What to Ask Yourself to Have a Meaningful Life

Ten years ago, loss of loved ones, health challenges, motherhood, financial concerns, isolation, humiliating mistakes, and impending move across the country to a harsh climate left me feeling drained and lacking clarity for my life. Glimpses of what I wanted for myself and my family disappeared. I felt angry, lost, blessed, confused, excited, afraid and eerily untethered.

How I Created a Meaningful Life (The MESSY Version!)

We settled in an unfamiliar land. I unpacked. I journaled. I cleaned my house. I washed laundry. I cried. I unpacked more boxes. I drank hot tea. I fed the dogs. I paid bills. I took deep breaths as I stared at bare refrigerator shelves. I created art. I got quiet. I got frustrated. I went back to school. I studied. I cared for my family. I worked at a low paying job. I took one step at a time. I had faith that a staircase to my life existed. I stopped taking steps. I doubted myself. I reconsidered. I took more steps. I learned from mistakes. I got inspired. I connected with others. I listened to Spirit. I ignored Spirit. I made more mistakes. I listened again. I took action. I realigned with my values. I rinsed and repeated over and over again.

The Daily Question

When I asked myself open-ended questions, I noticed deeper clarity and focus, tapping into solutions and ideas. My daily question became:

What is the next right step for me DESPITE my obstacles?

Despite lack of clarity or certainty.

Despite my plus-sized jeans missing a button.

Despite people who didn’t believe in me.

Despite my lack of knowledge.

Despite my fear.

Despite where I lived.

Despite my exhaustion and crappy thoughts.

Despite the amount of money in my bank account.

Despite my emotions.

Despite my imperfections.

Despite the distance from my loved ones.

Despite my messy house.

Despite the weather.

Despite busyness of having young children.

Despite my self-doubt.

I get teary-eyed thinking of all the times/places I asked myself that question. Now, fast-forward ten years, I get to do what I love, enjoy a loving marriage, be with my children, have wonderful friends/colleagues who support me, create art in my studio, and experience life in Big Sky country, while enjoying healthy habits.

Is life perfect? No way! Do I still have moments of frustration or self-doubt? Yes! However, I hit the reset button and consider the question that invites fulfillment and meaning to my daily life.

Your Turn

So, how would YOU answer this question, even if life is raining problems and a lack of clarity for you?

What is the next right step for me DESPITE my obstacles?

Dr. Brene Brown talks about how to have courage despite imperfections in her book, Daring Greatly. She also challenges the reader to consider what would be worth doing even if you DID fail! Shauna Niequist writes about creating a more soulful way of living in her book, Present Over Perfect. Now it is your turn.

Get quiet. Momentarily suspend distractions. Determine the next right step for you DESPITE obstacles. Listen to Spirit. You won’t regret it!

 

What to Do When You Feel Betrayed

Broken Heart Betrayal Distrust

July is a time to remember those who fought to create and preserve our freedom. We can also honor those individuals in our everyday lives who have stood up to the tyranny of self-centeredness, fought for and nurtured strong relationships. Most of us know a few individuals who choose to do what it takes to grow a marriage, a family or build a community. They often take “the road less traveled” in order for their loved ones to feel safe and that they matter.

Acts of treason and betrayal, when the United States of America was being formed, held grave consequences for those involved and our country. Betrayal in our closest relationships can incur the deepest of consequences as well. That betrayal fractures marriages, children’s growth and development, flourishing communities and ultimately our nation’s greatest resource, each other. The crippling ripple effects of our personal choices can have epidemic, world-wide results.

Dr. John Gottman, one of the most well-respected academic researchers in the field of marriage and family and author of What Makes Love Last: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal, describes 10 ways to betray a partner in addition to sexual betrayal. He explains that relationships are built on the foundation of trust, and the erosion of trust in a relationship begins in the seemingly most insignificant of moments. You choose to turn toward your partner or away from your partner when they need you most, whether you are consciously aware or not. Choosing to turn away from someone when they need your support or attention invites distrust. They no longer trust that you will be there for them. Over time, that constant turning away develops into a sense of betrayal, and ultimately a fractured marriage that lead to divorce, even in relationships that practice fidelity. The following behaviors contribute to a sense of betrayal, according to Gottman:

