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 — Relationships and getting along with others is complicated and messy. It’s messy because we are all so different, and our differences create uncomfortable, unsafe and threatened feelings, which can lead to bad relationship behavior, based in fear, not love.
When you are in a fear-based relationship where no one feels safe, this fear creates bad behavior and people problems.
Over the last 15 years, as a master executive life coach, I have found that human behavior can actually be very simple to understand. And when you get it, you can get along with almost anyone (yes, there are some people you may never get along with, but they are rare).
I have found most human behavior is driven by two factors: what you value and what you fear. These two factors are the keys to understanding why you and other people behave the way you do and why you struggle to get along with certain people, especially those who value and fear different things than you do.
My business partner Nicole Cunningham did 8 years of research in Australia and Asia that have led us to believe there are four value systems that drive most human behavior. These four systems of value, along with the two core fears (I talk about in most of my KSL.com articles) divide us into 12 different types of people, which we call the 12 shapes. These four value systems influence the kind of career you go into, the way you dress, the kind of worker you are, who you judge, who you respect and who you struggle to get along with.
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See if you can tell which sounds the most like you. Here they are:
For example, I am a person, who highly values tasks and I often see other people, who don’t work as hard or as fast as I do, as lazy. I see people who talk too much as time wasters and I struggle to be friends with people who are too opinionated. I also don’t care much about my appearance and I can judge people who spend a lot of time and energy on theirs.
Can you see why you might not get along with people who value different things?
Think of some people in your life, who you do not get along with. See if you can figure out what that person values most. Is their value system different from yours? Does it threaten what you value? Does their value system mean they might see yours as wrong?
When you don’t get along with someone, it is generally because you don’t feel safe with them. The way they think or behave probably threatens you, who you are, or what you value. Because you don’t feel safe, you will subconsciously see them as wrong, less, bad or worse than you. You might also subconsciously look for bad in them and focus on it. There will be good in them too, but you won’t see that, because your ego needs to see anyone who is different as the bad guy. Seeing them as bad or wrong makes you feel a little safer and better.
This is behavior you must watch for. If you aren’t getting along with someone, take the time to look at why you might feel threatened or not good enough around them. What about them makes you feel this way? How is their value system a threat to yours?
Could you, instead, trust that all human beings have the same intrinsic worth and no one is more or less valuable than anyone else? Could you trust that each of us is having a completely unique, custom, classroom journey and see any comparing as pointless? Could you set aside better and worse, and just see them as different?
Recognize the world needs all different kinds of people and no value system is inherently better or worse than another. Seeing people and their behavior accurately will create more tolerance and acceptance. The more you practice seeing human behavior this way, the more compassionate and easy to get along with you will become.
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
My husband and I disagree on parenting. He is very strict and hard on our kids and I’m more understanding and nurturing. I think the way he parents our sensitive son is just not right, but he refuses to do it my way because he sees it as wrong. I know we should be a united front with our kids and have each other’s backs, but we both think we are right. Most of the time I give in because he’s so adamant but I resent him for always having his way and my voice doesn’t count or matter. I think his way is hurting our son, but he is so stubborn he won’t even consider that he’s wrong. Any suggestions?
What you are really asking is, "How do you deal with a spouse (or anyone) who is not open to the possibility they are wrong and refuses to compromise?"
I’m so glad you asked this because there are stubborn, opinionated, fear-driven people all around us and they can be a challenge to live or work with. First, I want you to understand why they are this way.
As a human behavior expert for the last 16 years, I believe that all bad behavior is driven by fear — and there are two core fears that drive most of it. They are the fear of failure and the fear of loss. We all have both of them in play to some degree every day, but our reactions to them can be very different.
For example, fear of failure can make some people shrink and say nothing, because it feels safer, while it makes others super-opinionated because they need the validation that comes from being right and heard. It’s the same fear, but two very different reactions.
I believe your spouse seems to be the later. He needs the validation that comes from being right to feel safe in the world. So he cannot ever admit he is wrong or he would subconsciously feel he had no value at all.
People who respond to fear of failure this way can have trouble in relationships because they find it hard to compromise, listen to others opinions, apologize or tolerate people with whom they disagree. They can also be afraid of looking bad, and a son who behaves badly could do that. People who respond to failure this way can also let ego and pride drive their behavior. They might think ego protects them, but it doesn’t create much connection in relationships.
I tell you all this because I want you to see beneath the ego to the scared person inside. If you see your spouse as scared of failure or looking bad, you will have more compassion for him.
Your spouse could also be having a fear of loss issue and might need a certain amount of control to feel safe. But people have to be ready and willing to do some personal development work before they are open to seeing their subconscious fear issues.
