first published on KSl.COM
My marriage is struggling, and over and over one of us gets defensive and we give each other the cold shoulder for days. It is so hard to get back to love and feeling good when we feel offended, insulted or mistreated so often. Once those walls go up it’s so hard to get past them. What can we do to stop this cycle and end the constant offending and fighting?
First of all, I need to clarify that the answer in this article is for the person asking the question above, and in their relationship there is no abuse happening. The fighting is garden variety offenses and grouchy behavior where they trigger each other and get bothered on a regular basis. Obviously, if your partner is abusive, the mistreatment needs to be addressed and stopped immediately, and I encourage you to reach out for professional help.
If you and your partner get defensive all the time and often feel like the other person is the enemy, this article is for you.
People tend to get defensive when they feel mistreated, insulted, criticized, taken from or unvalued by the other person. These experiences make a person feel unsafe and threatened; in this state, a person tends to believe he or she has to defend or protect themself from the threat. But a sense of safety with one’s partner often has more to do with what he or she believes about themself than it does with how their partner treats them.
If you get defensive easily and often, you may feel unsafe in the world generally. You might have started feeling unsafe long before your partner showed up in your life. It might also be helpful to check for the following behaviors, which are signs of living in a subconscious fear state all the time, which means you might have a tendency to get defensive faster than the average person:
If you function in a fear state — always looking for slights — you cannot make your partner solely responsible for you feeling defensive. You can still bring up and discuss slights, but you should first run through the process below to make sure you are seeing the situation accurately. You should also seek out some coaching or counseling to work on your fear-based programming.
The 10-step process
When you feel slighted, insulted and/or defensive, follow these steps:
1. Own that you are feeling defensive, which means you don’t feel safe. Remember that your sense of safety with your partner may have more to do with what you believe about yourself and your life than you think. This means you must acknowledge that no one can make you feel unsafe without your participation at some level. Just be willing to own that your fears of failure and loss could be in play.
2. Ask the other person if they feel unsafe and defensive, too. Acknowledge that you understand that feeling and feel the same way. Acknowledge that this will be harder to resolve while you are both unbalanced and fear-triggered.
3. Agree that you are both safer than your feelings and your subconscious programming may believe. You both love each other and you both want this relationship to work.
4. Decide to be two people against the problem, not two people against each other. Agree to approach the problem by listening to how and why your partner feels the way they do. Commit to being willing to listen and really understand instead of trying to win.
5. Recognize your own fear trigger. Have you been fear of failure triggered — where you feel insulted or attacked by something, making you afraid you aren’t good enough? Or have you been fear of loss triggered — where you feel mistreated and/or taken from, ming you afraid you aren’t safe? Which are you struggling with right now? Knowing this will help you get balanced again.
7. Now you are ready to talk about the issue that started the defensiveness. Be willing to ask questions about what happened and how your partner feels Listen for the purpose of understanding them. Keep asking questions and listening (without sharing your thoughts) until you can tell they feel really heard and validated.
8. Ask if your partner would be willing to listen to you and give you time to explain your thoughts and feelings without interrupting you. If he or she agrees, then go to step 9. If he or she doesn’t agree, tell them you respect that and maybe the two of you can continue the conversation later when they feel more able to show up for you.
9. Carefully share your thoughts and feelings. Avoid "you" statements because they can feel like an attack. Use "I" statements and talk only about your perspective, your feelings, your triggers and your observations. Also, make sure you’re focusing solely on future behavior and don’t waste time talking about the past, which your partner cannot fix or change. Ask if, moving forward, they would be willing to do this or that differently.
10. Repeat. At this point, your partner might have more to say. Go back through steps 7-9 again. Keep doing this until you can reach an agreement or compromise.
Remember, your spouse isn’t ever a jerk, selfish, mean, or careless; he or she is more likely scared, and it is their fears that drive jerky, selfish, mean or careless behavior. We behave badly when we are worried about protecting ourselves. Reminding yourself that you are safe, is critical to the process of working through a fight maturely.
