This was first published on KSL.COM
I have a constant fear of failure and never being good enough or having enough value. I am a 42 year old man with a good marriage, a good job and great kids and I think about suicide daily. I wouldn’t do it because of how it would affect my kids, but I don’t know what to do or how to make changes in how I feel? How do you get to a point where you can truly believe you don’t have to earn your value and you can’t lose value (as you said in last week’s article)? How do I move beyond the fear of failure and not being good enough?
Self-development experts, therapists, thought leaders and coaches have been trying to crack that code for decades. How do you really get rid of the fear of failure and improve feeling of self-worth? They have tried positive psychology, brain washing affirmations, encouraging accomplishments, make overs, and more, but still most of us struggle with this fear on a daily basis. Some are lucky to be fear of loss dominate, which means they fear mistreatment, worry about things going wrong more than they worry about being inadequate, but even they have some fear of failure in play too.
I offer a different kind of solution, which involves changing the core foundational belief system you use to determine the value of all human beings (including yourself) that is responsible for creating your fear of failure.
You are probably not consciously aware that you have a subconscious system that determines your value, nor are you aware what that system is. So, let’s start there. You most likely picked up a belief system from your parents and the other people around you growing up. I will explain the most common four and you see if one or all of them are happening inside you. Here are the four beliefs:
1) You may have been taught life is a test - This means you must earn your value and prove yourself worthy, maybe even to determine where you go after death. You may have fear around being found good enough for the higher power you believe in and fear his/it's judgment or rejection.
2) You may have been taught your value had to be earned through your appearance, performance, property and the opinions of other people. This means that if your appearance is less attractive than other people, you therefore have less value than them. If you earn less money, lose more games, accomplish less, make less money, get lower grades, live in a smaller house or a worse neighborhood, drive a worse car, have an older phone, wear cheaper clothing, or are less popular, you again have less value. People with lots of friends have more value than those with less. Most of us were taught this belief in some way.
3) You may have been taught your value is determined by how you compare with others. So, you constantly look at where they are, how they look, and what they do, and your self-esteem goes up and down all day, every day, because it’s based on how you compare to whoever is around you at that time.
4) You may have been taught that winning and being better than others is what matters most. You might be super competitive and your subconscious ego might look for opportunities to put down or gossip about others, because it’s all about being better than them. You might be critical and judgmental of those who are different from you, because if they are different they have to be either better or worse. Your ego feels safer, obviously, if they are worse, so you constantly look for the worse in others and focus on it, because this makes you feel safer.
All of these are just ideas, theories, beliefs and perspectives. They are not truths. They are not facts. There is no provable truth about human value and how to calculate it. It’s all just perspective you choose. Many people with strong religious beliefs will disagree and say they know their perspective is truth, but they can’t prove it. So, in the end you are always choosing a belief system and making it your truth.
The good news is, this means you can choose any belief system you want, because they are all perspective. So, I would recommend choosing a system that makes you feel good about yourself and makes you feel safer in the world. Why would you consciously choose anything else
The belief system I recommend is a simple one, though making it your truth takes time and practice. It is simply the belief that all human life has the same value and that value cannot change. Here is how this new belief changes the 4 old ones:
1) Life is not a test to determine your value, it is classroom. In a classroom every experience is a lesson to educate you, but when you make mistakes you can erase and try again, without it effecting your value, like a test would. You can choose to believe repentance, apologies, starting fresh at any time is possible and you can leave the past behind you and move forward with the same value as everyone else. You can believe in a higher power that sent you here to be educated and allows you to repent and not lose your value for a mistake.
2) Your value is based on your uniqueness and your nature as a human soul, two things that never change.This means your value is not based on your appearance, performance, property, or what others think of you. This means on bad hair days you remind yourself appearance doesn’t lessen your value. When you perform badly it’s a lesson, but it doesn’t change your value. When others have nicer things than you have, that doesn’t give them more value than you. No matter what they have or how they look, they still have the same value as everyone else. It also makes you bulletproof from disapproval or criticism, because other people’s opinions can’t change your value – as long as you choose to believe this is true (which you can do if you want to!)
3) How you compare with others, is irrelevant. How they look and what they do doesn’t mean anything about you. If you start to compare yourself, you can stop and choose the truth that all humans have the same value. You have the power to do this in every moment if you want to. But the only moment you have the power of choice in, is this one right now. Fortunately, it is always this moment, so you can always choose it.
4) Giving up judgment and criticism is the path to peace. Your subconscious ego thinks criticizing and judging others and focusing on the bad in them, makes you feel better, but every time you do this you are giving power to the old belief that some humans have more value than others. If you want to feel more confident, you must absolutely give up judgment, gossip and criticism of others. This is the only way to cement the new belief, internalize it and change your self-esteem.
You asked me “How do you truly believe you don’t have to earn your value and you can’t lose value?” The answer is you change the foundational belief about the value of all humans that created the fear in the first place. You give up judgment and allow all the humans around you to have infinite, absolute value and the more you do it, you realize it counts for you too.
