This was first published on KSL.COM
Thank you for all your wonderful articles. I love them all and the idea that life is a classroom, not a test, has really helped me. I'm wondering what insight you have on the suffering and horrible circumstances some people get in life, by no fault of their own, while others seem to have a classroom that is so much easier. I struggle to see how some trials will ever be a lesson and serve us, when they seem to be just pointless misery with no hope for growth or recovery, like those with horrible mental illnesses. I can see that the people around these people may learn and grow, but what about the people who get these horrible classroom journeys? It really grieves me for people like this and I can’t imagine why God or the universe would want innocent people to suffer so pointlessly. All I can come up with is that might trust, that at some point, probably not in this life, God will make up for the injustices people face. But I wondered what you might say about this.
This is such a good question, one that many wise men, clergy and philosophers have tried to answer for thousands of year. And the truth is, there is no absolute knowable truth on it. It is a mystery of life why bad things happen to good people and why is life often so unfair.
Because there is no ultimate truth on this, you get to choose which, of all the perspective options, would work best in your life and make you the happiest. We are going to give you some of the most common perspective options and explain which ones we like best and why.
Here are some of your options on why life is unfair:
1. You can choose to believe life’s challenges happen randomly to random people, for no real reason.
Stuff just happens. If you choose this perspective, you could decide to learn and grow from whatever happens to you and use it to make you better, but the universe itself doesn’t have a purpose in mind, nor does it influence events.
One of my favorite books on this perspective is Harold Kushner’s book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." He said, "I don’t know why one person gets sick, and another does not, but I can only assume that some natural laws, which we don’t understand are at work. I cannot believe that God 'sends' illness to a specific person for a specific reason. I don’t believe in a God who has a weekly quota of malignant tumors to distribute and consults His computer to find out who deserves one most or who could handle it best.
"'What did I do to deserve this?' is an understandable outcry from a sick and suffering person, but it is really the wrong question. Being sick or being healthy is not a matter of what God decides that we deserve. The better question is 'If this has happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?' It becomes much easier to take God seriously as the source of moral values if we don’t hold Him responsible for all the unfair things that happen in the world."
Now, this is not your only option, it is only one, but many people think this makes sense to them based on their spiritual beliefs. It does not offer much consolation or sense of purpose or meaning in events, but if you choose a positive attitude and make the most of whatever you get, you could still turn challenges into human achievements, you could also face life with some peace and purpose anyway.
2. You can choose to believe in predestination.
This is the theory that our lives are all planned out by a wise higher power, who knows in advance what we will each choose and has a custom classroom experience in mind (ahead of time) for each of us. This makes some people feel like there isn’t freedom or purpose though. If everything is already known ahead of time then what is the point of playing it out?
The positive part is that you could choose to trust a loving higher power that it knows what it’s doing and that in the end, all will be well because he or it is in charge. You will have to see how this option feels to you.
3. You could choose to believe that there is a loving higher power in charge, who has created a universe to be your classroom with forces that work with your choices, moment by moment, to create the perfect classroom journey for each of us.
This would mean there is no predestination, but complete freedom to choose your path, but the universe in its perfect wisdom uses all of our choices to create the exact perfect lessons or opportunities each soul needs to grow and learn (what they are meant to learn here).
This would mean there is both agency, freedom, and also purpose and meaning in everything that happens. Many who choose this philosophy (including Nicole and I) find that it creates a sense of safety in the world, no matter what horrible challenges come, we can trust there is a reason, and that reason is always to serve us. (Though often we have no idea what the reason is.)
This mindset motivates us to rise to the challenges that come and try to make something from them. It also means when bad things happen to good, innocent people, things that make no sense to us, we can still choose to trust that (though we can’t see or understand the purpose) there is one.
We are not going to tell you which of these options (or maybe there are still others you can think of) you should choose. We encourage you to try them on and see what feels the best or most peaceful to you.
We love the story of Viktor Frankl in his books, where he explains his search for answers to this question. He pondered whether he ended up in the concentration camps during World War II, because of random bad luck, or if there was meaning and purpose in his having been captured and dealt with the way he was.
