Archive for the ‘Dear Jane Podcasts’ Category

Healing Post Traumatic Stress

Monday, October 1st, 2007
 
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I have been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop for some folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. I will be going with great humility as I don’t presume to fathom the emotional, physical, and spiritual demands that this catastrophe has imposed on those who live in its aftermath. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, StopEnduring.com.
While living through a catastrophe such as Katrina is in some ways unique, there are commonalities in how our minds and spirits attempt to handle extreme trauma. Learning about these commonalities can help us support each other during and after times of crisis.
If you have suffered through war; emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; a natural or manmade disaster; or abandonment or overwhelming loss, you may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you isolate yourself, you are more likely to experience chronic PTSD long after the initial trauma. Your symptoms may, in fact, become disabling.
Therefore, it is important to learn the symptoms of PTSD so that you know if you need to reach out or if someone you care about needs help. PTSD symptoms can include one or more of the following:
• flashbacks about the traumatic event
• feelings of estrangement or detachment
• nightmares/sleeping disturbances
• eating disturbances
• suicidal thoughts
• occupational instability
• memory disturbances
• family discord
• parenting or marital difficulties
• hopelessness
• helplessness
• alcohol/drug abuse
Recognizing the symptoms of PTSD will help you understand that you’re not “crazy.” In fact, your symptoms are actually coping strategies you’ve unconsciously devised to keep you from re-experiencing the intensity of the trauma.

The problem is that these coping strategies can evolve into permanent lifestyle changes that wear you down after a while, keeping you enduring rather than thriving. This is no time to feign a stiff upper lip or to try to pull yourself up by elusive bootstraps. You owe it to yourself to reach out for help.

Remember, PTSD is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it’s a clever strategy that your psyche has conjured up to keep you from being overwhelmed. So don’t hide your PTSD and suffer in silence and isolation. Join a support group, seek counseling, and/or help others who are in a similar situation.

Let me know if this information is helpful to you.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Lessons from The Wizard of Oz

Saturday, September 15th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I just bought a nice new car, which I’d been saving up for. I felt excited when I got into it, smelled that new-car smell, and heard the engine purr. That was a week ago. Now, even though I’m still proud of myself for attaining this goal, I don’t feel jazzed about the car itself anymore. Why is the thrill gone so quickly? How come I don’t stay happy for very long?

Given the amount of debt we Americans are currently up to our ears in, you’d think that money must buy happiness. But just a few years ago, a landmark Harvard study demonstrated that, although many people believe that a nice piece of jewelry, a larger home, a new car, or more money will make them happy, this satisfaction doesn’t last long.

The researchers found that what makes us happiest for the greatest duration is something money can’t buy: friendship. If we take this conclusion to heart—that what will make us happiest is our connection with others—then we have to believe that our best decisions, the ones that help us thrive and enjoy life the most for the longest time, require nothing more than an open heart.

Often, we’re like the Tin Woodsman or the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, searching everywhere for what we think is missing when it’s right there inside of us all along. Our capacity for happiness is like that—it’s right there inside us yet we look far and wide for it, often paying a high price to boot.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a car. I’m saying that you’ll probably be happier if you have someone in it next to you to crank up the CD player and sing with. If you want to own a bigger home, make sure you focus on creating laughter and love in there.

The Jewish people have a saying: It’s better to give with warm hands. What this means is that it’s more enjoyable to share while we’re alive than to hold onto everything until we’re dead, an attorney doling it out to our descendants.

Any material object that we crave will lose its luster once we possess it, while relationships that are joyful and loving never tarnish.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Being the Light, not Shining the Light

Monday, September 10th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I’ve done a lot of healing work and want to help others, but I sometimes get discouraged. I think, “What can I, as one person, do to make the world better? I’m not Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa or some brave whistle blower.” I guess I’m overwhelmed. How can I get over this hurdle?

We are not beings apart. We are not made to ignore suffering in the world. As we tend to our own wounds with compassion, we are naturally drawn to reaching out to help others. So what stops us from giving more of ourselves?

