Posts Tagged ‘avoidance’

Spotting a UOF

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

(For my English usage blog, click here.)

No, this title isn’t a typo. I am not writing about UFOs. A UOF, unlike a UFO, has had millions of confirmed sightings and can be easily spotted. It is the Uh Oh Factor: the fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs that stop us dead in our tracks, generally right before or right after we take a risk.

You know how your mind works: You apply for a job and you pump yourself up for the interview, telling yourself that you are the right person—perhaps the most qualified candidate—and that they’d be fools to pass you up. You remind yourself of how well you have performed in your current position and how undervalued you have been, which is why you deserve that new position.

But then you no sooner submit your résumé and that little voice starts whispering in your ear, “What if I don’t get the job? What if it means I have to travel more? What if I don’t like my new boss? What if I don’t like my new colleagues? What if they don’t like me? What if I have to work longer hours?” And the worst what if of all is the one with the F word, “What if I fail?” (This mindset works similarly with dating.)

All of our what ifs create the Uh Oh Factor: the negative thinking that reminds us of each of our character flaws, every painfully embarrassing moment from our past, every fear that’s woken us up at 2:00 A.M. bathed in sweat. This Uh Oh Factor (UOF), untended to, can instantly overpower our tenuous hold on our still-delicate affirmations.

The volume of our UOF will only go up if we try to ignore it. In short order, we will hear the voices within shouting, “You’re so full of yourself. Who were you to think you could land this job? You’re a fraud, a phony. They’ll see right through you.” Try to push these negative thoughts away and it’s like playing Whack-A-Mole: you have to be on high alert looking for where and how they’re going to pop up again if you’re going to defeat them.

So what can you do when the UOF begins to override your confidence? As Ram Dass, a wonderfully funny Buddhist teacher says, you can practice thinking of your Uh Oh thoughts—those neurotic fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs—as little schmos. Then, instead of trying to bar them from entry, which is futile anyway, invite them in for tea.

Imagine this scene: Three little schmos, looking like Snow White’s dwarves, come knocking at your door. Instead of hiding in the coat closet, you welcome them in, escorting them to the dining room table. Without any need for small talk, you say to the one on your right, “I recognize you. You’re the schmo who tells me I’m not good enough.” Then you turn to your left. “And you’re the schmo who catalogues the imperfections of my body.” Now you look across the table at another one who is returning your grin and say, “And you, you’re the schmo who reminds me of all my mistakes.” Then, with an inclusive sweep of your arm, you announce, “Thank you all for having tea with me.” You look at your watch and then continue, “But tea time is over because, after all, I am a busy person.” You see your little schmos to the door, although they are reluctant to go because you’ve been such a good listener. When they ask if they can come back, you let them know that they needn’t worry; certainly you’ll hear them next time they come knocking. You wave to them as they retreat and then close the door with a sigh of relief.

What you do next is remember to feel grateful that you have learned how to say hello and goodbye to your little schmos. Then you restate your affirmations, call on your support system to remind you of your best qualities, demonstrate behaviors that make you feel good about the person you see in the mirror, and take a leap of faith that these practices will not only keep you sane but will provide you with the courage to take the next risk that your spirit urges you towards.

Announcements

Create Your Abundant Life With Jane
at Club Med in Cancun!
June 21-28, 2008
Enjoy the beautiful beach, delicious food, and luxurious setting while experiencing enriching programs by renowned self-help leaders, including a NEW program that I am offering:
Create Your Abundant Life NOW!
How do you know if you have limiting beliefs around abundance?
Just ask yourself:

Do I believe that abundance is that which already exists?
Do I believe that money is love?
If you can’t answer both questions with a resounding YES!, then don’t waste any more of your life suffering in lack.

Here’s another test of your abundance quotient:
Do you feel that you don’t have enough:
• Time
• Money
• Energy
• Love
• Intimacy
• Fun
• Self-esteem
• Inspiration, or
• Direction
There is a Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. Three kinds of negative thoughts stop us from manifesting abundance:
• Fear
• Self-judgments
• Limiting beliefs

Any one of them can sabotage us, keep us stuck in a rut, stress us out, cause us confusion, or make us want to give up.
You will experience cutting-edge strategies and intriguing processes so that you will begin immediately to manifest your spirit’s deepest desires.
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About Jane Straus
Jane 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, www.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, www.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.

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

This is a modified version of a talk I gave at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco on February 2, 2008. My panel’s room was set up for 30 people and 150 showed up. The technicians scrambled to set up speakers in the hallway so the overflowing crowd could hear.

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

I have a need for full confession here—call it my Jewish guilt—before I go on to give you advice about how to lower your stress and thrive more. At 23 years of age I had a stroke. At 48 I had a brain tumor. So although I’m not the poster child for handling stress or always being tuned in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages of my mind/body/spirit, I have spent a good portion of my 27 years as a life coach seeking correlations between health and happiness for my clients as well as for myself.

