This article was first published on KSL.com
I had a huge fight with my husband last week because he doesn’t validate me or give me compliments enough, and I honestly don’t ever feel like I’m good enough. More of his comments are negative and about what I haven’t done, than what I have done. He says he compliments me all the time and I don’t hear them. I’m willing to admit that could be true, my whole life I remember every criticism, but maybe don’t accept the positive. I have also always needed a great deal of praise to feel like I have any value at all. How can I get him to build me up more and how can I accept it and hear it?
The truth is you are the one who is responsible for your self-esteem and no one else can fill that bucket for you. He could praise you day and night and you might remain just as needy for compliments as you are now. You are an approval addict.
Validation is your drug of choice and when you get some, it quiets your fear of failure for a minute, but that quickly wears off and you need another hit.
You have this problem because you are basing your self-esteem on the wrong things. You were taught as a small child your value is determined by these four things: your appearance, your performance (how well you do what you do), your property (clothes, car, phone etc.) and what other people think of you.
The problem with this system is, you can't win it. No matter how hard you try to be good enough in these areas and earn validation, it will never be enough. There will always be people ahead of you. This will also make you needy for praise, approval and validation, and this always backfires because the more you try to get approval from others, the less respect they have for you.
People can feel it in your energy when you don’t know your own value and they can tell when your posts on social media are all about trying to prove your worth or illicit likes or comments, and when they feel this neediness in you, it doesn’t impress them. (You shouldn't care of course, but because your self-esteem is based here, you do.)
Here is a list of things you might do (without consciously realizing it) to get validation, attention or approval. See if any of them sound familiar. Honestly, ask yourself the following questions to see if you are an approval addict.
Isn’t this more the person you really want to be?
Here are 8 steps to stop your approval addiction and improve your internal self-worth:
1. Change your foundational belief about human value and choose to see all humans as having the same infinite value all the time.
This means your value is unchangeable and the same as every other human being. It means seeing everyone as different (having their own unique classroom journey) but with the same value as you. It means you must give up the judgment of others and casting them as the bad guy or worse than you. It means choosing to see your mistakes (and others mistakes) as lessons that don’t affect value at all.
This will take some work, time and practice to consciously choose to see yourself and others this way — but you can do it and it will have a dramatic effect on your life, relationships and self-worth.
2. Choose to see life as a classroom, not a test.
As a child, you were subconsciously taught that life is a test to determine your worth and every mistake counts on your grades. You can decide today that life is a classroom, and there is no test and this would mean that every mistake is a lesson (which you can erase and try again) and no mistakes affect your intrinsic worth.
3. Choose to see all people as having the same intrinsic value.
No one is more important or better than anyone else. We are all very different and no one on the planet got signed up for the same classes here you got, so there is no level where it makes sense (or serves you) to compare yourself with others. It would eliminate most of the conflict on the planet if we could all choose to see all humans as having the same value.
4. Stop talking for a week (as much as you can).
Set a goal to say as little as possible for one week, and it will amaze you how aware you will become of your approval addiction. You will notice most of the things you want to say are about trying to get validation or managing others perceptions of you.
If you cannot say those things, it will leave you at risk of being judged and you will have to own the fact that judgment actually can’t change your value and means nothing.
Other people’s thoughts about you have no power and mean nothing, unless you decide to give them power. Don’t do it. Choose to see your value as the same as others no matter what, all the time.
5. Only post things on social media that are about building up other people.
At least for a while, see if you can let go of your need for attention and even resist the urge to post.
6. Focus on validating others everywhere you go.
If you are intently focused on giving validation and approval to others, you won’t have the time or energy to worry about what you are getting or not getting. This will be especially powerful in your marriage. There is a universal law that says "You get what you give." So, if you want more positive validation or attention from your spouse, start giving it to them. Give what you want to receive, though make sure it fits their love language too.
7. Understand opinions and thoughts are only stories.
Just because someone thinks something about you, doesn’t make it true. Opinions are only ideas that exist in a person’s head. They have no power, aren’t real, aren’t meaningful and don’t matter. They can’t change you or diminish you unless you let them.
8. Be yourself.
You are a one-of-a-kind and there will never be another you. Who you are right now is perfect and being different, being quirky and even flawed is what makes the world an interesting place. How boring would it be if we were all the same? Alan Sherman said, “A ‘normal’ person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.”
Don’t be gray and don’t try to be a color that makes other people happy. Be the real, quirky, flawed, beautiful you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com where you can find resources, assessments, coaching and classes on self improvement and better relationships.
This was first published on ksl.com
I feel inferior to almost everyone I know. If we go out with people, I spend the whole time wishing I could be more like this person or that one. I compare myself constantly, even though I know it is creating problems and I wish I could stop. I also have a tendency to be critical of others, though, too. I find myself feeling inferior to someone at first, and then looking for bad in them so I can feel better. Could you give me any advice on how to stop my mind from going there, and how to be happy with who I am and not compare so much?
We are so glad you asked this question, because the truth is, we all compare ourselves with others, and it isn’t serving any of us. If the comparing ends with you feeling you might be better than someone else in the room, though it may give your ego a temporary boost, it isn’t really a win. We believe letting the ego feel superior to others in the end means being a person you don’t really want to be, and it will hurt you in the end.
We want you to understand why human beings play these games of comparing and dividing ourselves from other people. We believe this behavior is rooted in our trying to cope with our deepest, darkest core fear — the fear of failure (not being good enough). A fear that, by the way, every one of us battles, to some degree, every day. And it is a painful fear, too. To make matters worse, there is a voice in your head that wants you to constantly compare yourself to others, which finds you lacking most of the time.
