This was first published on ksl.com
We all have faults, flaws, bad habits or features we don't like, and these make us feel we have less value than other people. We might put ourselves down, use self-deprecating humor, or often comment about how overweight, stupid or unsuccessful we are.
Many of us learned as children that we might not be good enough, and this belief has stuck with us. Even if we become successful, fit or more attractive, we always battle this same deep subconscious belief that we aren't quite enough. I believe every person on the planet battles this belief to some degree every day, but some people experience negative thoughts about themselves to the extreme and even suffer from self-hate.
After 20-plus years as a master life coach working with people to improve self-worth, I have found three things you can do that will make a significant difference in your ability to love yourself. They are:
Change how you determine human value
Many people have a subconscious belief that human value can change. Think about this. Do you believe if you could look better, perform better, or make more money, your personal value would go up? Do you also believe that if you make mistakes, gain weight, or lose money, your personal value goes down? If so, this is why your self-esteem changes from day to day: you subconsciously believe human value must be earned and therefore can change.
But this is not true.
Many of us subconsciously accepted this belief as a child because the world promotes it. Still, it's not a fact — and it's often what is making us feel like we aren't good enough all the time. If you find yourself in this belief system, the good news is you have the power to change this belief any time you want.
Instead, you can choose a belief that all human beings have the same infinite, absolute, intrinsic value that cannot change. No matter what we do or how we look, we still have the same value as every other human because that's how this system works. Of course, this is also a belief, not a fact — but it's a belief that will improve your life, so I recommend choosing it.
To internalize this belief, you must do two things
Choose to see life as a classroom
Because of a subconscious belief that human value can change, many of us have also, subconsciously, seen life as a test or place where you can fail. But again, this is just a belief. It's not a fact.
You have the option to choose a new belief here, too. You could choose to believe that life is a classroom. The difference is that in a test your mistakes diminish your value (or your grade). In a classroom, the focus is on learning not earning a good grade. If you choose to view your life as a classroom, you get to see every experience as a learning opportunity that allows you to experience something and learn from it without affecting your value.
You can start doing this today. Choose to trust the universe that it knows what it's doing and that your classroom journey is serving you. The more you trust the universe that it's on your side and conspiring to grow you, the less stress you'll experience and safer you will feel. This will greatly impact your feelings of self-worth and take failure off the table.
Commit to a forgiveness practice
Make a few lists
The trick to using forgiveness to increase your self-worth lies in forgiving three different groups of people.
They show you there are faults or dark parts that you believe make people unworthy; and as long as you see other people's faults as making them unworthy, you will also see your own faults as making you unworthy.
The way you judge others is always tied to the way you judge yourself. You must shift your mindset, which is what forgiveness really is – a change of perspective that eliminates pain and hurt — if you want to love yourself more. You must work on loving and forgiving others, seeing their life as a classroom and their value as infinite. The more you do this, the more you accept these truths for yourself, too.
Process your lists
Take some time every day to process through one of the people, faults or experiences on your lists. You can process them by writing about their darkness and why you have felt justified to dislike this person or this part of yourself. Then, write about your other options and how you could choose to see and feel about them. Write about how it would feel if you chose to see their value as unchanging and infinite, and your life and theirs as a perfect classroom. How could you choose to see them or yourself with love and compassion?
Again, this doesn't mean you are going to hang out with or trust this person, it just means you are going to change your feelings to eliminate pain, hate, guilt, shame or anger. Instead, you'll choose to live in trust, love, compassion, peace, and acceptance.
The more you choose compassion and give infinite value to others, the more compassionate you will become toward yourself. Take all the time you need and just keep working on one person, fault or experience each day. Turn them over to God and allow him to handle the justice. Remember, nothing exists God or the universe did not create for the purpose of our growth.
I believe that forgiveness makes a bigger, faster difference in a person's self-esteem than any other practice. But, it might take some time and consistent effort. There are also books, journals, resources, coaches and counselors that can help you in this process. Just make it your goal to become more compassionate, forgiving, and trusting toward yourself and others. Try to avoid judgment, criticism and speaking ill of them. This will pay off in a greater capacity to love and accept yourself.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
It doesn't matter what the cause of the trouble is. It could be long-term relationship issues, loneliness, health or financial problems, or anything else that doesn't have an easy solution and means long-term angst or pain. How do you cope, stay positive, move forward and make the best of these worst situations?
I was thinking about the answer to this question this week as I had the opportunity to ride up and down the Hiawatha Bike trail in Montana, which means riding through a train tunnel a mile and a half long. If you have never had this experience, I highly recommend it. You actually ride over numerous suspension bridges and through nine different train tunnels. This experience brought the idea of "light at the end of the tunnel" to life in a powerful way for me.
