NOT PUBLISHED ON KSL
Watching the protests and riots across the country this weekend, I have been reminded of an important truth, which may help us understand anger and what is behind it. The truth is, anger comes from feeling threatened, unsafe, or unloved. When someone is angry or hurt, it is usually because they feel mistreated, taken from, or not cared about on some level. Watching the riots and looting can distract us from hearing what the anger is really about. Protesters are trying to express the pain they feel from long standing systemic racism and they are requesting love and fairness.
Before I explain how we need to listen and understand other people, it is important to understand what racism really is. In the book, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, she explains that we have been taught to see racism as "intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals". If you define racism this way, then most of us are not racist. The problem is that socialized racism is much bigger, more widespread, and more ingrained in each of us than this definition covers. An entrenched culture of racism in this country has made a large group of us feel rejected, disrespected, and unloved for a very long time. People of color are trying to tell us that they don’t feel valued, seen, appreciated, cared about, nor safe. They are in a fear state all the time and are tired of expecting mistreatment every time they leave their house. This is something that as a white person, we cannot even begin to understand, but we have to try and we have to listen.
The pain and anguish that people of color feel, includes rejection, inferiority, hate, shame, and anger at not being seen as the precious, infinitely, absolutely, and equally valuable beings they are. They are children of God made in His image, by Him, and of Him, though they rarely feel treated as such. It is important to understand that these angry emotions are a desperate request for love, acceptance, equality, kindness, respect, and brotherhood. The anger is not born of hate, it is born of love, and a hope that the world will finally love them in the way they (and all humans) deserve.
We need to listen and understand what their anger is saying and we need to listen at a deeper level than we are used to going. Most of the time when you listen to another person, you are primarily listening to help you formulate what you are going to say back. Rarely are you open enough to hear, understand, validate, and even change your opinions, based on their thoughts and feelings. Most of the time you don't listen to understand and learn something new. Our ego's are not comfortable with this level of listening, because it opens us up to being wrong.
The time has come for better listening to other people and this means setting down our defensiveness and even be open to attack, guilt, and shame for our ignorance and selfishness (something all white people are guilty of, simply because the problems of racism don’t affect us. We haven’t cared enough to change, because life the way it is, is comfortable for us and doesn't cause us pain.)
Instead of defending ourselves or speaking about our moral views and opinions, we need to stop talking and really listen. We have to look behind their anger so we can understand what drives it. We must also understand that anger, acting out, and lashing out are, at their core, a plea or request for love. We know this because all behavior is either loving or a request for love.
If you will really think about the last time you got really angry, you will see that you also felt unloved, unappreciated, or unvalued at some level. Your anger was a request for love too.
Obviously anger and violence is not the best way to request love, but we all request love this way. When you and I feel unloved or mistreated we lash out too, and the other person we are angry with, often sees our anger as an attack against them. They very rarely can see the bad behavior as a request for love. Nevertheless, that is exactly what it is. I am not going to tell you it is easy to see anger accurately though. It takes wisdom and maturity to see behavior as coming from fear of not being loved (respected or cared for), but we can do it with practice.
Our brothers and sisters of color want us to see them. They want us to see their hearts, their struggles, their pain, worthiness, glory, divinity, goodness, godliness, and worth. They want us to understand no person exists that God did not create. No one exists who is not worthy of respect, honor, and love. When you look at any human being, you must see God in them and you must be open and willing to listen and understand them. You must validate their right to feel mistreated, and remember that you cannot begin to understand what life in their shoes has been like.
So, what can you do?
You can do this.
SALT LAKE CITY — Have you noticed the way the coronavirus pandemic is making you feel wary and unsafe around other people?
You may be seeing other humans as a huge threat to your well-being. Though this sensation is especially noticeable right now, this is a tendency of human nature that all of us experience (to a lesser degree) every day, and especially with the people we love most.
As a master life coach, I teach people are haunted by two subconscious fears, the fear of failure (that you are not good enough) and the fear of loss (that you aren’t safe). Every human on the planet is fighting these same two fears/beliefs every day, and this means we all function in a fear state most of the time.
A fear state means you feel generally unsafe in the world, and this feeling makes it seem like every person around you is a threat. These people could take from you, mistreat you, take from the quality of your life, and/or make you feel like a failure, and this is especially true about the people closest to you.