Then, you must practice choosing the new system every minute you are consciously aware enough to do it. You also want to teach this belief system and language to your family so everyone is on board to make the change. This should become the language in your home every time someone loses a game, drops a glass and breaks it, or comes home defeated “Well, at least it doesn’t change your value!” If anyone start judging or gossiping, remind them they are giving power to the old system and if they do that, they will always feel not good enough themselves. It takes commitment and repetition to change your foundational beliefs, but if you keep at it – it will work.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the author of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Every few weeks I have KSL readers comment and say something to the effect of, “Coach Kim thinks everything is a fear problem and sometimes people aren’t afraid, they are just selfish or jerks. Why does she think everything is about fear?”
In this article, I would like to address why I see fear in every problem and why seeing human behavior in this way could be helpful.
First, understand my goal in writing this weekly advice column for the last eight years. It is to provide easy, usable advice, skills and tools to help solve people problems and improve relationships and self-esteem. In order for any advice, skills or tools to be usable, they must be simple to understand and easy to do. This is what I aim for.
For over 30 years I’ve been studying human behavior, psychology and personal development. My goal is to take the often complex ideas, theories and therapies down to their essence and make them simple enough to be useful in day-to-day situations. One of my frustrations with psychology is that though factual (and researched) it is not always simple enough to be usable — and if it isn’t usable, it isn’t helpful.
My work tries to bring human behavior to its foundational core or “cause” level and make it simple enough to be usable and create real change in behavior. This means breaking it down into the smallest number of moving parts as possible.
I believe you can break all human motivation down into two categories, fear and love. If you look behind everything you do, you can find a fear-motivated or a love-motivated reason to do it. Many modern thought leaders and authors, like David Hawkins, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Elisabeth Kubler Ross and others, teach this same concept, because again, it’s not only true, it’s also simple, useful and helpful.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross says, “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it's more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They're opposites. If we're in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we're in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I believe every moment of your life you are functioning in one of these two states. You are either in a balanced, trust and love state (where you feel safe and have access to your love and best behavior) or you are in an unbalanced, fear state (where your worst behavior comes out). This idea is helpful because with only two states it becomes very easy to determine which state you are in.
All you have to learn is how to get from an unbalanced fear state into a balanced trust and love state again and your life becomes much happier. That is what I try to teach my coaching clients to do. If we simplify complex, emotional states and behavior down to their essence, then we can see what they are more accurately and we can behave better.
I also believe there are two core fears, which all bad behavior and negative emotions can be rolled into. This, again, makes bad human behavior easier to understand. The two fears are the fear of failure (fear you might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (fear your life may not be good enough). At first, you may not see how true this is, but when you start looking behind bad behavior to see if feelings of failure or loss are there, you will.
For example, last week one reader commented: “Some people aren’t scared they are just selfish."
If you look behind why someone is selfish, you will see they are afraid that they won’t have or get what they need — which is fear of loss. This fear keeps them focused on making sure they have what they want and need, which is selfish behavior, but could also be labeled as "fear of loss" behavior.
If you are angry because you feel insulted that might not look like a fear problem either, but think about why you are sensitive to feeling insulted. Could it be that you are functioning in a fear of failure state and are already afraid you might not be good enough? Anger often has criticism (failure) or mistreatment (loss) behind it.
People who are arrogant, insecure, easily insulted or can’t handle feedback, may come across as rude, but the reason for all those bad behaviors may be a fear of failure.
People who are controlling, territorial, defensive, bossy, grouchy, mistreated or angry, are functioning in a "fear of loss" state.
You have the option of seeing it that way if you want to. The benefit to identifying bad behavior as coming from fear is that it can create understanding in certain interactions. It also breeds compassion when you see difficult people as scared rather than selfish or rude.
So, you could see and label bad behavior in many different ways, but this system makes it easier and more usable. When you see others in a fear state, you will also know exactly what they need. They need validation and reassurance — something to quiet the fear and make it go away so they can feel safe and become less focused on their own lack or needs and more capable of showing up for you.
But, you are not responsible for their inner state — that is their job and you are in charge of yours. You must be responsible for your fear issues and learn how to get yourself out of fear and balanced again.
You certainly don’t have to like my system or perspective on human behavior or see it as accurate, but I do encourage you to play with it before dismissing it too fast. Anything that is helpful in managing your bad behavior and can help you get along better with others is worth exploring.
We have also developed a 12 Shapes Relationship System that reduces all humanity into 12 types of people (another simplifying strategy to make change easier). The shapes are based on what you fear most and what you value most, which are the real drivers of human behavior. It’s free to take the shape quiz and figure out which fear is a bigger issue for you. The link is below.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the authors of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com
This was first published on KSl.COM
My wife has a very annoying thing she does all the time. She uses your name (Coach Kim) tons of times in any conversation … not just with me, but everyone. It feels to me and our children that she wants and needs to recommend and correct us all, and it really pushes everyone's buttons. It’s great that she likes your advice column and is learning things, but it’s making life at home worse, not better. What can we do?
Her intentions are good, but trying to fix, advise or help other people when they haven’t asked for the help is insulting. Unfortunately, many people who study personal development find it easier to see the bad behavior in other people than in themselves. Looking in the mirror is rough on your self-worth, while fixing other people makes you feel wise and important. The problem is, though, it feels good; it doesn’t create healthy relationships and can push people away from you.
I am going to give you some advice on how to handle it when someone tries to fix you. Then I’m going to give some suggestions if you are the person who wants to share advice with others, so you can do it without insulting them.