I want you to understand the behavior though, so you will know how to best handle the situation. Here are six suggestions for dealing with stubborn people:
1. Give them validation about whatever good behavior you see in them. Tell them often how much you appreciate their willingness to listen without fixing or consider both sides of an argument. Praise the behavior you want to see more of. People often want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
2. Ask lots of questions about an issue and see if they come up with similar solutions. They like to talk, so asking questions and listening gets them to open up. Ask them if they have any other ideas? Keep asking them to think it through and come up with other ideas. Do this until they reach one you both agree on.
3. When you need to discuss an issue and you really want to be heard, ask questions and listen to their opinions first. Then ask permission to share your ideas. Specifically ask them if they would be willing to be quiet, not interrupt or say anything for five minutes and let you fully explain your opinion before they respond. Ask them if they would be willing to consider your thoughts and not be too quick to shoot them down, because they are strongly held ideas and their rejection would be painful for you. Get their commitment before you say a word.
4. Then, phrase your opinion or ideas using lots of "I" statements. "I feel…" "I have observed…" "I believe…" "I really think…". It is hard for people to argue with your right to your perspective. They may think differently, but they must honor your right to see it your way.
5. If they are deeply in fear, to the degree of being unable to listen to other suggestions, don’t take it personally. I believe it is not about you — it is about their fears about themselves. When they solve those, they can then access their love and willingness to hear others.
6. Gently remind your spouse that their value is not on the line with your son’s behavior and that you both have to keep checking yourself, to make sure you aren’t making it about you. No matter how your son turns out, you still have the exact same value as everyone else.
If you try these things and nothing works, you may want to consider some counseling or coaching together. A third-party can often help resolve stubborn behavior in relationships.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert behind www.12shapes.com She hosts a weekly Relationship Radio show on Voice American and iTunes.
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, life coach Kim Giles explains the fear-trigger cycle that could wreak havoc in your relationship.
My marriage is strained right now due to the fact that my husband has started snoring and I can’t sleep. My husband is currently still sleeping on a blowup mattress in another room (his choice because I’ve told him I’m not sleeping with his snoring). I’m struggling to work out my part in this and my guilt around it and I don’t know what to do. I feel guilty, yet I also feel like I need to take care of myself, too. I know you aren’t an expert on snoring, but I hoped you could give us some ways to protect and improve our relationship and stop feeling bothered with each other, while we sort this out?
First, I recommend you have your husband see a doctor and check him out for sleep apnea or other physiological problems in play.
Remember snoring is a medical condition, not a personal failing. It can be easy for someone who snores to feel broken or flawed, and they might feel guilt and shame, too. The partner who can’t sleep can also feel guilty for being bothered with the snoring. These emotions can drive a wedge in your relationship.
It would also help for you to understand what I call the fear-trigger cycle. It helps you to see how you and your spouse trigger each other and getting this is the first step to changing things.
Here are a few ideas which make the fear-trigger cycle easy to understand.
1: My observation, as a life coach for the last 15 years, has been that love and fear cannot exist at the same time in the same person. If you are in fear, your focus is mostly on yourself and what you need to feel safe. In a fear state, you are more selfish and not capable of love.
2: I have found my clients have two core fears which create most of their bad human behavior. They are the fear of failure (the fear you aren’t good enough) and the fear of loss (the fear your quality of life won’t be good enough).
3. I have noticed when my clients fears get triggered, they usually react by either running away, pulling back, putting walls up or going quiet to protect themselves or they attack back, fault find, get defensive, or angry at the other person. These are the most common fear reactions we have observed, and none of them produce good results in relationships.
Now you understand these basics, this is how the fear-trigger-cycle (that we have discovered) works:
1. First, one of you does something that triggers a core fear in your spouse, and that spouse reacts with a fear-motivated action. This action is usually driven by the need to protect yourself from the other person.
In your case, your husband's snoring triggered fear of loss in you, because it is taking from your quality of life. This fear made you react to protect yourself. You might have reacted by complaining, blaming or being bothered.
2. The other person sees this fear-driven action and it triggers a fear in them. Then, they react from their fear to protect themselves.
In your case, I believe your husband's fear of failure was triggered when his snoring bothered you. Your feeling of loss about sleeping near him made him feel inadequate. He would hate feeling this way, so he might react by pulling away from you to protect himself from further feelings of failure.
His fear-reaction might have been to say, "Fine, I will sleep away from you so you can sleep." But if this was done as a protection from failure, not as an act of love toward you, it could further drive a wedge into the relationship.
3. When the first person feels the other person reacting in fear, pulling away or acting to protect themselves, they will be even more triggered by fear. They will often have more fear-driven behavior show up, to protect themselves and the wedge will become even bigger
In your case, you probably felt your husband pulling away to protect himself from failure, and it either triggered more fear of loss in you, or it might have triggered fear of failure in you because you feel guilty for not being able to sleep with him.