Thinking negatively about yourself is so painful that you are constantly, subconsciously, looking for ways to quiet or quell it. You will latch onto anything that works, even temporarily.
One of the techniques that most of us subconsciously use, is something we call the “Shame and Blame Game.” The way it works is the more shame (fear of failure) you experience, the more you will look for bad in others and focus on their bad qualities, temporarily making yourself feel better. Most of the time, though, you don’t consciously realize you doing this to make yourself feel better. But that is what is happening.
Another common technique to quiet your fear (that mankind has been using since the dawn of time) has to do with dividing ourselves from other people so we can see “us” as the good ones and “them” as the bad ones. We will use anything and everything to do this. We divide ourselves into groups based on race, religion, country, which sports team we cheer for (the blue or the red), which cola we drink (Coke or a Pepsi), or which sandwich spread we prefer (mayonnaise or Miracle Whip). Any difference, no matter how significant or insignificant, will do if we can justify a reason why our way is the right one and those guys are wrong or worse.
This gets worse when we do it in groups. The other people who agree with you seem to validate your feelings of superiority, hate or prejudice against “them,” and the division furthers. If you think about it, this one tendency is responsible for most of the problems on the planet. Many times a group of people thinks they are better than another group.
Do you judge others? Do you find fault in the people who intimidate you (or make you feel less than,) so you can pull them down to your level or below and feel better? Are you be prone to gossip or speaking ill of others? Is there any chance your tendency to do this is driven by your fear and insecurities?
We want to explain this tendency to you, so you can get conscious of the techniques you might use to quiet your fear.
Here are 5 ways to change your thinking, quiet your fear, and embrace who you are, so you can stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Change the way you determine the value of all human beings.
We recommend you change your subconscious belief that human value can go up or down, and that worth is based on your performance and appearance (which is your current system at the subconscious level). Instead, embrace a policy that says all human beings have the same intrinsic, unchangeable value.
We found if you change the foundational principle upon which you base the value of all human beings you will, over time, approach the point where it applies to you, too, and your fear of failure will shrink. You will start to believe you are good enough, because you can’t be less than others if we all have the same value.
2. Use the new policy as a reminder that divisions mean we are different, but still equal in value.
The reality is everyone is different. You are one-of-a-kind and there will never be another human like you again. These differences make life interesting and exciting. How boring would it be if we were all the same?
These differences also provide interesting and important lessons for us in tolerance and acceptance, and they stretch the limits of our love and compassion. They do not separate us by value. Every day, practice seeing others as different but equal.
3. Focus on your strengths.
You might not have the talents, body size or intelligence others have, but you do have something. We all do. You have something you are good at. The trick is to stop trying to be different, or have what others have, and just do you. Be the best you.
4. Claim your faults but remember they don’t change your value.
Yes, there are some things you aren’t good at. I’ve had to face the facts that I’m not a woman with talents in the area of hair and make-up. I struggle to put a stylish outfit together and am more comfortable in jeans than a fancy dress. Most of my life, I’ve looked at the beautiful women with flawless style and perfect hair and assigned myself much less value.
Now I own my faults fully, and have decided every day to do my best to get dressed and fix my hair. Then I tell myself this isn’t really my thing, so I better go out there and get them with my love instead. I’m better at that. No one is good at everything, so own your weaknesses, work on them, but don’t let them affect your value.
5. Give up judgment so you can claim infinite value for yourself, too.
There is one catch with choosing a policy that says all human beings have the same value: You must give up judgment if you want this policy change to work. You cannot keep casting other people as not good enough (gossiping or thinking bad of them) and still see your own value as infinite and absolute.
If you keep judging others, you are giving power to the old belief system that people can be not enough. If you give power to that belief, you will never buy it for yourself either, and your self-esteem will continue to suffer. If you want to feel rock solid about your own value, you must give up judgment and let everyone around you have infinite, unchangeable value too.
We have found if you work on these five things, the need to compare and critique others diminishes quickly. Once you embrace the idea that your value can’t change, you will see that much of what others do, or wear or say, has no effect on you whatsoever. You will find you can then allow them to be who they are, and focus on rocking it at being you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the master coaches behind claritypointcoachin.com and 12shapes com where they help families, individuals and companies improve all their relationships.
I have recently started to date a new woman, the first woman I have been serious about since my divorce, but I’m unsure if I really want this relationship. Or maybe I’m just afraid of being hurt again or feel unsure about myself and fear rejection. But I’m holding back and I feel like fear is clouding my judgment. I don’t want to ruin this relationship and run because of my fears and push her away — help.
We think what you are really asking is, "How do you know if you are holding back from something or someone for a fear reason (that you should work to overcome) versus holding back because your gut is saying it isn’t right?"
We are all faced with options and choices every day, and often fear making the wrong choice keeps us stuck. We believe if you work on getting rid of your subconscious fears first, you then gain clarity and find it easier to feel which path is right for you. So, we are going to give you some steps for doing that.
But first, understand we all participate in the world differently, according to our unique past experiences. Our past experiences, the family we came from, and the things we were taught all contribute in creating subconscious core fears and core values, which now influence our ability and enthusiasm toward taking risks.