As a psychotherapist, he spent a lot of time watching his mindset and reactions to his situation and pondering what he believed was truth about the predicament. He also decided, at the end of the day, there was no way to know for sure what truth is around this age-old question, and that left him with the choice to choose his perspective.
He tried all the options on though and found when he chose to believe there was purpose, meaning, and reason why things happened (even if he had no idea what that meaning was) he did better mentally. He felt more hope and more inspiration to rise and do something positive with the experience. He went on to write a book about his experience there called "Man’s Search for Meaning" that has been named one of the most influential books ever written, and in which you could read more about his story.
We have played with these options ourselves, and we have found that the idea of seeing life as a classroom and the universe as a wise teacher constantly conspiring to educate and grow us, and has brought comfort and peace to us when our lives have been unfair.
People often say, in the comments to these articles, something to the effect of, "These coaches surely have no idea how hard and painful life really is." I want to assure you that our journies have not been easy ones. Many might say we have had more than our fair share of problems and pains.
So we can say, from experience, when life’s challenges feel terribly unfair, it brings great peace if we choose to believe the universe has delivered this problem for the express purpose of making us better, stronger or more loving in some way (or to help those around us to do the same). When we choose option three, life feels better.
When terribly tragedy happens to people around us though, and we watch others suffer, I don’t think we should ever feel OK or peaceful about their suffering. We should feel pain and sorrow for and with them, it would be wrong not to.
Imagine how wrong it would be to justify their suffering saying, "Oh that’s their perfect classroom, they are fine and this is perfect for them." We are supposed to feel horrified at the suffering of others and have great sympathy for them, pray for them, reach out to help and offer compassion. I think this is why — we aren’t supposed to know the ultimate answer to your question. If we did, we may no longer mourn with those that mourn and feel their pain.
We encourage you to play with your options above and find the one that works best for you, while at the same time continue to hold onto the beautiful empathy you feel toward all those who struggle.
You can do this.
Master Life Coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham are human behavior experts, coaches and speakers. You can learn more about them at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. Make sure you see their two amazing books here.
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.
Each January for the past four years, I have written an article for you with my best advice for a New Year’s resolution, which would make the biggest difference in your life. Here are the links if you’d like to read them:
When the kids mess up the house, if you see it as today's lesson to make you stronger, wiser and more loving, you will handle it much differently than you would if you saw it as just an aggravating event.
When you struggle at work, but you see the challenge as your perfect classroom, you spend less time complaining and more time working to solve the problem.
This idea came from the great Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II. In that horrible situation he found himself pondering on a powerful question, “Is it just random bad luck I am here in this place or is there meaning, purpose and reason in my being here?”
He eventually realized there was no way to know for sure which was truth. That left him with an interesting revelation … we get to and have the power to decide which perspective we want to have.
He also realized that believing things had no reason and were just random bad luck made his suffering worse. But choosing to believe there was meaning and purpose in our experiences and suffering lessened the suffering and made him want to rise to the occasion and turn whatever was happening into a human achievement.
He said, “Suffering ceases to be suffering, the moment it finds meaning.”
You can bring this powerful principle into your life too, so you can suffer less and have more joy. Each day you will be faced with situations, many which will disappoint, frustrate, anger or hurt you. When these show up, you can experience loss and feel cheated, wronged and mistreated by life, you can complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can choose to trust the universe that though this situation is rough, it is here for your benefit.
You can choose to see the universe as a wise loving teacher, who is constantly conspiring to educate and bless you. You can see life as on your side. Choosing to believe this is truth will completely change how you feel about your life and yourself for the better.
The only other option you have is to resist an experience, be bent out of shape by it, complain about it and refuse to learn from it. This attitude does nothing but magnify the suffering and discourage you. It may also make you less motivated to change and improve. Why work at things if they don't mean anything anyway?
When you choose to see a bad situation as a perfect lesson, you will always come through with more strength, wisdom and love, and you get to choose how you want to live. It is totally up to you.
If you are ready to embrace this idea and have more joy and less suffering this year, join us in a fun, life-changing exercise to record what you learned every day in 2017. Get yourself a fresh journal where you will record the lessons your unique journey provides every day. Each night before bed take a minute and write what your classroom taught you today.