Your relatives, children, and spouse or partner have more power to hurt you more than anyone else. They know your faults and flaws and the shame you have around them. They know how to push your buttons. You also care what they think of you, which means insults or slights can hurt worse than if the same offense happened with a stranger. You are much more prone to take slights from loved ones personally.
Assess your relationship
Feeling unsafe with a family member can be a great obstacle to your happiness. You cannot have a close, rich, fulfilling, intimate relationship with someone you don’t feel safe with. Ask yourself these questions to check the safety level in your relationship:
(Note: The suggestions in this article are for dealing with garden variety unsafe feelings in your relationships, not situations that involve abuse. If you feel unsafe because you experience emotional, mental or physical abuse, you must seek help and not settle for the suggestions below.)
Here are some tips for increasing safety in most relationships:
First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Amid the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and recent Utah earthquake, it is important to understand that fear about our own safety can create selfish behavior.
Humans who are afraid often succumb to a self-preservation mindset, which can make them behave badly. They might even do things like buying up all the available toilet paper and leave none for anyone else, and we are seeing examples of this fear-driven behavior all around us.
Fear makes other people feel like a threat to your safety and well-being (on the subconscious level). This can cause us to see others as the enemy, and we might be quick to judge or criticize them too. Watching this behavior play out all around us helps us to better understand this interesting human tendency and how this behavior might show up in our daily lives, even when there is no emergency.
Every day, we get triggered by fear in all kinds of situations, and this can create selfishness too. As a human behavior expert, I think it might be helpful to understand how and why this happens.
2 core fears
I believe there are two core fears that are responsible for almost all of our bad behavior:
Whenever you are having a loss experience like this, your ego will step up to protect you and other people’s needs will become much less important. Whenever you are afraid of being mistreated or stressed that things might go wrong, you experience fear of loss. This fear can also make you distrustful of other people, and you might become controlling as a way to feel safer.
Fear of failure is easier to understand. It is the fear of looking bad, being judged, being criticized or feeling not good enough. Any time you feel insecure, unattractive or stupid, you are having a fear of failure experience.
Which is your biggest core fear?
Both of the two core fears affect you (and every human on the planet) to some degree, every day. We all experience both of them but are each dominant in one. Take a minute and decide which is a bigger issue for you.
Are you more insecure and worried about judgment or criticism from others? A people pleaser? If so, you’re probably fear-of-failure dominant.
Are you more controlling, pushy and critical if things aren’t right around you? If so, you’re probably fear-of-loss dominant.
It is helpful to know which is your core fear because this is the trigger that drives your bad behavior and selfishness.
How fear of failure drives selfishness in relationships
When you are afraid you aren’t good enough, you can become overly needy for validation and reassurance to quiet your insecurity. You may get easily offended by anything that looks or feels like criticism or attack. In this state, your focus won’t be on giving love and validation, it will be on getting the reassurance you need to quiet your fear.
People who suffer greatly from low self-esteem often can’t see the selfishness in their needy behavior. They can’t see that worrying about being accepted is still focused on themselves. They might also make their loved ones feel responsible for their self-esteem and sense of safety in the world, which is unfair and won’t work.
It is impossible to give an insecure person enough validation to make up for their own belief that they aren’t good enough. If your spouse or partner expects you to validate them enough to cure their fear of failure, they are setting you up to fail. If you are in a relationship with someone who is overly insecure, this might also start to feel like a great burden to carry; you may even start to resent them for being so needy.
If this kind of selfishness shows up in your relationship, work on changing your belief that a human can be "not good enough." You would benefit most from some coaching on changing your beliefs on how human value is determined and on seeing all humans as having unchangeable value all the time. This is the only way to quiet the fear.
You must trust that you have the same value as everyone else on the planet, no matter what you do. When a person gets committed to this new belief, they should be less needy and have more love to give.
How fear of loss drives selfishness in relationships
When you are afraid you aren’t safe in the world, every situation and every person can feel like a threat to your safety. You may become overly controlling, opinionated and/or dominating as a way to make the world feel safer. If you can make or force everything to be right, and you are always right about everything, you would feel safer.
This behavior can look like you always need things done your way, that you’re constantly on the lookout for mistreatment, and you’re struggling to put up with behavior that bothers you.