In these tunnels, you quickly lose sight of the end — there is literally no end in sight. It is pitch dark and all you can see is about 6 feet in front of you, as that is all your headlamp illuminates. There is nothing to reflect light off straight ahead, so all you can see is the ground in front of you.
There is also water dripping on you from above and mud splattering you from the front and rear tires. It can be disorienting and a bit scary. It's only the voices up ahead of you that assure you others are making it through this, and you can too.
This experience reminded me of some great ways to hang on, stay positive, and get through when things in life are dark:
Only focus on the present moment
I recently visited with a man who battles a nerve disease that causes constant and severe pain, and it will most likely continue for the rest of his life. He told me that if he tried to carry the weight of all the days, months and years of pain that he faces ahead, it would crush him. The trick is only to focus on what's right in front of you today.
Get through this hour or this 30 minutes with as much joy, laughter and grit as you can. Don't think about the days, months or years ahead. Stay present and be in the moment. It's just like me in the actual tunnel, where 6 feet was all I could see: I had to keep a laser focus on that small part because the rest of the darkness was overwhelming.
Whatever you are facing, take it one small moment at a time.
Choose joy as much as possible
Find the small blessing and beauty in each moment. Look for the positive in every single moment. Listen to music, watch the sunset, appreciate the things you do have. Choose joy over something in every moment you are alive.
Joy is a choice, it's not an experience. You have the power to find reasons for joy all the time.
You've heard the saying, "Things could always be worse." You might think of ways this is true.
Don't compare yourself with people who have it better than you do. That will only bring grief and loss. Instead, try comparing yourself with everyone you can think of who has it worse. This will help you spend your time in gratitude for what is right in your life.
You are certainly entitled to a full-blown pity party on occasion, but do not live there. Sit in the feelings of loss, unfairness, self-pity, anger or grief. Let yourself have the emotions that come, then decide that you aren't going to live there. You are going to focus on the blessings, small as they may be.
Find support and people who understand
It helps immensely to find people who have been in your shoes or are still there. They get what you are experiencing at a level no one else can. Seek these people out and befriend them. Start a support group and reach out to others who are suffering that you can help.
Choose to trust that there's purpose in your pain
We cannot prove this is true, but you cannot prove it isn't true either. The one thing I know is that people who choose to trust there is purpose in their experiences suffer less. It helps to think that at least this experience is benefiting them in some way, teaching them and making them stronger, wiser or more loving.
Viktor Frankl, a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II, said, "In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning." I choose to believe that life is a classroom (not a test) and the purpose of everything is to grow us and teach us. I find that believing this as your meaning makes the hard parts feel a little easier. You will have to see if it works for you.
Choose to see everyone in their perfect classroom journey
Choose to believe that if others have life easier than you, there is a reason for that, too. Every single person is here to learn different lessons than you are, so their curriculum won't ever look like yours. Stop comparing. Decide to trust that others will get the hard parts of their lessons at a different time or in a different way, but everyone gets the perfect classroom for them.
I don't believe that God sent this trial to you though; I believe God created a universe to be our teacher and there are forces at work here that work with our choices to create the perfect classroom for each soul. But, again, I can't prove this is true. It is just a belief. I just find this belief helps.
Get some help from a coach or counselor
Find someone you connect with and feel safe with. Having someone to support you during this time makes a huge difference. Working with a professional who can help you process emotions in a healthy way, find coping strategies, and just listen makes all the difference in how you handle the rough stuff.
Distract yourself from the pain
Find activities that fill you up, bring you joy, or entertain and distract you from thinking about the problem. Don't ignore the problem, stuff your feelings and just watch Netflix to get through. Get help, find support, talk to a coach or counselor, and make sure you are learning and growing from the experience. Then, keep yourself busy doing things that bring you joy and fill you up as much as possible.
It's never fun to go through hard things or dark times, but these suggestions may help you get through those parts of life until the light at the end of the tunnel finally comes into view.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
In many of my KSL articles, I have written about the two core fears we all have: fear of failure and fear of loss. These fears drive many of our choices and behaviors, but they aren't everything. Your core values also influence every decision you make. There is great power in finding and claiming your unique core values, as doing so could make a significant difference in your life.
Your core values, whether you know them consciously or they play out subconsciously, form the basis of your self-esteem, the kinds of relationships you choose to be in, how fulfilled you are in your work, and your general sense of purpose and happiness.
If you highly value connection but have a job that means working alone in a cubicle all day, you might not be very happy in your career. If you don't have many friends, that could make you feel like a failure and lower your self-worth. But a person who values hard work more than connection might be very happy in both those situations, for example.
If you don't consciously know what your core values are, you might find your life lacks meaning. You might be living by rules or values that other people have either given or pushed upon you. If you live like this, you might feel like you're betraying yourself all the time and you probably won't feel satisfied. You might also be choosing relationships or partners that aren't right for you.