When someone tries to fix you with unsolicited advice:
First, recognize some people who try to "fix" you can be projecting their own issues on you. There is a universal spiritual law of projection that states: "You spot it, you got it." This means we tend to see the very issues we need to work on in other people. So, we have to understand that a lot of the criticism we get from other people can be more about them than it is about us.
I do not recommend pointing this out to them, though, unless you want to create serious conflict, because the thing with projection is they can’t see it. If they could see it, they wouldn’t do it. Instead, just say, "I can understand why you might see it that way."
Then, ask a permission question like, "Would it be OK if I spoke my truth about this advice?" Never share your opinions with anyone unless you respect and honor them enough to ask if they are willing to listen to it first. If they say no, you must respect that.
If they say yes, explain that you appreciate their desire to help you, but unsolicited advice really feels like an insult to you. Ask if they would be willing to ask permission and see if you are open to some advice from Coach Kim before they give it. Ask if they would be willing to do that for you moving forward. If they can do this, it would make you feel respected, honored and validated.
Always ask them to change their behavior next time or in the future. Don’t focus on their past behavior, because they can’t change the past, so it will only make them defensive. Ask if next time they have something Coach Kim said that they really want to share, would they be willing to ask if you are interested first. That would mean a lot to you if they would.
If it continues to happen, don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. Understand that your wife might have fears of failure and loss that drive her behavior. Some people need to advise others to feel safe in the world or feel validated and important. Their need to do this has nothing to do with you. Any of us can be prone to do this when we feel insecure. Let her know you get this and think she is an amazing person who is wise and valuable right now.
When you have some advice you really want to share to help another person:
As I mentioned above: always, always ask permission before you make a suggestion, give advice, tell your story or correct another human being. This is the most important thing you must learn from this article.
If you speak without asking permission, it is insulting and dishonors the other person. Before you say anything (especially before sharing things you have learned from Coach Kim) ask the other person if they might be open to let you share something you learned that has helped you. If they say no, they would rather not hear any more Coach Kim advice, you must honor this and say: “I respect that, no problem.”
You may be someone who gives advice almost subconsciously though, and you might start giving advice before you consciously realize you are doing it. If this is the case, you are going to have to learn to be really mindful and aware. You must watch yourself for this behavior and apologize if you ever find yourself giving unsolicited advice.
It is hard not to share when you find something very valuable, but most people are resistant to learning from information that is pushed on them. They won’t want to read an article if they feel you are trying to fix them. If you really want to have influence and help others, make sure you first validate and praise who they are right now. Make them feel safe, honored and valued.
Then, ask permission to share something that helped you, and if they are open, explain what you learned and how you used it to fix yourself. Don’t assume it will be right for them. Just share your experience and leave it there. If they are interested, let them choose to read it. People are more open to things they choose for themselves.
You can do this.
I have a hard time controlling my emotions because I feel things deeply. Do you have any advice for helping me calm my reactions and get control of myself? Also, how can I teach my children to get control of themselves so they don’t inherit my bad habit of throwing a fit over things?
I’m so glad you asked this because many of the techniques I teach in these articles involve thinking your way out of reactions.
The problem is when you get upset and triggered into a fear-based reaction, you are functioning in fight-or-flight mode.
Research has shown when people go into fight-or-flight mode, they don’t have access to their frontal lobe, which is the rational, thinking part of the brain. So you are not capable of choosing your way out of these upset reactions — at least until you calm your body down, get out of fight-or-flight and get your frontal lobe back online.
Learning to calm yourself down is a skill everyone needs to learn and teach their children. Children and teens who learn how to calm their nervous system have less anxiety and stress and are more emotionally intelligent, studies have shown. They also have more capacity to choose their mindset in any situation.
It is very normal to get upset and emotional when you feel mistreated, insulted, criticized or threatened, and it’s normal to have strong emotional reactions to these situations. These reactions are kind of like riptides — they are strong and fast, and can pull you into dangerous water — in this case, bad behavior that sabotages your relationships — before you even consciously know what’s happening.
Understanding real riptides can help you learn to escape emotional reactions. A riptide is often misunderstood because it does not pull a swimmer under water — it simply carries the swimmer away from the shore.
Many people who get caught in riptides do not understand this and they try to swim against it. The danger here is they can exhaust themselves and drown.
But if they were educated on how riptides work, they would know they can easily exit the riptide by swimming at an angle to it. If they swim sideways, parallel to the shore, they can easily exit the current and return safely to land, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
Experts recommend this approach if you get caught in a riptide:
1. Don’t fight the current.
2. Stay calm to conserve your energy and think clearly.
3. Think of it like a treadmill — it cannot be turned off, but you can easily step to the side and get off. Swim sideways following the shoreline and when out of the current swim for the shore.
You can calm down your upset emotions the same way. Here is a simple procedure you can practice when experiencing strong emotional reactions to calm yourself down and choose a better response:
1. Don’t fight the feelings of anger or hurt. Just sit with them for a minute and don’t do anything yet. Each emotion is an interesting dimension of the human experience and feeling them can teach you things. Make note of how your ego (the reactive, selfish part of you) wants to respond. Can you feel how much your ego wants to respond with selfishness, defensiveness or anger?