These 10 steps show you how to have a mutually validating conversation without letting fear triggers make you both defensive. This may take some practice to master, but you will be amazed at the clarity it gives you both, when you recognize the fears and why you are feeling defensive.
If you have felt defensive and unsafe with your partner for a long time, you may need some professional help to work through forgiveness and making some big changes in behavior. I recommend getting professional help sooner than later. Someone who knows how to help relationships heal can make the process much faster.
You can do this.
Coach Kim, I am in a very difficult family situation. My mother and her sister have a bad relationship, and my mom feels her sister is toxic and avoids her at family gatherings. I completely respect my mother’s decision; however, she expects me to also not have any relationship with my aunt. She says if I was loyal and loved her, then I wouldn’t have anything to do with my aunt either. This puts me in a hard spot because my aunt has always been kind to me. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t want to ignore her at family gatherings. It’s hard being caught in the middle, and no matter what I do no one wins. Thank you for any advice you can give.
The real question behind your question is: When forced to choose between doing what feels right to you and pleasing someone else (sacrificing yourself to make another person happy), what should you do?
This is a situation we all find ourselves in on a regular basis. It is the reason we need boundaries, or rules to protect us from our tendency to over give.
I’d like to give you a simple procedure to break these situations down and help you make the right choice. If there is another person involved in this situation, take a minute to answer the following questions:
Write down as many possible options as you can think of, then write an ego/fear-driven way to carry out each option and a trust/love way to do each option. Finally, cross out all the ego/fear-driven options.
I will take you through this process in your specific situation.
The fears in play
I think your mom has both fears in play. She is likely having a fear of loss issue because she is trying to protect herself from further mistreatment. She could also have fear of failure in play, which is saying she has to be right about her sister being the bad guy or she will feel inadequate or flawed. These fears cause her ego to step up to protect her.
Whenever we feel hurt or offended, our ego’s job is to create stories that make us feel safer. It often suggests stories that cast the other person as the villain so we can see ourselves as the victim.
Understanding the other person’s behavior as fear-driven will bring compassion into the picture. They aren’t messed up, broken or bad; they are just scared.
Ego tells us to hold onto our anger toward the other person or we won’t be safe; it keeps us in a defensive position and stubbornly insists on staying there to make us feel safe.
Understanding the other person’s behavior as fear-driven will bring compassion into the picture. They aren’t messed up, broken or bad; they are just scared. This is easy to see, too, because all bad behavior is driven by fear. (If you haven’t seen the truth around this yet, keep looking. It’s there)
When you see your mom is scared of failure and loss, you will also see what she needs: validation and reassurance. Your mom is afraid of mistreatment and afraid of being wrong. Her ego needs you to justify she is right in her anger because that would make her feel safer. If you can reassure her that she is loved, valued and safe in the world, that would help her.
It sounds like you have some fear of loss in play, as well. You don’t want to lose your relationship with your aunt and you don’t want to lose your relationship with your mom, either. You also don’t want to lose your agency and the right to choose behavior that is best for you. This is why the situation is causing you so much angst. You will feel better if you trust the universe will use this situation to bless and grow you, no matter what happens.
You also have every right to choose who you have relationships with, and your mom should honor that, but her fear and ego would feel safer if you would join her in anger. This isn’t fair, but you can understand why it happens. A sense of safety is our most foundational need as human beings. When we don’t feel safe, we are incapable of caring about others. Your mom is struggling to see your needs because fear keeps her overly focused on her own.
Ways to respond
As far as your options in this situation, I can see three (but notice that each option can be done two different ways, so really there are six):
Cross out options 1, 3, and 5 because they are fear-motivated and you shouldn’t make any decision for a fear reason.
Look over the love-motivated options and choose the one you feel the most capable to do or the one that feels right to you. Personally, I think option 2 or 6 are the best.