Ask yourself, how do you show up in the world? What is your comfort level with risk within your relationships? Do you put your neck out to say, 'I love you' first or do you wait for your partner to be the first to confess their feelings? Similarly, are you a person who is comfortable with commitment, travel, responsibility and financial stretches? Or do you stay close to home and save money over spending it? Maybe your ability to commit to a relationship is not just about fear of getting hurt, but also your comfort with risk and vulnerability in general.
Many of us play small and safe in the world, we doubt our abilities, our looks, our worth, our intelligence, and our worthiness to do or have big things. We might play safe in our relationships, too. We might feel unworthy to ask out a really amazing woman or think a great guy would never be interested in us.
The fear of failure (fear of not being good enough) can cause you to compare yourself to others, feel insecure, doubt yourself and feel at risk in every relationship. It can also make you show up needy of reassurance, attention and validation, which often cause relationship problems.
People who have less fear of failure play bigger in the world. They commit faster, more forward first, take bigger leaps of faith, and feel more confident in relationships. They have a more secure sense of who they are, what they have to offer, and what they want from a relationship. They also start relationships because they want them, not because they need them — and there is a big difference.
The good news is, with awareness and conscious effort, you can shift yourself from fear of failing and losing out to trusting yourself, your value and your journey. We’ve been helping people do this for 15 years, so we know it’s possible.
If you have real regrets, pain or guilt from your past relationships, it can leave you feeling powerless and unable or afraid to move forward. Unfortunately, you can’t go back and fix the past, or erase those experiences and their effects, but there are three things you can do that will start to make you feel more confident with yourself and your choices. From this place you can accurately feel which direction your inner truth is nudging you. Here are the three tips for eliminating fear:
1. Claim your value
You get to decide how you (individually) will determine the value of all human beings. You have two options: You can see human value as something we must earn and something that constantly changes with our appearance, performance and property (and this mindset will always leave you feeling not good enough); or you can choose to believe we all have the same intrinsic worth regardless of our appearance, performance, relationship history, how many times we have been dumped, or married, how many children we have, or the amount of money we have in the bank.
And you can choose to believe we all have the same value, all the time and it cannot change ever (If you choose this belief your fear of failure will start to shrink).
The world has adopted the first option, though, and teaches us to measure our worth by our successes, our finances and our looks. However, you don’t have to adopt that system if you don’t want to. You can choose to believe we all have the same intrinsic worth as every other human being on the planet all the time, even on a bad hair day or the day you get dumped.
This belief helps us drop the comparison to the others game, and really lean into a sense of confidence and value. This mindset means our confidence does not take a hit every time we are stood up, make a mistake, or compare ourselves to the other guys and girls that our new partner has dated.
If you choose this belief for yourself, you will find your confidence grows and you will have less fear around your decisions. To live without guilt and regret, you must be able to stand firm and secure in your decisions and know you always did the best you could with what you knew at the time, and no decision affected your value.
2. Be open to seeing life as a classroom
Another core subconscious belief you may have gained along the way is the idea that life is a test (which you must pass or fail). This belief is tied to the idea that your value is in question and can change. You, again, could consciously choose a different mindset if you wanted to, that life is a classroom and the purpose of you being on the planet is growth and learning, but your value isn’t tied to any of it.
When you are open to seeing life as a journey towards growth and wisdom, you will feel the universe is working for you, not against you. You could choose to believe that every situation in your life is providing a perfect opportunity for greater growth. This means you cannot make a bad choice, because you can only, as Jason Mraz says, “win some or learn some”, and either way it’s a win in the long run. This mindset makes you feel safer in the world and braver. Challenge yourself this week to look for growth opportunities in every choice, instead of fear.
3. Trust the Journey
If you choose to see life as a classroom, it means that everything in the universe (and in your life) has purpose and meaning, and is there to serve you in some way. When we look up the stars, we see amazing order there and be don't believe we live in a world with random chaos running the show. We believe the universe is a wise teacher who knows what it's doing (We can’t prove this is true, but no one can prove it’s untrue — so we believe it is a mindset choice). This is a mindset choice you get to make every day. Will you trust the universe or fear everything?
If you choose to trust the universe, it might change the way you are looking at this possible relationship. You were attracted to this person for one reason, because there is something this relationship can teach you. What you cannot know is if it’s meant to be a short lesson or a lifelong one. But you are meant to be connected to this person for some reason.
This applies to every situation in your life, too. When you choose this level of trust in the universe, you can take more risks and embrace the journey that comes your way, and believe that no matter what happens it’s going to make you better in some way and for a greater purpose.
With hindsight, we believe you will see how all the dots were linked and why it all happened as it did, but for now, you get to embrace the uncertainty and trust the universe knows what it’s doing and there is something bigger in play. When you trust the journey you can also trust your gut to guide you to wherever you need to be.
If you will start consciously choosing to trust, your value is the same no matter what you choose, and trust the universe will only provide the perfect lessons you need (even if they are hard ones) you will feel more confident in yourself and with your level of risk in your relationships and other areas of your life.
Since learning these principles and putting them into practice in our lives, we have found huge leaps forward in progress. Choosing to trust in your value and your journey make us live bigger and it has always paid off bigger too.
Remember, life is not about having any guarantees; it is about taking the risks you feel nudged to take (which feel wise, even though they are out of your comfort zone) so you can grow, learn, progress and really claim an amazing life. Often it is in these times of growth and risk that you reap the greatest rewards.
Get in trust and then see what your gut is saying.
You can do this!
