Posts Tagged ‘coping strategies’

Generation E: Help Your Children Stop Enduring Now!

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

We pour our hopes and dreams into our children from the moment they are born. We want them to fare better in life and grow up more secure and presumably happier than . . . than what? Than we are. But despite our best intentions, today’s children are fast becoming a generation of endurers raised by a generation of endurers. And everyone pays a steep price. Parents run the risk of passing their ever-striving-never-stopping tendencies on to the next generation. Call them Generation E—a whole generation of kids for whom enduring seems, if not natural, at least normal.

For many parents afraid for their children’s future, childhood has become a race to the finish line, the brass ring being college and a good career. Isn’t it ironic that, in pursuit of our children’s “success,” we sacrifice ourselves and them by driving them so hard? If the road we’re on together is plagued with stress, resentment, and fatigue, then perhaps it is a vicious circle and not a road at all.

As parents who truly have our children’s best interests at heart, we need to take a different approach. We can help our children stop enduring by practicing a new mantra: Enough is enough!

•Don’t over schedule. Offering children the very best doesn’t mean keeping them busy every moment, even with what we believe are enriching pastimes and enterprises. Nowadays, 12-year-old children are using the term ‘burnout,’ and the sad part is, they mean it! Cut back on the extracurricular activities. Let your child’s moods, energy level, learning style, personality, and interests dictate how many activities they pursue. Then put your own energy level and needs into the equation.

•It’s okay, even good, if kids get bored. Boredom is beneficial, if not imperative, to the growth, creativity, and confidence of children. When children have moments to dream up new ways to entertain themselves and each other, their imaginations are developed in ways a controlled learning environment can’t compete with.

•Teach your kids the difference between endurance and perseverance. True perseverance involves the spirit. When we persevere toward a goal, we are listening to that still small voice within. We are inspired, not drained; empowered, not victimized. When we are enduring, however, we hear only our fears. Our spirit is drowned out by this fear-driven voice that warns us to remain hyper vigilant, ultimately leading us to exhaustion—victims of our To Do lists, the demands of our jobs, and our failing mental and physical health. We exude fear and dread, not enthusiasm. Stuck in a rut, lost in fear, how can we expect to be able to help our kids discover their path?

Begin to discern this important distinction for yourself and you will be able to help your children persevere rather than endure. Children mimic what they see parents doing. So the most important way to stop their endurance in its tracks is to get out of the endurance cycle yourself. Do you feel you never have time to stop? Do you resent never having the time to do things your spirit longs for? Do you look forward to an imagined future time when you will feel happier/ more energetic/debt free? Do you feel resigned and unappreciated as a parent, in spite of all you do? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are enduring. Something needs to change—the sooner, the better.

•If you are enduring . . . It’s time to stop now. The primary source of endurance is fear. Are you worried about your children’s future so much that you can’t imagine taking a risk in your job or career, even for your own well being? Are you convinced that your child will not get into a good college if you don’t continue to sacrifice both your energy and your financial resources? Try not to let fear rule your life or theirs. Take a risk to live a more inspired life yourself so that this, and not powerlessness, is your legacy to your children. Live a life that is admirable by your own standards and your children will both notice your courage and want to emulate it.

•When they disappoint you, give time ins, not time outs. Next time your child doesn’t meet your expectations or misbehaves, don’t ground them or call a time out; provide a time in. Let them talk to you and you will learn more than you would have by closing the door on your communication. If we want our children to be honest with us, we have to make it safe for them to share with us. If we want them to take responsibility for their actions and their lives, what better way than to ask them to reflect on their behaviors and decide what appropriate steps they need to take next?

•Remember what is most important. Some of our worries about success and failure reflect our own need to prove ourselves worthy in our own and others’ eyes. But we want our children to know that they are inherently worthy, not for what they do, but for who they are. Remind them that they are so much more than the sum total of their successes and failures. And if you need to, remind yourself similarly.

