First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Amid the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and recent Utah earthquake, it is important to understand that fear about our own safety can create selfish behavior.
Humans who are afraid often succumb to a self-preservation mindset, which can make them behave badly. They might even do things like buying up all the available toilet paper and leave none for anyone else, and we are seeing examples of this fear-driven behavior all around us.
Fear makes other people feel like a threat to your safety and well-being (on the subconscious level). This can cause us to see others as the enemy, and we might be quick to judge or criticize them too. Watching this behavior play out all around us helps us to better understand this interesting human tendency and how this behavior might show up in our daily lives, even when there is no emergency.
Every day, we get triggered by fear in all kinds of situations, and this can create selfishness too. As a human behavior expert, I think it might be helpful to understand how and why this happens.
2 core fears
I believe there are two core fears that are responsible for almost all of our bad behavior:
Whenever you are having a loss experience like this, your ego will step up to protect you and other people’s needs will become much less important. Whenever you are afraid of being mistreated or stressed that things might go wrong, you experience fear of loss. This fear can also make you distrustful of other people, and you might become controlling as a way to feel safer.
Fear of failure is easier to understand. It is the fear of looking bad, being judged, being criticized or feeling not good enough. Any time you feel insecure, unattractive or stupid, you are having a fear of failure experience.
Which is your biggest core fear?
Both of the two core fears affect you (and every human on the planet) to some degree, every day. We all experience both of them but are each dominant in one. Take a minute and decide which is a bigger issue for you.
Are you more insecure and worried about judgment or criticism from others? A people pleaser? If so, you’re probably fear-of-failure dominant.
Are you more controlling, pushy and critical if things aren’t right around you? If so, you’re probably fear-of-loss dominant.
It is helpful to know which is your core fear because this is the trigger that drives your bad behavior and selfishness.
How fear of failure drives selfishness in relationships
When you are afraid you aren’t good enough, you can become overly needy for validation and reassurance to quiet your insecurity. You may get easily offended by anything that looks or feels like criticism or attack. In this state, your focus won’t be on giving love and validation, it will be on getting the reassurance you need to quiet your fear.
People who suffer greatly from low self-esteem often can’t see the selfishness in their needy behavior. They can’t see that worrying about being accepted is still focused on themselves. They might also make their loved ones feel responsible for their self-esteem and sense of safety in the world, which is unfair and won’t work.
It is impossible to give an insecure person enough validation to make up for their own belief that they aren’t good enough. If your spouse or partner expects you to validate them enough to cure their fear of failure, they are setting you up to fail. If you are in a relationship with someone who is overly insecure, this might also start to feel like a great burden to carry; you may even start to resent them for being so needy.
If this kind of selfishness shows up in your relationship, work on changing your belief that a human can be "not good enough." You would benefit most from some coaching on changing your beliefs on how human value is determined and on seeing all humans as having unchangeable value all the time. This is the only way to quiet the fear.
You must trust that you have the same value as everyone else on the planet, no matter what you do. When a person gets committed to this new belief, they should be less needy and have more love to give.
How fear of loss drives selfishness in relationships
When you are afraid you aren’t safe in the world, every situation and every person can feel like a threat to your safety. You may become overly controlling, opinionated and/or dominating as a way to make the world feel safer. If you can make or force everything to be right, and you are always right about everything, you would feel safer.
This behavior can look like you always need things done your way, that you’re constantly on the lookout for mistreatment, and you’re struggling to put up with behavior that bothers you.
If you are in a relationship with a person whose fear creates this kind of behavior, you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells trying not to offend them. Everything in the relationship is centered on keeping them happy. This also wears on relationships and can push people away from you.
If this kind of selfishness shows up in your relationship, what is really needed is to work on changing your belief that your journey can be ruined or diminished by other people. Play with the idea that God and/or the universe are working with the choices we all make to create the perfect classroom journey for each of us, every day. See how it feels if you believe that everything you experience is here to bless you, serve you and help you grow.
If everything is a blessing, then there is no loss. It is a radical idea, but just as likely true as believing in chaos. When you see the world as on your side and safe, you will have more love for others and bandwidth for making them happy too.
Grow and serve
During this season of pandemics and earthquakes, we can all benefit from trusting that our value can’t change, failure isn’t on the table, and that the universe is sending this experience to grow us and serve us. When we trust we are safe — that there is order, meaning and purpose in these unusual experiences — we will be more capable of thinking about others, and our selfishness should decrease.
Even though hoarding toilet paper made you (your ego) feel safer, reaching out to your neighbors to see if they need any toilet paper would make you feel even better. Love is more rewarding than safety.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I went through a horrible divorce many years ago and it made me feel unwanted and unloved. I can’t seem to get past those feelings, and because of that I am not dating or trying to meet anyone. I think it’s a combination of being afraid, thinking I am not good enough, and being afraid of rejection. Is there anything I can do to get past those fears and move on?
There are some things you can do that would help you move forward and feel more courageous about dating. But before we get to that, I want to explain how our past experiences create beliefs, mental rules or policies that dictate our behavior in the future.
This process started when you were a small child and everything you saw or experienced created ideas and beliefs about who you are and how you fit in the world. But it's possible that many of these conclusions may not have been accurate.
It sounds like the divorce also prompted you to make some new beliefs about your value and relationships. You may have drawn conclusions that the rejection meant you aren’t good enough to deserve love. This isn’t a fact, though; it’s just a belief (or a subconscious policy or rule) you may have applied to the event.