This was first published on KSL.com
Part of me hates the holidays because the family gatherings end up making me feel horrible about myself and I really don’t need more of that. I already struggle with feeling I’m not good enough so add in my relatives, who are all more successful and have perfect families, with tons of expensive presents and it’s no fun at all. Anything I can do to feel better about myself when around them all?
During the Holiday season many of us find ourselves feeling more down than up. We all want to be present and spend time with our family, we just don’t want the conflict, confrontation, feelings of jealousy and inferiority that usually accompany these events. Fortunately a simple shift in mindset could help you to get through the holidays without any negative feelings.
The first step is to understand where the negative feelings come from. You (and everyone else on the planet) are suffering from a severe case of Fear of Failure (the fear that you aren’t good enough). Everyone does battle with this fear, to some degree, on a daily basis. But the holidays can trigger you more than any other time of the year. When your fear of failure gets triggered, your emotions, thinking and behavior can get negative fast. We all exhibit our worst behavior when we feel inferior.
For some of us this fear drives us to over compensate and show off, toot our own horn and try to get attention. For others it encourages them to shrink back, stay quiet and even be invisable if possible. Some people get grouchy and mean, while others are too nice and try to win approval through people pleasing. The types of bad behavior that fear of failure creates are countless, but none of them bring out the authentic you or make you capable of love.
Unfortunately, at Christmas there are always questions asked by friends and relatives about how we are doing and what’s new in our lives. Some families also tease and use sarcastic humor, which can make you ridiculed, judged or criticized. If you have had a tough year with many challenges, lessons of loss, or trials, these questions can lead to huge feelings of failure and could make you uncomfortable and defensive. Most of the family conflicts we see at Christmas, are the result of being offended by others, jealousy or being triggered with feeling that you are not enough. If you are not able to financially give at the level you would like to, or the gifts under the tree are few, this can also trigger huge feelings of not being enough.
Comparison to others is the fastest way to lose your confidence and feel bad about yourself. And it’s so easy to do. You need only go to Facebook and see what clothes other people are wearing, where they are on holiday, their new car, parties, friends and their amazing job, and it’s easy to feel deflated and believe your life is not measuring up.
Here are ____ ways to stop the comparison:
There is a worksheet on my website that will help you maintain a healthy, positive, holiday mindset. You can download it here. Read it a few times daily all through the month.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My son really lacks self-confidence and is scared of everything. He has so much self-doubt I worry about him the rest of his life. What can I do as a parent to correct this and help him gain confidence and believe in himself more?
I am so glad you asked this question because self-confidence is the most precious gift you can give your children. It is also the most important thing you must work on in yourself. A person’s self-worth drastically affects the quality of their marriage, their career and their general happiness in life.
So, the first thing you must do to help your children is check your own self-esteem. Are you plagued by self-doubt? Do you compare yourself to others or talk out loud about how dumb you are, or express fears about being inadequate? If you do, you must stop. The most powerful way to instill confidence in your children is by example, and you can’t give what you don’t have.
If you struggle with fear around not being good enough yourself, I strongly recommend you to get some professional help with it. Working with a counselor or coach who knows how to change the way you value yourself will make a huge difference for your whole family.
You must also teach your family that life is a classroom (a place of learning and growing), not a test where your value is constantly on the line. You are “good enough” as you are right now, even though you are imperfect and struggling, because your value is not based in your performance, appearance, property or anything else. Your value comes from the fact that you are a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable human soul made of love, for love and by love. No matter what life lessons you are currently experiencing, you have the same infinite value as everyone else and always will.
Make these ideas something you talk about often in your family.
When you embrace these principles and start living them, your children will follow your lead. Here are a couple other suggestions for raising confident kids:
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
In your last article you said, "Build your spouse up and tell him constantly how amazing and wonderful he is. Never make him feel he disappoints you on any level. The more admired, respected, appreciated and wanted you make him feel, the more he will love and adore you. This kind of loving behavior is what will create real happiness, connection and great intimacy." I do this with my wife, the problem is she has very low self-esteem/depression, mostly due to severe health issues/chronic pain, and sometimes it backfires. When I try to point out her good, she rejects it and it actually makes her feel worse, because she doesn't see herself that way. I have even found times when I'm struggling that affirmations feel more like "mocking" because I don't see myself that way. I agree with the idea of positive reinforcement, and we practice it, but there are times when it can do more harm than good and has to be handled "delicately." I would just like to hear your opinion on this.
There are times we all feel so deeply inadequate that validation doesn’t work. There are also people who have deep emotional wounds and insecurities that are an ingrained part of their belief systems. For these people (and most of us) we must go deeper to change self-esteem. We must change the core belief that creates low self-esteem to begin with.
This technique is part of my breakthrough coaching process, but it is something you can do with your family at home too. Get the family together and explain how everything we see and believe is based on perspective and that our perspective then determines how we feel. Here is an example:
Imagine being on a boat in a storm in the dark. The waves are tossing the boat right and left and you are scared for your life. You hold on tight and pray you won’t capsize. It’s scary and tense. Then the captain comes back and asks how you are. You explain it’s too dangerous and ask him to turn back.
The captain just laughs and says not to worry. This is normal. They travel through waves this size every day and the boat will be fine. You will arrive at your destination safely. He tells you to enjoy the experience because all is well. There is nothing to fear. Now, you can start to see the experience as fun, like a ride at the amusement park. You laugh as the boat is tossed and you are no longer afraid.
You are still on the same boat, in the same storm with the same size waves. A few minutes ago you were scared to death and now you are fine. The only thing that changed was your perspective. A perspective change can completely change the way you feel.