This wouldn’t feel good, so you might have reacted in anger at his defensiveness and acting like a martyr. This might make you behave more defensively too, and pull back even further from him.
I have seen this cycle play out in hundreds of relationships over the last 15 years. People get stuck in this fear-trigger cycle going around and around, triggering each other's fear-motivated bad behavior and in this state, no one is giving love, because you are both focused on protecting yourselves.
The good news is this problem is not hard to fix.
The first step lies in recognizing you are having a fear-trigger problem. I believe your protective, defensive behavior is happening because you and your spouse are both scared of failure and loss and you both need some reassurance and validation.
He needs to know that his snoring doesn’t change his value to you. You need to know that he cares about your quality of sleep and wants to do whatever it takes to make sure you have what you need. When you give each other this reassurance, it will quiet the fears in play.
Then make sure you approach solving this issue as a team, working together against a problem — not as two people against each other.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I have a close relative who acts like he is perfect at everything, while he makes up terrible lies about my wife and tells them to me, just to cause problems in our relationship. He also says all kinds of weird and gross things to us that seem highly inappropriate. I once made a comment about how Santa Claus isn’t real, and he told me (in all seriousness) that I could be excommunicated for saying that. Obviously, he is not right in the head and I don’t really want to be around him, but as I said, he is a close relative so that isn’t an option. What do you do with a situation like this?
The truth is most human beings are a little quirky, but some are really quite unusual. It is easy with these people to go to a place of irritation, annoyance and judgment, and even see them as broken, weird or less than the rest of us. Some people are even unstable mentally or emotionally and may be dangerous, so it’s understandable to feel threatened or unsafe around them.
Here are some things you can do if you have to live with, work near or otherwise deal with a really quirky human.
1. Choose a system for determining the value of human beings.
There is no absolute truth about the real value of a human being. Every religion and philosopher on the planet has an opinion about it, but no one can prove their theory. This leaves us with the opportunity to choose a perspective. We believe you basically have two options:
(1) You can choose to see human value as changeable and in question.
This means our value can go up and down based on our performance, appearance and property. it means if you lose weight, make more money, or perform perfectly you may feel your value has gone up, and you might even feel better than other people. But if it can go up, it can also go down. So if you make mistakes, gain weight, lose your job or your family, you could also feel less than other people.
As long as you believe human value can change (and go up and down) you will also always see some human beings as having more value than other human beings because these two ideas go together. As long as you choose this system you will always be afraid you aren’t quite good enough too. You will feel this way because no matter how hard you try to perform perfectly or look perfect, you will always find people who appear better. This system for determining the value of human beings always leaves you feeling inadequate. But you can still choose it if you want to. Or you can choose this next option.
(2) You can choose to see all human beings as having the same, unchangeable value.
This means you decide to base all human value on our intrinsic worth as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, totally unique human souls, and all of us (no matter how quirky) will always be that and have the same worth. It is true that some humans will try harder, contribute more to society, and work to learn and grow, while others will not accomplish much, but these are differences in our extrinsic journey and choices and do not have to affect our intrinsic worth. At least you can see it that way if you want to.
You might want to consider choosing this system because it does two amazing things. First, it means you cannot fail, you can only learn. This perspective sees life as a classroom, not a test. With this perspective, you can make mistakes, which create amazing lessons and facilitate growth, but they never change your value. This helps you to have rock solid self-esteem (without arrogance or the tendency to see yourself as better than others, because they always have the same value as you).
Second, it helps you to stay out of judgment by seeing all humans as different (since no one on the planet gets the same classroom journey as anyone else) but all equal in value. This perspective creates compassion and makes it easier to tolerate and even accept the quirkiness in others.
2. Identify your Personality Type.
After 16 years as life coaches and working with thousands of people, we believe there are only 12 types of people in the world. When you know your type it helps you to accept your own strengths and weaknesses, and see your own quirky behavior more accurately. It also helps you to stop trying to be what others are, or expect them to be like you. Instead, you appreciate the interesting differences in us all. what are the personality types, how do we find out which personality type we are?
3. Identify your (and their) balanced and unbalanced behaviors.
Understanding human behavior is simple when you understand we all function every moment, of every day, in one of two states. A trust and love balanced state, where we are at our best, and a fear state where our worst behavior comes out. When you can accept your own quirkiness, you usually become more tolerant and accepting of other people’s quirkiness too.
We believe each of us has different bad relationship behavior that comes out when our fears are triggered, and understanding yours and theirs will help you have more compassion. You will also start seeing bad behavior as scared behavior. All bad behavior shows up when someone is in a fear driven state.