Our guardian self, which I talk about in my book, Enough Is Enough!, keeps us playing small by convincing us we are powerless and comparing us unfavorably to our heroes. Why? Because the job of the guardian self is to help us avoid disappointment and pain. And it’s true that when we open our hearts and reach out, we will experience others’ pain.

But what happens if we don’t reach out? The only alternative is to shut down, imprison our spirit, and spend the rest of our days making excuses for our fears.

The last words of the Buddha were, “Be a lamp unto yourself; make of yourself a light.” Not “carry a lantern”; be the light. Your spirit has boundless energy and bottomless compassion. It longs to express your values and aspirations. It longs to give. As your numbness dissolves, your spirit’s voice is rising above your guardian self’s chatter asking, “How can I help?”

In his inaugural speech, Nelson Mandela calls for us to see ourselves as the powerful beings we already are:

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some of us,
it is in everyone,
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people
Permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

One final thought: You cannot notice in someone else what does not exist within you. If you experience admiration for Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa, it is not because they are different, but because your spirit resonates with theirs.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

To Stay or To Go

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I can’t stand the relationship I’ve been in anymore. My partner and I have been together for 12 years. I always thought we would make it. We have so much in common and we’ve been supportive of each other. But I realize that I’ve been unhappy, without admitting it to myself, for quite a while. I feel drained by how much he needs me and demands of me. Lately, I can’t stand the thought of him even touching me. I fantasize him dying or him saying he wants to end the relationship. I know this is because I don’t want to be the one to make the decision. What should I do? I feel like I’m dying inside.

What I hear coming through loudly and clearly is your built-up resentment. Resentment kills: It kills relationships and it kills our own spirit.

There must be reasons you were not aware of your resentment until you couldn’t ignore it anymore. Usually, this is a symptom of co-dependence, meaning that you have an unconscious strategy of abandoning yourself to please/keep others until you’re so hurt from feeling wronged or fed up that you suddenly “blow.”

If you simply leave the relationship, which is very tempting at this point, I’m sure, you will find yourself repeating this pattern of self-abandonment – hurt – resentment – desire to leave. Even if you stay single for a while, you may create this pattern within friendships. So although I can’t tell you whether to stay or to go, I can support you in letting go of the illusion that leaving is the entire solution. Use what is in your life right now to heal your issue.

So what is the issue? Generally, we are co-dependent when we believe we will be abandoned or unloved if we ask for what we want or need. What messages did you get as a child about being lovable? How much security did you have? How has this impacted your current relationship? What have you been holding back? How have you sacrificed yourself in the relationship? Once you realize that the fear of abandonment and the sacrificing of your own needs is how your current difficulty arose, you can begin experiencing healing.

It takes practice to perceive yourself as worthy of love regardless of whether someone else can or is willing to provide it. Often, we have to address childhood traumas and beliefs to heal this dependency on others for our self-worth. The first step is trusting that you deserve to heal any mistaken beliefs that you are anything less than worthy of respect, compassion, and love. Once you question your painful, limiting beliefs and your old authorities and begin to affirm your own worthiness, you will notice three amazing results: 1. You will stop abandoning yourself. 2. You will no longer feel so threatened by others abandoning you. 3. Others will begin to mirror back to you your worthiness. All of these results will help heal your resentment.

In Enough Is Enough!, I write about how resentment is disguised regret. The resentment you feel towards your partner is really a regret that you haven’t treated yourself with the respect, compassion, and love that you wish he would provide.

So whether you stay in this relationship or leave, acknowledge that you have been a co-conspirator in the setup that has caused you to end up so resentful. Let yourself drop down into the underlying regret. Once you can take 100% responsibility for your part (responsibility = ability to respond) and take 100% responsibility for affirming your self-worth, the dynamics of your relationship will shift. As you love yourself, you will find both peace and clarity.

Jane’s Coaching and Training

Jane Straus is the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and thrive.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Finding Time for What Really Matters

Monday, August 27th, 2007
 
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Starting to work for personal change is exciting but after a while, it feels like life interrupts and there’s not enough time/energy to do what needs to be done. What are some of the ways people who have been successful keep up with their plans for the long haul?