Why should I define my core values?
Here are some of the benefits that come from consciously defining your core values:
How do I define my core values?
Now that you understand the benefits of knowing your core values, I will give you a process for finding your values and claiming them. This will require some journaling and some uninterrupted time, but it will be worth the effort. Take time to really think about and answer the following questions and follow the process to the end.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Many of us were taught as children things like "make others happy," "be nice," "be unselfish," and "sacrificing yourself for other people is righteous." We were taught to be afraid of what others think of us and to avoid conflict at all costs.
Were you accidentally or intentionally taught these things as a child?
See if any of the following sound like you:
The following are suggestions for what you can do to start changing yourself to become more authentic and in control of your life.
Don't commit to anything on the spot
Make it your rule that you always say, "Can I check my calendar and get back to you?" Then step back and ask yourself, "Do I really want to do this, or am I saying 'yes' out of guilt, obligation or a fear of rejection or judgment?" If you can say "yes" because you truly want to do it, say "yes." If you are saying "yes" because of fear, you must say "no."
Practice saying 'no'
Look for every opportunity to get more comfortable with saying "no." You are not selfish or a bad person if you occasionally choose your own happiness and possibly disappoint others. Watch for opportunities to show kind assertiveness. Kindly say, "No, I don't want to do that right now. Thanks, though." Practice saying "no" with no explanation about why so the other person can't try to persuade you.
Try saying 'I don't' instead of 'I can't'
When some people hear the words "I can't," they become committed to changing your mind on that. They try to solve the problem for you so you can still do the thing they want you to do. But using the words "I don't" declares a firmer boundary.
Practice saying things like, "I don't have time for that," "I don't do those things," "I don't want to talk about that right now," or "That doesn't work for me." These phrases are more assertive and powerful, yet they can be said with a kind tone.
Learn how to be both strong and loving at the same time
Somewhere in childhood, many of us got the idea that you can either be strong (mean and selfish) or loving (weak and scared), but we can't be both. You will find your power and your courage when you realize you can do both at the same time. You can disagree, but do it with fearless, loving kindness.
I find the trick to finding this place lies in trusting there is nothing to fear. At the end of this interaction, you will still have the same value as every other person and your life will still be your perfect classroom. So, you are basically bulletproof. Focus on your loving kindness for the other person and respond with strength and love.
Learn the trick to strong boundaries
Everyone tells people pleasers to have strong boundaries, but how does one do that? I wrote a previous article on this topic you might want to read. I find the key to good boundaries is knowing what your priorities and values really are so you can say "no" to things that don't match up. If you haven't defined them, you don't know how to make good choices for yourself.
Define what your core priorities and values are
What is most important in your life? Sit down and make a list. You might value things like:
Give yourself permission to be you
It's OK to be different from others and have views they won't agree with. Have a unique style or way of being and do this from a place of trust that no judgment from others can change your value. Consciously choose to not worry about what others think of you. Their ideas have no power and don't mean or do anything.
Get more comfortable with conflict and anger
You may be so afraid of anger that you avoid conflict at all costs — and the costs can be high. To change this, you need a new official policy: "Conflict happens all the time, but it is nothing to fear."
Anger doesn't mean anything except that a human is having some emotions. Those emotions don't mean you aren't good enough or are unsafe. Anger is not something you need to fear.
You can get more comfortable with anger by slowly subjecting yourself to situations where people might get angry and practicing being OK and choosing to feel safe anyway. Do some things like sending back a meal that isn't cooked right, spending a long time at the ATM when people are waiting, saying "no" to someone, asking someone to stop doing something that is annoying you, or purposely not doing something you were asked to do.
Then you get to manage the ensuing conflict or anger with strength and love at the same time. Or instead of creating conflict, just watch out for natural opportunities to practice.
Practice putting your needs first
Putting your needs first may make you feel horribly selfish, but I promise you aren't. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's wise and healthy. You should have an equal balance between giving to others and taking care of yourself.
Understand that avoiding conflict doesn't promote growth
Most of the growth in relationships happens in times of conflict. Those are the moments when we are asked to become more aware of our behavior, our words or our thinking. We have to stretch and put ourselves in the other person's shoes.
When you avoid all conflict, you avoid the best learning opportunities you are going to get. Try to see each conflict experience as being in your life to serve your growth. Don't avoid it. Jump in and see what you and the other person can learn and how you can become better.
Stop saying 'sorry'
People pleasers apologize way too much. Sometimes they come across as feeling sorry they exist and that their breathing causes any inconvenience to others. You deserve to exist and sometimes cause inconvenience to others, as they will do the same to you.
Your relationships should have give and take, and sometimes you will be the taker. Consciously watch for the desire to say "I'm sorry" and instead say "thank you" for their patience or accommodating you this time.