  1. Conditional Commitment – The underlying attitude is “I am here for you…until something or someone better comes along.” The partner is not fully in the relationship and any incident can diminish how much intimacy and support their partner receives.
  2. A Nonsexual Affair – This relationship involves a supposedly platonic relationship that a partner would be uncomfortable watching the interactions or upset with the closeness shared.
  3. Lying – Keeping secrets or not sharing the truth in order to avoid blow-ups or arguments in order to keep the peace.
  4. Forming a Coalition Against the Partner – When a partner includes outside family or friends in decisions, constantly vents or criticizes the spouse, or aligns with their parent over their spouse regarding issues, erosion of trust prevails.
  5. Absenteeism or Coldness – Instead of sharing true feelings, the partner chooses to give the cold shoulder OR emotionally not being present for the spouse when they need support or feedback.
  6. Withdrawal of Sexual Interest – A variety of reasons for not making sex a priority can lead to a sense of betrayal. Those reasons include busyness, stress, negative body image, criticism, not feeling cherished, mismatched sex drives, or physical/medical issues. When the issues are not addressed in honest, loving ways, hurt and rejection can consume the relationship, according to Gottman.
  7. Disrespect – If a partner makes another person feel inferior, uses frequent name-calling, sarcasm or implies they have the upper hand, they are being disrespectful and creating the poison of distrust in the relationship.
  8. Unfairness – Life can be unfair, but loving, long-term relationships can be havens from injustice. Mutual satisfaction only happens when neither partner feels taken advantage of and needs/wants are met equally. For example, spending, division of labor, or how free time is spent need mutually satisfying solutions.
  9. Selfishness – Happy couples understand that, at times, each will forfeit their own needs for the common good. However, resentment occurs when selflessness is not mutual.
  10. Breaking Promises – Broken promises can include, for example, secrecy or controlling of money/resources, not aligning with a mutual value established in the beginning of a relationship (like how to practice spirituality or boundaries with in-laws) or addiction.

 

How to build trust and avoid betrayal

 

  1. Create a safe place to share honestly with each other. Avoid blindly accepting hurtful behavior, shutting down or harsh retaliation and defensiveness. Also, avoid making your partner guess what is wrong. Put your feelings into words by saying how actions make you feel.  Ask each other open-ended questions that begin with the words WHAT or HOW that invite solutions. Be open, honest and unconditionally committed to mutually sharing what you both truly want for your relationship.
  2. Practice accountability and reliability. Re-establishing trust, according to Dr. Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, author and creator of the video, Anatomy of Trust, explains that individuals need to “own your mistakes, apologize and make amends as well as do what you say you are going to do consistently.”
  3. Listen deeply. Repeat what you think you heard your partner say and allow them opportunity to clarify. Refrain from choosing to hold on to your misinterpretations of their words or behaviors. Dr. Brene Brown also suggests to give your partner the most generous interpretation of their actions.
  4. Choose calm empathy. When we choose to respond calmly, our brains stay out of fight/flight/freeze mode and can problem-solve much better. Compassion and empathy are located in the pre-frontal cortex of our brain and can be accessed when calm. The prefrontal cortex also houses our ability to reach solutions. So, take a short time-out, get calm, choose empathy and you are on the road to finding solutions that work for your relationship.
  5. Get help. Enlist the help of an objective person who is trained in relationships, such as a board certified relationship coach, to help create solutions in order to move forward and align with the vision you have for your marriage.

So, embrace the challenge to build a deeper sense of trust and avoid the pitfalls of betrayal in your marriage in order to create strong relationships within your family.  Only then will you ever know the greatest opportunities for your ultimate dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of TRUE happiness!

For Great Relationships, Ask Better Questions!

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Types of questions that help grow and nurture great    relationships include:

  1. Questions that start with WHAT or HOW, such as “How could I really help make this situation better?”
  2. Questions that include both people in the relationship, such as “What can WE do to help make our marriage great?”
  3. Questions that give your partner the benefit of the doubt, such as “What could my wife be needing that I am missing?”

Avoid WHY questions and YES/NO questions in order to get the best answers.

 

If you would like the100 Questions to Ask Your Partner on Date Night,” please click here.

 

Here’s to amazing relationships!

Marriage After An Affair

Life after an Affair Marriage CoachingHow do you move forward in your marriage after an affair?

This is a question I have been asked many times as a relationship coach. I have worked with couples who decide to divorce after 20 years of marriage as well as couples who, during the coaching process, discover how to create the marriage they never had!