Master coach Nicole Cunningham and I have both committed to this practice this year, and we also plan to leave room on the margins of each page to write the topic of each post so we can flip back through the book and find topics we want to read about again and again.
You could also do this on your Facebook wall, blog or in an electronic file (though don’t make this about showing off to others). Keep this as an exercise about you and your growth, and not about getting validation.
Take some time today and take stock of the ways you were stuck in fear or bad behavior last year, and make 2017 the year you learn your way out of it. I say “learn your way out” because "you can’t do better until you know better."
Make this the year you recruit some outside help and start creating the life you really want. Every coaching client I’ve ever had has said, “I wish I had learned this stuff sooner.” And they could have, but most wait until things get really bad, before they ask for help. Don’t wait.
There are resources and experts all around you that can make changing your life, relationships or results easier and faster. Sometimes we are afraid to seek help because the known (even if it’s bad) seems safer than the unknown. This is why we stay in abusive relationships or continue to put up with an unhealthy marriage or a bad job.
Please hear me on this: The problems in your life are easier and less painful to fix than you think, especially if you have help. You may already have a hunch about what help you need and how to find it, but you aren’t acting on it. Take action.
The universe will always guide you to the answers you need. It gently nudges you and drops hints so you can’t miss the path you are meant to follow. Life just waits for you to be brave enough to choose yourself and grow. It will not force you through your classroom, though it may hit you with a two-by-four, if the gentle nudges aren’t working.
Be honest with yourself today about the ways you may be hiding from growth or avoiding a class you need to take. Are there problems anywhere in your life you are ignoring, distracting yourself from or pretending aren’t there?
Are you keeping yourself busy or self-medicating with work, hobbies, TV, pornography, romance novels, alcohol or other interests, instead of working on fixing your life?
It may be time to admit you don’t know how to fix what is broken. That is the first step to change, and remember it’s not weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength. Ask for help.
There are some great worksheets and tools on our website to help you work through your problems and find solutions. My favorite is the Clarity Questions Worksheet, and you can access it here.
Choose to make 2017 your best year yet in personal growth. Choose to stretch out of your comfort zone, gain some new skills and tools and create a richer life. Making this happen isn’t as scary or as hard as you think.
You may have noticed I end every article I write with the phrase “You can do this.” I end this way because most of us have subconscious belief that says, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard and I’m not good enough” but that’s not truth. You are meant to do this, grow, rise, solve problems and succeed. You can use the power of conscious choice (in every moment) to choose to believe you are safe, on track, ready and perfectly able to succeed in your classroom … whatever it brings.
Make sure you join our mailing list by texting "Claritypoint" to 71441 (and get a free e-book by Kim Giles too) or follow us on social media this year, as we provide you with tips, skills, tools and advice and help you to suffer less and have more joy.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and a corporate trainer. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach for families, parents and teens.
I am constantly asking nicely for my family to help with simple everyday chores, or just get ready for family outings. My family waits for me to wake them up, tell them what to do, and even though I tell them how much time we have, they drag their feet and I find myself loading the car and doing all the work to get there on time by myself. By the time everyone's in the car, I'm stressed and upset and they’re all mad at me for rushing them. If I just leave to be there on time, my husband gets mad at me for leaving him behind, but he lays in bed until right before we have to leave then gets in the shower. I'm left yelling at the kids to help me get everything else ready so we can leave. The kids feel like I make them do all the work their dad should be helping with, but no matter what I say or do, I'm the bad guy all around. Can you help me get my spouse and kids to be responsible?
I can help with this, but you are going to have to be more responsible too if you want to fix this. You have taught your family how to treat you, and you have accidently taught them to be lazy and make you feel guilty about rushing them. Or you may be so controlling that you have created natural resistance against whatever you try to make them do.
You may also be what we call an "Organizer," which is one of 12 psychological inclinations that all humans fit into. (If you want to read more about them, you can on my website.) Organizers have a strong need for order and control, and it can feel, at times, more important than people. If you are like this, you may need to do some work on letting go of control and loss. It may even require some work with a coach or other professional.
You are also going to have to stop shouldering responsibility for everyone’s choices. Right now you are either being a doormat or you are over-controlling, selfish and mean. You are most likely going back and forth between these two states, because you can’t get either one to work.
