Posts Tagged ‘authentic’

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Life After a Breakup

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
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Dear Jane,
I just broke up with my long-time boyfriend and can’t seem to find any energy for life. How long will it take before I can look forward to enjoying life again?

No matter what the reason for a breakup—the relationship was stale; you outgrew it; it was abusive in some way; you were left—you have to grieve fully, pick up the pieces, discover who you are NOW without that other person, and learn how to look forward to life again. So here are 5 keys to kick start your life and begin to thrive.

1. Have a pity party.

When you lose a relationship, you have a right to grieve. Unpopular as grieving is, it is necessary to experience. The more you beat yourself up about grieving, the slower the healing process. Practice compassion for yourself. You have lost something. You may feel like there’s a gigantic hole where your heart used to be. These feelings are hard enough without shaming yourself for them. So have a party—a pity party. Invite your closest, most trusted friends.
Give them these ground rules:

a. They are to allow you one hour to whine, cry, complain, berate your ex, make fun of him, call him names, talk about why it would never have worked anyway, why it was the best/most perfect relationship you’ll ever have. Your friends are there to support you getting it all off your chest.

b. They listen only; they do not participate in the berating, namecalling, etc. Why? Because you may end up feeling embarrassed or angry with them for having never said the truth to you before. And what happens if you get back with the guy? You’ll have to exclude your closest friends, knowing what they really think.

c. After the hour is up, your friends tell you one by one all the great things about you that they love, admire, and even envy. One person acts as scribe, writing it all down for you. Keep this list close by!

d. After you have been replenished with reminders that who you are has nothing to do with who you just broke up with, you ceremoniously burn a picture (or all pictures if you’re ready) of your ex while all your friends watch.

e. As the photo’s edges singe and it curls up into eventual nothingness, say the affirmation, “I release that relationship for my own good. Someone better awaits me when I’m ready.” Your friends say “Amen,” or “Right on,” or “So be it,” depending on your style.

2.Recognize that rejection is a myth.

Most of us have experienced feeling rejected. If we haven’t, we’ve been way too protective of our hearts. But really, can anyone reject you without your permission? Think about this: If you believe you’re smart and someone calls you “stupid,” what happens to you? Not much, right? You probably wonder what’s wrong with that person and might even assume that it’s their own self-judgment misplaced onto you. If you’re not judging yourself, someone else’s judgment won’t stick to you.

So if you feel rejected, you must be rejecting yourself in some way. If a guy breaks up with you, then maybe you weren’t right for each other. But if you pile on self-criticism such as telling yourself you’re ugly, unlovable, too fat, not smart enough, or too old, you are not only inflicting cruelty on yourself, you are lying to yourself about why the relationship ended. Relationships don’t end over any of our self-judgments in particular. They may end because we are self-judgmental, making it hard for someone to love us when we aren’t loving ourselves.

Whether you’re in a relationship or single, stop rejecting yourself, stop coming up with reasons why someone shouldn’t love you. It’s a waste of time and saps the love out of relationships with even the most potential.

3.Give yourself the love you want to get.

Once you stop rejecting yourself with self-judgments, start loving yourself actively. Do more of what you enjoy. Challenge yourself intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Take risks that will build your self-esteem. Notice whom you admire and realize that “if you spot it, you got it.” You couldn’t see this in someone else if it weren’t already within you. Nurture that part of yourself. Become your most extraordinary self and it is guaranteed that others will want to bask in your radiant glow.

4.Release your Resentments

Underlying every resentment you hold towards an ex is a regret you are holding against yourself. The wife who resented her husband for buying a new car without asking her was actually regretful that she didn’t have enough self-worth to let him know that she deserved to be a part of such decisions. The woman who resented her ex for cheating on her really regretted not confronting him sooner when her intuition told her something was amiss.

So uncover your regret because you can do something about it: You can give yourself compassion for having been too afraid to stand up for yourself. Then make a commitment to being more authentic and more courageous now and in the next relationship. The icing on this cake is that, by being more authentic yourself, you will invite more authentic people into your life.