When your quirky relative behaves badly, you will understand that he is either trying to create a sense of value, to quiet his fear of failure (the fear he isn’t good enough) or he is trying to create a place where he feels safe from loss. Most of the time illogical, dishonest or irrational behavior comes from trying to cover a deep fear of failure or inadequacy. Or he may actually have a brain problem that means his thinking is just inaccurate and skewed. Either way, you must let the quirky be where they are in their unique journey.
4. Honor their right to be where and how they are.
Every one of us is experiencing a totally unique, interesting and difficult classroom journey. No one on the planet will ever get the same, genes, family, upbringing and the exact combination of life experiences that you got. This means (if we see life as school) that we are all in different classes. You will never know why their journey is what it is and what lessons they are supposed to be learning from their journey. But you can trust there is reason, purpose and meaning in everything being as it is.
The amazing Viktor Frankl, in a concentration camp during World War II asked himself the question, "Am I here by accident, is it just random bad luck? Or is there purpose for my being right here having this experience?"
He pondered this question trying to determine which idea was truth. In the end, he decided there is no way to know truth on this, and this leaves us with the power to choose our mindset. He found when he chose to see life as random bad luck he suffered more, but when he chose to see meaning and purpose in the experience, it made him want to rise and do something positive with it.
"In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning," Frankl wrote in his popular book "Man’s Search for Meaning."
We can choose, likewise, to trust there is purpose in our unique journey being what it is (and with this quirky person in it). We may never know the exact reason this experience was perfect for us, but we can still choose to trust there is one.
This will help us to allow each person to be who and where they are, without judgment that they should be anything different. We can live and let live and practice loving tolerance and wisdom.
5. Have the wisdom to choose your battles.
If we choose to see our journey (and interactions with the quirky people around us) as our perfect classroom, we know resistance is futile. Instead of resisting what is and expecting people and situations to be different than what they are, we embrace them and are grateful for what they can teach us.
This doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve situations or relationships, but when there is little in your control, you will see it is wiser to let the situation be whatever weird thing it is and you don’t let it upset you. Your weird relative is providing some interesting lesson in your life, choose not to suffer too much about it.
The amount that you suffer over the quirky people and lessons in your life is totally up to you. No one can make you upset without your permission and participation. You can choose peace, trust and a feeling of safety in every moment, even when things feel weird. Choose to trust there is order in the universe and the author of it all — is in charge. Trust that the universe is a wise teacher who knows what it’s doing it will make it easier to cope when things feel crazy.
You can do this.
Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are Master Life Coaches who host an internet radio show called Relationship Radio on Voice American and iTunea. Learn more at www.12shapes.com
I want you to address in a column what you do when family members aren't speaking. How do you tactfully handle family holiday parties when they refuse to be in the same place as each other, but you have to invite them both? One has issued an ultimatum that they want us to choose sides, which we feel is not the right thing to do. Is there any way to navigate these bad relationships or fix them? Please give us some advice.
Many people suffer from depression and anxiety around the holidays. Some have it because they have no family to be with, others have it because they do have family to be with. Family gatherings can be a real challenge if there is resentment, hurt feelings, and conflict between your guests.
We recommend you send this article to both parties and tell them you love and support them, and just want everyone to suffer less this holiday season. Explain that you have no judgment around this issue and totally understand how hard it is to deal with these conflicts, but you just want to help both sides heal.
I believe we are on this planet for one reason — to learn, grow and become better. Our main objective is to learn to love ourselves and other people at a deeper level. If this is true, forgiving would be the No. 1 most important lesson, and it's a challenging one too because our ego side really likes to hold onto judgment.
It’s easy to love people who are kind and good to us. Loving people who hurt us is the challenge that pushes us and forces us to rise. It shows us the limits of our love and gives us the chance to stretch and grow them.
If you are going to change how you feel about an offense, you will need to learn to look at the situation in a new way. This article is going to help you do that. You may feel like you aren’t ready, but "I'm not ready" is just an excuse we use when we can't articulate the real reason we don't want to forgive.
You must identify the real reason you are holding onto this offense and don't want to forgive it. Here are some possibilities:
1. Remember none of us are perfect.
This person did something wrong and it sounds like this was an especially painful wrong, but you aren’t perfect either. You may not have made this mistake, but you have made others. You must remember that you are both imperfect, struggling students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn, who both deserve forgiveness.
You don’t want every mistake you ever made held against you forever. In order to feel forgiven for your past wrongs, you must give others the same.
2. You alone are responsible for the pain you are experiencing.
No situation can cause you pain without your participation in it. Your thoughts and feelings are under your control and this means no one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, read my previous KSL article about choosing to be upset.
You must grasp the truth that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You can feel better right now if you want to. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready now.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.