To move forward, couples need to consider the following after an affair….before they make the decision split or stay.

1. Understand what REALLY created the affair. Unmet emotional needs drive human behavior. For example, when a spouse does not feel like they matter to their partner, they search for significance elsewhere, such as through children, family, work or an affair. When both parties learn how to meet their own emotional needs more effectively as well as be supportive to their partner’s emotional needs, less desire to wander elsewhere occurs.

2. Consider how YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE both nurtured, poisoned or neglected the relationship. Just as a plant needs tending in order to grow, and can die from poison or neglect, so can a relationship. One partner may be poisoning the relationship with poor relationship habits, however, the other person who is shutting down or avoiding conflict is neglecting the relationship. Neglect kills plants just as much as poison! The good news is that poor relationship habits often have very little to do with the amount of love that is between the couple.

3. Decide to commit to doing the work! If you and your partner want to have a fulfilling marriage, get clear about what creates lasting change. Work with a coach to gain tools to have a different focus, a different meaning and a shift in your state of being so that you both “show up” differently in order to move forward. Just as time and attention to your career, coupled with effective work strategies, can produce success, relationships are no different. Just thinking positive or having good intentions do not produce lasting results!

4. Do what it takes to rebuild trust. Dr. John Gottman, the well-respected professor emeritus at the University of Washington, describes how building trust happens in the little moments between partners. For example, during conflict, couples can choose to turn toward their partner, instead of turning away, placing the relationship before self.

5. Forgive. (I know this one word can be taken to so many extremes and interpretations!) BOTH partners need to create a full understanding of what forgiveness REALLY encompasses AND then daily decide forgiveness of self and your partner. Blame only stifles progress toward having the marriage you want. Remember what you put out into the world will come back to you.

6. Decide what the affair means for your life. Do you choose to allow the affair to be devastation and you the victim? Or… was this affair a wake-up call for your marriage? Do you and your partner have the courage to face discomfort in order to have the marriage you both want with each other???

If you have any questions regarding the above information, or would like to create a passionately intimate marriage, feel free to contact Kim at kim@kimkompel.com. Choose true fulfillment and amazing relationships!

Domestic violence and substance abuse need additional treatment before such considerations will be safe or effective.

Ten Tips to a Happier Marriage

Every marriage experiences challenges. However, the stronger the marriage, the greater the ability to get through and grow from those life challenges. Here are ten tips for a happier, stronger marriage that can thrive despite circumstances.

  1. Notice your spouse’s positive attributes and efforts to make you happy. Choose to interpret your partner’s (imperfect) actions as ways to make you happy. Thank them for what they bring to the marriage WITHOUT saying “Thank you, but…” Most people have good intentions even when their actions miss the mark….even YOU! Appreciate your spouse more mindfully. (Warning: This skill, when learned completely, can create a real shift for marriages!!!)
  1. Let go of a “pay-back” mentality. A pay-back mentality includes actions such as withholding sex, money, affection, attention, communication. We tend to get what we put into relationships, and revenge/resentment is like poison to a relationship.
  1. Put your spouse FIRST. Avoid letting less important busy-ness get in the way of your relationship and remember that your spouse’s concerns are your concerns. When each partner mutually focus on committing to the other in an unconditional way, a much deeper love can grow.
  1. Remember your good manners or good marriage habits. Consider the manners and habits you each had when you first met. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ as well as spending a few minutes each day connecting, bringing your spouse coffee or always ending the day with a kiss are small ways to send a BIG message that you care. Love as ACTION vs. a feeling makes for great marriages!
  1. Remember that it takes TWO people to make a relationship. In order to create a great marriage, you each have to get really honest about how YOU have contributed to the current state of affairs. Your partner may shut down but possibly due to your critical nature??? Blaming the other person keeps your relationship from moving forward. Apologize for YOUR actions and begin to see your spouse begin to make changes as well.
  1. Laugh and spend time having fun together. Sometimes what seems like a lack of passion is just a matter of spending time rediscovering why you both were attracted to each other in the first place. Increasing physical touch and affection can also recreate that connection. Giving time and attention to your relationship may be what it takes to begin to rekindle the flame and go to the next level in your marriage.
  1. Listen…without getting defensive or wanting to blame, rationalize or avoiding conflict. Really hearing what your spouse is trying to say (rather imperfectly at times) requires a commitment on your part to not engage in poor listening habits. When you become defensive, blame or try to avoid the problem so it will just go away, you are not truly hearing from a place of love, empathy and commitment.
  1. Avoid spending time with “bad examples.” Family, media, or friends who do not support a strong, loving relationship between you and your spouse may not have your best interest at heart. What emotional needs are trying to get met through others? How is that impacting your relationship?
  1. Stop criticizing and demanding your partner to change. The Pursue/Withdrawal cycle does nothing but cause frustration, resentment and further shutting down. What is the purpose of your controlling behavior? What behavior do YOU need to change?
  1. If you want a better marriage, let it begin with YOU. Waiting for your partner to do better will only lead to disappointment. Let go of false pride. The next time your interactions with your spouse go awry, hit the RESET BUTTON! Choose emotional maturity, and be the one to take the first steps to a happier marriage NOW!*