So, let’s change your perspective about you and your value as a person.
We start by helping you understand your current perspective on your value, where it comes from and what it’s based on. Your current fears about your value come from one core belief that affects how you see yourself and other people every minute of your life. It is a belief you have accepted as fact (even though it is only an idea or perspective). This core belief is that human value is changeable.
You believe human value changes all the time. This means you can perform well, lose weight or make more money and literally increase your value as a person. You can also fail, lose a game, lose your job, have a bad hair day or have people who don’t like you and lose value as a person.
This would also mean that some people are better than other people, and this damaging idea is responsible for most of the problems on the planet. We are always seeing ourselves as better or more important than groups of other people, which leads us into conflict, discrimination and hate.
This idea that human value changes also creates a fear in all of us — that we might not be good enough. It is because we believe that human value is changeable that we are insecure and feel inadequate so much of the time.
If you want to help your spouse and children feel better about themselves and have more confidence, you must help them change this core belief. You must help them shift their perspective and start seeing human value as infinite and absolute — and unchangeable.
We have the option of seeing life as a classroom, not a test, and you can’t fail if there is no test. If there is no test, your value isn’t in question at all. This means your value stays the same no matter what mistakes you make. You can always just erase and try again. These mistakes are lessons to teach you things, but they don’t affect your value.
Right now, because you think your value can change and must be earned, you base your value on your appearance, performance, property and the opinions of others. The world has taught you to see people who do well in these areas as better than those who don’t. But again, this is just perspective.
You could instead decide to see human value as based on our nature and our uniqueness as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable souls. If our value is based on our uniqueness, then we all have the same value, because we are all unique.
Teach your family that human value is the same all the time. Teach them that we are on this planet to learn and grow (and we have a lot more learning and improving to do) but our intrinsic worth is not tied to that progress.
Teach them their intrinsic worth is there and the same, all the time, no matter what. Start talking about this perspective being true every day and in every situation. When your kids see a homeless person, point out that they have the same value we do. When your child loses a game, point out that it isn't fun, but at least it doesn’t affect their value. When your spouse makes a mistake, remind him or her that it’s just a lesson and you both still have the same value. Make this idea something that is reinforced daily.
If you can change the principle belief that creates feelings of inadequacy, you can lessen the problem. This belief is deeply ingrained though, so it’s going to take lots of work, repetition and discussion to internalize it — but you can do it. I help individuals, organizations and groups change this and other core beliefs every day, and it can be done. You can change your thinking and change your life.
The author Chuck Palahniuk wrote, “The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think, the way they see themselves, the way they see the world, you can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.”
Instead of just validating your spouse, help your family create a new belief about human value. See all people as good enough all the time. Convince them that their value is never in question. This will work and last. Help your wife to understand that appearance has nothing to do with her value. I wrote a parable about this one a few months agoyou might want to read.
This always seem impossible the first time someone hears it (because their old beliefs are so ingrained), but I promise if you work at this, you can do it. If she still struggles with self-worth or grasping this change, I highly recommend working with a Claritypoint certified facilitator, who can give you more tools to internalize the new belief.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I always read your articles and think they are great, but I’ve been hoping you would address guilt, which works on me much like worry. It hangs over me all the time and makes me feel like I’ll never be worth anything. Do you have advice for someone who is haunted by guilt?
Guilt is actually much worse than worry. Worry is at least about the future, a place where you have some control. Guilt is angst about the past, a place where you have no control and cannot change anything (which is why it produces such awful feelings of despair). You blew it and you can't fix it.
You only have two choices at this point. You can spend your days in regret wishing you could change the unchangeable, which is a waste of your time and energy. Or you can learn to forgive yourself and get focused on creating a better future. Obviously you should choose the latter, if you know how to do it.
Here are some secrets to finally making it happen:
Change the way you determine the value of a person
Every person on the planet has one inaccurate, subconscious belief, which causes more trouble than any other. It is the belief that your value as a person is changeable. This would mean you can earn more value through your appearance, performance or what other people think of you, and you can also lose value if you fail in those areas.
This an idea which most of us have accepted as truth and it leads us to seeing some people as “better” than others and creates a terrible fear of failing. It makes life feel like a test to determine your value. But this idea is not truth, it is just a perspective, which means you could change it. You could choose to see human value a different way if you wanted to. (I recommend changing this immediately because this belief is hurting you.)
You could instead choose to see all human beings as having the same, infinite, absolute value that is based on their uniqueness, as an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, divine souls. You could embrace this idea as truth and decide your appearance, performance and the opinions of others don’t affect your value at all. You could see them as interesting lessons, but trust your intrinsic value doesn’t change, because it is set by God and is therefore absolute.
You could choose to see life as a classroom, not a test, where your mistakes don’t affect your value, but are lessons to make you stronger, smarter and more compassionate. You signed up for these lessons (by making mistakes) because they were the exact lesson you apparently needed. This doesn’t mean you should keep making them. You should learn the lesson, make amends where you can, and move on, but separate the mistakes (lessons) from your value. This powerful change in perspective may take a little while to get your head around, but it will change your life when you get it.
The secret to forgiving yourself lies in forgiving others
This is a profound and life changing universal truth you must understand. The way you choose to see, judge and condemn others determines the way you will see, judge and condemn yourself.