Years ago, one of my spiritual teachers said, “We always do what is most important.” In my mind, I argued against that, but I’ve thought about it a lot over the years and learned something important about myself and about human nature.

The truth is that we aren’t always honest about what we are making important. So when we say we want to do something but we don’t have time, we need to question what we are really valuing.

For years I proclaimed that I wanted to write a spiritual, self-help book that would provide whatever wisdom I had gleaned in my 20-plus years as a life coach and personal growth seminar leader. Yet I couldn’t seem to find the time even to make an outline.

Then in January of 2003, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Needless to say, this was a wake-up call that compelled me to do a deep personal inventory. If this brain tumor was cancerous or I lost my faculties because of the surgery, would I have any regrets in my life? The answer was a loud “Yes!” I knew I had copped out about writing the book.

But why? I really did want to write it so why hadn’t I? I had to find what my overriding priority had been if I wanted to “find the time” now. And the saying, “No time like the present” seemed more obvious than ever before. I discovered that my real priority had been to avoid fear and rejection. I had feared that I wasn’t a good enough writer, that no publisher would want the book, and that there would be no audience for it. I also feared some of my family’s disapproval of my thoughts. Once I was honest with myself and realized that there truly is “No time like the present,” I shifted my priorities.

Suddenly, where I had no time before, I was now able to carve out time. Where fear had blocked me, ideas now began to flow. Writing Enough Is Enough! was hard work and often ego bruising but, because I had been honest with myself, it got written, was welcomed by a publisher, and is a tangible object I use to propel me through my other fears.

With Enough Is Enough! birthed and out in the world, I had to face my next writing demon: As a teenager, I said I wanted to write the Great American Novel. Over the years, in fits and starts, I had scribbled ideas, dialogue, and even chapters. But it was all collecting dust until I again faced the truth that I had been prioritizing my fears over my spiritual longing.

I’ve spent the last two years working diligently, learning the craft, taking in experts’ critiques, and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. Last week I sent my manuscript, titled Touched, to my literary agent. I’ll let you know what she thinks.

So don’t fool yourself with your excuses. It’s a setup for regret. I was fortunate to get a second chance. Use NOW as your chance to prioritize your spirit over your fears. No doubt, you will find yourself living a more extraordinary life.

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and thrive.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Jane Straus is the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.

Becoming a Caregiver

Monday, August 20th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
My husband has recently been diagnosed with cancer and we are all in shock. What do you suggest to help our family–our adult children, their spouses, the grandchildren, and me–make the most of this difficult time and to help him to feel as positive and upbeat as possible?

First of all, every person facing life-threatening illness does so in his/her own time and way, and every family is different in the way it copes with illness and loss.

When my dear friend Kathleen died recently after a four-year battle with breast cancer, I reflected on how much I often tried to control her illness as well as her thoughts and feelings. I had good intentions but, possibly like you, I felt helpless in the face of her suffering.

Kathleen sometimes had to rebel against my good intentions. Just when I wanted her to talk about logistics, she would start fantasizing about a vacation. At other times, when I tried to cheer lead her, she wanted to share her grief about not seeing her teenaged son graduate from high school and college.

Kathleen’s feelings and needs changed quickly and often, as did mine. I learned that being a caregiver meant taking better care of myself or I became less than helpful. I learned to ask other people for help, not just for her but for my own emotional needs. I learned to honor my irritability, anger, frustration, and moodiness. I learned to respect Kathleen’s unique coping strategies. I learned that I often couldn’t elevate her mood or infuse her with courage; I could only be present and make it safe for her to express exactly what she felt and needed. I tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to let that be enough.

I hope that my lessons with Kathleen are useful for you and your loved ones. I wish you all manner of grace on this journey.

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Jane Straus is also the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.