In order to change this behavior, you must understand the three choices you have in response to other people’s bad behavior. (There is a Boundaries Worksheet on my website that shows these in detail.) Your three options look like this:
It sounds like being on time is important to you and it’s not important to your family. You should have a family meeting and explain that you’ve been trying to make everyone have the same values and needs as you, and that’s not fair. From now on, you are going to do better to honor what they want and you are going to ask them to honor you back.
So, you will be getting up and getting ready and leave on time. If anyone wants to come with you they are welcome to, but you will be leaving at this appointed time and if they aren’t ready (you will go without them) but that’s fine too. You will be happy either way. Make sure they all understand you love and respect them no matter what they choose. Then, you do your thing, and if they are mad that you left without them, that is their choice. They are also totally welcome to get ready earlier next time, and you (again) will love them either way.
If you are going on a trip though and you can’t leave without them, you might let them choose which tasks they would like to own to get things ready and packed and you will be in charge of the rest. Let them know that you plan to leave at a certain time so you will have your stuff ready then. If they aren’t ready at that time, you have made plans to go get a pedicure or sit on the patio with a good book (or choose something that’s a real treat for you) so you will be happy and occupied while you wait for them to get ready.
If your pedicure goes long, they may be waiting for you, but let them know ahead of time this is what they can expect. Whatever you do, don’t go to a place of loss and anger, behave maturely and kindly at all times and have clear expectations ahead of time.
These are examples of healthy, love and strength based boundaries that honor your needs and are also respectful of others.
Make sure you also forgive yourself for being weak or mean in the past. These situations were perfect lessons, and they now give you the chance to look at all your behavior options and see the results each produces, which is very valuable information. Past behavior has nothing to do with your value as a person. Focus on the beautiful lesson this situation is providing you to help you grow, and let the anger go.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Our adult daughter claims we have done more to our son than we have done for her. This is really hurtful to us, because we feel she has not appreciated what we have given her and her family. We have helped them each with different things over the years, but we are retired, in our mid-sixties, and we have bills too. We must watch what we spend. Yet our daughter feels we didn't do enough for her, she keeps bringing up the fact we gave her brother more. We don’t think this is true at all. How do we deal with this jealousy?
Young children are often overly focused on whether things are fair and equal. They cry and complain if their siblings gets more than what they got. Ideally when they are very young is the best time to nip this behavior in the bud.
Recently a friend of mine, Scott Bean, shared a great way to teach this to children. The first time a child complains that their siblings got more ice cream than they got, with empathy and love say, “It sounds like someone is having an appreciation problem. If you don’t appreciate what you get, then we’re sorry, but you don’t get any (and take their ice cream away).
Let them know that in our home we care more about appreciation than fair. Life will never be fair, but we must always be grateful for what we have.
It is your job as a parent to make sure they understand how the world works and it's never going to be fair, but we will each get whatever is the perfect classroom journey for us. (I would let them assume their ice cream is gone for a while, before asking if they are ready to appreciate what they had and give it back.)
Obviously, this won’t work with adult children. With adult children all you can do is be very clear about who is responsible for each part of this appreciation problem and look for the right time to explain that ungrateful and complaining behavior won’t create what they want.
Your main job or responsibility here is to find the right balance (that you feel comfortable with) between helping your adult children on occasion and taking care of yourself. You will know you have struck that balance right when you feel good about what you are giving and don’t resent or regret anything.
If you are feeling “taken from” or unappreciated, then you are probably giving too much. Your gut will know what you feel good about. Also make sure that you aren’t carrying the responsibility for their financial problems. The responsibility for all their needs must stay on their shoulders with an occasional gift of help from you, if really needed, and if you can afford it.
Your other job is to manage your feelings and reactions to their ungrateful behavior. No matter how they behave or what they say, your job is to stay calm, happy, wise and peaceful.
If they are jealous or feel short-changed, that is not your problem or your business. It is not really even about you (though it may feel that way). It is really about their scarcity mentality, fear of loss and insecurity. Ultimately (since they are adults) it is not your problem to fix those — it’s theirs.