You both have the same value no matter how many mistakes either of you makes. This is true because life is a classroom, not a test, and our value isn't on the line.
That does not mean we can sit back and stop improving though. It means our lack of knowledge and need for improvement doesn’t affect our intrinsic value. We have the same intrinsic value regardless of the amount of learning we still need to do. You want this principle to be true because you want it to be true for you.
4. Forgiveness happens best when you see yourself and others accurately
Forgiveness will happen when you see yourself and others as innocent, completely forgiven, struggling, scared, messed up, but perfect students in the classroom of life, with lots more to learn. Most of us think forgiving is about seeing people as guilty and then trying to pardon them for those mistakes. If you try to forgive this way it will never happen. You will still be hung up on the fact they are guilty. Forgiveness will never work when it’s a gift undeserved.
Instead, let all the wrongs, pain and hurt on both sides of this be wiped clean of all selfish, fear-based, bad behavior. It is time to let go and accept divine forgiveness for both of you. Let the other person be a “work in progress” and don’t crucify yourself or them for mistakes. Accept the gift of forgiveness and see life as a classroom where mistakes don’t count against our value. We can just all erase them all and try again.
5. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and it is the only way to peace, confidence and security.
This is universal law. The key to forgiveness lies in one very simple choice that you must make over and over every day. What energy do you want to live in? You have two options — you can live in judgment, blame and anger energy? Or forgiveness, peace and joy energy?
Judgment energy means you stand in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes. If you choose this mindset, you are giving power to the idea that people can be "not good enough" and should be judged harshly, which will come back on you too. You will always struggle with your own self-esteem and this energy will feel heavy, negative and unhappy.
Your other option is a forgiveness energy. Here you choose to forgive yourself and others, and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake either of you has ever made. You choose to see these mistakes for what they really are, bad behavior born of confusion, self-doubt, lack of knowledge, low self-esteem and fear. In this place, you choose to see everyone as innocent and forgiven and let them (and you) start over with a clean slate every day.
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself and this energy will be light, peaceful and happy.
The question is: How do you want to live?
Consider letting go of the past offense and showing up at the family gathering with nothing but love and compassion in your heart. This doesn’t mean you have to be close to or deal with the other person, but it does mean treating them with respect, compassion and kindness. It means understanding that negative feelings hurt you more than they hurt them. It means choosing to focus on gratitude and being the love in the room, then on the past and casting blame.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com - She is the author of the new e-book Fearless Forgiving: The clarity path to peace - you can get this inexpensive e-book on amazon here.
I love my spouse, but there is a lot of fighting in our marriage. My spouse gets offended really easy and finds fault in me often, which leads to a lot of conflict and some pretty mean, immature and even rude behavior. The thing is, there are other times when my spouse is really wonderful. We have been like this for so long, to some degree, I’m starting to think it’s normal, though I have friends who have said the way she treats me isn’t OK. I am starting to think the amount of conflict and the degree of selfishness is more than I should put up with. When is behavior bad enough that I should walk away? What is reasonable fighting behavior and what’s not? Am I an idiot to stick with this?
Some conflict, disagreements and hurt feelings happen in every relationship because we are all going to irritate, disappoint or offend our partner on occasion. The question is, do you and your partner have the skills to resolve these issues in a healthy, rational, productive way? Can you have mature, rational conversations about these disagreements without getting angry or out of control?
If you came from a family with parents who had these skills, you may have them, but for many people that wasn’t the case. If your parents were slightly emotionally immature, angry or demonstrated any unhealthy relationship behavior, you are going to need to take it upon yourself to gain some communication and conflict resolution tools. I wish they taught these kinds of skills in school or at church, but they don’t, so you may have to reach out to a mental health professional, coach, or counselor to learn some.
In this article, I am going to give you three categories of relationship “fighting” behavior, along with some suggestions for dealing with each. You definitely need to know what behavior is unacceptable, what is grounds for leaving, and what would be considered normal.
Here are the three "fighting" behavior categories:
1. Garden-variety bad behavior caused by fear and stress.
To be in this category, the bad behavior can’t show up often, but when it does, it’s based in being stressed, tired, hungry or discouraged, and though it might be annoying, immature, grouchy or even a little inconsiderate, it’s not directly hurtful and would be appropriate to ignore or let go, without needing to bring it up to your partner. No one is perfect and everyone will have a bad day on occasion, snap, lose their temper or say something stupid.
When your partner offends you with this kind of behavior, don’t make a big deal about it. Forgive them and let it go. You will do this because you want your small “mess-ups” and bad days to be forgiven too. If you bring up every little thing your partner does wrong, you will kill the relationship. If your partner starts to live here and it becomes an everyday thing though, it would move into category two.