Let your motivation to help your children come from your own spirit’s journey. Let yourself be a gauge of what feels inspiring and enriching. Ignore the fear-based need to charge ahead to the point of exhaustion. By learning to say Enough is enough!, together parents and children may just find life filled with more love, joy, and peace. We owe it to our children and to ourselves to shift our focus from fear for their success to just letting them blossom into the extraordinary beings their spirits already yearn for them to become.

Announcements

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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 JaneStraus.com for more information and testimonials.

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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

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• 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.
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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.

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.

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.

Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007
 
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I have suffered with a paralyzing fear of rejection for most of my life. This leaves me unable to be as assertive in my private and professional life as I would like to be, and sometimes it is crippling. Intellectually I know I shouldn’t be so worried about what other people think, but the feelings are still there. How do I overcome this irrational feeling?

When you have a fear that is irrational, you can’t sit by the sidelines figuring it out. You need to take small steps towards your fear. What kinds of situations make you worry about rejection? List these. Then put them in order from least fearful to most fearful. Start with your least paralyzing situation and think of one action step you are willing to take that addresses the fear rather than letting it run you. When you have accomplished this, reward yourself in some way. Then take the next small step.

For example, if you are afraid to attend work-related parties but that isn’t as frightening as giving a talk in front of your colleagues, pick that one. You could go to the party with a friend. You could give yourself permission to leave after an hour if you’re not enjoying it. You could promise yourself you will talk to at least two or three people.

If you still feel crippled, speak with your doctor. There are medications for crippling social disorders. No matter what action you take, acknowledge yourself for your courage. What others may find easy is not easy for you. So give yourself credit for your efforts and remember to reward yourself.

To listen to my teleseminar or interview answering these types of questions, click http://blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=7364 or http://cherylmclaughlin.com/AskJaneStraus/vbtv3/replay

Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Dear Jane,
How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?

Did you know that a survey showed that Americans fear public speaking more than they fear death? Since people who are afraid to speak in public believe they may die from stage fright, it’s a double whammy.

So first, take comfort in knowing you share a fear with most of the human race. This fear is often based on a fear of making a fool of ourselves, of being embarrassed, humiliated, or criticized. Underlying that may be a belief that we are not worthy of respect for voicing our thoughts. So the first step is to respect your own voice, your own thoughts, your own being regardless of others. This is no easy task but it is good practice whether you are ever in front of people or not. You can start by acknowledging your qualities. Make a list of them. Before you go up “on stage,” look at that list to remind yourself of who you really are. This may help you detach from the fearful outcome you dread.

There are other strategies you can try too. For instance, you can imagine your audience naked or in the bathroom. This brings them down a notch or two. You can also visualize success instead of imagining the worst-case scenario. Another trick that many nervous speakers use (I’ll include myself here) is to set up a presentation in an interactive way so you don’t have to speak “in a vacuum.” I am comforted by knowing what people are thinking and feeling during my presentation. So you can pose a question for your audience or tell them in advance that you encourage them to raise their hands to interrupt you.

The last suggestion I’ll give here is that you practice. Like any other skill, the less you resist it and the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. You will also admire yourself more for saying “boo” back to your fear, which I talk about in Enough Is Enough (Chapter 5)!

Finally, remember to hang out in Classroom Earth, not Courtroom Earth (Chapter 2), which means that you no longer act as the judge, jury, and executioner of yourself. Classroom Earth is where you get to learn, practice, and make mistakes in a supportive environment.

Now speak up!

About Jane
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.

Trading Addictions

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
I quit drinking alcohol almost 20 years ago, and I quit smoking more than 5 years ago, but I have yet to release my attachment to sugar. What would you suggest?

We will tend to “trade” addictions until we get to the bottom line of why we have the addiction to begin with. While there is ample evidence that addictions have a physical and even a genetic component, there are thousands of people who kick addictions daily. Studies suggest that the best way to heal an addiction is to work on all levels simultaneously. Here are a few questions to get you started on the emotional and spiritual levels of healing:
When did your addictive behavior begin?
What triggered it?
What were you feeling at the time: Scared? Hurt? Humiliated? Abandoned?
What do you feel when you kick one habit? Do you feel the same original painful feeling?
Answering these questions will give you clues about why you’re trading addictions.