You may ask permission on occasion to see if they would be open to an observation. If they are open, you can kindly point out that keeping score and complaining isn’t going to create what they want. It makes people feel unappreciated, which makes them less motivated to help you in the future. Explain to them that wild appreciation for everything you’ve done would work better.
But whether she gets this or not, you are going to keep being fearless, loving, strong and confident that you are doing what you feel good about doing, from a space of wisdom and compassion. All that matters is you feel good about the help you have given — that must be enough.
It is your daughter’s job to work on herself and her scarcity mentality. Fortunately she is in the classroom of life and the universe will keep bringing lessons until she learns how to be happy for others instead of jealous of them, and how to appreciate what she has instead of complaining about what she doesn’t.
Trust the universe to this job.
If your daughter blames you or is angry with you, again that is her problem, not yours. Your job is to stay loving, supportive and kind. Her job is to process disappointment and learn to solve problems on her own. It would be sad if she pulls back from you and gets defensive, but you reacting and feeling offended will only make it worse. Stay loving and happy, and let her process whatever she feels and work through it.
There may be some people who read this article who have jealous feelings themselves. If you struggle with a scarcity mentality, here are a couple of life coaching exercises you can do:
1. Write your feelings on paper and describe them in detail. Instead of trying to stuff these feelings, embrace them fully and feel the pain they create as acutely as possible. Then ask yourself, “What are these feelings here to teach me? What kind of behavior are they encouraging? Why does my sibling’s happiness threaten me? Do their blessings take anything away from me? Does feeling jealous serve me at any level? Does it motivate others to help me? What good do these feelings do? What other options do I have?” Write the answers to these questions on paper.
2. Separate the ego/scarcity/fear part of you that likes jealous feelings from the spirit/abundance/ love part of you that doesn’t want to be here. Which side do you want to let drive your life? Who do you want to be? In every moment, you get to choose your state, and there are only two options. You can live from a place of love, abundance and peace or you can live from fear, scarcity and discontent. How do you want to live? You must consciously make this choice on a daily basis. Write down in detail the kind of person you want to be.
3. Make a written rule against comparing yourself with other people. There is no level where comparing serves you. Make an official policy against it and commit to choosing gratitude instead.
4. Remember life is a package deal and each person's journey comes with some blessings and some trials. If you had another person’s blessings, you would also have their trials. Make a list of all the problems you are grateful you don’t have, this will help you appreciate your life.
5. Carefully choose your thoughts — every thought matters. Choose to think only positive, loving thoughts about yourself and other people. In doing this you are choosing abundance and blessings for yourself. Choose to see the world as abundant and overflowing with enough for all.
6. Choose gratitude for what you have, every minute of every day. Gratitude is one of the most positive emotions you can choose. When you live from a place of gratitude, you are accepting all love and blessings from the universe and opening the door wide to receive more. Also remember, there are many people on the planet who have less and would be terribly jealous of you.
Count every small blessing and embrace gratitude.
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 life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
Our son was raised in the LDS faith and he has chosen to go the other direction and be in a same-sex relationship. What can we do as parents in this situation? He has gone so far as to take his name off the records of the church. Can you tell us how to help?
There are some ideas, perspectives and tips, which may help you to experience less fear and more peace around this situation.
1) Work on your fears of failure and loss. You must work on eliminating your fears, because fear makes you selfish and incapable of love and love is the path to peace in this situation. The following points should help you experience less fear and clearly see what a love based approach could look like.
2) Remember human value is infinite and absolute. We are all irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, infinitely and absolutely valued, divine, children of God — all of us — without exception. We all have the exact same intrinsic worth as everyone else, no matter our beliefs, religion, race, sexual orientation or anything else. This means that your child and his life and choices don’t affect your value or his. You are not a failure and have no reason to experience shame about this. Everything that happens is just a lesson on love, but none of the lessons diminish your value. If you remember this idea you will have less fear of failure (fear that you aren’t good enough).
3) The real point and purpose for our being on this planet is to learn love at a deeper level. Everything God has inspired, created or allowed to be created here is here is meant to teach you, grow you and stretch you past your comfort zone, expanding the limits of your love. God created this universe and all the people in it with many interesting differences (including race, religion, culture, ideology, sexual orientation). Everyone on the planet is here (in the classroom of life) to both learn to love and to teach love. Situations like yours challenge you to stretch beyond the limits of your previous loving abilities, they help you learn love at whole new level.