First of all, stress is a catchall phrase and not so useful when we’re looking to thrive and create a more extraordinary life. Instead, I recommend asking yourself whether you are Enduring or Persevering. Both may feel stressful. But Enduring leads to the blahs and worse while Persevering leads to thriving. Here are just some of the symptoms of Endurance: anxiety, addiction, boredom, cynicism, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, illness, “Is that all there is?” lack of energy, procrastination, resentment, ruts, and “Why me, Lord?” If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, then I encourage you to consider that you are in some Endurance.

So how do we end up in Endurance and how do we get out of it? Most of us have an underlying belief, conscious or unconscious, in what I call The Big Lie. The Big Lie is that we think that we are not fully worthy. If we don’t believe we are fully worthy of thriving or having an extraordinary, abundant life, we will sabotage ourselves using three universal techniques:
• Stoking our fears
• Whipping ourselves with our self-judgments
• Gathering evidence for our limiting beliefs.

Example: Have you ever had a bad hair day? If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wake up in the morning feeling ugly. That’s your self-judgment. So what do you do? Instead of picking out your nicest or sexiest outfit, you dress to be invisible. Why? Because you fear being noticed for how ugly you think you look. Then you leave home, go to work, and what happens? No one notices you. No one compliments you. And what does this do? It confirms your limiting belief that you are not attractive. This is just one example of the wisdom of the Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts.

Here is my personal example of a bad hair day: I was 48 years old and had not yet written my book, Enough Is Enough! Why? I had stoked my fear that I would be rejected by publishers and the public. I had self-judgments that I wasn’t a good enough writer, even though I had written and sold over 100,000 copies of my Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and had edited for friends and colleagues for 30 years. And I had plenty of evidence that there were enough self-help books out there glutting the market already and that mine would get lost in the pile. What stoking my fear, whipping up my self-judgments, and gathering evidence for my limiting beliefs did was to keep me in endurance by perpetuating The Big Lie that I wasn’t worthy. My personal favorite symptoms of Endurance were boredom and resentment.

Then I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That, as we say, was my wake-up call. I asked myself, “If I don’t make it through the surgery, will I have any regrets?” The answer was a resounding yes. I had seven weeks between diagnosis and surgery, during which time I bargained with the Universe. Here was the deal I asked for: Let me live and come out of surgery coherent and I’ll write the book. I’ll even be willing to believe that I’m worthy of doing so. Gratefully, the Universe must have acquiesced so I started writing. Now writing a book is no stroll in the park, especially if you really care about your topic and audience. But the difference was that, once I decided to say boo back to my fears, stopped reminding myself of all my self-judgments, and began to question the authority of my limiting beliefs, I found that I was no longer Enduring; I was Persevering.

Writing the book was still stressful. I had to write late at night because I still had my commitment to my clients as well as to my young daughter and loving husband. I had an editor who sent back my work full of red ink on a daily basis. But it was different. Perseverance is energizing. It is a commitment to the process, regardless of any particular outcome. I found that I was willing to write the book not knowing if it would ever be published or read by another human being.

I think that the secret to thriving that also lowers your stress level is to counter The Big Lie by listening to your Spirit’s longings. Your spirit knows what really matters and it knows when you’re enduring rather than persevering.

So here are five things you can do right now to thrive more:
1. Make amends for past misdeeds and forgive yourself daily so that you can feel worthy of thriving.
2. Say boo back to at least one fear. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the commitment to persevere through it.
3. Allow yourself to be wrong about your self-judgments and limiting beliefs. Being right just keeps you enduring in survival mode.
4. Listen more closely to your spirit’s longings.
5. Model your behaviors after those you admire. Or, as one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.”

Announcements

On the Couch—A Unique Opportunity With Jane
Can You Really Find Insight/Resolution/Relief/Renewal in 15 minutes or less? Yes!
Sit with Jane for just a few minutes and she will help you:
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• forgive yourself and others
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Location: Nomadic Outfitters, 2426 California St. (at Fillmore), S.F., (415) 345-8338
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Price: Free! No appointment necessary. Drop in and talk with Jane, listen to others share, and/or shop. All donations go to hospice.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

About Jane Straus
Jane 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, www.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, www.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.

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

Friday, December 7th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
Everyone talks about thriving. How do I know if I’m thriving? What’s the difference between surviving and thriving?

In both surviving and thriving, we may struggle at times, feel fear of failure or rejection, or worry that we are not worthy of what we long for. So the distinction between surviving and thriving can easily get blurred.

But surviving will lead us to a dead end whereas thriving, although it may take us down a long and meandering path, offers up surprises, serendipity, and synchronicity.

Surviving can be identified by our endurance symptoms—anxiety, boredom, self-criticism, addiction, low energy, avoidance, depression, lethargy—to name just a few that I discuss in Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life.