 

*Domestic violence and active alcohol/substance abuse require immediate medical attention.

 

A Thought for Today

Thankful for TodayA dear person dies suddenly of unknown causes. A request is rejected. The scale lies about self-worth. Test results seem to take forever. The daily calendar shows more of a need for approval and flurry than living authentically.

At some point, after many days of such happenings, I begin to believe the lies I tell myself.

  •  “I am not doing enough.”
  • “I do not have enough…time, money, energy.”
  • “I am not taking care of enough.”
  • “I have not connected enough.”

Then, as I drop a bowl of eggs all over myself, I am forced to stop and the floodgates open. My very happy Brittany spaniels come to my rescue, licking at the eggs, my tears, and anything else they can find.

 I stop…..breathe……and take notice.

My sons are laughing happily at a funny song. The crock pot is bubbling with a delicious soup my husband made this morning. My paintbrushes sit on the counter, waiting for the next inspired moment. The sun is shining…..AND, my doggies are now sitting calmly at my feet, looking up at me with their cute little eyes.

I become overwhelmed with the most incredible sense of gratitude.

I am so thankful for this moment.

 

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”

 -Ruth Ann Schabacker

 

What gifts do you notice in this moment today?

 

 

The Mistaken Thought That May Be Keeping You Stressed

Imperfection Bedhead

In working with lots of successful but stressed out individuals and couples, one thought pattern that seems to prevail is the pursuit of perfection….whether it is perfection or “shoulds” in themselves, their spouse, co-workers, children, personal belongings, body image, an event or a task.

So does this mean that you should never try to succeed? No!

You can choose to strive toward EXCELLENCE vs. perfection.

 The need to be perfect comes from a place of low self-worth and “I am not enough” while striving for excellence comes from a place of integrity, wanting to give 100% yet having compassion for yourself and others (with maybe a bit of humor) when you don’t hit the mark.

How you can tell if you are mistakenly choosing perfection:

  • You may not try something at all because you are afraid to fail.
  • You avoid doing tasks outside of your comfort zone.
  • You tell yourself you need more of something.
  • You say YES to more than is helpful and become overwhelmed.
  • You procrastinate.
  • Your need to accomplish something at all cost compromises your other values.
  • You allow other people to disappoint you.
  • You get very stressed and anxious.
  • You blame others or something else for not accomplishing your goal.
  • You use the word “should” a lot.
  • You give up.

The benefits of choosing excellence:

  • You are less stressed.
  • You are choosing authenticity and integrity.
  • You are resourceful without compromising your values.
  • You appreciate others’ differences.
  • You can more fully enjoy and engage in the present moment.
  • You have better relationships with others.
  • You are more open to possibility and opportunities otherwise not seen if more stressed.
  • You experience more gratitude and need less.
  • You exercise more courage, thus are more likely to create a more meaningful life.
  • You utilize your sense of humor and laughter more, which can help create a longer life.

So, the next time you want to do something, whether it is take up an art class, improve a relationship, throw a party, take on a project with a team at work, get healthier, or deal with a bad hair day, choose to take a deep breath and work toward excellence while seeing the beauty in the challenge….the obstacles…and the imperfect.

Motivation for Today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The following is a compilation of wisdom I have gathered from colleagues, mentors and other successful people I admire. Feel free to plaster these words somewhere in your surroundings to stay motivated toward success. Here is to….TODAY!

Get out of your own way! YOU are your only obstacle…no one or nothing else. 

Choose courage.

SMALL consistent daily actions are what REALLY lead to success.