When you do something that really injures someone, still don't say "sorry." Asking "Could you forgive me?" is much more powerful and means more.
Find activities that increase your courage and confidence
I find that doing adventurous things, challenging myself and accomplishing goals helps me become mentally strong. Even lifting weights and being physically being strong helps me to feel more emotionally strong — there is a correlation between the two types of strength. Become stronger all the time.
Change your belief about your value
People pleasing is a deeply ingrained tendency that comes from a fear of not being good enough. Because you don't see yourself as enough, you believe you need approval from others to give you value. The biggest thing you can do to change this behavior is to choose to see all humans — including yourself — with the same infinite, unchanging value as everyone else. The more you see your value as unchangeable the less validation you should need from others.
Changing this will take practice, effort and time. The first step is recognizing you need to work on this and committing to the work.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
Our regrets can haunt our present and cause us to miss opportunities to show up today. We also fear that bad decisions mean we weren't good enough, and we grieve the lost opportunities down the roads we didn't take.
But, we can't change the past. Worrying and stressing over past mistakes just robs today of its potential joy.
It is interesting to note that a recent study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people experience more regret over the things they didn't do than the things they did. Is that true for you? Do you regret the chances, trips and opportunities you didn't take or try?
Either way, every second you spend agonizing over the past, you are missing opportunities to be present, connect with people around you, or do things that matter now. If you spend time in regret on a regular basis, here are some suggestions for ways to let go of the past.
Make sure you have experienced the grief and painWhen you lose opportunities or make mistakes it is natural to feel some regret and grieve for the loss. You must allow yourself to feel these emotions and sit with them. They are part of the human experience, and it is healthy to allow yourself some time to feel disappointed, but you don't want to live there.
You might give yourself a limited time — like one week or one hour — to fully feel the pain and regret and then be done with it. Decide that it doesn't serve you in any way to live there, so you are going to chose to be present and make good choices today.
Stop asking 'what if' questions
You cannot change the past, so spending time imagining how things could have been if you had made different choices doesn't serve you at all. Instead, ask yourself "What will happen if I keep regretting this decision for the rest of my life? What is regret giving me? What is regret going to create in my life? What would life look like if I let regret go?"
The best way to forgive yourself for past mistakes is to choose the belief that human value is unchangeable, infinite and equal: all humans have the same value. This means your mistakes were interesting lessons that taught you things, but they don't mean anything about who you are and they don't change your value.
If you choose to see your past choices as the perfect classroom for you and believe they served you in some way, it is easier to forgive yourself. Everyone makes some mistakes and you are not worse or less than because of yours. They are nothing but lesson experiences.
Spend some time writing out all your regrets and disappointments. Make a list of all the times life didn't go well for you, you lost or were mistreated. Then make a list of all the things that went your way. Write all your wins, good-luck experiences, and positive turns of events. Make sure you write down all your blessings and the positives in your life. Understand that the nature of this journey is that life is filled with both good and bad experiences and they all are meant to teach you things.
See life as a perfect classroom
Whichever road you took, it taught you things your soul needed to learn. That's how the universe works. You never miss the perfect classroom experiences for you because the universe knows what it is doing.
The amazing Eckhart Tolle said, "Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." If you believe this and trust the universe, you will see that it is always conspiring to teach and grow you. Even the losses can be lessons and blessings.
See mistakes as locations on your journey
What is a mistake anyway? Is there such a thing? Maybe all your choices were the perfect classroom choices for you and not mistakes at all. You could choose to see mistakes as locations on your journey, not a reflection of who you are.
I went through a series of bad relationships. Those were life experiences that taught me many things, but they didn't change my value and they didn't define who I am. They were just things I experienced. I have traveled through divorce, being a single parent, experiencing financial troubles, etc. These experiences were interesting parts of my journey, but they aren't about my value.
Do a regret exercise
Make a list of the choices you regret. Then write down 10 positive things that each of those choices has brought into your life. This is an exercise Viktor Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning," recommended to his patients. If you can see the positive impact those wrong choices had on your life, you will feel differently about them. Seeing the lesson will lessen the sting.
Often those choices taught you important things about the kind of person you don't want to be. They made you less judgmental of others. They helped you become who you are today. Thank yourself for making those choices and choosing those beautiful lessons. You were right on track in your perfect classroom journey (or you can choose to see it that way if you want to).
Forgive other people for their mistakes
The way you feel about your own mistakes and the way you judge or criticize others for their mistakes are intricately tied together.
If you are quick to judge others and see their faults as making them unworthy, you will likely also see your own flaws as making you unworthy, too. If you decide to give everyone the infinite, unchanging value I mentioned earlier, you will find that you feel your unchanging value, too.
You love yourself the same way you love others, so a powerful way to feel better about yourself is to forgive others and let them be worthy despite their mistakes, faults or flaws. Make this a daily practice. The more you see them as worthy and love them where they are, the more you will also love yourself.