Using Your Personality Style as a Spiritual Practice

Saturday, August 11th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I’m naturally high strung and picky. This can cause problems for me with people who are more easygoing. How do I not get caught up with judging them or even myself? Sometimes I want to avoid people with personalities that are so different from mine. But then I tell myself that this isn’t very spiritual of me.

Your personality includes your innate, unique characteristics as well as your coping strategies developed in childhood. Many people on a spiritual path believe that it is helpful to shed the trappings of the personality. I believe that this is like cutting off your right hand so that you will become more ambidextrous with your left hand. You don’t have to cut off parts of yourself to develop another part. You don’t need to lose our personality in order to become more spiritual. In fact, the more you understand about your personality style—what makes you tick—the less judgmental you will be and the more you can use this information to enhance your own and others’ lives.

For example, are you a person who seeks consistency or do you like frequent change? Do you enjoy one-on-one connection or group interaction? Are there certain types of people who grate on your nerves? When we discover what our particular personality style seeks and learn how others are different, we can become less reactive and find it easier to create Win-Win dynamics.

In my personal coaching work, I offer a Personality Style Assessment for my clients where they discover which of the four styles best describes them: Director, Promoter, Analyzer, or Supporter. For example, if you have a Promoter Personality Style, you will find yourself drawn to high-intensity relationships and environments, frequent change, opportunities for a lot of interpersonal dynamics, and situations where you can shine in the spotlight. You like to make quick decisions based on your gut feelings (often called “intuition” by Promoters). If you have a job that offers you none of these conditions, you may feel bored and restless or even think there’s something wrong with you for not being content. And if you are in a romantic relationship with someone who is different, someone who seeks consistency and quiet, you may find yourself impatient for them to up their “excitement quotient.”

On the other hand, if you have an Analyzer Personality Style, you like quieter environments where you can count on having enough time to problem solve well and thoroughly, sometimes to the point of procrastination. You probably shun the spotlight, preferring not to “strut your stuff.” Your idea of a “just shoot me” job is one that requires a lot of backslapping and high-pressure sales. You may distrust those who thrive in the interpersonal realm, judging them as phony.

So how does knowing this information help you to become a wiser, more spiritual being? Well, what if the Analyzer is the Promoter’s boss? Or the other way around? What if the two are in a romantic relationship? Is the answer that we should congregate only “with our own kind”? Obviously, that’s impossible and, besides, we’d be missing out on what the other styles have to offer.

When you understand the four styles, you will be able to get out of right/wrong mode and appreciate your “opposite’s” qualities (which is what you may initially have been drawn to) as well as your own. The more wisdom we have about Personality Styles, the more we can
maximize each other’s potential for success and happiness.

Exploring your personality style, individually, as a couple, or with your work group, will answer many profound questions, including:

• What is my personality style?
• What are the other three styles?
• Which styles get along?
• Which styles conflict and why?
• Which styles do I resist and why? What does teach me about myself?
• What are each style’s traits?
• How can I assess others’ styles quickly and accurately?
• What styles can help me grow?
• What kind of work tends to make me happy?
• What work environment—physical and emotional—do I need to thrive?
• What kinds of situations are most difficult for me to handle?
• What do I naturally tend to excel in?
• What conflicts does my style tend to create in personal relationships?
• How do others perceive me?
• How does my style tend to manage others or parent?
• How will this knowledge impact my relationships with others?
• How can this information free me from being run by my personality?

Learning about the Personality Styles is a way to see inside the unique treasure chest you are. This knowledge and wisdom will increase your own happiness and help you offer more compassion, intimacy, and harmony to everyone in your life. These meet at least some of the intentions of being on a spiritual path, don’t they?

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Jane Straus is also the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.

Thoughts on Faith

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
 
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Jane, other people seem to be able to find faith much more easily than I do. I’m of Jewish background but I never believed I was one of the “chosen people” in that I don’t think anyone else is less chosen. I’ve never embraced the idea of a God that watches over me or my loved ones or cares if I win or lose a tennis tournament. And I’ve never taken Bible stories literally. I do believe in what I call the Great Mystery, and I know I can’t possibly fathom realities that exist beyond my five senses. So I’m not cynical. But I wonder if I’m missing something.

