YOU there will ever be. You are irreplaceable and therefore of infinite, absolute worth — just like everyone else.
When you start to see human value as unchangeable and remind yourself and your children every day that property, performance and appearance don’t mean anything about your value, you will very quickly feel better. Because you are changing a foundational belief across the board applying to everyone, you will start to internalize it and also apply it to yourself. This is the beginning of real self-esteem.
Now, in order to make this powerful change work in your family, you also have to give up judgment of other people too. Every time you or a family member start to gossip or criticize another person, remember their mistakes or faults don’t change their value. If anyone mentions the fact that other people have larger homes, better clothes or more toys, simply remind them property doesn’t determine value and those people have the same value we do.
Making this belief sink in and take hold so you really believe it just takes time and repetition. The more you talk about it, the better — but it doesn’t change the reality that there may be less to do at your house.
I would focus on making sure there is good energy, safety and love for all people when they hang out at your house. Focus on the one thing you have to give, no matter your financial position: LOVE. Be the house where everyone feels valued and important. In the end, people care more about how you make them feel than how many toys you have.
You might also want to read this previous KSL.com article I wrote about that contains a parable about self-worth and houses.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert, author and speaker. Learn more at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com Take the Survey and find out your relationship shape today.
I am 25 years old and suffer from anxiety and overthinking. My biggest issue right now is death. I am scared of death and every second I think of losing my parents or siblings and it destroys me mentally. I have never lost anyone close to me but for some reason I can’t get the thought of losing my family out of my mind. It eats away at my brain and causes me to have more anxiety and more overthinking. How can I deal with this? How can I learn to accept it and how can I stop thinking about it?
We define overthinking as: Ruminating over things that don’t protect you and aren’t productive. It makes sense to spend time thinking about tasks you need to accomplish, cautions you could take to keep you or others safe, or processing emotions or experiences to work through them. If you spend your time planning out what you can do to prevent problems, it’s productive thinking about things over which you have some control.
But if you are spending valuable time worrying about things that might not happen or things over which you have no control, you are wasting your time and energy and overthinking.
Here is a procedure to follow when you catch yourself overthinking about unproductive things:
1. Practice mindfulness
Take a minute and notice what’s going on in your head and the effect those thoughts are having on your body. Become the observer of your own thinking and what it's creating inside you. Use your senses to bring you back into the moment. This means pay attention to what sensations are happening in your body from head to toe.
Notice what can you smell, hear or see right now. There is a reason people use the phrase "come to your senses" when they talk about becoming calm — you can literally use your senses to calm anxiety.
2. Relax your nervous system
Studies have shown that when your body is in fight-or-flight mode, your frontal lobe, which you need to logically think your way back to peace, shuts down and stops working.
To get access to your frontal lobe again, try diaphragmatic breathing. An article on relaxation and stress from Harvard Health explains how to do this exercise:
"Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural)."
Take a few minutes to try this.
3. Identify which fears are causing the overthinking
Is this a fear of failure problem where you are worried about failing, looking bad, being insulted, judged or criticized? Or is this a fear of loss problem where you are afraid of things going wrong, being mistreated or losing things or people you care about?
In this instance, your fear of losing family members is a fear of loss issue.
4. If you are overthinking because of a fear of failure: choose to see that all human beings have the same intrinsic value that can’t change.
When you choose to see all human beings as having the exact same value all the time, you take failure off the table. You cannot be less than anyone else. No matter what happens you will still have the same value as every other person on the planet.
If you see life as a classroom and every experience as a lesson instead of a test where you must earn your value, it becomes a lot less scary. You can’t fail if there is no test. No matter what anyone thinks of you, you still have the same value.
5. If you are overthinking because of fear of loss: choose to see the universe as a wise and loving teacher who brings experiences to help you learn and grow.
We believe there are two mindset options about the nature of life: You can see life and the universe as a dangerous place, or you can see it as a classroom journey, where perfect learning experiences show up.
We cannot prove this idea is true, however, because there is no ultimate truth about the nature of life and the universe. This means, either way, you will choose a perspective or belief in your imagination. You might as well choose one that makes you feel safer in the world and improves your quality of life.
This means letting go of the illusion that you have control over anything and choosing to have a positive outlook, even if difficult circumstances occur. If you ever lose a person you love, you can choose to believe it was their time to go and the universe (or your higher power) will see you through the experience and make you better for it.