These are strong feelings, but the more you sit in them, you will see they are not your only option. Feeling this upset is a choice. But you can always choose to change the story you are telling yourself around this, see the situation in a different way, and choose a calmer, more mature and unselfish response.
2. Stay calm. Take a step back from the event and do some calming exercises. We recommend learning diaphragmatic breathing or engaging your peripheral vision by focusing on seeing the two sides of the room at the same time. This may sound weird, but you can’t activate your peripheral vision and stay in fight-or-flight at the same time. Read more about why this works in this Panicyl blog post.
3. Think your way through it. Ask yourself, "What am I really upset about? What am I afraid of here? Why do I feel threatened? Am I applying meaning here that may not be accurate? What will happen if I choose to be upset? Is that what I want? Is being upset a choice? Is there any other way I could choose to feel in this moment?"
4. Exit the reactive current. This is where you get to step to the side or exit the reactive current by choosing a mindset that runs parallel to principles of truth — principles that provide solid ground and safety, like the shore. If the fear reaction is the riptide, you can choose thoughts based in trust and love, and you can step right out. Choose to trust these principles of truth instead of embracing fear in any moment:
It will take some work to master this, but you can do it!
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share some ideas for coping with the hardest challenges of life.
I have a very serious illness that no one has ever heard of and I find it extremely devastating and lonely. What can someone like me, in my position, do? I've struggled with this for over 30 years and this is impossibly frustrating and miserable. You have no idea. Do you have any advice for dealing with this?
Many of life’s challenges are impossibly hard and painful. Many of these problems have no answers, solutions or remedies. They are painful and they are going to stay painful for a long time. In this situation, with no escape available, your options are limited. For the most part, all you can do is work on choosing your attitude and mindset inside the challenge.
Vivian Greene said it best: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Here are eight suggestions to help you dance in the rain (and find joy and peace) despite an impossibly hard challenge:
1. Accept what is.
"It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering," Buddha said.(Read more about this concept here.) It is your wishing and wanting things to be different, that is the real cause of your pain. You have created, and attached your happiness to, expectations about how your life should look or feel. The problem is, life rarely meets our expectations, and more often it takes us in a direction we never saw coming.
So, now that you are here, how much time and energy are you going to waste wishing you were somewhere else? All this time and energy is wasted and it might be making you suffer more. You will suffer less, if you stop resisting and choose to accept this path as the right one for you. You are here for a reason and that reason is to serve you (read more below).
2. Trust there is order in the universe and purpose and meaning in everything.
Choose to see the universe as a wise teacher, who knows what it’s doing. Choose to see life as a classroom whose objective is your learning ad growth. This would mean every experience you have is here to facilitate learning and make you smarter, stronger, wiser or more loving in some way. This means things don’t happen to you, they always happen for you.
During times of intense suffering, it is difficult to believe your pain is here for a positive reason and I cannot prove to you it is (though you can’t prove it’s not, either). Choosing to trust there is a purpose in your pain, does make you suffer less. I first learned this from reading about Viktor Frankl, who during intense suffering in the concentration camps of World War II, found if he chose to believe there was meaning in his suffering (that it was here for a reason) he not only suffered less, but also felt motivated to rise and get through in the best possible way. He wrote: “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning.”
If you choose to see the universe as a loving teacher that is on your side and working for you, not against you, and if you choose to believe every experience is therefore the perfect classroom journey for you — you will find more peace and joy in the difficulty. This might be one you have to play with and try before you believe me, but I promise it's truth.
3. Focus on this present moment only.
If you try to process the weight of all the coming years of loneliness or pain, it will crush you. It is too much, too scary and too discouraging. So set that weight down.
Focus only on this present moment or hour. Get through this hour choosing to be as positive and happy as possible. What can you do at this moment for yourself to relieve pain, create joy or just distract yourself?
You have great power in this moment to choose your mindset — it is actually the only time you have the power of choice at all. Use that power to choose loving feelings towards yourself and others. Choose gratitude and count your blessings. No matter how bad things are, there are still things to be grateful for. Choose to create a life of happiness, kindness, service, joy and fun, one moment at a time. Don't worry about what will or won't happen later at all.
4. Find a passion project.
During times suffering we can often find ourselves unproductive, stuck and useless. It helps if you can find a passion project of some kind that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and accomplished. Even if it is just a journal or blog, a puzzle or a scrapbook. What could you do with your time instead of wallowing? Find something productive you can do.
5. Allow yourself limited pity party time.
It is natural during times of suffering and challenge to feel self-pity, sadness and grief. You should feel and experience these emotions, and not try to suppress them all the time. It is actually important you give yourself time to feel these feelings and have a good pity party or cry every once in a while, just don’t live there.
If you feel these emotions coming up today, give yourself a limited amount of time (like an hour or 30 minutes) to deep dive into the negative emotions and cry if you need to. Giving yourself this time is an important part of the lesson this experience is here to teach you. You will also find you actually feel better after a good cry. It gets some of the pain out so you always feel better after.
6. Lower your expectations.
When you are going through an impossibly hard experience at least half your brain power and energy are being used to process the trauma of the situation. This doesn’t leave you with enough bandwidth for all the other tasks or interests you usually do.
Go easy on yourself and expect less. Give yourself permission to have a messier house or get less done. Be realistic with the energy you have and say no to things you know will wipe you out. Give yourself permission to lower these expectations without any guilt.