If you are quick to see the faults, flaws and mistakes in others and let those mistakes determine their value, and even condemn them as bad guys or not good enough, you will be giving power to the idea that people can be “not enough” and fail. If you give power to this idea, it will also determine the way you see yourself. It will create a great fear of failing in you and you will be constantly focused on your faults, flaws and mistakes too. They will haunt you.
The more shame you experience around your mistakes, the more you will look for the bad in others to make you feel better. The more you put down, criticize or gossip about others, the worse your own self-esteem will be — and around and around you will go. There is no escaping this cause and effect, it is just how universal law works. You don't want to live this way.
If you want to feel better about yourself and let your past mistakes go, you must decide to see life as a classroom and let everyone (including yourself) be a struggling, scared, amazing, divine, infinitely valuable, innocent being who is doing the best they can with what they know at the time. You must choose a compassion mindset where life is a classroom and we are all innocent, silly, sometimes stupid learners, whose value is fortunately not on the line. This mindset will make you feel much better about yourself and you will also treat other people with compassion and understanding.
Start today and eliminate judging others from your life. Forgive them for their mistakes by focusing on what lessons you learned. When you eliminate anger and blame, you will also eliminate shame. (There are some great forgiveness formula worksheets on the resources page of my website that could help you with this.)
Understand how pointless shame and guilt are
I teach that "shame" is an acronym that stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. If life is a classroom, shame is ridiculous. You are a student in the classroom of life. There is no way you could have known it all all along. Give yourself permission to have been an imperfect work in progress. You were learning and growing. You are on the path of self improvement, and that is enough. Understand that guilt, shame and beating yourself up for years does no good. It doesn’t fix the past nor create a better a future. It makes more sense to focus on who you want to be today.
What other people think doesn’t matter, but what you think does
Remember the opinions of others are just thoughts and ideas in their heads, which have no power, mean nothing and can’t hurt you, diminish your value or change you in any way. (They may influence events in your life, but if you trust the universe is a wise classroom, you won’t worry about that, because it only brings experiences if they are your perfect lesson.) But what you think of yourself matters a lot.
If you see life as a classroom and your value as absolute, you will show up with confidence and people will feel that and respect you, in spite of your mistakes. Even if you made BIG mistakes in the past, if other people can feel that you have learned the lessons, moved on and now know your real value, they will tend to follow suit and let your past go.
If you cannot do this however, and continue to beat yourself up, they will feel this too, and they will also have trouble forgiving you.
Gary Zukav, who wrote "Seat of the Soul," said, “By choosing your thoughts and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others and the nature of the experiences of your life.”
I believe forgiving works best if you shift your perspective and look at your life in trust that it has always been your perfect classroom. Trust this mistake experience happened because it could teach you something. See if you can name 10 positives that making the mistake has created in your life. This will help you see it as your perfect classroom journey. Then focus on being the most forgiving person you can be. The more you forgive others and allow them to be innocent, struggling students with much more to learn, the better you will feel about yourself.
That is the secret.
You can do this.
I liked your article about overcoming shyness, but I need help with this at work. I know I am insecure and lack self-confidence at work. I think it is the only place this really shows up. I’m pretty confident at home and with friends, but at work I totally hold back. I play it safe and don’t comment or share my ideas enough. I don’t speak up when things bother me either or when I have a suggestion. At my last performance review my boss mentioned this and said they take my being quiet as being someone with nothing to give or add. How can I speak up with more confidence and not make a fool of myself?
People who are confident at work, speak up and take initiative, always get more opportunities, more raises, more promotions and generally go farther in their careers than people who don't. More doors open for people who are assertive, confident and willing to take risks.
Speaking up shows people that you trust yourself and it makes them trust you too. If you stay quiet in the background, it will eventually make people think you have nothing to give. People could also make incorrect assumptions from your silence about who you are and what you think. You must speak up in order to define yourself and show the boss you are invested.
You may be afraid to speak up at work for one of these three reasons:
1. You suffer from a fear of failure. This means you have fear around being embarrassed or looking bad. You are overly afraid of making mistakes and worried about what people think of you. I believe everyone on the planet battles this fear to some degree on a daily basis, the only question is only how bad you have it.
2. You have a fear of success. This means you play small and shoot low because it feels safer than trying harder. You may be afraid of the responsibilities and commitments that would come with shooting higher. You just want to stay in your comfort zone instead of taking on additional challenges. The problem is, people can subconsciously feel this fear and they tend to honor it by passing you by. If you cannot see yourself handling more responsibility, it won’t be given to you.
3. You have a fear of loss. This means you are afraid of being mistreated or taken from at work. You may have trust issues and see other people as a threat. This could encourage you to hold back and protect yourself, hold onto your ideas and keep them from others. You may be afraid of being walked on or losing control.
You must learn to break through these fears if you are going to reach your full potential at work. I’m going to give you some tips on how to do this, but if this is a big issue for you, I highly recommend getting an executive or life coach. There is also a Fear Assessment on my website I use with business people to help them understand how fear affects their subconscious behavior. You may want to try it.
Here are some tips for being more confident and speaking up at work:
1. Recognize the benefits you are getting from staying in your comfort zone. What do you get to avoid? Who does it punish? What are you afraid of losing if you took on more? Free time? Your excuses? List on paper the benefits you could be getting from your current "chicken" behavior. Then, list the benefits you might gain by changing yourself. What do you really want?
2. Remember that life is a classroom, not a test, which means your value as a person is not on the line.Your value is not changeable and is not determined by your performance at work. This means you have nothing to fear, though you always have much to learn. Work on seeing each situation as a lesson, which is serving your growth, but not attached to your value. Your value is absolute and never changes. This will make you bulletproof and braver at work.