Executing your response
When you are ready to talk to your mom about this, start by asking her questions about how she is feeling about your aunt. Give her room to make her case and vent all her pain and fear. Do not agree or disagree, just validate her right to be where she is and feel how she feels. Tell her you can understand why she feels this way.
After she feels fully heard, ask if she would be willing to let you explain your decision on your own behavior. Ask her if she would honor your right to feel what you feel too.
Using mostly “I” statements, not “you” statements, explain to your mother that you must honor your truth and choose a love-motivated response to this situation. Explain that you love her, but you can’t reject or give a cold shoulder to other people. Having said that, you would never judge or condemn her for feeling what she is feeling. You honor and respect her right to be where she is, and you hope she can give you the same back.
Then, after you have spoken your truth and honored your own boundary, what she says, does, or thinks about you and your decision is not your problem. If she chooses to be mad at you, keep being loving toward her anyway. Do not let anyone else’s bad behavior stop you from being loving toward them. Stay consistently kind to everyone and, in the end, though her ego might be mad, she will respect your strength and maturity.
You can do this.
In one of your recent articles, you said, "You can usually enforce boundaries in a kind way that won't lead to conflict." My question is, how do you do that? If I try to set a healthy boundary, say no, or do what’s best for me, other people don’t like it and it definitely leads to conflict. How to do it right?
A boundary is a rule to help you love and protect yourself. Boundaries protect you from a tendency to over-give and put others' needs before your own. Many of us struggle with this because it can feel terribly selfish to make our own needs important. But it’s not selfish at all; it’s wise. Wisdom says that you must care about yourself and other people equally or you will soon find yourself empty with nothing to give anyone.
One reason people sometimes get offended by your boundaries is that they feel you don’t care about them. If you can enforce your boundary in a way that makes them feel loved, this is less likely to happen. But, you must understand that the key to doing this is managing your own inner state.
Why your inner state matters
Your inner state matters because others can pick up on your energy, and that greatly influences their reactions to you. To keep things simple, I believe there are only two inner states you can be in (every moment of every day):
The procedure below will help you get into a Trust and Love state before you enforce a boundary. This will be something you must practice, though, because it has to be authentic. You cannot fake your inner state.
If you are defensive, scared of rejection, scared of conflict or scared of the other person’s reaction, they will likely feel your fear could lose respect for you. They might also fear threatened and think they have to defend themselves.
How to exhibit Trust and Love
The method of enforcing boundaries with love all rests on you not being scared to do it. When you show up fearless and loving at the same time, people tend to respect you for your strength and love and are more likely to honor your needs.
Follow these steps to enforce a boundary from a Trust and Love state:
Change isn't easy
If you have felt like a doormat in the past, you may have taught the people around you to expect you to have no needs. They might be so used to this that they will resist when you try to find a healthier balance. You may have to explain to them that you have been too codependent in the past and need to make some changes. While they might not like the changes, they’ll need to prepare for a new, more balanced you.
If you have been too controlling, critical or selfish in the past, you may need to apologize and promise to do better at honoring others' needs too. You may need to work on letting go of a feeling of loss (Fear state) when you don’t get your way. You should also practice trusting God and the universe that whatever you get is the perfect experience for you, like it or not.
If you are dealing with someone you feel is too controlling, opinionated or selfish and often feels mistreated, he or she will be one of the hardest people to enforce boundaries with. Their fear issues (of not having what they need) may prevent them from honoring your needs, no matter how lovingly you deliver them. These people, because they are overly selfish themselves, feel mistreated if you take care of yourself. You may need to explain why this hasn't been healthy for you and ask them to support you in making changes. If they can't respect your boundaries, accept the possibility that your relationship won't work.
Your lesson in dealing with these people is don’t be affected by their behavior or reaction to your boundaries. If they are going to feel mistreated or get upset, that is their choice; it is your choice not to be there with them. You can stay in a kind, strong, trust and love state, no matter how they respond. If they create conflict, excuse yourself from the conversation until they can discuss it respectfully. Keep working on steps one and two above and don’t let the other person scare you. You are safe even in dealing with conflict. It is just a lesson and your value isn’t affected by anything they do or say.