7. Give up envy and wishing you had someone else’s life journey.
It is really easy to find yourself in a place of envy when your life is hard. It does seem unfair that other people get lives that seem easier than yours, but dwelling on this does you no good and in fact, will make you feel even worse.
Remember, their journey isn’t over yet and all of us will face some challenges sooner or later. Remember, this journey, though painful, is the right one for your soul, or you wouldn’t be here. Trust the universe knows what it’s doing and that growth is its purpose. There are amazing lessons, knowledge, and strength to be gained from your journey, and though you would rather not go through this or gain them, there will be a benefit down the road.
8. Use this experience and the unique knowledge (on the human condition and suffering) it is giving you, to bless the world in some way.
Your misery can often become your message. If you suffer with chronic illness you could show others how to cope in a positive way. If you are a single mother, you could help newly divorced women handle their new reality with more joy. If you lose a loved one, you can be a resource to others who are suffering grief. There is always a way to use what has happened to you to make a difference in the world.
At some level that is why I write this column every week. My journey has not been an easy one at all. I apparently signed up for many hard classes in the classroom of life, and have experienced suffering on almost every level. I tell you this only because using my challenges to help others, helps me. Most of these articles are full of practical ideas that I have really used to get me through my hard times. When you can make your suffering useful to someone else, it helps.
There is nothing I could write that would take away the pain of your suffering, but I do believe you can lessen it (at least to some degree) by using these eight ideas. Every day is another chance to practice the power of choice, choosing joy, peace, happiness and laughter, and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just keep making progress.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are master life coaches and the owners and founders of Claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com - They are sought after authors and speakers on human behavior and healthy relationships.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am, admittedly, a drama queen at times. I hear this from my family and I have had friends comment on it too. I frankly think they are every bit as much the problem as I am. How can I get them to see they are projecting onto me and are also drama queens? How can we all not let things make us over-react?
The only person you have any control over is you. So, it makes sense for each of us to focus on being the best version of ourselves we can be. That is actually a big job and could keep us quite busy.
The opposite of over-reaction and drama queen behavior would be the ability to see the world accurately, handle emotions maturely, and thoughtfully respond from a place of trust and love, instead of reacting to situations from fear. We realize that’s a tall order and isn't easy, but we believe working to upskill and reach for that should be the goal.
We all need to work on gaining the self-control to pause before reacting so we'd like to share 7 simple questions you could ask yourself, that would help you to think and respond with more emotional maturity. Though, we realize the hard part is stopping your reaction long enough to remember to ask them. You might want to make them your wallpaper on your phone for a while.
Here are the 7 questions to ask yourself before reacting:
If you still have a hard time seeing situations accurately and responding in a mature, logical and loving way, you may want to find a counselor or coach to help you. A little professional help can make a big difference.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are popular life coaches, speakers and people skills experts. You can download a worksheet on having mutually validating conversations at http://www.upskillrelationships.com/worksheets
I was deeply offended by my brother and his wife, and I’ve been carrying this anger for years. The things they did and said to me are really awful and so judgmental. Every time I think about them I feel hurt all over again. They have caused so much unhappiness in my life, how can I let that go?
The most important thing you must do, if you want to feel better and stop hurting, is to take responsibility for how you are feeling. As long as you see “them” as the cause of your misery, you will remain a victim, powerless to change anything; but if you step up and own that no one can make you miserable, because you ultimately have the power to choose how you are going to feel, you could take your power back.
Your subconscious ego programming likes to blame others for your unhappiness, to protect you from seeing your own faults, but that doesn't make the blame true. The truth is, no one can make you miserable without your participation and willingness to go there.
This means you are going to have to do some work on you if you want to suffer less. Or you can continue to suffer forever if you want to, but those are your only two options. You must understand changing, healing and forgiving are a choice. Some people make that choice quickly right after an offense and suffer for only a short time; others hang onto misery and choose to suffer for a long time.
It is interesting that most people heal faster if an offense involves a stranger than when it involves a close relative. It appears the closer the relationship, the deeper the wound, even if the offense is exactly the same. This means we give the people closest to us more power to hurt us. You give your power away when you let other people have control over how you feel, even people you love.
Your self-esteem also determines how much pain an offense can causes. If you have low self-esteem and someone criticizes you, it will cause a deeper wound than if you had good self-esteem. But you always have the power to consciously choose to see an offense as a deep wound or a scratch.
Buddha taught whenever someone offends you, you must decide right then if it is going to be a cut through water, which heals immediately, a cut through sand, which will be gone by tomorrow, or a cut through stone, which could be there for decades. You are in charge of how much and for how long you suffer.
Whenever you get offended your subconscious mind quickly creates a story around the offense and that story determines the amount and length of your misery. You may want to write down the story you have created about this offense with your brother. Then ask yourself the following questions:
If you saw it this offense this way, you might be able to see the hidden gift in the experience. There always is something positive that every negative experience creates. Some experiences make you stronger, wiser or more loving, or they give you empathy and compassion for other people or yourself. The fastest way to change how you feel about an offense is to look at it as a perfect lesson in your classroom journey.