Overthinking about death and losing your loved ones is not keeping them safe and it is not creating solutions or preventing bad things from happening. What happens to them is completely out of your control. It is unproductive thinking that does only one thing — it takes away your peace and joy.
You are stealing suffering from the future and using it to ruin today.
We suggest you leave future suffering where it is and choose as much joy and peace as you possibly can today. This moment, right now, is the only one you have any control over. This moment, right now, is the only place you have any power to choose anything. Use that power to choose gratitude, trust, love and peace.
6. Choose gratitude, in this moment, for all the things right in your life.
Count your blessings and make a choice to focus on something fun, joyful and rich going on around you right now. Take time to send a note to a loved one and let them know how you feel about them. Focus on something you have control over that is based on love, not fear.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show
I have a hard time controlling my emotions because I feel things deeply. Do you have any advice for helping me calm my reactions and get control of myself? Also, how can I teach my children to get control of themselves so they don’t inherit my bad habit of throwing a fit over things?
I’m so glad you asked this because many of the techniques I teach in these articles involve thinking your way out of reactions.
The problem is when you get upset and triggered into a fear-based reaction, you are functioning in fight-or-flight mode.
Research has shown when people go into fight-or-flight mode, they don’t have access to their frontal lobe, which is the rational, thinking part of the brain. So you are not capable of choosing your way out of these upset reactions — at least until you calm your body down, get out of fight-or-flight and get your frontal lobe back online.
Learning to calm yourself down is a skill everyone needs to learn and teach their children. Children and teens who learn how to calm their nervous system have less anxiety and stress and are more emotionally intelligent, studies have shown. They also have more capacity to choose their mindset in any situation.
It is very normal to get upset and emotional when you feel mistreated, insulted, criticized or threatened, and it’s normal to have strong emotional reactions to these situations. These reactions are kind of like riptides — they are strong and fast, and can pull you into dangerous water — in this case, bad behavior that sabotages your relationships — before you even consciously know what’s happening.
Understanding real riptides can help you learn to escape emotional reactions. A riptide is often misunderstood because it does not pull a swimmer under water — it simply carries the swimmer away from the shore.
Many people who get caught in riptides do not understand this and they try to swim against it. The danger here is they can exhaust themselves and drown.
But if they were educated on how riptides work, they would know they can easily exit the riptide by swimming at an angle to it. If they swim sideways, parallel to the shore, they can easily exit the current and return safely to land, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
Experts recommend this approach if you get caught in a riptide:
1. Don’t fight the current.
2. Stay calm to conserve your energy and think clearly.
3. Think of it like a treadmill — it cannot be turned off, but you can easily step to the side and get off. Swim sideways following the shoreline and when out of the current swim for the shore.
You can calm down your upset emotions the same way. Here is a simple procedure you can practice when experiencing strong emotional reactions to calm yourself down and choose a better response:
1. Don’t fight the feelings of anger or hurt. Just sit with them for a minute and don’t do anything yet. Each emotion is an interesting dimension of the human experience and feeling them can teach you things. Make note of how your ego (the reactive, selfish part of you) wants to respond. Can you feel how much your ego wants to respond with selfishness, defensiveness or anger?
These are strong feelings, but the more you sit in them, you will see they are not your only option. Feeling this upset is a choice. But you can always choose to change the story you are telling yourself around this, see the situation in a different way, and choose a calmer, more mature and unselfish response.
2. Stay calm. Take a step back from the event and do some calming exercises. We recommend learning diaphragmatic breathing or engaging your peripheral vision by focusing on seeing the two sides of the room at the same time. This may sound weird, but you can’t activate your peripheral vision and stay in fight-or-flight at the same time. Read more about why this works in this Panicyl blog post.
3. Think your way through it. Ask yourself, "What am I really upset about? What am I afraid of here? Why do I feel threatened? Am I applying meaning here that may not be accurate? What will happen if I choose to be upset? Is that what I want? Is being upset a choice? Is there any other way I could choose to feel in this moment?"
4. Exit the reactive current. This is where you get to step to the side or exit the reactive current by choosing a mindset that runs parallel to principles of truth — principles that provide solid ground and safety, like the shore. If the fear reaction is the riptide, you can choose thoughts based in trust and love, and you can step right out. Choose to trust these principles of truth instead of embracing fear in any moment:
It will take some work to master this, but you can do it!