2. Bad behavior that happens too often, is hurtful, harsh or unkind
This behavior should not be ignored. This category includes intentionally or unintentionally hurting your feelings, yelling, being inconsiderate, hitting or breaking things, being unkind, making jokes at your expense, being unfair or selfish on a regular basis. If these behaviors show up, you should have a mutually validating conversation about it and ask your spouse to treat you differently in the future.
This kind of conversation requires you to not cast your spouse as the bad one and talk down to them. It means recognizing you both have the same value and are both imperfect, but you need to both listen to how the other person feels and what they need and then ask them to do the same for you. At the end of this conversation, you will ask your partner if they would be willing to change some things moving forward or get some help to change them if necessary.
If your partner isn't willing to change these behaviors and refuses professional help, you may find yourself in category three.
3. Bad behavior that should not be tolerated.
If your partner is not changing their inappropriate behavior from category two, or their behavior has escalated to the behavior described below, it is appropriate to insist on professional help or be prepared to end the relationship. No one deserves to stay in a relationship where they are abused or feel unsafe and uncared for.
The following types of behavior are unacceptable:
Here are some relationship rules you might want to institute with your partner to prevent inappropriate fighting behavior.
1. If either of our bad behavior is something the other can let go and forgive (never to think about it or bring it up again), then we should. If you are going to hold onto this offense, let it fester and keep bothering you, building up resentment toward your partner, adding it to the growing laundry list of their faults, then you should bring it up and work through it.
2. Both commit to bringing up any offenses in a mature and loving way. This means you cannot make your spouse the bad guy or prove you are right. These conversations must be about improving your relationship and should include things each person can do to show up better for the other because you love each other. (Read about having validating conversations in my article about getting your spouse to treat you better.) You should never attack your partner nor focus on just their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the different behavior you want to see in the future.
3. Both commit to learning how to have mutually validating conversations where each partner gets a chance to have his say and express his feelings without interruption. Both should feel that the other honors and respects their right to have their opinion, even if they disagree with it. Then together, the couple should create a win-win, compromise solution. They should try to make it the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other.
If you cannot find a win-win solution on your own, you could ask a third party to meet with you and help find a compromise. A religious leader, coach or counselor could help with that.
4. Needing some time and space to process and think things through leads to more appropriate “fighting” behavior. Couples must have the right to call a “timeout” and have that request honored. This is not about giving your partner the silent treatment or ignoring them or getting out of a conversation. This is about each of you having the right to call a “timeout” so you can calm down and get clear before finishing the conversation and the other person honoring that. This needs to be agreed on ahead of time, that whenever one of you call it, the other will honor it and walk away for a while.
In your case, remember you are the only one entitled to know whether it’s time to move on, or if your perfect classroom is to stay and keep working on it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Listen to your heart and inner truth, and it will tell you what's right for you.
In the meantime work on the relationship rules above and see if that helps.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches with 30 combined years in personal development and relationship skills. They are human behavior experts.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My relationship and life are not going well. I’m not happy with where I am at work and my marriage isn’t helping. My spouse doesn’t validate me and she hardly pays attention to me at all. I get the feeling she doesn’t want to spend time with me and stays busy doing other things instead. I hate that I’m getting old and feeling like my best days are over and gone. How can I get a more positive outlook and improve my marriage? Is that even possible?
It sounds to me like you are unhappy with yourself and life, and when you are an unhappy person, it’s hard to maintain healthy relationships. I believe this happens because unhappiness puts us into a fear and lack state, where we feel unsafe and unbalanced. This makes us overly focused on ourselves, and when your focus is mostly on you, not a lot of love happens and your relationships suffer.
You need to figure out the cause of your unhappiness and work on fixing that first. Once you are able to show up happy with yourself, you will show up in your relationship in a way that feels positive and healthy to your partner.
Here are the four main causes of unhappiness. See if any feel familiar to you:
1. Low self-esteem or fears that you might not be good enough. Do you compare yourself with others? Are you haunted by insecurity and negative thinking about yourself? Do you feel you are less valuable or good than others?
2. Dissatisfaction with what is happening in your life. Do you feel life’s been unfair to you? Have you been taken from, walked on or mistreated? Are you depressed with where you are or discouraged your life won’t get better than what it is now? Do you always wish you were somewhere else?
3. Fear about either the future or the past. Are you haunted with guilt and shame over things in the past? Do you think your past experiences or mistakes define you? Are you constantly worried about all the things that could go wrong?
4. Choosing to be unhappy because it benefits you in some way. Does being unhappy earn you some attention or sympathy love or do you use it as an excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do? Do you get something from telling your victim story or does it protect you to hold onto it?