It is time to set down the burden of this offense and focus on the good in your world and choose love. Choose to see people accurately as struggling students doing the best they can with what they need. Choose to let your relatives be a work in progress and imperfect, just like you. Choose to see their value as unaffected by their mistakes and their value as the same as yours. When you do this, you will subconsciously see your own mistakes as not affecting your value either and your own self-esteem will grow.
We believe you get what you give in the world. When you criticize and judge others, you are giving power to the idea that people can be “not good enough” and this will, in the end, make you feel not enough too.
If you choose to forgive and let everyone have infinite value and you see everyone as the same as you, you will feel your own worth is unchanging too and you will have good self-esteem. How do you want to live?
If you are holding onto anger thinking it is protecting you from future offenses, it isn’t. It is creating pain, fear and low self-esteem. It is time to be in charge of your inner state and not give other people the power to make you suffer.
Whatever the offense was, it was just words or deeds and they have no power or meaning unless you give power to them. Decide thoughts or words can’t do anything to you, they can’t diminish your value, they can’t take from your life journey (if you believe your journey is always your perfect classroom) and they can’t make you less than who you are. All they can do is facilitate lessons to help you grow. See them this way and let others go in peace with your blessing and good wishes. I promise this will make you feel stronger, wiser and better.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com and co-host of Relationship Radio on Voice America. You can go to her website to get free resources and take the 12 shapes survey.
This was first published on KSL.com
I work with a woman, who is very opinionated with severe black and white thinking. I find myself getting upset by the way that she voices her opinions all the time and won’t even consider anothers point of view. We all eat lunch together and honestly, it’s getting hard to tolerate. What do you do with people who are that opinionated and not open to life having any shades of grey?
We are going to answer three questions inside your question.
First, why do some people see the world in this black-and-white way and feel they have to constantly share or even push their opinions on the rest of us?
Second, how do you know if you are one of these opinionated people?
Third, what can you do so people, who are like this, don’t drive you batty?
It makes life a great deal easier if you understand what is really driving human behavior. Understanding what motivates people helps us to not take other people’s behavior as personally either.
We believe human behavior is driven (consciously or subconsciously) by what we fear and what we value. So, we are going to explain the fears and values behind very opinionated, black-and-white thinking.
These people often have fear failure (that they might not be good enough) and they have fear loss (that life won’t be the way they want it to be). We know this because these two fears are behind almost all bad behavior.
These people feel safer if they have a clearly defined moral code, a black-and-white clear and solid code of behavior (the way people should behave) and other rules of correct living. If they have these rules clearly defined, they know exactly what they must do to be good enough. These guidelines make them feel safe. They also get a sense of safety from finding fault in the rule breaking and incorrect thinking in the people around them. If they can find people who are worse or wrong, it makes their ego feel a little better or right, which quiets their fear of failure a bit.
People who are quick to judge others as wrong are usually getting a strong sense of safety and self-worth from believing they are right. The more fear of failure they have about themselves, the more they might focus on black and white rules that prove they are right.
They may also be a tad controlling too because having things done “right” also makes them feel safer in the world. They are often defensive, territorial and protective of themselves, which can come across as selfish, arrogant and inflexible. They are often more focused on things being right and fair than they are on caring how other people feel.
These people also highly value ideas. They like learning and teaching. They believe correct ideas and doing things right are critical to success and happiness, and they tend to assume that everyone has or should have the same ideas, beliefs and values they have.
They also fear what would happen if their ideas (and rules) are not upheld. For example, people who are passionate about the environment and global warming value environmental issues, as well as fear the outcome if the planet is not looked after. They can at times be a tad judgmental or critical when they feel others don’t value ideas, beliefs and opinions or have the wrong ones.
Now, the question is, are you this kind of person? Do you have a strong sense of right and wrong and often find yourself in judgment of others? Do you ever leave a situation and realize you may have talked too much or dominated the conversation? Do you get irritated when people disagree with you and do you see them as less than you, because of their choices?
If these are resonating as truth for you, don’t worry – we aren’t saying you are bad, wrong or less than others for being wired this way. The truth is the world needs people who care deeply about right and wrong, but we must all watch for unbalanced behavior that comes when we function from fear.
If you aren’t like this but have people in your life who are, here are some tips for dealing with these people:
1. Show compassion toward the fear that is driving their opinionated behavior and black-and-white thinking.
When we consciously choose to stay calm and not react to the behavior of others, we are able to look at what is motivating it. Think about this woman at work, what do you know about her story and what she has been through in her life? Do you think there is some fear of failure in her? Can you sense that her stand on issues is about feeling right somewhere? When you look underneath the behavior and try to identify where it comes from, we step into greater acceptance, tolerance and compassion. See if you can show greater kindness and compassion to her and recognize her insecurities, after all, you have those too, they just manifest themselves differently for each of us.
2. Don’t react to the bad behavior, instead listen intently and then ask for permission to share your ideas
In the moment, when people are on a soap box and speaking down to us or sharing their strong opinions that we disagree with, we can become triggered and feel frustrated or angry. Often our ego wants to retaliate by interrupting or arguing, which can escalate the situation to conflict and confrontation.
Now, you understand their opinionated behavior is about their fear and their need for validation and safety. So, in reality, what they need is validation (which we know is the last thing you want to give them). If you can have a mutually validating conversation and make them feel safe, you might be able to get them in a place where they can listen to you too. You might even teach them something. The formula to having these conversations is on our website.