I love your radio show. It is the only reason I am not completely a mess right now. I could use some help though on a specific challenge I am going through. I feel like I need some tools to deal with disappointment. My husband’s job sent us away to live in another country and I’m miserable. I do not like living here at all. I am really struggling as I hate everything about this experience. It has meant putting my education on hold and I’m totally out of my comfort zone. There was a job opening back home and I got so excited that we could move back, and then my husband didn’t get it, which has just shattered my mental well-being. How can I cope with all of this better?
Life can be miserable, disappointing and frustrating at times, but a part of our suffering over these disappointments may be self-inflicted. Even though you cannot change the situation, we believe you can change the way you see and experience it.
The answer to lessening your suffering lies in changing your perspective about the nature of life altogether. We are going to help you do that by recommending you adopt a new policy about the nature of life: It is what it is.
If it was supposed to be something else, it would be.
If you look at the universe and the planet we live on, you will see perfect order everywhere. Everything from the smallest insect to the largest planet in the galaxy — they do what they do, when they do it, for a reason. The entire universe is perfect order, beauty and purpose. Can you see that?
Do you really think your life is an exception? Is your life really a bunch of bad luck accidents that mean nothing and serve no purpose?
There is no way to know for sure. There is no absolute, provable truth on whether there is order in your journey or it’s all just random bad luck. This means you can choose a perspective for yourself.
You can choose to believe there is perfect order in the universe and everything happens for a reason.
With this mindset you will spend your time looking for the lessons and the blessings, instead of complaining about, resisting and regretting that things aren’t different. But you are also going to have to change your expectations, which are nothing but thoughts and illusions you make up and become overly attached to. They aren’t real. You must let go of your expectations so you can make peace with life as it is.
We recommend that you get some paper and write down all the expectations you had for your life (write every small thing you expected to be different than it is). Then tie that paper to a balloon and let it float away up into the sky and let those expectations all go.
Decide to embrace what your life is right now as perfect. This doesn’t mean you give up working to make things better, though. You can keep working on improving things and finding another job in the states, while at the same time understanding that you are where you are for a reason. There is some beautiful lesson you are meant to learn by being exactly where you are right now.
Here are four more things you can do to change how you feel about your life:
1. Accept responsibility for creating the expectation that your life should be different than it is. You created this illusion so you can uncreate it. Choose a mindset based in truth about the nature of the journey. This will produce less self-pity and suffering. Live in optimism that things will get better, but also in trust that what is — is perfect, for some reason.
2. Practice gratitude. If you are going to compare your life with other people’s — at least make sure you compare yourself with those who have less or have it worse than you, not just those who have more or better. There are plenty on both sides. Choose gratitude for what you do have and count your blessings daily.
3. Accept there is meaning and purpose behind every experience. See if you can list 10 positives that the hard situation in your life has created. Look for how your experience could be improving you. Choose to focus on being a better person.
4. Understand that your journey doesn’t define you or have any effect on your value.Your current experience is just a location on your journey. It is a class you were signed up for, but it doesn’t have any bearing on who you are or your value. We believe you aren't being punished with these experiences but you are being blessed by them. You just don’t know why or how yet.
5. Forgive life for disappointing you. You might want to write a letter and vent about your disappointments. Write that you aren’t happy, but you don’t want to live in bitterness, regret, rejection, resentment, judgment, criticism and pain any longer. Choose to embrace what is — and live in love, trust, acceptance, forgiveness and peace instead.
Every moment of every day you must consciously make this choice. Some days when things are rough we live five minutes at a time. Decide for the next five minutes you will accept your situation as a blessing and choose some form of joy. The anger and sadness might creep back in, but you have the power to choose again. As you practice this it gets easier and lasts longer.
We know it’s not easy, but it is that simple.
You can do it.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on adult children rejecting the parent’s religion and I agree with what you’re saying, however, my heart is still hurting. I understand my pain is all about me and that I need to just love them, but I can’t help resenting my son and his wife for causing me this pain. He is my only son and I resent his wife taking him away from the way he was raised. I find myself resenting them and not wanting to hang out with them. I don’t want to feel this way, but my heart is so sad that there will not be baby blessings, baptisms and temple marriages for my grandchildren. I'm just not sure how to bridge the gap, stop grieving and feeling so emotional about it. Thank you for any thoughts on this.
First, we want you to choose a perspective about why we are on this planet. Most people feel we are on the planet to do two things: 1. Learn, grow and become the best version of ourselves we can be and 2. To love and serve others and try to make a difference in their lives. We find these two ideas are consistent with most religions and life philosophies.