3. Tackle challenges in small doses, one step at a time. Raise the bar slowly. You can handle the next small step out of your comfort zone now. Gear up for that. Take one small step today and then do another tomorrow.
4. Choose to focus on serving others. The law of energy says you can feel only one emotion at a time. If you choose to focus on love and serving others, it is impossible to feel fear. How can you make your work about giving to others and not about you?
5. Gain knowledge. Knowledge often eliminates fear. What skills would make you feel more confident at work? Sign up for a class to improve those skills. Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that (you) may fear less.” Join Toast Masters to help you with speaking or take a class on better project management.
6. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. What are you good at? How can you use those abilities to the fullest? Can you use them more?
7. Accept failure as a part of success. Barbara Sher, the author of "Wishcraft," said, “If you try and fail, you won’t feel as bad as you think. You’ll gain experience, education, contacts and self-confidence.” Anyone who has accomplished great things has been through failures. I tell my clients to fail faster instead of playing it safe. Each failure moves you closer to success.
8. Focus on the present. Fear is always about the future. Stay in the present and focus on what you can do today. Who do you want to be in this moment? If you focus on your whole project or your whole career you will get overwhelmed. Just focus on being your best today.
9. Visualize yourself comfortably handling more responsibility. If you can’t see it, you can’t achieve it. Visualize yourself carrying responsibilities with ease and confidence. I can't stress enough the power of visualization.
10. Before you make a comment, check yourself by asking “Why am I bringing this up?"
12. Always ask questions and listen to others first. This will give you more information that is always helpful before you speak, and it will help you know how to say it the right way. It also shows that you are open to their ideas, and it makes them feel respected, and that will make them more open to listening to you.
13. Ask permission to share your thoughts. Would you be open to letting me share a few ideas on this? Asking permission shows people you honor and respect them and it also makes sure you have their attention.
14. Speak up in a respectful and effective way. Explain your motivation for bringing this up. Use "I" statements to explain your position, avoid using "you" statements, which can feel like an attack and are presumptuous. Also, don’t ramble. Keep it short and concise. This shows that you honor everyone's time.
15. Show that you are open to a discussion on the topic and even being wrong. Be open and willing to bend, hear opposing ideas and learn. You don't think you know everything nor have to be right. If this person disagrees with you, you could go back to step 12 and follow the last steps again. You can do this over and over until you both feel understood and a good solution is found.
If you practice all these, I promise your confidence to speak up at work will increase.
You can do this.
How do I stop being so shy and teach my children not to be so shy? I’m afraid of people and most situations and my children have picked up on this and are afraid too. Please help!!!!
The good news is scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it sooner but it was hiding behind some other genes.
But I do have some good advice on this one.
The first crucial step in helping someone change their behavior is making them feel unconditionally loved and accepted for who they are now.
Make sure your child knows it’s OK to feel shy. It happens to everyone, and there is nothing wrong with him. There are actually some interesting advantages to being shy.
Shy people are usually more polite and considerate to others. They tend to pay more attention to things, because they aren’t as busy talking. Shy people may create better friendships, because they go for quality, not quantity. Shy people can be better at working independently and solving problems on their own. They may also be smarter, because they think things through more before they act.
Here are a few things you can do (and do with your children) to help you overcome fear of social interactions:
When going somewhere new, talk to your child and prepare him ahead of time. Talk about the anxiety he might feel and what he might feel afraid of. Talk about ways he can cope with his fears and calm himself down. If you are the shy person, you can think these things through and even journal about them. Write out some options for handling situations you think may happen
Plan some safe and successful social interactions. Plan lots of social events with familiar people as often as you can. This will build confidence for branching out to new settings with new people.
Learn some more social skills. You may want to find a coach or counselor who can teach you some communication and relationship skills. Knowing exactly how to respond to different situations gives you a lot of confidence. Visualize using these skills, practice, and role play with them at home. Practice how you would introduce yourself and start conversations. These are things your children also need to learn, so share what you learn with them.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a great book to teach you some of these skills. Carnegie recommends strategies like asking questions and letting other people do the majority of the talking. This makes people feel important and like you. Teaching children these techniques will empower them to handle social situations too.
Model healthy social behaviors yourself. Shyness is a highly genetic trait. You must show your child good social skills by example. If you avoid social situations or are nervous around people, you are teaching your child to fear people. Get some professional help with your own self-esteem and people skills if necessary.
Never criticize your child or embarrass them in public or around their peers. When they make a mistake, help them understand mistakes don't define them. We all make mistakes. They may have made a bad choice, but they are not a bad person. Mistakes are just lessons and nothing to be afraid of. Teach them to see life as a classroom (where we are learning, but our value isn’t in question) not a test (where everything counts on your grade). This one mind-set change will help a lot.
Teach your child that what other people think of him doesn’t matter. People are usually not paying attention to others anyway. They are focused on themselves. Help him understand that other people’s opinions can’t change or hurt him. They don’t mean anything.
Teach creative problem solving. Don’t solve problems for your child. Ask questions and empower him to figure out the answers on his own.
Let your child change slowly. Change is a process and happens slowly, step by step. Help your child to set small goals and make a little progress each week. Let him decide what those goals might be. Encourage things like talking to one new person today.
Visualization is a great way to practice social behavior. He can practice handling social situations differently in his head. Teach your child to practice in his mind until he is ready to try it for real.