But, you basically must ask them more questions about their opinions and listen and validate their right to think the way they do. If you are willing to go here, you then earn the right to have a turn to share your opinion with them.
After you have given them some time to share and you make sure they feel heard, you can ask permission to share your thoughts. “Would you be open to letting me share another opinion?” This permission question opens the door for you to now be heard and share your opinion. If the person interrupts or tries to speak over you again, you have earned the right to say, “Excuse me, please don’t interrupt, I listened to your ideas on this, and I would appreciate you respecting my turn to speak and hearing my thoughts.”
This can be done respectfully and without confrontation. But remember, it’s not about changing other people’s minds, it’s about coming to a place where both differing opinions are respected and validating everyone involved.
3. Don’t take it so personally.
Other people’s need to be right or feel superior is their fear of failure at work. It is about their fears about themselves — it isn’t really about you. Ask yourself, “Which part of you needs validation and recognition for your opinions and feels mistreated when you don’t get that?” Is your fear of failure being triggered?”
All of us have this fear, on some level, but healthy self-esteem comes from knowing you don’t need validation or recognition from others to have the same intrinsic worth as every other person on the planet. Remind yourself that you are a unique, one of a kind human soul and your value doesn’t depend on your opinions, whether you are validated or liked by others, or whether other people think you are wrong.
As you remind yourself of this truth you will find yourself needing less attention and acknowledgment from others, and you will be able to better tolerate listening to the black and white views of others without feeling bothered.
If you are this kind of person and can recognize a need to be heard and validated for what you think, this is a great fear challenge to work on. Practice asking more questions and listening more than you talk next time you are with people. You will find validating others opinions feels even better than sharing yours.
Knowing you are lifting others up always feels better than being right. Practice setting aside your need to be right about how things should be. Try allowing people to have the same intrinsic value as you, even though their beliefs and values are different.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
My sons are very close in age: 15 and 17 years old. They seem to have this constant need for competition and they put each other down all the time. As their mom, it breaks my heart that they need to compete like this and that they can’t see the goodness I see in each of them. How do I stop the bickering and the constant competition and make sure my boys leave for college with healthy self-esteem?
Thank you for asking this important question. So many parents ask us this same thing — why is there so much competition between kids?
Realistically this is not a teen or child issue. This is a global issue we see in people everywhere. We see it within families, at work and even between neighbors.
Recently over the Fourth of July weekend, all our street was camped out on deck chairs on driveways lighting fireworks. It was beautiful; there were spectacular sights in every direction. But I overheard our immediate neighbor say out loud to his son, "Go to the truck and get the extra box, we must beat the Johnsons," who live on the other side of the street a few doors up. The question is, what is driving our need for this competition, even as mature adults?
Deep down every one of us, including your boys, is struggling with worthiness. The question they (and we) ask ourselves every day is, are we enough? Do I look good in this? Do my shoes match my earrings? Am I good enough to make the team? Will my score be enough on the test?
We all question every day whether we are enough, what value we have, and how we compare to others. This fear appears both consciously and subconsciously for our children. Every day they mix with other kids who are better, smarter, more capable and more talented than them, and this even happens at home. This is a reality in life, not just childhood, so we must help them build an "emotional resiliency muscle" — this is one of our greatest jobs as parents.
An emotional resiliency muscle is the aspect of yourself that is secure in your personal worth and value, that doesn’t have a need to compare yourself to others and feels secure in the knowingness that your life has purpose and meaning in every circumstance. We want to help you achieve this for yourself and teach it to your children.
Here are the steps to building an emotional resiliency muscle:
1. Remind yourself and your family that we all have the same value all the time and it never changes.
There is nothing your children can do to achieve or earn more value nor lose it. Your neighbor doesn’t lose value when he irritates you, and no one you know is better than you either. Human value is unchangeable and every person is a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable human soul that has infinite worth and value.
Therefore, when your child comes home with a 4.0 GPA you should celebrate their efforts, but remind them they still have the exact same value as their sister who only received a C on her math test, who tried just as hard and did her best.
When we truly show our children we celebrate their efforts, not only their achievements, they understand their value isn’t tied to appearance, performance or property, and they will feel more secure in themselves. For this to really work and improve their self-esteem, it has to be something you talk about daily — that no matter what you do you still have the same intrinsic worth as everyone else. You may not get the rewards that come to those who work harder, which is an important lesson, but your value as a human soul doesn’t change.
2. Teach your children to celebrate their wins and their losses.
This may sound counterintuitive, but when we place the same value on wins and losses and see them both as important parts of our development and growth, we teach emotional resiliency. We do this by highlighting the fluctuations of life and role modeling for them that every circumstance and situation, both the good and the bad, are here to serve us and help us grow. We can show children by example that they can feel safe in every circumstance and we can and do bounce back from failures.
It is important for your children to watch you show this kind of emotional resiliency with life’s ups and downs instead of panicking or becoming despondent. To achieve this, you may need to adjust your perspective to see life as your perfect classroom instead of a test that determines your worth. When you see life as a test, you feel enormous pressure to succeed and compete against life and others. You view it as a mountain that must be conquered, instead of a process of enjoyment where you will grow and be strengthened.