Imperfect action is better than no action.

Reboot your fuel by taking a break to play when stressed.

Transform your “gremlin thoughts” into more empowering self talk.

Focus on creating your life with YOUR values and dreams vs. someone else’s.

Do the simplest “next step” when feeling overwhelmed.

Patiently understand success is a process not an event.

Start early with the most challenging task then the rest of the day is BONUS!

Be thankful for the life you are currently living.

Laugh, breathe deeply, wander a bit and be fully present.

Visualize your success every day. Be that person until you become that person.

Allow music to immediately shift your waning energy and negativity.

Choose compassion when you have a setback….then move on.

Reach out to others to help with energy drainers.

Gather a successful person’s wisdom. Watch a TED talk, read a book, or take a class.

 

Focus just on today……. How will you spend it???

 

 

The BIGGEST Mistake You Can Make

Sad And Worried

We ALL make mistakes.

We ALL will continue to make mistakes.

We need mistakes for growth and development. They can be more instructive than our successes, if we let them.

We have a choice to see mistakes as failures or lessons.

The biggest mistake we can make is to not see the mistake for the learning opportunity it is!

When we see mistakes as failures, we cannot move forward to success.

How to know if you are missing the “lesson”:

1. You blame/criticize someone else for your pain.

2. You feel like a loser or failure, so you give up.

3. You beat up yourself.

4. You complain all the time about something negative in your life.

5. You avoid making a mistake by never starting something or failing to complete a task…and ultimately avoiding life!

6. Your “solutions” to the problem have negatively affected other areas of your life, such as some of your closest relationships.

7. You find yourself dealing with the same problem over and over.

When you are not learning the lesson life has for you, it’s a lot like sitting in the middle of a highway, beating up yourself or someone else. Sooner or later, you are going to get run over!

Tips for learning “lessons”  the first time around:

1. Find the “light.” Mistakes often light a path for you to put crucial problems in the forefront that could have positive impact. Similar to the 80/20 principle, what small effort could lead you to 80% of the outcome you want?

2. See the gift. Your mistakes contain a positive lesson. (Be careful the message you are choosing from the lesson is really helpful….not just exacerbating the pain.) You don’t have to be thankful FOR the painful situation, however, being thankful for the lesson IN the situation can move you forward out of pain.

3. Tell the truth. Own your mistakes. Own how YOU have played a part in what has happened. You only have control over what YOU have done or not done. Sharing honestly with yourself and others defuses your shame so you can move on.

4. Keep your promise. Mistakes are sometimes promises you have not kept with yourself or others. Recommit a sense of integrity with yourself. Realign with your core values and readjust your actions.

Get comfortable with your mistakes. Allow them to be “teachers” and learn from them. Then, move on!

 

Personal Discovery:

Think about a big mistake you have made…what YOU did and the consequences of that mistake in all areas of your life/relationships.

Consider several possible interpretations/messages of this event then choose the most helpful one.

From that interpretation, decide what YOU can do differently to avoid making the same mistake again.

 

“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”  -Albert Einstein

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake all together.” -Roy H. Williams

Email Kim at kim@kimkompel.com if you would like to schedule a 30 minute inquiry session today!

Much joy and peace,

Kim

 

 

Stop the Comparison Game!

1. Comparison is like poison to your soul. You will always be able to find someone else who is doing more, has more, etc. and dwelling on that produces negative thoughts and feelings that lead to defeat and inertia….creating more inaction that you don’t want….analysis paralysis!

2. Comparison is a stall tactic. As stated above, you become paralyzed by choosing to compare. Who in their right mind would CHOOSE to be paralyzed? Choose to embrace what you have been given as well as your life lessons, not as obstacles, but as a part of your journey.

3. In comparison, you are being ungrateful. When you compare yourself to someone else, you no longer appreciate what you have. Live in gratitude and use your strengths, talents and gifts to their fullest. You will achieve much more… much faster!

4. In comparison, you are being judgmental. If you are judgmental with yourself, you are more likely to be judgmental with others…..and who likes to be around a judgmental person!

5. Comparison is unfair. When you compare yourself to another, you compare your “worst self” to another’s best. AND, although a person may have, say,  the nicest home, how do you know what the rest of their life and relationships are about? That is comparing apples to oranges.

Stop poisoning yourself and embrace YOUR life!

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” -Iyanla Vanzant

Much joy and peace,

Kim