When we habitually wake up in the morning dreading that today will be a repeat of yesterday and the day before and the day before that, we are enduring, not thriving. The bad news is that endurance sneaks up on us. We don’t know we’re in endurance until we’re pretty miserable. The good news is that, once we recognize the sources of our endurance, we can say “Enough is enough!” and begin leading a more fulfilling life.

We endure because we’re fearful, self-judging, or believing a limiting thought. Often, these sources of endurance overlap such that we are experiencing two or even three of them. We may be fearful because of a limiting belief. For example, if I believe that I am not good enough in some way, I may be quite fearful of putting myself in situations that will likely trigger this belief.

The problem with latching onto our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs is that they constrict us. How can I have new experiences that debunk my limiting belief about being unworthy if I avoid situations that have the potential of making me realize I was wrong? Instead, in endurance, I will get to be right…and miserable.

Thriving isn’t necessarily any less challenging than endurance, but it does lead someplace new and different. Instead of being right and miserable, we get to be surprised and excited about life.

So what is thriving? It is our willingness to commit to our spirit’s longings no matter what! No matter what fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs pop up to distract us or try to protect us from humiliation. It involves perseverance: committing no matter what others say the odds against our achieving our goals are. No matter what we have told ourselves about being too old, too young, too uneducated, too busy, or too poor. Thriving is choosing to pay attention to our spirit rather than to all the chatter that has stopped us from living our extraordinary life.

Thriving is like buying a car. When we purchase a new vehicle, we suddenly see the same car in greater numbers on the road. This isn’t because more people bought the same car on the same day we did, is it? It’s because our attention is now focused differently from where it was before. Wherever we focus our attention dictates what we see and experience. If we focus on our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs, it’s like putting blinders on. These are all we will see and experience. On the other hand, if we focus on listening and attending to our spirit’s callings, we will see and experience extraordinary new people, events, feelings, and thoughts.

As soon as we shift from surviving to thriving, we allow surprise, serendipity, and synchronicity to help our spirit along. We are now saying “yes” to the Universe, which expands our peripheral vision and gives us a new view of potentials and possibilities. Thriving requires three things: a willingness to listen to ourselves; a willingness to be wrong about our prior fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs; and the courage to be explorers.

The first two requirements must come from within. The third one—courage—we can allow others to support us in. Find people who listen to their own spirits, who have beaten odds, live joyfully, and find compassion for themselves and those around them. These are your mentors and your heroes and heroines.

Many of us wait to listen to our spirit until tragedy or illness strikes. My wake-up call came in the form of a brain tumor. But we don’t need to wait to allow ourselves to be inspired. Let today—your child’s smile, your urge to paint, the sun warming your skin, a desire to help someone in need—be enough.

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, www.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, www.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.

How to Overcome Procrastination

Friday, January 19th, 2007
 
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Why can’t I ever finish anything? Why do I procrastinate so much?

Most of us think we are simply lazy when we procrastinate. But the truth is that the cause of most procrastination isn’t laziness; it’s fear. We may be afraid that the task at hand is overwhelming or we may be afraid of failing at it. These are the two biggest fears that tend to keep us in approach/avoidance mode.

Here are five key ways to get past your resistance and get “it” done, whatever the “it” is:

1. Chunk it down. Find small ways to work on a project for a limited amount of time. Sharpen some pencils. Clean up your desk. Read some background material. Write one paragraph. Make one phone call. Look up one piece of information. Eat one healthy meal instead of snacking on junk food.
2. Reward yourself immediately for accomplishing something towards your goal. If you only reward yourself for completing something that feels huge, you are setting yourself up for feeling like a failure all along the way. Make sure your reward isn’t counterproductive. For example, if you want to become fit or lose weight, don’t reward yourself with chocolate cake. Instead, take time off for a walk or to watch a movie.
3. Set a new goal that is reasonable, attainable, and rewardable. Now you’re ready for the next step. If you committed to 15 minutes in Step 1, commit to 30 minutes this time. You may find that your ability to stick with a project increases as you get more invested in it.
4. Make a commitment to someone else that you will do what you say you want to do. Committing to others is a way of ensuring that we are answerable for our promises. Most of us find it easier to keep commitments to others than to ourselves.
5. Create an affirmation. It can be something like, “I now keep my commitments.” I now achieve my goals.” “I finish what I start.” “I no longer let fear stop me.” Affirmations are positive thoughts you are willing to begin believing for your highest good.

Commit to this five-step plan and you will have achieved what you set out to do and build your self-esteem in the process.

For more on living your extraordinary life in every way, please visit Jane Straus’s web site, www.stopenduring.com. Read her articles, watch video excerpts of her seminars, listen to her free teleseminars, schedule a private coaching session, book Jane for a keynote, and order Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life.