If you think these two ideas feel like truth to you, you might consider seeing life as a classroom. This philosophy means that everything that shows up in your life is there for one primary reason — to help you learn to love at a higher level.
We believe this experience might be in your life for that very reason. It has the potential to stretch you out of your comfort zone and teach you to love, forgive and accept people when it’s harder to do. It’s easy to love and accept people that are the same as us, it’s much more challenging to love those who are different. It’s especially difficult if their choices trigger fear of loss in you.
We want to make sure you really understand what a “fear of loss experience” is, as we define it. We believe there are two simple core fears which cause most of our suffering.
The first is the fear of failure and you experience this whenever you feel you aren’t good enough, or get insulted or criticized. This fear causes suffering, insecurity, stress and sadness as it makes us feel inadequate. This fear is easier to understand since you experience it to some degree every day.
Fear of failure experiences give you wonderful opportunities for growth. They can help you practice not caring what others think of you, getting your self-esteem from your intrinsic value instead of your appearance, or trusting that all human beings have the same value.
Fear of loss is also a wonderful classroom opportunity for growth. Loss is triggered whenever this moment or event (that you didn’t want to happen) is taking away from the quality of your life. If you get stuck in traffic, on the way to a big meeting, and you hate to be late — you are having a loss experience.
You can feel loss whenever people mistreat you or take from you, but you can also experience loss when life itself doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. You can feel robbed by life when you don’t get blessings or experiences other people get. Whenever you find yourself in self-pity around what you have been dealt, you are having a loss experience.
This is the most important part of this article we want to make sure you get this point – Life isn’t fair and no one gets the journey they wanted. They get the journey that fosters their growth best.
If we always got what we wanted, we wouldn’t grow, and that’s the point of the whole thing. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to throw all your expectations about how your life should look out the window now.
Life is not going to meet your expectations. It’s going to be messy, ugly, painful and even embarrassing at times. It’s going to include some wins and some losses and sometimes it’s going to pull the rug out from under you completely. If you haven’t had those experiences yet, they are probably still coming.
We are not telling you this to scare you, because life is also going to be rich, wonderful, sweet, beautiful, amazing and thrilling too. The point is it’s going to surprise you and if you stay attached to your expectations, about how it should look at each stage, this is only going to create misery.
Instead, we recommend that you choose to trust the journey, the universe, or your higher power that it knows what it’s doing. Whatever interesting twist or turn your life has taken, that you didn’t see coming or didn’t want, it has a purpose for being here, and that purpose is always to serve you.
Having your son leave your religion is definitely not what you wanted, but it’s not as bad as a lot of other challenges you could be having. Talk to some people who have a child with cancer, or a child that died, or people who have a host of other awful challenges that life can throw at people. The truth is that you still have much more to be grateful for than you have loss.
Here are some things you can do to feel better about your situation:
You can see yourself as at risk of having your life ruined, being taken from, robbed or deprived if you want to, but it will only create suffering. Or you can play with seeing yourself as whole, blessed and well. You could actually believe you can’t be deprived because the whole universe is conspiring to bless and educate you all the time. If it is always for your benefit, it’s not a loss. From this place of wholeness, it is a lot easier to love others unconditionally and let go of the pain.
Play with it and see how you feel.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am, admittedly, a drama queen at times. I hear this from my family and I have had friends comment on it too. I frankly think they are every bit as much the problem as I am. How can I get them to see they are projecting onto me and are also drama queens? How can we all not let things make us over-react?
The only person you have any control over is you. So, it makes sense for each of us to focus on being the best version of ourselves we can be. That is actually a big job and could keep us quite busy.
The opposite of over-reaction and drama queen behavior would be the ability to see the world accurately, handle emotions maturely, and thoughtfully respond from a place of trust and love, instead of reacting to situations from fear. We realize that’s a tall order and isn't easy, but we believe working to upskill and reach for that should be the goal.
We all need to work on gaining the self-control to pause before reacting so we'd like to share 7 simple questions you could ask yourself, that would help you to think and respond with more emotional maturity. Though, we realize the hard part is stopping your reaction long enough to remember to ask them. You might want to make them your wallpaper on your phone for a while.
Here are the 7 questions to ask yourself before reacting:
If you still have a hard time seeing situations accurately and responding in a mature, logical and loving way, you may want to find a counselor or coach to help you. A little professional help can make a big difference.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are popular life coaches, speakers and people skills experts. You can download a worksheet on having mutually validating conversations at http://www.upskillrelationships.com/worksheets
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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.