The best way to encourage another person to change is by encouragement. Tell your child often how confident and capable he is. If you tell him he is strong and brave, he will believe you.
I would strongly recommend some coaching or counseling to help you overcome your social anxiety. It is an easy fix with a professional who knows how to help. After you get your fears under control, you will be able to teach your children a better way of feeling and responding to life. We also have lots of free resources on our website to help you overcome fear. They would really help too.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I am driving myself crazy with insecurity and negative thoughts about my appearance. I hate my round face and always feel like the biggest person in the room. My daughter is learning this fear from me and I can see her insecurities are taking a toll. She is not even a teenager yet and I am afraid this may even get worse. I have complained too much about my body shape, so I’ve probably taught her this. Is there anyway to fix what I’ve broken and help her and me to love ourselves as we are?
We all need to stop attaching our self-worth to our physical appearance. We literally think “who we are” is what we look like, but this is not truth. It's just an idea we were taught.
You are much more than your appearance. You are your values, your humor, your compassion, your talents, your determination and your other virtues. You are your heart and your love for God, yourself and other people. This is the core of your real identity … but the world tells you a different story. The world tells you that your appearance, weight, stature and beauty literally determine your worth.
You must consciously and consistently reject the world's ideas about the worth of a soul and choose a more healthy identity and you must learn to do this first, because you can’t give your child something you don’t have. If you accept a different truth about your value and talk about it often, your children will learn to see themselves the same way.
I have used the following parable to help me have a different attitude around my appearance and to help me see life as a classroom, which had been divinely designed to help me learn to love myself and other people.
There once was a wise king who loved all people deeply and was truly happy, good and kind. He wanted the people in his kingdom to learn what he knew and live with more peace. So he developed a lesson to help them. Throughout the kingdom he created many different kinds of houses. Some were grand, large and beautiful. Some were small and humble, and some were in between. Some houses were in disrepair and others were greatly adorned. Some were castles and others were shacks. There were no two alike, every home was unique.
The king then randomly assigned every person in the kingdom to a house. The people did not get to choose their houses. The houses were not assigned based on income or performance. The houses were assigned based on which experience the king felt would serve each person to best learn about love.
Then the king told the people what he expected them to do with these houses. He wanted them to care for the house they received, fix it up and make the best of their situation. He also wanted them to learn to love themselves and other people for "who they were on the inside" and never judge each other based on the houses they lived in.
The houses were simply a lesson. The people in the town understood that living in a beautiful house didn’t mean anything about their real value. Living in a less than perfect house didn’t reflect on their worth at all. The issue in question was “what were they learning and becoming from their experience of living in the house they received?”
If they lived in a beautiful house, were they learning to be humble about their blessings? Did they remember their real worth came from their character and their intrinsic worth (which was the same as everyone else’s)?
If they lived in a flawed house did they let that affect their value or make them feel inferior? Did they love themselves in spite of their home? Would they take care of the house they were assigned? Would they fix it up and care for it, even though it wasn’t the one they wished they had? Could they be happy for others instead of jealous? Could they understand that a house doesn’t affect the value of a person?
The king explained to his people that their value came from their character, their heart and their love. He asked them to focus on loving themselves and others and basically ignore the size and shape of their houses. The king told his people that happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want on the outside, it comes from the love you have for yourself, others, God and life on the inside.
Because the king clearly explained the goal and the reason for being assigned a house (to help you to learn to love yourself and others) the people found they could do it. They understood truth and didn’t waste time judging each other for the size and shape of their houses.
After you read this story, read it again but replace the word "house" with "body."
Talk to your daughter about how these bodies have been randomly assigned to us. You did not earn yours and you did not get to choose it. Some of us got thin bodies, others more round ones. Some of us are tall and others short. Some are dark and some are light-colored, but these different bodies we are living in have nothing to do with our value. They are simply where our soul is currently living. Your body was assigned to you as part of your classroom journey to help you learn to love yourself and other people.
Your job is to accept this body with gratitude and wisdom and take care of it, stay healthy, fix it up the best you can, but understand that it doesn’t have anything to do with your value. You body really isn't "who you are."
Your specific body is just a classroom experience. It may be teaching you humility, kindness and compassion. It may be teaching you to stop judging books by the cover. I can’t say which lesson your body is meant to teach you, because that is only for you to find out. It’s your lesson. But I encourage you to answer this question on paper and write down as many answers as you can.
What lessons could my specific body be teaching me?
The story and the exercise will help you to understand that all people have the same value (as I mentioned in my last article). We are all unique, irreplaceable, divine spirits with the exact same infinite value as everyone else. You can help your daughter to see the absolute and equal value in every person around her by talking about this often. This is the first step to giving your child a healthy self-esteem, because when you accurately see the infinite value in others, you will also accept it for yourself.
You should also refrain from judging or criticizing others and teach your children compassion and accuracy toward all men, no matter their appearance or performance. If you do this, they will also see themselves as good enough and have compassion for their own mistakes, faults and flaws.
Then make sure you praise your child for her character, good works, love and kindness instead of always focusing on performance and appearance. Also teach her to eat healthy and take care of her body, but stress that this isn’t about appearance, it’s about good health.
You and your daughter get dressed every day, try to fix your hair the best you can, then look at yourself in the mirror and say, "This isn’t really who I am — my love is who I am — I will go get them with my love!”
Focus on your character and your kindness. That is what wins true friends.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach and speaker.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and 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.