Life is School
Understand that your life isn't a test where you have to perform well and earn your value. It isn't a contest that compares your performance with others; it is a school where you are here to learn and experience things that will help you become smarter, stronger and more loving.
Stop comparing yourself with others. They are in a different class. You are the only one in your class.
The classroom of life requires you to experience wins and losses. It wants you to get to experience regret, guilt, shame and pain so you can fully understand the human experience. But these experiences don't determine who you are or they don't change your value, and they definitely don't define you. Let the past go. It is over and gone. Be present today and show up with trust and love. Keep your focus on the good you can do in the world today.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
For years I have said that I am socially awkward, as I can struggle in groups to feel comfortable. Is that something others experience, and how is it different from anxiety or just being an introvert? Do you have any tips for becoming more confident and less awkward with people?
Answer:You might be socially awkward, introverted or just shy. You could also have social anxiety. Do you know the difference? If you sometimes struggle in social situations it might help to understand these different experiences and see which sounds more like you.
Social anxiety is actually a mental health condition that means you struggle with significant and sometimes debilitating nervousness and fear in social situations. You may get anxious just thinking about being social, and you could get fixated on the possibility of embarrassment or rejection. People with social anxiety may avoid interacting with others at all and shut themselves off from relationships.
If you have an intense fear of being judged, embarrassing yourself, talking with strangers, or speaking to people, it might be worth talking to a mental health professional about it. Fifteen million adults in the U.S. have social anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. You are not alone in this and it is treatable.
Social awkwardness is about fear of discomfort and not knowing how to interact the right way in social situations. Socially awkward people are afraid of judgment or being disliked and often find their conversations don't flow well. They aren't sure the right things to say and do. For example, they might tell jokes that others don't find funny or tell them at the wrong time.
These people might also be too loud, too quiet, or ramble without realizing it. They sometimes sit back and listen more than they join in the conversation, or they jump in at an awkward time or place. People who are socially awkward can have so much self-monitoring and over-thinking going on during social interactions that they miss things. These people just don't come by social skills naturally; they have to work at it.
Introverted people aren't necessarily nervous or anxious; they just get their energy from being alone. They can handle social situations without anxiety, but being around other people too much is exhausting and can leave them feeling depleted. Introverts are quieter than extroverts, but they aren't necessarily shy, anxious or awkward. They tend to be good listeners, are thoughtful and dislike confrontation. Approximately half of us fall into this category.
Shy people feel uncomfortable and hesitant around new people or in new social situations. They may also hold back in conversations and listen for quite a while before saying anything. Most shy people are introverts, but they don't necessarily have social anxiety or awkwardness. These people just like familiar people and places, and they don't like speaking in public or being in the spotlight.
How to be less socially awkward
Most of us can find some characteristics in each of these five examples that they can relate to. People skills are something many of us have to work at and practice. Here are some tips for lessening social awkwardness:
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I recently got out of a relationship where I was dating someone that really loved me, but I was not sure what I was feeling at that point. I had a lot going on in my mind, so we decided to call it good and part ways. However, we left the door open to getting back together in the future. As time went on, I started to have clarity of my feelings. I love this person with all my heart, but I also realize we both have things to work on in order to have a healthy relationship. When I needed space, my partner would instead give me a lot of love and affection. I would then push him away. Now that my life is in a better place, I am trying to get rid of this self-defense mechanism. I started therapy and I am also on medication for depression. I reached out to my partner a few weeks ago and he requested some space, which I am giving him. So my questions are: How can a couple get through phases like this? What is the best way to approach reconciliation between me and my partner?
It sounds to me like you and your partner have different attachment styles. One is pushing while the other is pulling away, and neither of you feels secure in the relationship. The first step toward reconciliation would be to understand what happened last time so you don't repeat it.
Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller wrote an interesting book on attachment styles called "Attached." In the book, the authors explain there are three basic attachment styles and we are all functioning from one of them all the time. But your attachment style can change with different life experiences, they say. Your attachment style is your way of functioning in relationships and with intimacy at any point in time.
What is your attachment style?
Understanding your attachment style can help you to see why you behave and react the way you do. Here are the three attachment styles Levine and Rachel discuss:
The anxious person believes no one loves them and the avoidant believes love is smothering, the authors say. They each fulfill these beliefs for the other. These relationships are also the most difficult because the natural reactions and behaviors of an anxious person are the perfect triggers for the avoidant person and vice versa. This cycle isn't a healthy relationship for either party.
Changing your behavior
Here are some of the game playing, bad behaviors each type can display that triggers the other:
If the answers to those questions are "yes," then you need to decide what you both need and want in a relationship. You must do this without your partner because with them you might just list things you think your partner wants to hear. By working alone, however, you can be honest about your needs and what you think a healthy secure relationship should look like. Then be honest about whether you can really provide this for each other.