The good news is while you can’t go back and change what happened, you can go back and change what it meant. This is where "time travel" comes in. You have the ability to visualize when you went through that experience and choose a different meaning around it. You can also change the beliefs it created.
To change the meaning of some of your past experiences, find some quiet time when you won't be interrupted and follow these steps:
1. Close your eyes and go back to the situation when you created these assumptions or beliefs about your value or your life. Sit in that place for a while and really feel the feelings that show up. What are the exact conclusions you drew at this time? How did you feel because of these conclusions? After you sit with that for a little while, stop and write the conclusions or beliefs down on paper. What meaning did you apply to the event?
2. Look at those beliefs and write down the ways those beliefs have served you or protected you. You may have held onto them because they served you in some way.
3. Now, think about what these beliefs have cost you. Write down all the damage they have done and how they have negatively affected your life.
4. Ask yourself, are these beliefs worth the cost or would you like to change them?
5. If you think your life would be better if you changed these limiting beliefs, what would you like to believe instead? How would you like to feel about yourself? How would you like to feel about your life?
6. If it would serve you to change these beliefs, try applying new meaning to the event in your past and choose new beliefs to draw from it.
Here's how to do this:
8. Take some time to write down how you are going to choose to feel and process present experiences in light of the new meanings around the past that you have chosen.
You may want to repeat this process a few times, because the more you do it the more you will internalize your new chosen beliefs. According to the neuroscientist, Beau Lotto, in his book Deviate, your brain doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. So, when you use visualization and process events in a more healthy way, you actually get the same benefits you would if you had really had the experience that way.
You may also have more courage to start dating if you choose to trust that your value is the same as everyone else’s, whether someone likes you or not, and trust in the universe that the right person will like you when the time is right.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a master life coach, speaker, and author of three books. Coach Kim offers help and resources that fit any budget. Learn more at www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes,com
I love your radio show. It is the only reason I am not completely a mess right now. I could use some help though on a specific challenge I am going through. I feel like I need some tools to deal with disappointment. My husband’s job sent us away to live in another country and I’m miserable. I do not like living here at all. I am really struggling as I hate everything about this experience. It has meant putting my education on hold and I’m totally out of my comfort zone. There was a job opening back home and I got so excited that we could move back, and then my husband didn’t get it, which has just shattered my mental well-being. How can I cope with all of this better?
Life can be miserable, disappointing and frustrating at times, but a part of our suffering over these disappointments may be self-inflicted. Even though you cannot change the situation, we believe you can change the way you see and experience it.
The answer to lessening your suffering lies in changing your perspective about the nature of life altogether. We are going to help you do that by recommending you adopt a new policy about the nature of life: It is what it is.
If it was supposed to be something else, it would be.
If you look at the universe and the planet we live on, you will see perfect order everywhere. Everything from the smallest insect to the largest planet in the galaxy — they do what they do, when they do it, for a reason. The entire universe is perfect order, beauty and purpose. Can you see that?
Do you really think your life is an exception? Is your life really a bunch of bad luck accidents that mean nothing and serve no purpose?
There is no way to know for sure. There is no absolute, provable truth on whether there is order in your journey or it’s all just random bad luck. This means you can choose a perspective for yourself.
You can choose to believe there is perfect order in the universe and everything happens for a reason.
With this mindset you will spend your time looking for the lessons and the blessings, instead of complaining about, resisting and regretting that things aren’t different. But you are also going to have to change your expectations, which are nothing but thoughts and illusions you make up and become overly attached to. They aren’t real. You must let go of your expectations so you can make peace with life as it is.
We recommend that you get some paper and write down all the expectations you had for your life (write every small thing you expected to be different than it is). Then tie that paper to a balloon and let it float away up into the sky and let those expectations all go.
Decide to embrace what your life is right now as perfect. This doesn’t mean you give up working to make things better, though. You can keep working on improving things and finding another job in the states, while at the same time understanding that you are where you are for a reason. There is some beautiful lesson you are meant to learn by being exactly where you are right now.
Here are four more things you can do to change how you feel about your life:
1. Accept responsibility for creating the expectation that your life should be different than it is. You created this illusion so you can uncreate it. Choose a mindset based in truth about the nature of the journey. This will produce less self-pity and suffering. Live in optimism that things will get better, but also in trust that what is — is perfect, for some reason.
2. Practice gratitude. If you are going to compare your life with other people’s — at least make sure you compare yourself with those who have less or have it worse than you, not just those who have more or better. There are plenty on both sides. Choose gratitude for what you do have and count your blessings daily.
3. Accept there is meaning and purpose behind every experience. See if you can list 10 positives that the hard situation in your life has created. Look for how your experience could be improving you. Choose to focus on being a better person.
4. Understand that your journey doesn’t define you or have any effect on your value.Your current experience is just a location on your journey. It is a class you were signed up for, but it doesn’t have any bearing on who you are or your value. We believe you aren't being punished with these experiences but you are being blessed by them. You just don’t know why or how yet.
5. Forgive life for disappointing you. You might want to write a letter and vent about your disappointments. Write that you aren’t happy, but you don’t want to live in bitterness, regret, rejection, resentment, judgment, criticism and pain any longer. Choose to embrace what is — and live in love, trust, acceptance, forgiveness and peace instead.
Every moment of every day you must consciously make this choice. Some days when things are rough we live five minutes at a time. Decide for the next five minutes you will accept your situation as a blessing and choose some form of joy. The anger and sadness might creep back in, but you have the power to choose again. As you practice this it gets easier and lasts longer.
We know it’s not easy, but it is that simple.
You can do it.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
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.