If you trust the process of your life and see everything as a lesson, you will have less fear of loss. You will accept your journey as your perfect classroom and not resist this experience as much. If you embrace the lesson as a beautiful opportunity to grow, you will find peace.
4) Whatever you do, don’t let fear divide you or push you away from your child. Make sure your love is bigger than your fear. God created all of us the way we are for a reason. Your job (with this now adult child) is to love, be compassionate, open, accepting and kind. This means embracing your son and his partner too, like you would any other child in your home. Spend the same amount of time with them, listen to them, care about them and don’t let the differences get in the way.
If you have trouble with this and your fears of failure or loss overpower you, I highly recommend working with a coach or counselor, who can help you reframe and lessen your fears.
5) Remember love means respect. You can’t have real love without it. When someone has different beliefs than yours, respect means treating them the same way you would treat someone who agrees with you. You must honor their right to believe what they believe and respect their own path to goodness and God.
6) Love means caring for their needs and happiness as much as you care about your own. What your child needs right now is acceptance, support, validation of his worth, and reassurance. Giving him these must be a priority over his meeting your expectations. Trust God that all will be fine in the end, and if it’s not fine - it’s not the end. Trust that the God you believe in is loving and full of grace, wisdom and forgiveness. Trust you have nothing to fear because God is the author of everything.
7) Give up your need to be right. If you insist on taking the stand that your path is right and his is wrong, you will not leave space for a good relationship. You can believe that you are right in your mind — but you must focus outwardly on the beautiful, loving, kind, compassionate, hard working (or whatever other virtues your child has) person your child is. Remember that though he is rejecting your religion, he is not rejecting goodness, love or light. Just because he isn’t on your religion’s definition of the right path, he is still a loving, kind, giving person whom God loves every bit as much as he loves you.
The bottom line is you must lose your fears through trust and love, and make sure your child feels respected, admired, appreciated and wanted every day. If you do this you will also like yourself better too. I promise it will feel right.
Love without condition, listen without intention and care without expectation. This is the way to peace.
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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I have a co-worker I’m worried about. She is really down after some major setbacks in her life and she is joking about death in a way that makes me worried she might kill herself. I try to be friendly and supportive, but I don’t know what I should say or do. I can’t find the right words and I don’t want to overstep or offend her. What should I do?
There are 117 people who die by suicide every day in our country. In Utah, we lose one person every 15 hours, and the truth is that almost everyone goes through a time in their life when they think about ending it. This means, it is highly likely there is someone around you right now who is at risk for suicide. If we all understood the signs and how to respond, we could make a meaningful difference.
Research indicates that 80 percent of suicidal people make their intentions known to others beforehand and hope someone will reach out and help. These signals may include making a joke or off-hand comment about suicide. If you pick up on any unusual comment or behavior, you must act on it using the steps below.
You may also want to share this article with friends and family because it would make a huge difference if everyone was educated about what to do if you suspect suicide. This is as important as knowing CPR or any other first aid skill because it can save lives.
Here are some simple steps for what to do if you suspect suicide, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
There is always uncertainty around the decision to die by suicide, and when someone reaches out in love and support, most people respond and are open to other options for dealing with their pain. If there is someone who cares enough to reach out, there is always hope.
Please don’t ignore the signs — you truly can make a difference.
You can do this.
Read some more great information on suicide prevention on the Crisis Center Website
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
I worry too much and it is draining joy from my life, but I honestly cannot stop. I am really good at thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong with every situation. Even when things are going good, I can think of things to be worried about. My spouse says that I can rain on any parade. How does one turn that off? Do you have some advice?
First, understand that worries are nothing more than perspective. Everything you feel and experience is just perspective and in every situation there are other perspectives you could choose, which could make you feel different. I want you to take your thoughts (worries) less seriously. They are not facts. They are just ideas.
Unfortunately, it sounds like worry has become your autopilot or subconscious default perspective. You can look at anything and immediately see something to fear. This happens so fast, you don’t see the other perspective options available to you. You must slow down and become more mindful. This means stepping back and observing what you are thinking, then consciously deciding if it serves you.