If you are in a relationship with a person whose fear creates this kind of behavior, you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells trying not to offend them. Everything in the relationship is centered on keeping them happy. This also wears on relationships and can push people away from you.
If this kind of selfishness shows up in your relationship, what is really needed is to work on changing your belief that your journey can be ruined or diminished by other people. Play with the idea that God and/or the universe are working with the choices we all make to create the perfect classroom journey for each of us, every day. See how it feels if you believe that everything you experience is here to bless you, serve you and help you grow.
If everything is a blessing, then there is no loss. It is a radical idea, but just as likely true as believing in chaos. When you see the world as on your side and safe, you will have more love for others and bandwidth for making them happy too.
Grow and serve
During this season of pandemics and earthquakes, we can all benefit from trusting that our value can’t change, failure isn’t on the table, and that the universe is sending this experience to grow us and serve us. When we trust we are safe — that there is order, meaning and purpose in these unusual experiences — we will be more capable of thinking about others, and our selfishness should decrease.
Even though hoarding toilet paper made you (your ego) feel safer, reaching out to your neighbors to see if they need any toilet paper would make you feel even better. Love is more rewarding than safety.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have received numerous questions lately that involve stepfamilies or blended families, and I understand why. All family relationships can be hard, but these families face many more challenges than a biological family. Additionally, people who haven’t been in a blended family before are often unprepared to handle them.
Many couples marry thinking their love will be enough to make the family work, but they soon find out that’s not true. To create a successful blended family you will need to learn about the challenges and gain some new skills.
I share the following statistics from Pew Research and the Stepfamily Foundation not to discourage you, but to motivate you to get some help, education, skills and tools so your blended family can beat these odds.
Fortunately, that last statistic is changing, as there are more resources today than ever before. I highly recommend that couples who are in a blended family or are thinking about getting married, find a coach or counselor who is familiar with the challenges. You should also find every book, conference or seminar you can on the topic and read them together. These steps can considerably up your chances of making it. Knowledge and awareness of the challenges make all the difference.
Tips for blended families
Jeannette Lofas, an author and stepfamily expert, says the No. 1 factor in the success or failure of a blended family comes down to getting outside education, help and resources to deal with the inevitable challenges. Here are some important facts about blended families, from her book “Step Parenting,” which I highly recommend.
1. A blended family is very different from a biological family.
The issues that arise in a blended family will be some you haven’t ever had to deal with before. In a birth family, there are natural roles everyone falls into; but in a blended family, these roles can look very different.
No stepmother can fully replace the child’s actual mother (even if she is deceased). The stepmother role is a unique one that most people have never had before. The rules are completely different, and the same goes for the father, mother, stepfather, and even the oldest child, who now might not be the oldest anymore.
It takes time for everyone to understand and master their new roles. This cannot happen overnight and the road will be bumpy. All parties must be patient, easy-going, and slow to get offended or defensive. Everyone has to give everyone else some slack to learn and get comfortable with their new roles.
2. Love is not required, but respect is.
You cannot force your child to love a stepparent, but you will need a firm rule about respect, consideration and kindness. These are required from all parties all the time, even from the adults toward the children.
Everyone has the right to be honored, respected, heard and thanked for what they do. If a child or adult is struggling with giving respect, that is a sign that a conversation needs to happen where they can express their frustrations, pain or fears around the situation. As the adult, you must be able to listen to the child’s feelings and honor their right to have them, even if they are attacks at some level.
Everyone has the right to their feelings, but being disrespectful is not an option. If the adults are behaving emotionally or defensively, they need to seek some professional help with processing their own fears and feelings so they will be able to show up mature and stable and earn the family’s respect.
3. Your individual emotional intelligence is vitality important.
If you struggle with strong emotions, losing your temper, feeling mistreated or offended, you may want to seek some professional help to work on your triggers. Do not wait to see if things improve. Get professional help at the first sign of trouble. Every expert I talk to says this is the No. 1 thing they recommend. It is so much easier to fix relationships and families at the onset than to wait until things get really bad.
4. Blame the stepfamily situation, not the people involved.
Lofas says "One of the greatest mistakes is blaming yourself for the feelings and difficulties of the stepfamily situation. Such blame only makes you feel helpless, and it often keeps you from taking steps to deal with the problems."
It is not easy for anyone to be a stepparent. It is not easy for any child to have a stepparent. The entire experience is complicated and, at some level, can be scary or threatening. Everyone needs someone to talk to and resources to help them sort through the emotions involved.