If a person is unable to honor your boundaries, or if you are still too scared to have any, your relationship with them isn't healthy and you might consider getting some professional help. An expert therapist or coach can give you the skills and tools you need to stay balanced in trust and love.
You can do this.
I love your column and appreciate what you say about fear being a problem, but isn’t there some fear that motivates us and keeps us safe? I can think of some fear situations that help me avoid danger or be more motivated. (I) just wondered what you would say to that.
Fear of being physically hurt can prompt behavior that makes you safer, and fear of failure can motivate you. The question is, can you be too afraid of danger and does motivation require fear? Is being fear-motivated healthy? Would being passion- or love-motivated be better?
I will concede that fear for your safety serves to protect you on occasion, but you don’t want to live there. That would be miserable. Being in fear can be motivating, but I believe being motivated by love and passion is better. Sometimes fear is more paralyzing than motivating. However, there is another way that some fear serves you and ensures the survival of the human race.
I write often about seeing life as a classroom and how this mindset helps you to see every single situation, emotion, challenge, process or feeling you experience as existing to serve your growth in some way (and this includes feeling fear). Fear is in your life to serve you.
I actually believe fear is biologically necessary, even critical to our growth because it keeps us in a constant state of dissatisfaction and insecurity — which motivates us to keep growing, innovating, evolving and striving to survive. If we didn’t have any fear, we would get too content and might stop improving, growing and evolving, which could lead to the decline and eventual end of the human race.
That might seem a little extreme, but growth, change and improvement are what push our species forward. We must stay somewhat dissatisfied and insecure so we will do the things necessary to grow. If you were totally satisfied with where you are and who you are, all growth would stop. This might be the reason that as soon as you get comfortable, the universe throws a curve ball your way. The classroom of life requires challenges to keep us growing.
But too much fear is also a problem. Too much fear can have the opposite effect and might hold you back from taking risks, pushing your limits, and reaching new goals because it simply feels safer not to. You might, at this very moment, feel safer playing small in some area of your life.
Too much satisfaction means you are drifting
In his book "Outwitting the Devil," Napoleon Hill says drifters are people who are neglecting growth and mindlessly reacting to life with the same old patterns over and over. He claims that 98% of us fall into this category at times in our lives.
“Those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his own mind. … A drifter accepts whatever life throws in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He doesn’t know what he wants from life and spends all of his time getting just that.”
The universe doesn’t want you to be too satisfied with the status quo. It wants you to learn and grow and keep changing your life. That is what you are here for.
But too much dissatisfaction is also a problem.
Too much dissatisfaction makes you anxious
You could get caught up in a never-ending pursuit of perfection or getting something else. You may develop the mindset that if you could just get this, or get that thing, or accomplish that goal, and get there, then you would be happy. This leads to a life of stress, controlling others, and pushing everything and everyone to meet your expectations.
This type of action is hard on your relationships because your focus is selfishly on you and getting what you want or need to feel better. This is also a miserable way to live. The problem with too much dissatisfaction is as soon as that goal or task is accomplished, you already need something else.
Finding the sweet spot mindset
You must find the sweet spot in the middle, where you are dissatisfied and driven to keep growing while also feeling satisfied and at peace about where you are now. The key to finding that spot is managing your fear instead of letting it manage you. Here is how:
1. Choose the mindset that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you all the time. Understand that every experience is here to serve you because your purpose for being here is growth. This will help you to set aside any anxiety around things not being done or right. It will eliminate the excessive dissatisfaction behind your anxiety and let you feel more peaceful and content. It will help you let go of your expectations and feel satisfied because where you are is perfectly where you should be at this moment. You can still set goals and strive to change and improve the future, but where you are now is perfect for now.