If you are avoidant and your partner is anxious, you both have some work to do on your fear triggers before this will work. Here are some things each of you can work on:
Anxious people can:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My young adult child is facing a whole bunch of scary decisions right now that will change the course of his life. He is having the hardest time making these choices because he is so afraid of making a mistake. I wondered if you had some advice for him since you often talk about fear.
Whenever you have trouble making a big decision there is probably some fear in the mix. For many of us, this fear causes paralysis where it feels safer to avoid choosing than to take the chance that we will make a wrong choice. Most of the time it's one of the following three fear issues that is causing the standstill.
It is helpful if you can tell which one of these fear issues is in play for you — and it could be more than one — because that will help you to understand which faulty beliefs are in play in your head.
Below are some steps I have used with coaching clients to help them remove the fear and make a love- or value-driven decision. Making a decision based on avoiding fear will never be the choice that is right for you long-term. It's much better to clear away the fear and listen to your heart (inner-GPS/intuition) to guide you.
Choose to believe that your value can't change
Choose a new belief that human value doesn't go up and down because it's unchangeable. This means every human being has the same intrinsic value as every other. This means no matter which option you choose, and no matter how it goes down the road, you still have the same value as every other human on the planet.
There is nothing you can do and no choice you can make that can diminish your value. These different paths are just signing you up for different classroom journeys; but no matter which class you are in, your value is the same.
Choose to believe that your life is always the perfect classroom journey for you
No matter which choice you make, the universe will co-create with you the perfect classroom journey for you. This means you are safe no matter what you choose. You cannot make a mistake; you can only make a choice and trust God and the universe to use that choice to give you the perfect journey you need to grow and learn.
If you believe this is true, there is no loss. You are never missing anything you were meant to have. You can never get less than the perfect journey for you. Listen to your heart and intuition; it's like an inner-GPS that always knows which path is the classroom journey for you.
Narrow the choices down to 2 options and process through them
If you are having trouble narrowing your choices down, put each option on a card and spread them out on a table in front of you. Play a game where you choose one to take off and throw in the garbage. Then, sit with what's left and see how it feels.
If you feel good about what's left, keep going. If it feels wrong, put that option back on the table. Play this until you have two options left.
Once you have your two options, put them through the following process:
Understand that you are the only one entitled to the answer to this decision
You can ask others for advice as research and gather information before you decide. But at the end of the day, you are the only one entitled to knowing your perfect classroom journey path. Don't let anyone else push you toward the answer they think is best; they aren't entitled to the answer on this. Trust yourself.
The 10 years after high school are years filled with life-altering decisions, and anxiety is sure to accompany this. It's important that you choose to believe you cannot make a mistake. Whatever you choose will be the perfect classroom journey for you, so do your best to think it through, try these techniques, and then just make a choice and start moving.
Many people change their career or degree later on, or get divorced and remarried. These situations are not ideal, but they also don't mean you are a failure or made a mistake. Choose to see them as perfect lessons you needed. Trust that, in the end, you will be the best you and all your experiences will have served you to get there.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I love your book "Choosing Clarity." I work in it every morning and plan to for the rest of my life. I have a problem with my spouse, though. She goes on and on with negativity and has for 30 years. She claims it's a fact she is a loser and a failure. I just don't want to hear or validate that anymore. I could listen for hours, and she never moves to a more positive place. She recounts over and over every failure she can find. She is never interested in trying to see it a different way. She won't read your book or try anything to feel better. She has post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. How do I proceed from here? I am so tired of it, and now she says I don't listen or care. I am just so tired of the same conversation that is so negative. What can I do?
This is hard since you cannot fix or change another person. No amount of begging, pleading or trying to solve it will ever change someone until they want to change. This can be discouraging and exhausting.
The good news is there are some things you can do to maintain your own positivity and encourage your partner to want to change themselves. Here are a few suggestions:
Don't try to fix it or be responsible for it
Most negative people want understanding about the pain they are in; they don't want a solution. They simply want you to know they are in pain, scared and unhappy. Your natural instinct will be to find a solution, but all they need you to say is "I am sorry your hurting. It sounds painful. I hate knowing your hurting because I love you."
Don't offer any solutions, especially if you have offered solutions in the past. Allow them to be where they are and be responsible for it. If you offer solutions, they may think that you're partly responsible for fixing it, which you cannot be. It's not your problem to fix, it is theirs.
Just affirm that you love and care for your spouse. If they ask why you aren't offering solutions anymore, tell them you realized they are the only person who can change it, and it's best to just love them where they are.
Stop trying to change them
The more you try to change someone, the more they will dig in and insist on staying where they are. They want to be loved and accepted where they are right now, even when they are really hard to live with. If they can feel you are disappointed in them and wish they were different, they will resist any change even more.