With your current level of emotional resiliency, you can show your kids a realistic picture of life, learning and growth or you can paint a picture of fear about the future and life itself. When we role model strength, wisdom and accuracy about the lessons of life for our children, showing them every moment of life enables us to grow and is here to shape us in some way, we are teaching them to see the universe as for them, not against them.
3. Detach from perfectionism.
Many of us can live lives attached to unrealistic expectations for ourselves, others and our lives in general. Idealism and perfectionism are one and the same, a toxic monster that can make us feel like we are failing constantly. How many times do you find yourself thinking, “If I just earned more money I would be happier,” “If I could just lose this baby weight I would feel better about myself” and “If my children were more obedient we would not be having these problems.”
Emotional resiliency and the happiness that comes from it require us to have correct expectations and intentions for ourselves and our lives. Do you set yourself up to succeed through setting these realistic parameters in which to measure your worth and success or are your children watching you crash and burn constantly because you are engaged in a game of perfectionism? You must show emotional resiliency and set expectations that are practical, logical and pragmatic so you can feel good about your efforts and model this for your kids. If this is hard for you, we recommend you find a coach or counselor to help you let go of perfectionism.
4. Teach your children to be compassionate people.
When we and/or our children put others down to make ourselves feel better, we are not being compassionate people. We must know our intrinsic value without the need to position ourselves as superior or above others to feel good. What you are describing with your sons insulting each other is just this projection of superiority our egos use to cover our insecurities and fear. This is very common for children, teenagers and adults.
Be mindful of your own behavior so you can catch yourself putting another person down, even about something small such as their cooking, housekeeping or ability to drive. It’s hard but important for us to notice our behavior when we do this. Most of this behavior is done subconsciously as our mind and ego play these tricks to make us less threatened in the world. Instead of trying to feel good by placing ourselves above others, we must celebrate our uniqueness and know no matter what others do around us, they and we have unchangeable and infinite value.
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for your kids is to work on yourself and make sure you are modeling confidence, compassion and resiliency yourself.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the coaches behind Claritypointcoaching.com. You can get free resources on parenting and raising confident kids at http://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice Coach Kim shares questions you can ask yourself to see if you might be the problem in your relationship.
I loved your article on toxic people, but I do have a follow-up question. Toxic people believe they are the ones surrounded by toxic people and that they themselves are not the toxic one. Is there a test or a question we can ask ourselves to determine who is actually the toxic one?
You are absolutely right, many toxic (difficult) people cannot see their part in the "people problems" around them. They are often overly focused on the faults and flaws in other people so they won’t have to look at their own. They usually suffer from a huge fear of failure, which means they can’t handle seeing their bad behavior — it would hurt too much if they did. Instead, they practice psychological projection.
Projection is a subconscious defense mechanism to protect us from pain, and we all do it to some degree. There are three types of projection we want you to understand:
Or a wife who is really bothered when her husband texts while driving, but she does the same thing. She knows she shouldn’t do it and feels guilty about it, though, so it bothers her a great deal when he does it.
We all have a subconscious tendency to project our bad behavior, thoughts and feelings onto others (missing our own issues completely). So how can we ever be sure we aren’t the difficult person? How can we become aware of our real behavior?
First, you might want to ask for candid feedback from the people who know you best. This takes courage, though, because your fear of failure will be triggered by their answers. If you remember you have the same value as everyone else and that can’t change no matter what you do, it is easier to handle though. You may also have to reassure the person you ask and convince them you are really open and can handle the truth because you want to learn and improve. If you really want to be a better person, you may want to ask the people closest to you to share one thing you could do to improve and show up for them better and do this on a regular basis.
If the thought of doing that scares you to death, you may want to work with a coach or counselor to build up your self-esteem first. They may also be a safer place to get feedback from because you don’t have a close relationship (like you do with friends or family).
An objective third-party person can often tell you things a family member or friend would be too scared to say. If you are resistant to both the idea of asking for feedback and working with a coach or counselor because both scare you, you definitely need to get some professional help to change your beliefs around your value and what it means to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of maturity and strength.
We also believe that no one is broken, bad, wrong or worse than anyone else. We are all just totally different and in a unique classroom journey, which no other person can really understand, and we have the exact same intrinsic value. We all have strength and weaknesses, good behavior and bad behavior, and being vulnerable enough to see yours and ask for help to become better means you are accurate, strong, out of your ego and humble enough to be teachable and ready to grow.
Here are some questions you might also ask yourself to determine if you are the problem or a toxic person:
Don’t have any shame around this. Just own that you may need some life skills you haven’t had the opportunity to learn thus far in your life. It does not make you less valuable than anyone else; it just means it’s time to upgrade your people, healthy thinking and life skills.
It’s time to find a professional you feel safe with to help you change the underlying fears that drive your dramatic, selfish, protective or toxic behavior. You are not a bad person, though. You are just a scared, insecure, worried person, who needs to learn another way to process life and what happens to you.
You can do this, and it’s easier than you think.
To my reader who asked this question: Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the toxic people in your life would even read this article nor answer the questions honestly. They would feel too vulnerable and their ego would really resist going there. Again, this is just their fears at work. You would have to really reassure them of their value to you and your belief in them to make them feel safe enough to be open to looking in this mirror.
Kimberly Giles is a popular author, speaker and coach. There is a worksheet on her website to help you see if you are the problem in your relationship http://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
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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.