5. (Re)Inspire Yourself

A lot of us wait for “that special someone” to make us happy. When we’re fortunate enough to meet someone who opens our heart, we may inadvertently give our power away by confusing the feeling of happiness with the object of our happiness. The longer we’re in a partnership, the more we may rely on our partner for our happiness and wind up losing our skills at creating our own joy.

Forgetting how to make ourselves happy not only will dull even a once-vibrant relationship; it also makes a breakup harder because we mistakenly believe that our source of happiness is gone. It’s not! Inspiration cannot be bestowed upon us by others, not even by Mr. Right, which means that no one can take away our inspiration either. Ultimately, it is our responsibility (responsibility = ability to respond) to listen to our spirit, the source of our inspiration and happiness.

Even if you aren’t happy about a breakup, you can re-inspire yourself. What did you like doing before you met your last partner? What interests did you develop during the relationship? What environments—physical, intellectual, emotional—buoy your spirits generally? If you like island breezes, then maybe it’s time to plan that trip to the Bahamas. If you like the challenge of climbing snow-covered peaks, find ecstasy in riding your bike through tulip fields, or feel most alive strapping on a snowboard, don’t deprive yourself. If sharing your time or resources as a volunteer does your heart a world of good, don’t just do it; do it now!

Remember that every day, single or partnered, grieving or celebrating, alone or not, we have the right to choose an extraordinary life for ourselves. All that is required is our willingness.

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, 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,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at

Being Real: Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Have you ever tried to look better on the outside than you were feeling on the inside? Do you ever abandon your truth to please others? If you weren’t afraid of losing someone’s approval, acceptance, or love, if you didn’t feel that you had to choose between abandoning yourself or being abandoned by someone else, wouldn’t you be authentic all the time with everyone? Wouldn’t you stand up for yourself more?

Whenever I am challenged to please others at the expense of being real, I think about Anais Nin’s eloquent quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” It is painful to hold ourselves back. At some point, we stop thriving and begin living in endurance when we believe we have to maintain an act rather than be real. But if we let our fear of abandonment run us, we bully ourselves into submission.

In the film, The Breakfast Club, five high school students are given detention for various infractions against school rules. Their punishment is to remain in the school library all Saturday with the task of completing one assignment: Each of them is to write a thousand-word essay describing who they think they are. Because the assignment seems silly and boring to them, they begin instead to try to figure out who the others in the room are.

At first, they buy each other’s act: the jock, the brain, the crazy one, the prom queen, the criminal. They cling to their own acts too, uncomfortably comfortable with their labels. But as they spend hour after hour together, their real selves peek through, and each of them starts to chafe against the restrictions of his or her image.

As they break out of their molds, their false sense of security and identity are shaken, but they ultimately come to respect each other. By the end of the day, they decide to write only one essay among them, conveying that, like the adults in their lives who see them only as they want to see them, in the most limited of ways, they also saw themselves that way before spending the day together. They write that what they learned is that each of them has attributes of the others within themselves. They are all capable of being smart, athletic, crazy, elitist, or rebellious. They are all of these things and yet they are so much more. They leave detention as comrades, having learned something crucial: judgments are real but they are never the truth. They also come to see that their self-judgments were the most restrictive of all, forcing them to behave in ways that limited them and fed their fear of others.

When in an act, we behave incongruently with what we really feel. Whatever our reasons and fears of being authentic—hurt, ridicule, abandonment—the problem is that after we have our act for a while, we can’t remember who we were without it. And if we can’t figure out who we are, how are others going to really know us? How can we have intimacy if we are not authentic? If we sacrifice intimacy for acceptance, our relationships feel lukewarm and boring. We may keep seeking hot and exciting, never realizing that, as Dylan Thomas said, “Something’s boring me; I think it’s me.”

The Breakfast Club reminds us that molding ourselves into the image of what others want and expect is cruel to our spirit. It takes courage to be authentic in every moment. But who we really are is much more interesting than any character we could possibly play.

Jane Straus is the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass pub.). Visit to view her TV and radio interviews, read articles and excerpts from her book, or to contact her for keynote presentations or personal coaching.