You and I are very similar in our beliefs. Having disclosed this, I will now tell you that I am a person of faith. You are too. We all are. We all believe in something, usually many things, even if some of them are our worst self-judgments or the most limiting of beliefs.

Sometimes I put my faith in the brain tumor I had removed in 2003. I can believe in its power to return unexpectedly and with a vengeance. Do I want to believe this? I’m sure you can imagine that my “No” here is more like “No way!” Here’s what I choose to do with that thought. First, I recognize that it is just that—a thought. I may be right about it someday; I hope I’m wrong. But I have a choice about putting my faith in it. Why would I want to? Maybe because I use the brain tumor to remind me how precious life is and that every day counts. If that’s the lesson I want to get from it, then I think I’ll put my energy into making each day meaningful. I can change my faith to a belief in the power of living every day to the fullest. That way, maybe I won’t need a brain tumor (again) as a wake-up call.

I also sometimes believe that I have to struggle where others don’t. How could that one possibly serve me? It does give me a good work ethic, a chance to prove to myself how much perseverance I am capable of, and a feeling of having put in “a good day’s work.” I rarely feel lazy. But is this belief in struggle where I really want to place my faith? I want everyone I know (and even those I don’t) to be released from unnecessary struggle, to have ease, to have basic needs met without fear. If I want that for everyone else, can I allow it for me? It seems that if I can give up some of the guilt I’ve obviously carried, I could begin to have faith that life can be abundant without the kind of struggle I’ve endured in the past. And if I begin to have faith in my own worthiness, maybe I’ll be a better role model to others who also want to walk a gentler path.

A product of parents forced to flee Nazi Germany and Austria, I often have faith that evil is more powerful than good. That one can lead me to deep despair. My faith in evil triumphing over good has been tough for me to change because I think that if I expect the worst, I won’t be disappointed. But then again, my attempts to defend against disappointment have been pretty futile. When I listen to the news of someone doing something horrific to another being, it still gets to me. So if I can’t steel myself against disappointment in human nature, why hang onto a belief that magnifies the worst? I can choose to remember that Hitler’s reign did end, that the Berlin Wall fell, that millions of us are working to raise the awareness of genocide in Darfur and elsewhere, and that there are decent people everywhere doing good deeds that will never be broadcast on the nightly news.

I used to have faith that my weight would always be an issue although this faith has been (gratefully) slipping in the last couple of years. I think it started with a willingness to see it as just a belief. Once I did that, I could question my own authority.

We are never lacking for faith. We all believe; we are just not always conscious that we are perceiving the world, our relationships, our health, and ourselves through our belief systems. As soon as we recognize that we are putting our faith somewhere, we can begin to choose consciously where we want to place that faith.

What we choose to believe in matters because we perceive according to our beliefs. In other words, “Believing is seeing.” And what we believe and see and experience we project out into the world. I want to offer the world faith in good over evil. I also want to demonstrate faith in the healing powers of love, joy, and compassion. Where do you want to place your faith?

To learn more about Jane Straus’s life coaching work, read excerpts from her book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass, 2005), view Jane’s TV interviews, and listen to her radio interviews, visit stopenduring.com.

Telling the Truth About an Affair

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007
 
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Years ago, I had an affair with my friend’s husband. The sexual relationship was short-lived because we both felt terrible. He’s remained faithful to her since and she and I are still close. You seem to recommend telling the truth no matter what. But wouldn’t confessing to her just be hurtful in this case? When should a secret stay a secret? I wrestle with this every day.

If you’re wrestling with this, it’s probably because you feel “two-faced” and have been unable to find relief. There’s good reason that secrets gnaw on people of conscience. It’s because lying “for someone else’s sake” is suspect. It’s more likely that you and her husband made a pact of secrecy out of your own fears and wants, not from caring for her well being. If you had really been considering her, you wouldn’t have acted on your attraction to begin with, right?