2. Choose the mindset that your value can’t change. No matter what you do, you will always have the same intrinsic value as every other person on the planet. This means you can take risks, try new things, speak up, stretch yourself and risk failure while at the same time feeling safe. This mindset takes failure off the table. You were drifting because you thought it was safer; with this new mindset, you can take risks and still feel safe. You can engage in the classroom and shoot high without fear.
So, fear, dissatisfaction, and insecurity do serve you, but only in that sweet spot where you push yourself to take risks to grow. At the same time, know your value and your journey are perfect, so fear doesn’t take over and make you anxious. It’s all about balance.
I still believe you can protect yourself from physical danger using wisdom and love for yourself instead of fear, and you will be more motivated by love and passion than fear ever made you. But I will concede that some fear is useful for our evolution and growth because, without it, we wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn to rise above fear and choose trust.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
In this article, I am going to teach you a simple system I teach my coaching clients to help you find the right course of action every time, no matter the quandary.
To illustrate the process, I'll use an example situation involving your spouse asking you to do something on Saturday that you don’t want to do.
Here are the steps I recommend for finding the right response:
1. Take a minute and make sure you aren’t in a fear state by choosing to trust that you have the same intrinsic, unchangeable value as everyone else on the planet, no matter what you choose. Choose to trust that your life is always your perfect classroom, and everyone else’s perfect classroom, so all involved will learn and grow with whatever you choose. This may lessen the risk involved in making a choice.
2. Write down every response option you can think of. In this example the options may be:
With this example, there could be six options:
5. Choose the love-driven option you feel the most capable of doing.
If there is no way you can do what your spouse wants, as a gift that is freely-given and from a place of love with no resentment, then you shouldn't choose that option. Instead, choose to love yourself enough to choose what you need. This is not selfish. It's still a loving decision.
You cannot choose other people every time, nor are you supposed to. You must love yourself and other people equally, which means sometimes you choose to sacrifice for them and sometimes you choose you. This is healthy, wise and mature. This isn't selfish although you might have a subconscious program that makes you feel guilty if you ever choose you.
If you choose others too much, over-give and neglect your self-care, you may soon find your bucket is empty. Some people might also start to take your sacrifices for granted. They may start to assume this is just how it is: you sacrifice yourself for them all the time. You don’t want to create this.
If you have been giving too much and never choosing to love yourself, you may need to start choosing you.
Some people might not like the change and might even try to make you feel guilty and accuse you of being selfish because they really liked the old you. You will have to push through this, apologize for not honoring your own needs in the past, and remind them that self-care is not selfish, it’s healthy.
The trick to making good decisions is identifying the love-driven options and avoiding the fear-driven ones. Love-driven self-care feels safe and calm and it creates loving feelings towards the other person involved.
With practice, you will get better at seeing the love-driven responses and they will start coming naturally.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
A victim mentality (as I define it) is a tendency toward functioning in a loss state, meaning that you generally feel mistreated, hurt, taken from or that you aren't getting the life, situation, treatment or help that you wanted or think you deserve. People who function in this loss state may have a tendency to see mistreatment, offenses, or wrongdoing in almost every situation — whether it's really there or not. These people may subconsciously be wearing "mistreatment glasses" that filter their perspective to see themselves in a victim state most of the time.
After 16 years working in personal development, it's been my observation that we are all either slightly fear of failure dominant or we are fear of loss dominant. Fear of loss dominant people may be more prone to having a victim mentality, although this is something we should all watch out for. The behaviors a victim mentality can create can be damaging to relationships and the respect others have for you.
Identifying a victim mentality in yourself may be difficult because, from your perspective, it may appear accurate that you are the victim in the situation. The problem is your perspective may be skewed from the mistreatment glasses. You may have to take a step back and ask yourself if there's another way to look at the situation that may help you see things differently.
To determine if you might have a victim mentality, answer the following questions:
While some seek those payoffs, there are also costs to a victim mentality:
You can do this.
Coach Kimberly Giles is a master life coach who provides one on one coaching, corporate people skills training and coach certification at www.claritypointcoaching.com
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.
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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.