Stop saying or acting like you want anything different. This creates a space where they will be more open to change.
Use the encouragement technique
You cannot change another person, but you can encourage them when they want to change themselves. This is how it works: Imagine the way you want your spouse to think and behave. Make a list of the qualities you wish they possessed and the way you wish they behaved if they were being their best. Then, look for any signs of that kind of behavior. When you see it, make sure you mention how awesome they are.
Be specific and tell them how wonderful it is that they are acting more positive and happy now. Tell them what an upbeat, positive person they are being.
The goal is to show them this is the person you see when you look at them. People always want to live up to your highest opinion of them, so they may decide to be like this on their own. Just make sure any comment you make is positive and don't respond to the negative behavior at all.
Change your belief about human value and make it the language in your home
The only way this person will feel different or think differently about themselves and their life is if they do some work to change their beliefs.
We all currently have a belief that we might not be good enough. It sounds like your partner even believes she is a total failure. This is not a fact, just a belief. It comes from a deep foundational belief that human value can change and has to be earned. As long as a person believes that, they will always feel "not good enough."
The best way to change self-esteem for every member of your family is to teach them a new, better belief – that all human beings have the same, unchangeable, intrinsic worth and there is nothing they can do to change that. Talk about this new belief often with your family and make it the language in your home. Your partner will start to get it if you talk about it often.
You could also offer to encourage them to work with a coach or counselor if they want to better understand the principle. It's better to let them learn it on their own with their private coach than for you to try to teach it to them.
Encourage your family to have compassion for others
The way you judge other people is always tied to the way you judge yourself. If you are hard on yourself, chances are you are also hard on others and quick to see their faults as diminishing their value. As long as you do that, you will also see your own faults as diminishing your value. So, if you encourage compassion for others and really work on seeing them as good enough, you will also grow in love for yourself.
Help your family to trust the journey as your perfect classroom
Share with your family the idea that we are on the planet to learn and grow, and the universe is a wise teacher bringing the perfect lessons we need every day. This means when we have failures, they don't change our value; they are just lessons here to teach us something.
Talk about this principle often in your home and let your spouse hear it. Don't preach it or try to teach it to them, though. Just talk about it as something you believe.
Understand this partner can be your perfect classroom
We tend to surround ourselves with people who can become good teachers in our journey. I wonder if this partner struggling with this issue can be the perfect spouse for you. What can you learn?
If you keep asking this question, the universe will provide an answer. Maybe it's to learn to love others when they are hard to love. Maybe it's about loving yourself or trusting God more. When you see your spouse as part of your perfect classroom, you can have more patience with and compassion for them.
(Note: This suggestion is not meant to be applied in situations that involve abuse. If you feel unsafe because you experience emotional, mental or physical abuse, you must seek outside help.)
See your spouse as scared, not negative
By attaching negative labels to your spouse, you're more likely to have less compassion for and experience more frustration with them. It would be more accurate — and more helpful — to see them as scared and lacking some skills and tools than to see them as a negative person. Your spouse is just a person who is struggling because they don't know a better way to process their life, but that doesn't affect their value at all.
Have some boundaries when you need them
Lovingly tell your spouse that you are sorry they are hurting and you love them. But it's also OK to let them know you can handle about five more minutes of negative talk, and then you'll need to either focus on some positives or leave the room. Make sure they know this isn't about them, but about what you need to stay balanced today yourself.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I've been working as a people skills expert for 20 years, teaching individuals and organizations to understand human behavior and get along with others. Throughout that time, I've discovered 10 basic people skills that I consider to be the skills every human being could work on to help create healthy relationships.
As you read through these 10 people skills, assess yourself and see where you might need some work.
1. Ability to put yourself in another person's shoes
This is the skill of empathy, which is a skill you can become better at. Recent studies have shown that at least 10% of our capacity for empathy is inherited through our genes; the rest is all about intention and practice. Last week's LIFEadvice article includes many ways to improve your empathy and teach it to your kids.
2. Ability to accept others who are different from you
We all have a tendency to react in judgment when we meet someone who is different from us. We sometimes assume if two things are different, one must be better and one must be worse. This human tendency encourages us to see others as less than us so we can feel better.
You can change this tendency by choosing to see all humans as having the same, infinite value that never changes. Then when you meet someone who is different, you can practice allowing them to be different and still have the same value.
Understand that the world needs all kinds of people, with different views and different ways of functioning in the world. You can choose tolerance, acceptance, allowing and respecting them instead of judging them. It is a wonderful skill that will improve with practice.
3. Ability to stay open, flexible and change your mind or plans
It can be a real problem in your relationships at home and work if you are too controlling, opinionated, inflexible or sure you are right all the time. Watch for needing to make others wrong for you to feel safe in the world and how this negatively affects your connection with others. It is a good practice to stay open and always assume that you might be wrong about everything you know.