5. Remember that transfer moments can be painful.
Every time children go from one home to the other (these transfer moments), all the pain around the divorce is brought to the surface again. Expect children to struggle and have emotions that can lead to behavior issues at these times. Overlook most of this and give them some room to feel bothered and even act out to some degree, because this type of behavior is natural as they process loss.
6. Everyone will have feelings of guilt.
Parents feel guilty for breaking up the family and loving someone their kids don’t like. Stepparents feel guilty that they can’t feel loving feelings toward these children that don’t belong to them. Children feel guilty for liking the stepparent or for disappointing the parent they aren’t with.
All this guilt leads to feelings of failure, which creates all kinds of bad behavior. A trained professional can help you process the guilt and, again, blame it on the situation, not on yourself.
7. Stepcouples should set rules together — alone.
Stepcouples must spend a great deal of time having validating conversations about rules, consequences, boundaries and who will do the disciplining and how. Do not have these conversations in front of the children. These things need to be worked out in private and then facilitated the right way (usually, this means having the biological parent do the discipline when possible).
Everyone must have a voice and feel heard and validated about their feelings. Even if you disagree, it will go over better if the other party at least feels heard. If you don’t have the skills to have these conversations in a validating and productive way, seek some professional help to learn how.
These are just a few tips and tricks to shine the light on some of the challenges stepfamilies face. In upcoming LifeAdvice articles, I am going to share advice and tips for fathers, mothers and stepparents in their unique roles. There is also a conference on blended families coming to Utah on Jan. 21 that I highly recommend you attend if you have, or are considering having, a blended family.
You can do this.
Family gatherings can be very painful experiences when you are going through hard things in your life. These well-meaning people who haven’t seen you in a while are probably going to ask questions about your relationship status, how your career is going, and where you are in your life. If you don’t have good answers to these questions, this can trigger feelings of failure and loss.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts for surviving family parties in a healthy way:
Keep fears in mind
If you have relatives who are hard to get along with, remember their bad behavior is often driven by their fears about themselves. If you choose to see them as scared (versus just being a jerk), you will have more compassion and will be less likely to take their comments personally.
Be sensitive about what your relatives might have experienced this last year and be careful what you say or ask. People who are struggling with something can be delicate and easy to offend. This year has been a rough year for many, so keep that in mind.
Create an emergency signal
Create an emergency hand signal and arrange with your spouse to rescue you from annoying relatives.
Be a strategic host
If you are hosting a holiday dinner, use place cards and arrange seating to keep touchy family members away from one another.
Be kind and let things go
Be patient and let unkind comments roll off. Remember, all bad behavior is a request for love. The worse the behavior, the more that person needs love and validation. Treat them with kindness, even when they don’t deserve it.
Don’t take anything personally. If someone says something mean, let it go. It’s not really about you; it’s about their fear and low self-esteem. They may feel like they have to put down others to feel good enough. Choose not to be offended and let them keep their negative energy to themselves.
Be a good listener
Ask lots of safe questions and let other people talk. Allowing another person to do the talking makes them feel valued at the deepest level. Be someone who cares enough to listen.
Avoid telling a story to top someone else’s. Let them have the spotlight and practice not needing it yourself.
Pay lots of compliments. Compliment everyone at the party. If you focus on giving validation to others, you won’t worry about yourself as much.
Be the love in the room. Be there to make others feel loved and valued. Don’t worry about whether they love you, just be there to give.
Consider not attending
If you can’t be around certain people without feeling discouraged, depressed or upset, it’s OK to decide not to attend the party at all. Start a new tradition and do something different instead. Get friends together and spend the holidays with the people you choose to be around.
Young adults would rather you didn’t ask about personal matters such as school or whether they are dating anyone. It’s better if you ask what they do for fun or what great movies they have seen lately. These topics are safer and less likely to embarrass them.
Don’t try to convert or lecture anyone on your ideas, beliefs or opinions. This party is not the right time for a debate. Obviously, don’t bring up controversial topics like politics or religion.
Drink too much
Don’t drink too much, especially if it tends to make you more confrontational or easily upset. Avoid sarcasm, correcting or criticizing anyone.
Remember, you are not responsible for other people’s happiness. If others choose to complain about the food, gossip about others, or share their woes too freely, leave the room, ignore them, or change the subject.