Here are 10 ways to get control over worry and choose a different perspective:
1) Remind yourself worry never robs tomorrow of problems, it only robs today of joy. Studies have shown most of the things you worry about will never happen and the bad things which do happen, are usually out of your control and no amount of worrying could have prevented them. This means that worry is a waste of your time and energy. It does not change the outcome of the future and it does not protect you. It only robs you of your ability to thrive today.
2) If there is something you can do right now, do it. If there is nothing you can do right now, let it go. Choose to be present and focus on where you are. Look for people to serve or love, or action that would make a positive difference in your life. Stay present. George Macdonald said, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.” Take everything one moment at a time.
3) There is a difference between worrying and planning. When you have a big project you may need to spend some time thinking about the problems and figuring out how to handle obstacles, but you can do this planning in a state of optimism and trust believing everything will work out for the best or you can do this in a state of fear. Planning and should feel peaceful and wise, while worrying in fear feels anxious and out of control. Choose to plan not worry by choosing optimism.
4) Choose optimism. A state of optimism means trusting the universe that it is a classroom that is always conspiring for your good. Believe things always work out to serve you in the end. You don’t know they will work out, but you don’t know they won’t work out either. Given that it could go either way you might as well choose a positive, optimistic attitude because doubt, fear and worry are less fun and less motivating. Remember, worry saps your energy and leaves you less able to deal with what does happen.
5) Put worries in the worry closet. Don’t let yourself think about problems all day long. Instead set aside some time (maybe an hour late in the day) when you can sit down and process your concerns. When worry shows up during the day, put those worries in a worry closet and lock the door. The worries are still there, but you are not dealing with them right now. Don’t try to stop worrying. This actually keeps you thinking about not thinking about it, which is actually still thinking about it. Just put them in the worry closet until later. When the time comes, open the worry closet and walk inside. Give yourself a specific amount of time to dwell in worry, plan and process all the concerns. Use some of the strategies below to do that.
6) Figure out what is in your control and what’s not. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. on the right side write down everything that is in your control and on the left everything that is out of your control. You will find the right side list is usually shorter. Decide to take action on those things. The rest is out of your control and does you no good to worry about.
7) Focus on solutions. During your worry closet time, instead of dwelling on your fears, focus on solutions to the problem. Brain storm solutions and don’t stop until you come up with 50. This will push you to stretch your imagination and come up with new ideas. You might want to recruit family or coworkers to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one.
8) Uncertainty is part of life and it doesn’t have to scare you. Accept that uncertainty is beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing it is just unknown - and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God and this amazing classroom universe he created, you can walk into each unknown adventure without fear. Trusting God and the universe is the key to peace.
9) Spend time dwelling on positive feelings. Gay Henricks, Phd and author of the book The Big Leap says most of us are subconsciously programmed to sabotage ourselves if too much success and positive change starts to happen. We may think we don’t deserve the good or don’t believe it can happen to us. We may start worrying because it is a feeling we are more used to. Worry is more "in our comfort zone" than accepting the positive is. You should always step back from negative thinking or worry, and check yourself for subconscious self-sabotage. Ask yourself these questions:
What is this worry showing up for?
How could this worry be trying to keep me safe or protect me from something?
What positive thing might be manifesting in my life?
What do I fear about getting this positive thing that could make me push it away or deny it?
What would happen if I embraced the positive?
Instead of dwelling in the worry sit with the positive thoughts about what could go right for a minute. How would it feel to let this positive thing happen and not worry about it or doubt it? Feel the positive feelings and get used to how they feel. Embrace them and believe you deserve good things to happen. Practice accepting positive from the universe.
10) Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do.
Fear is a choice, and so is peace.
Choose to trust the universe and the process of your life. See life as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving every minute of every day. It is on your side and if you trust your higher power and the amazing classroom universe more deeply, you will find there is nothing to fear because there isn't.
There is nothing to fear.
You can do this.