Question what you are told and assume there might be things you don't know or another perspective you haven't considered. Be willing to change plans and let go of your expectations, too. Expectations about how things should be can make you too rigid and difficult to work with.
Practice trusting that however things turn out, that must be perfect for some reason and roll with changes in plans without feeling mistreated or taken from. Recognize that you feel loss when things don't go the way you wanted; but if you trust it's perfect then, there is no loss.
4. Ability to know your own worth in any situation
Knowing your own worth in any situation means you don't let situations or other people diminish your value. You can gain this skill by practicing knowing that your intrinsic value can't change and is the same as every other human being's, no matter what happens or what anyone thinks.
You can be bulletproof from low self-esteem issues by just choosing to believe your value can't change. Every time you make a mistake or feel judged or criticized, keep telling yourself "that doesn't change my value." As you practice this, you will find you can walk into any situation and feel safe because your sense of safety comes from inside of you.
5. Ability to regulate your own inner state — from unsafe to safe
Every minute of the day, you are in one of two states: feeling safe, where you are capable of showing up for others, or feeling unsafe, where you feel "not good enough" or not secure and aren't capable of focusing on others. You can and must monitor your inner state and pay attention to where you are. If you start behaving badly or feel un-balanced, you are probably in a fear (unsafe) state.
It is your No. 1 job in life to be responsible for yourself and your behavior. You can choose to make yourself feel safe by choosing to believe your value can't change and that your journey is the perfect classroom for you. Trust the universe is a wise teacher who knows what it's doing, and trust that it only brings situations into your life that will bless you and grow you. This means you have the ability to make yourself feel safe in any moment. Your sense of security in the world can come from you, and it will also make you more capable of giving to others.
6. Ability to understand what's really happening when others are upset
When people are upset, they often channel their anger toward a person — but the angry emotion is not usually about that person. People with good social skills understand this and can see that these people are just scared. It's fear of failure and loss that upsets people, and their upset is always about their own safety.
Most bad behavior is really a request for love or attention. Humans need some validation or reassurance that they are safe and loved. Bad behavior in another person often doesn't make us want to validate or love them, but it is what they need. This is, again, a skill that you get better at with practice.
7. Ability to have a difficult conversation the right way
We all need to know the right way to have a touchy conversation so that both parties feel heard, honored and respected at the end. This means seeing the other person as the same as yourself, setting your feelings aside upfront, asking questions and listening to the other person, then asking permission to speak your feelings and share your view. This process is easy, but remembering to practice it in every conversation is hard.
You might need to have a reminder on your phone to remind you to listen before you talk and to validate other people's right to their opinions. I've written numerous articles on this topic in the past.
8. Ability to listen and validate another person
You need to have some conversations with the people in your life in which all you do is ask questions, listen and honor and respect the other person's right to their feelings. I see this as its own skill because it truly is a specific skill inside of the conversations mentioned above.
Listening is easy for some people who don't like to talk anyway, but for some of us this is really hard and requires diligent intention and practice. You must consciously decide at the beginning of a conversation that you are committed to making the other person feel heard, understood and valued, and that you will listen more than you talk.
The most powerful way to give this to another person is to simply ask lots of questions and listen with the intent to understand them, rather than trying to figure out what you want to say next. Being a master listener is one of the greatest people skills you can develop.
9. Ability to enforce your own and honor others' boundaries
This skill is really about seeing your own value as equal to that of other people. This means your needs are equally important as theirs. It also means honoring your right to have boundaries to protect yourself and make sure your needs are met.
Some of us feel selfish if we make our needs important, but it's not. Putting one's needs first can actually be wise and healthy.
We must also watch for other people enforcing their boundaries and honor their right to make themselves important too.
10. Ability to make hard decisions from a place of love, not fear
Many of us fear making decisions because we fear mistakes and/or missing out on any options. Your ability to listen to your own intuition and know what choice is right for you is a critical life skill you can, again, practice and get better at.
A technique I teach my coaching clients is to write down all of your options. Then, write down a fear-motivated reason to do each option and a love-motivated reason to do each option. This will double your options. The next step is to cross out all the fear-motivated reasons/options and make a choice from the love-motivated ones.
Sit with that choice and feel what your intuition has to say about it. Does it feel right to you? Does it still bother you and make you feel discontented? You are entitled to know the right path on your perfect classroom journey. You have an inner GPS to guide you. If you haven't tuned into yours yet, you just need to start practicing listening and feeling your way through some choices. All the answers you need are inside you.
Working on these skills will help you become you someone who is easy to get along with, resolve conflicts, negotiate and make plans with. You will be more likely to make friends easily and feel happier because you will feel safer and more secure and have more to give others.
You can do this.
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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.