The question is: Do you have the right to decide what’s good for another person when you’ve betrayed them? Defining “good” is tricky because you and her husband are attached to what “good” looks like, which is how it affects you and her husband. “Good” to you means maintaining the status quo. If you told, you would decide that it was a “good” decision only if she were understanding, forgiving, or at least willing to continue both her marriage and her friendship with you. You see, the lens through which you judge whether the truth is “good” to tell is going to have filters on it that bias you.

What if she’s angry and hurt? What if she wants nothing more to do with you? What if she files for divorce? Because you and her husband are attached to maintaining everything as is, if these were the outcomes, you would probably judge telling her as a big mistake.

Yet, who are we to know what truths someone needs to find out or how they should deal with them? Maybe the truth about your affair would validate a nagging sense of betrayal she has already felt. Maybe she would be happier “moving on.” Maybe this information would allow her to explore and heal other wounds around betrayal and secrets. Maybe she has secrets of her own that she has been afraid to tell and this would help release her from her prison of fear.

So should you tell? My answer is that I don’t think you have the right to withhold the truth. Your secrecy is further betrayal and it is based on your wants and fears, not on her needs. You are covering up one deceit with another and attaching lofty principles to convince yourself that your continued deceit is noble and that you and her husband are the only ones carrying the burden of the secret.

But our secrets don’t just run and ruin us; they run and ruin others’ lives as well as I discuss in my book, Enough is Enough!. In over 25 years of private practice as a life coach, I’ve never heard one client who’s heard the truth about a partner’s affair say that they wish that they hadn’t been told. Everyone’s spirit suffers from secrets and betrayal because guilt creates separation. In perhaps dozens of ways, her husband has not been able to share himself with her since having an affair with you. And how has it impacted your friendship? How have you pulled away or hidden from her because of your guilt? How have you been emotionally unavailable to her?

The truth requires courage. When you tell her the truth, you need to find the courage to let go of trying to control her reactions or the outcome. You need to find the courage to grieve the potential loss of this friendship as well as the loss of your friendship with her husband. You need to have great courage to allow for what she needs rather than for your need to preserve her image of you.

The next part of your healing journey will then be about feeling the deep remorse that underlies your guilt and forgiving yourself for causing this kind of suffering to your own and someone else’s spirit. As you forgive yourself, make a commitment to your own spirit to always choose truth over fear.

Visit StopEnduring.com to read articles and excerpts from Jane Straus’s popular book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life; watch Jane on TV; listen to her radio interviews; and share your most personal secrets anonymously.

Healing the Twin Tortures of Jealousy and Resentment

Friday, July 6th, 2007
 
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How can I let go of resentment towards my mother for being thin and lose weight myself?

I wanted to answer this question because, even if weight is not everyone’s issue, resentment and jealousy torture most of us at one time or another.

Jealousy is an indicator that we believe someone else has something that we cannot attain. We may experience jealousy about someone’s looks, their financial status, their popularity/success, or their personal life. But it all comes down to the belief that we can’t have what they have.

Why would we believe this unless we didn’t think we were equally deserving? So jealousy helps us recognize that we are feeling unworthy in some way.

The question changes from, “How do I get what so-and-so has?” to “How do I get that I am worthy?” What I talk about in my book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, is that we won’t necessarily wake up one morning with a belief in our own worthiness. Like any other belief, it takes repetition and practice to “get it.”

So how do you let go of resentment towards your mother for being thin and lose weight yourself? How do you get that you are worthy of having the body you desire?
Before eating or before opportunities to exercise, you ask what I believe is the most healing question you can pose:

“If I knew my worthiness in this moment, what would I do?”

Whether we want to lose weight or experience more love, success, or happiness, I recommend asking yourself this question at least ten times a day every day. You will find that as your sense of self-worth grows, you will suffer less from jealousy and resentment.

Visit stopenduring.com for more on how to live an extraordinary life, view Jane Straus’s TV interviews, preview a seminar, order Enough Is Enough!, have her speak at your next event, or contact her about personal coaching. You may also order Enough Is Enough! at Amazon.com.