Did any of those resonate with you? Maybe even more than one? Once you know what is causing your unhappiness, you can own the responsibility for changing it. It is your responsibility to because you are the only one who has any control over you and your thinking. You cannot make your spouse responsible for your happiness (as it sounds like you might have by your letter). It is not her job to make you happy, it’s yours. You have got to figure out what you need to do, or change in your life, to make yourself more happy.
Here are five things that might help:
1. Change your policy on human value
Make a new policy that your value isn’t in question and can’t change because all human beings have the same infinite, absolute intrinsic value no matter what they do. This will require you to stop judging others too though. You must give this value to everyone if you want it to be true for you. If you can take a fear of failure out of the picture by believing you can’t fail, because you always have the same value as everyone else, it will increase your happiness in life immensely.
2. Worry less and trust more
Uncertainty is a beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing, it is just unknown — and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God or this amazing classroom universe you could walk into each unknown adventure without fear.
Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do. You can always choose in every moment to trust the process of your life and see it as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving. You can see it as always being on your side and if you see it that way, you will find there is nothing to fear or worry about.
3. Stop worrying about what others think
We all deal with the fear of judgment at some level. It makes no sense that we give other people this much power over how we feel about ourselves, but we do. If we practice trusting that our value is infinite and absolute (unchangeable) we will start to realize that no judgment, thought or idea in someone’s head can change our value or hurt us without our permission.
Julien Smith once said, "Judgment and fear will never stop, but they don’t actually do anything either." What other people think of you doesn’t mean anything or do anything. You are the same you no matter what they think. Remind yourself of this often.
4. Focus on everything you are grateful for
During the darkest hardest moments of my life I could still count my blessings and find myself more blessed than stressed. Focus on gratitude every day, even listing all your blessings, and you will find many reasons to smile and be happier.
5. Decide that happiness is your character
You get to decide what kind of person you want to be. Choose to see yourself as a happy person. Write a policy that you will choose to be a happy person in every situation because it is always the wisest choice to make.
Have more fun and be more fun. Laugh more often, collect jokes and funny stories to share with those around you. Make it fun to live with you. Be spontaneous, adventurous and positive. Be flexible and easy-going. Find ways to make whatever you do fun. Turn boring, frustrating things into a game. You have more natural ability to play than you realize.
If you will own the responsibility for your own happiness and stop expecting others to make you happy, you will find great power in determining the quality of your own life. Happiness sometimes doesn’t feel like a choice, because we all have moments of sadness, stress, loneliness, discouragement, loss, failure and struggle, but you always have the power to decide how long you stay there.
If you don’t know how to think or process your way through struggle into a healthier happier state, get some professional help. A little guidance and some new skills and tools will make a huge difference fast.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes,com. Her companies offer many free resources, worksheets and materials to help improve your life and relationships. Visit www12shapes.com and take the free survey.
This was first published on familyshare.com
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and it's funny how often at the end of a bad relationship, we wonder why we didn't see the red flags sooner. Were they there? Should we have see them? How did we miss them?
The truth is, we see what we want to see most of the time. At the beginning of any relationship, we are primarily looking for the good, especially if we want it to work out. We do this at work and in our personal relationships, but there are a few early warning signs it might help to flag when you see them. This may save you from unrealistic expectations and real disappointment. It might also mean protecting yourself and using some caution around people who could be toxic.
Here are five behaviors to watch for early in a relationship:
1. They speak ill of others and relish in gossip
If they are critical and judgmental of everyone around them, they will be critical and judgmental of you, too. People who focus on the bad in others usually suffer from a subconscious fear of failure themselves. In this state they find it temporarily makes their ego feel safer if they focus on the bad in others. If they cast others as the bad guy, it makes them feel like the better guy. Anyone who speaks ill of others on a regular basis has the potential to be trouble in a relationship. They may not have the self-worth and wisdom to be able to give the love and support you deserve.
2. Every situation is about them
If you notice that everything is about them, how they feel and how it affects them, you must label what you are hearing as "selfish focus." Again, people who have a fear of failure and low self-esteem are selfishly focused on themselves most of the time. If that is their focus, they won't be able to see situations from your point of view very easily. Just because someone is in this space one day, I would not write them off as toxic, but if it's a pattern all the time, make note of it as another red flag.
3. They're frequently upset and irrational
If someone gets triggered into an unbalanced upset state easily and often, and once their logic seems a tad off, that can be a big red flag. Mature, balanced people understand that feeling upset is a choice and nothing (or no one) can make you that way. You are in control of your choices, attitudes and behavior. You are responsible for how immature and over the top your frustration or anger gets.
We find some people tend to have over-the-top responses, drama and irrational thinking. This behavior is important to flag because one day it may be you they are upset at, and this immature behavior makes it difficult to talk things through and resolve them. If they aren't able to see things from another person's perspective, logically see what happened and why and talk about things without drama and emotion, they will have some unhealthy fighting behavior that could be directed at you eventually.