Give anyone the power to hurt you
Dealing with family members can be tricky because you care more about what they think than others. These are people who should love and support you, so when they don’t it hurts. Decide before your family event to trust that no one can diminish your value in any way. You have the same value as every other human soul and nothing can change that. This will make you more bulletproof.
If someone offers unsolicited advice, just smile and thank them. People often give advice to make themselves feel important too. It’s not really about you; don’t waste time being bothered by it.
When your family is hard to deal with, remember that these people are in your life for a reason: to help you become a better person. Their job in your classroom (life) journey might be to push your buttons and bring your fears and bad behavior into the light so you can work on them.
Ask yourself what dealing with your specific relatives could teach you. How could their annoying tendencies give you the perfect opportunity to practice being more loving, mature and calm? If you see them as your perfect teachers and try to use these experiences to grow and learn, you will at least feel good about yourself on the way home.
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.
I have received some questions recently asking how to set better boundaries. Many of us try so hard to be a nice person that we end up being a doormat, and this is something we must change if we want to be emotionally healthy and have good relationships.
Practicing self-sacrifice all the time is not sustainable. You must learn how to have a balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. This shift is probably going to push you out of your comfort zone, and it might make the people around you (who are used to you not having needs) get bent out of shape. They may not like it at first, but you have to start making your own needs matter.
In order to change this behavior, you must figure out why you don't enforce boundaries and make your own needs important. It is usually one or more of these four fear-based beliefs that are behind the behavior:
Once you understand the fear behind your weakness (and over-giving), you can write some new, more accurate rules of conduct for yourself. You must officially give yourself permission to change these beliefs and adopt some more accurate ones. The following new beliefs will help you to do this:
Using these principles to guide you, create some specific boundary rules for yourself and your life situations. Decide how you are going to enforce them and why it is healthy to do so. Write these new boundaries down on paper, don’t just think them. Writing them down makes them more concrete. Here are some examples of great (permission for self-care) boundaries:
Taking the time to write out, on paper, exactly how you are going to choose to feel and behave helps you to own these new boundary rules. You are creating official policies for yourself and your behavior. Read your new policies often and practice enforcing them with love and kindness. You can be strong and loving at the same time; and when you practice doing it, you will find your power and your love.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I was asked recently what changes in your people skills that would most improve your relationships. This is a great question, because your ability to create healthy relationships is the key to happiness in life. You can’t feel happy, fulfilled, and good about life, if your relationships are stressed, unsafe, or confrontational.
This is especially true with your significant other. If that special relationship is strained or in trouble, it can suck the joy from every other part of your life.
Below are my top five people skills tips that would improve your relationships fast:
I realize this may be a new and even mind blowing perspective for some of you, which might even take a while and some work to understand, but it is the path to amazing relationships and greater happiness.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am often asked: “What can I do to make my relationship better?” In this article, I want to share some of the basic tendencies of human behavior, which will help you understand the dynamics involved in your relationships and how to improve them.
In other articles, I have written about the two core fears and the four basic value systems, that drive human behavior, and I use them with my clients. The two core fears are fear of failure (I am not good enough) and fear of loss (I am not safe). We all experience both of them every day, to some degree, but each of us has one fear that is more dominant than the other. Thus, we are fear of failure dominant or fear of loss dominant.
It will be a game-changer in your relationships if you understand your own dominant fear as well as the other person’s. When you know their core fear, you will understand their most sensitive trigger — the one that brings out their worst behavior — and what they need to feel safe with you.
Safety is the most important factor in the success of a relationship. If you don’t feel safe with the other person, you cannot show up authentically and you cannot fully love them or yourself. If you don’t feel safe, the other person will always feel like an enemy, at some level, and you will often be at odds. When someone feels safe, they need nothing and have more to give.
2 core fears
Here are the two core fears, and how to make a person who is dominant in each fear feel safe:
Fear of failure dominant
If a person is fear of failure dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel criticized, judged, insulted, unwanted or abandoned. These experiences make them feel they aren’t good enough and put them out of balance.
When you have some feedback for these people, you should deliver it gently. You should also make sure they feel secure about how you see them. To make them feel safe with you, you must give them lots of validation and reassurance. If you can do this — and they see you as a cure to their fear, not a cause of their fear — they will thrive in the relationship.