I wish I understood what was wrong with me, and why I cry and get so upset when I feel mistreated or cheated by people or life. For example, if I buy something and it breaks and I try to take it back to the store, but they won't make it right. This situation could make me cry, in the store, which embarrasses my kids. I feel so mistreated it hurts, and I think I'm hoping the person will feel sorry enough for me, and they will treat me better. It's humiliating to admit this, but I often complain and cry about how hard I work and that it does no good, life always goes against me anyway. I complain about my hard lot in life way more than I should. I hate this about myself but don't know how to stop feeling this way. Can you help me?
It sounds like you are suffering from a subconscious victim mentality. Many of us learned as children to use self-pity to get sympathy love. Psychologists tell us the ideas, beliefs or behavior patterns we learn in childhood often become the rules that dictate the way we respond as an adult, even if they are ineffective and immature. Dr. Eric Berne wrote an interesting book back in 1964 called "Games People Play." In it he describes some subconscious psychological behaviors we use to get attention, validation, love or power (getting people to do what we want them to). I wrote a whole article on this last year you might want to read.
The Sympathy Card Game is one of the most popular games people play. This happens when you constantly talk about how bad you have it, how terrible you are, or how no one loves you or cares about you to get validation, love or reassurance from other people. People play this game on social media when they post things like “worst day ever” but they don’t leave an explanation about what happened. They do this because they are subconsciously wanting people to prove they care and ask what happened. This game is a subtle (and very immature) way to get love and attention and brings with it a high cost. You may get sympathy love, but because you are acting weak, you usually lose people's respect. They may give you what you want, but they won't necessarily like you either.
It would serve us all to take a minute and ask ourselves the following questions just to make sure we aren’t subconsciously playing the victim:
You could believe the universe is working for you and conspiring to serve you and educate you at every turn. If you see life this way, then the fear of loss, which is behind self-pity, will disappear. If everything that happens to you, is here to bless and serve you, is it really a loss? Or is it a hidden blessing to make you stronger, wiser or more loving? I explain this perspective shift in more detail in my book "Choosing Clarity," you may want to read it if you need more help with this one.
If you will work on these six things, you can break free from the victim mentality, see your life (accurately) as a classroom and you should cry less.
If you are reading this article while in the middle of suffering through some of life's horrible challenges, please understand this is a process. It is normal to feel like a victim when you have been victimized. You just don't want to live there forever. I strongly recommend working with a professional to help you find peace and joy again.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I support gay marriage but my spouse is very against it. Every time the topic comes up, which is often, we end up in an argument. At first we agreed to just never talk about it, but that is proving hard to do. We both feel strongly about our position and we get emotional and angry. We really wish we were on the same page on this. It’s driving a wedge in our marriage. I hate that he sees me as wrong and he hates that I see him as homophobic and mean. Do you have any advice on this? What do you do when you fundamentally disagree at a core level with the person you love most?
This question may benefit all of us, because your marriage is just a microcosm of our society right now. Both sides of this issue have strong opinions and emotions are running high. Maybe it would help if we all learned how to appreciate each other, honor our differences, and respect those who disagree with us.
I believe life is a classroom (you hear me say that often) but I believe this classroom was specifically designed to teach us how to love ourselves and other people at a higher level. In order for us to stretch and learn to love at a higher level, God made us all different.
God could have made us all the same race, color, size and sexual orientation, but that would have made accepting each other way too easy. What’s the challenge in that?
Instead people come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, races and sexual orientation. I believe these differences were intentional, they are here for a reason — so we get the opportunity to learn to love those who are different, which is more difficult to do. Differences give us all kinds of challenges to overcome and grow from.
Every experience, issue, difference and disagreement is a lesson to teach you love, though. I believe this is especially true in your marriage. This unique relationship can teach you things you can’t learn anywhere else, because your spouse can push your buttons better than anyone else. Your marriage is your perfect classroom.
On top of that, sexual orientation is a tough difference to process for many people, because they just can’t get their head around it or understand it. These types of differences can also cause us to lump whole groups of people into “them” groups opposed to “us” groups and subconsciously see them as the bad guys or the wrong ones. We literally see “these people” and everyone on “their side” as the enemy at the subconscious level. They are the enemy because either they are wrong or I am. Both can’t be right.
So your question is really, "How do I genuinely love my enemies and those who strongly disagree with me and see me as wrong?"
Here are some things you can do (and we all can do) to stop the fighting and increase our compassion and tolerance for others:
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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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.