Addictions serve as coping strategies to help us handle difficult or frightening emotions and situations. Of course, they present a new set of difficulties, and once we get into an addictive pattern, we suffer the loss of what little self-esteem we may have had.

You need to know that you deserve to like the person you see reflected in the mirror. In order to admire yourself, discover and heal the root pain that has kept you in this vicious circle, enduring humiliation and shame. Often, people are afraid to go to that root pain. I promise you that nothing you will experience when you go back to it can be worse than what you have already experienced.

Never tell yourself that you should be fixed by now. That’s hanging out in Courtroom Earth. Hang out in Classroom Earth instead. (Chapter 2, Enough Is Enough!)
Acknowledge yourself for being in the truth that you are suffering and don’t deny yourself more help. Find someone you can trust to work with, someone compassionate and insightful. Those in your life deserve you to be free of this pain. Most of all, you deserve it.

About Jane
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.

Getting Over Your Anger and Rage

Monday, September 18th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
How do I know if my anger is over the top or if it’s justified? Sometimes I feel like I’m going to explode! I know that other people are afraid of me—especially my kids. Sometimes, I’m afraid of myself so I can’t blame them.

First of all, we have probably all experienced rage, whether it’s in the form of being so mad we can’t see straight, having a murderous fantasy, or being afraid we will just “go crazy” if we let out the anger. The distinction between rage-aholism and feeling enraged is not so much the internal experience as the external behaviors. In other words, there is a difference between feeling rage and raging.

Here’s how you can know if your anger is over the top or if it is simply one of the many emotions in your repertoire:

1. Has your anger gotten you in trouble at work, in your close relationships, or with the law?
2. Do you often need to apologize for your out-of-control behaviors in order to get back in the good graces of others?
3. Do you make promises to control your temper and then find yourself unable to keep these promises?
4. Do you feel a momentary rush of power when others are afraid of you?
5. Are you afraid that you’re a ticking time bomb?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may already realize that you have anger issues that need to be dealt with. You are not alone!

The best way to start managing your anger successfully is to stop blaming anyone else for blowing up at them. If you can do this, you are on the road to recovery. As long as you blame, you will feel powerless. And feeling powerless can actually fuel rage. You do have the power to manage your feelings. In fact, you’re the only one who has that power. Don’t abdicate it.

Secondly, anger is a secondary emotion. Underneath anger you will find that you really feel fear, hurt, and/or guilt. So practice checking in with yourself when you’re spitting mad. What were you feeling before you got to that point? It is much easier to handle these feelings than to try to manage your rage once you’ve reached your tipping point.

Thirdly, anger and rage can be coping strategies learned in childhood. If you were humiliated or abused, you may harbor vast amounts of rage. As I write about in Enough Is Enough!, compassion is key. Give yourself plenty of compassion for how you were treated as a child. Don’t minimize the abuse or the effects on your life today. The less denial you hold, the less rage you will also hold. You might consider professional help to release your pent-up feelings safely and supportively. Then recognize that coping strategies may help you survive but they don’t help you thrive. Coping strategies are remnants from when you had no other choices. But they are also immature and therefore not very handy now.

Fourthly, remember that all attempts to thrive require the courage to drop our survival strategies. Even if you don’t yet handle every situation with equanimity, give yourself credit where credit is due. And apologize when you err. We often have to stumble before we become graceful with new behaviors.

Finally, set your sights high. Think of someone whose temperament you admire. Let yourself aspire to be more like them. How do they behave? You will probably notice that they are less defensive and reactive. They may take criticism without acting as though they have any less self-esteem. They may be assertive rather than aggressive. They may have a sense of humor that defuses tension. Whatever it is that you admire about how they handle themselves, practice that behavior. Walk the walk and talk the talk until it becomes more comfortable. Sooner than you might dare imagine, you will identify yourself with this new way of behaving. The goal is to become a person you admire. Or as one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.”

About Jane
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.