Fear of loss dominant
If a person is fear of loss dominant, their worst behavior is triggered when they feel taken from, mistreated, disregarded, or that people aren’t showing up for them the way they should be. These people need a certain amount of control over their environment to feel safe.
You must make sure they feel heard, respected and appreciated, and let them be in charge as much as you can. To make them feel safe with you, you should let them be the boss as much as possible, reassure them things will be OK, and take their advice without feeling criticized by it. Understand when they give suggestions or advice, they are only trying to help.
4 value systems
Understanding the other person’s core fear is only half the equation, though, so let me explain the four value systems and what people from each group value most.
Values people and connection: These people fill up by socializing with others, and they get most of their self-esteem and safety in the world from connection and relationships. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to communicate and spend time with you. They need more of your time and affection than you would, and they need you to listen to them, be affectionate and let them have lots of socializing with other humans to keep their bucket full. If they get these things they will feel good and have more to give you.
Values tasks: These people fill up and get self-esteem from getting things done. They need to accomplish and finish tasks, and have good performance in those tasks, to feel safe in the world. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their great need to work and get projects finished. They treasure time alone to get their work done, and they need you to notice and validate what amazing workers they are. If they get tasks done and feel accomplished they will feel better and have more to give you.
Values things: These people get their sense of self-esteem from what they create, build or own. They are artists, inventors, business builders and beauties, and they highly value appearance and how things look. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you must understand their need to look good or create amazing things. This may require time away from you, but if they get the time to create things or make themselves look amazing they will have more to give you.
Values ideas: These people get their sense of self-esteem from knowledge, principles, morals, doing things right and knowing answers to problems. If you are in a relationship with someone like this, you need to validate their knowledge and expertise in the subjects they are passionate about. This will mean listening to them a lot (even if you aren’t interested in that topic) and giving them the control to make sure things are right. If they have the chance to share, teach or learn more about what they care about, they will be happy and they will have more to give you.
Working with fears and values
The magic happens when you put these ideas together and figure out your partner’s core fear and value system.
For example: If they are fear of failure dominant and value tasks most, they are someone who needs validation about the work they do. Don’t compliment this person on their appearance; tell them how productive, brilliant and hard-working they are. Allow them to be task-focused, have time alone to work, and don’t ever make them the bad guy for being wired this way. Honor the fact that this is who they are and see them as amazing, and it will pay off big.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and task-focused, they need control much more than they need validation. Let this person have some things they can control. Understand that if you don’t get tasks done or if you do them wrong, they could feel mistreated or taken from.
If a person is fear of loss dominant and ideas focused, they need control and to be right as much as possible. They need you to listen to their ideas or knowledge and validate that they know their stuff. Make sure if you think they are wrong, you handle that gently and validate how smart they are.
Are you starting to see how the fears and values go together? When you understand the other person at this level, you will understand their wiring and it will be much easier to make them feel safe.
By the way, having the same fears and values doesn't necessarily make a relationship more successful. The success of a relationship really comes from how mindful, emotionally intelligent and in control of their own fears the parties are. If both people are working on their personal fear triggers and learning how to make themselves feel safe, they won’t expect their partner to do that for them.
No one can cure your fear issues but you, and you have to stay responsible for your inner state and happiness. If you are both learning how to stay balanced, happy, and out of fear, you can work through most issues maturely and will get along great.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Many couples who are having problems in their relationship get stuck because they are both holding onto resentment over past wrongs. This resentment can build up for years around a long list of slights, offenses or mistreatment. Even if you both learn new relationship or communication skills and start behaving better, the long-held resentment can still trigger your ego to keep some distance.
Your ego rises up to protect and promote you; that is its job. It thinks it’s helping you by holding onto anger or past hurts. It thinks this resentment protects you from further mistreatment, but it’s actually making things worse. When you get stuck in resentment, you are creating a relationship that is distant, passive-aggressive, divided, lonely and cold. This is not the relationship you want.
Take a minute and think about the kind of relationship you do want. If you got to design it and create any dynamics, feelings and behaviors you wanted, what would it look like? Would it be safe, full of trust and love, unselfish, giving, kind and understanding? Would it include both parties forgiving quickly and letting the other be a work in progress? How would you handle disagreements and conflict? Take the time to write down on paper what your dream relationship would look like.