4. They don't trust you
There is a universal law that says we see the world as we are. This means anyone who doesn't trust you, accuses you of cheating, is dishonest or has ill intent might think you would act that way because they would. It's not true 100 percent of the time, but it is worth looking into. Those who would never be dishonest rarely are suspicious of others and are often taken advantage of. If someone is constantly accusing you or others of bad behavior, that could be a warning sign they aren't trustworthy.
5. Their moods and reactions are unpredictable
If you are never quite sure which version of this person you will get today and there is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feeling to the two sides of their personality, that could be a red flag. Toxic people are often moody, unstable and even may have borderline personality disorder, one of the more difficult mental illnesses to deal with. These people rarely admit they have a problem and rarely seek the help they need to have healthy relationships. If a person is normally very calm, kind and rational, but on occasion has a blow-up that is way different from their normal personality, you might not really know them as well as you think.
When dating, starting a friendship or thinking of promoting someone at work, you want to make sure you see the other person in stressful, upsetting situations and watch how they cope first. Everyone behaves fairly well when things are going great. You don't see their unbalanced behavior until things get scary, unsettled or threatening.
Just keep your eyes open and don't be afraid to love some people from afar.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on familyshare.com
Most of the couples we work with admit that intimacy continues to be the most challenging part of their relationship. We believe the one thing that creates the most disconnection and lack of intimacy in relationships is disappointment, and this is a big problem because we are all disappointed with our spouse and our marriage on occasion.
Disappointment is a problem because it creates fear of loss, which is the feeling of not getting what you wanted or having unmet expectations. With this comes resentment and a marriage where you don’t feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, you cannot give yourself to your spouse intimately in a connected way.
Here are four important principles that can help cure fear of loss and disappointment, so you can have a better connection in your relationship:
Principle 1: We are on the planet to learn and grow — not to have all our expectations met.
We are striving for happiness in life, but we must also understand the real purpose of this journey is growth and learning. Because of that, we are attracted to a person who can help us grow and learn, not a person who will make us blissfully happy every day. In other words, you marry your best teacher, and they teach you by pushing your buttons and triggering your fears — so you can see them and work on them.
You must start seeing your marriage as school with the goal to learn to love and understand another person, get past your expectations and practice being responsible for your own happiness. When you see your marriage accurately, you are more prone to focus on growth and experience less loss and self-pity.
Principle 2: In every moment there will be things in your life that aren't the way you wish they were.
You may have health problems, financial problems, a husband that struggles with selfishness, a leaky roof, a mean neighbor or a wife who is struggling with love and intimacy. When these situations show up, you might have feelings of misery, anger or self-pity. Your disappointment and frustration towards these “less than ideal circumstances” creates unhappiness.
What’s important is that you recognize you are responsible for the amount you suffer with these. Your spouse and their issues cannot make you miserable. You are always in control of how miserable you decide to be. Of course, you will always do what you can to fix and repair situations you don’t like, but you must also choose to focus on the positive around all the blessings you have, too. People who are grateful have better connection than those who feel cursed by life.
The questions you must ask yourself are: “What could this experience of lack be here to teach me? How am I supposed to become better, stronger or wiser through this in my life?” When you approach disappointments this way, you will step out of the victim mentality and into a place of growth. Connection and self-pity can’t both happen; you will have to choose which you want.
Principle 3: In every moment of your life there are things you could be grateful for.
We understand that a lack of intimacy or poor connection is painful and disappointing, but if you step back and count your blessings and look at all the problems you don’t have, you could also be really grateful. The truth is, in every moment of your life, some things will be good and others will be lacking. So if you can’t focus on the good and be happy and grateful right now, you will never be able to. Or you could choose to happy and grateful all the time. It’s up to you.
Principle 4: The secret to quality intimate connection is being the cure to their fear.
If you become the safest place on earth for your spouse, a place of encouragement, appreciation and admiration, they will feel a whole new level of connection with you and their interest in intimacy will increase.
If you often criticize, complain about or act disappointed in your spouse, they will pull away emotionally and connection will not happen. After working with hundreds and hundreds of couples, we promise that becoming your spouse’s safest place works and quickly increases connection for most couples.
If it doesn’t work for you, there are probably issues in your relationship around your spouse not truly wanting to fix it, and nothing can improve if one of you doesn’t want to.
Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” He meant that your situation does not determine your happiness. The way you choose to think and feel about your situation does. You have the power to be at peace right now. Then, from this peaceful place, validate your spouse and make them feel safe — great connection will follow.
We know this is a hard one — but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com. She is also the author of several books “The People Guidebook for Great Relationships” and "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness. Kim is also a sought-after coach and speaker.
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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.