Now, remember you are creating a fantasy and real-life can’t ever live up to that, but you also can’t create something better if you can’t see. So, figuring it out is the first step to creating it.
Next, what kind of behaviors would you need to adopt if you wanted to create this? How would you need to show up differently? You don’t have control over the other person, so you have to start by changing your own behavior. You may want to ask a friend, coach, or counselor to help you figure this out if you can’t see it.
Here are some suggestions for making that happen:
1. Remember life is a classroom and your romantic partner is your greatest teacher
You have attracted this person into your life to help you grow and become smarter, wiser and more loving. Their job is to push your buttons and trigger your fear issues, giving you opportunities to see them and work on them. That is why every relationship is a perfect storm of fear. Your fears create behaviors that trigger their fears, and their fears trigger behavior that triggers you even more. Around and around you can go, getting more distant, unsafe and divided.
When you see your relationship as your perfect classroom, you will see “perfect lessons for you” in every past mistreatment. Those weren’t slights; they were triggers to give you a chance to improve yourself. How did you do? Did you react badly and further damage the relationship? What could you have done differently to turn their fear-driven bad behavior around and stopped the cycle? If you focus more on your own past bad behavior and work on fixing that, you will get a lot farther than you would by holding resentment about theirs.
2. See every moment as your chance to forgive and grow
When you see your spouse’s bad behavior as your own school class, you harbor less resentment and handle situations better. You will also feel more motivated to rise to the occasion and take the high road — because the issue isn’t really about mistreatment; it’s about your growth.
I have written many articles on forgiveness for KSL.com. You should look some of them up because every really good relationship is made of two people who are good forgivers. If your relationship is full of resentment, you aren’t forgiving. You might hold onto past hurts because you think it punishes the other person or protects you from future pain, but this isn’t true. It actually creates less love and more mistreatment. Your partner feels the wall you have up, and this makes them afraid for themselves, so they put their wall up.
You will always create exactly what you fear. In focusing on protecting yourself, you are giving no love and you won’t get any back. When you set aside resentment and forgive, and start giving love (even if it’s undeserved), your partner will genuinely want to love you back.
3. Take responsibility for your fear issues
You must take responsibility for your bad behavior in the relationship. Your insecurities and fears (and the bad behavior they create) are your jobs to fix. Try to name your fear triggers when they happen. Are you feeling fear of failure and not feeling good enough? Do you feel taken from or mistreated (which is fear of loss)? Can you tell which fear your spouse is battling? When you can name them, you will also know what you and they need (validation and reassurance).
When you get triggered, instead of either shutting down or exploding, you can say, “I need you to reassure me and love me through the insecurities this has triggered in me. Could you do that?” Or ask, “What do you need right now to make you feel safer with me?” If you can learn to quiet each other’s fears, the relationship will improve fast.
Your partner probably needs you to listen, honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. They also need you to own your past bad behavior and apologize for it. Even if you think they behaved worse, own your part and say sorry. Being vulnerable and humble creates a safer space where they are more likely to own their bad behavior too.
If you get angry and fly off the handle (regularly) you are, again, having a fear issue and it is your job to fix it. You only get angry or offended when you fear failure or your fear of loss and feel either insulted, taken from or mistreated. If anger is an issue for you, identify the fear trigger that gets you most of the time and start practicing getting a handle on it, all by yourself. Choose to trust your value cannot be diminished by anyone or anything. If your spouse gets disappointed or frustrated with your behavior, there might be some good lessons there, but you still have the same intrinsic value as everyone else. If you see yourself and your value as unchangeable you won’t get angry as often.
Then, choose to trust the universe that you are safe all the time and can’t fail or lose anything unless it serves you to lose it as part of your perfect classroom. If you choose a perspective of fearlessness and safety, your spouse will no longer be a threat, and you won’t get angry or offended as often.
Resentment is by far one of the most dangerous emotion in your relationships. It can build walls and create disconnection that can even become permanent. Instead of worrying about the past, focus today on showing up with love and kindness, quiet your spouse’s fears with lots of validation and reassurance, show them you see their goodness more than their faults, and be quick to own and apologize when you do wrong. Nothing erases resentment faster than a sincere apology.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a human behavior, people skills expert. She is the CEO and founder of 12 Shapes Inc and provides Team Building and People Skills Training for companies and individuals.
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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.