Posts Tagged ‘endurance mode’

Insights on Bullying

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

If only the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me were true. In reality, being judged, teased, or made fun of, that is, being bullied, can break one’s spirit and cause deep scars.

Children who are abused or ridiculed by their peers, siblings, even teachers or parents can’t help but believe that there is truth behind the cutting words or angry slap. To a child, everything is personal. They are likely to blame themselves for causing others to hate them enough to hurt them. What happens from there?
When someone is bullied, they are apt to go into endurance mode. In Enough Is Enough, I offer this about the dangers of endurance: Endurance is when you wake up in the morning assuming today will be as emotionally painful as yesterday and the day before. Endurance means that you don’t experience 365 different days a year; you experience the same day 365 times a year. Endurance is believing that your wishes, dreams, and goals don’t matter. Endurance is hopelessness, dread, and anxiety.

Those who have been bullied suffer from endurance and are likely to develop a belief system that is severely limiting, self-judgmental, and fear-based. What are the symptoms of this suffering?

If a child doesn’t commit suicide, get strung out on drugs, or have a fatal “accident,” he or she often grows up exhibiting Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, becoming distrustful, secretive, self-abusing, and sometimes even abusive towards others as a result of all their pent-up hurt, rage, and humiliation. So how can we stop the bullying? How can we help those who are being bullied?

The good news is that bullying is finally receiving the attention it warrants. We are recognizing that bullying creates more bullying, is a trigger for depression, suicide, and drug abuse among teens, and often creates a lifetime of disorders that hinder people from thriving.

One story currently garnering major press began in my home town of Mill Valley, California, at my daughter’s school, Tamalpais High. Two sisters who attend the school, Emily and Sarah Buder, along with their mother Janet, read an article about a girl, Olivia, in another town, who had suffered from bullying at her middle school. Although the Buders had never met Olivia, they felt compassion and wanted to reach out. They began an e-mail campaign requesting other teenagers and anyone who had ever suffered from bullying to write to Olivia. Fast forward: After just a few months, thousands of letters had poured in from all over the world to support Olivia and her mother.

Olivia has come to believe that there are many good people in the world. In addition, truly eye-opening were the letters she received from bullies. What she and the Buder sisters learned from these bullies is that they are also victims of emotional or physical abuse themselves.

The story of these two girls making a difference in the life of a stranger and the lessons they all learned is now available as an inspiring book just published by HarperCollins called Letters to a Bullied Girl. If you have a child who has been bullied, if you know of someone suffering from bullying, or if you were EVER bullied, I encourage you to get this book, available at Amazon now.

Bullying is a cycle. To stop it, we must take it out of our collective closet, just as we have finally begun to do with sexual abuse and domestic violence. By opening our eyes to the symptoms of those who are being bullied—depression, self-destructive behaviors, frequent “accidents,” suicide threats, anxiety, poor performance at school, difficulty concentrating, drug abuse—we let those who are suffering know that they need not endure ridicule and abuse in silence. If you have the courage to ask, you may find that a child has the desire to share this secret with you. Few want to live with the secret of being bullied. Most think they have no other choice.

Most importantly, to stop the cycle of bullying, we must remember that anyone who bullies has likely been the target of bullying themselves. While we need to have zero tolerance for the behavior, we must reach out to the bullies, protect them from further abuse, and treat their emotional scars. As the writer Alexander Soltzenitzen wrote (slight paraphrase): “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take all the evil people and put them over there, then we wouldn’t have to deal with them. And all of us good people would stay right here. The problem is that the line separating good and evil cuts right through the human heart.”

Let’s get out of Courtroom Earth where we label bullies and simply punish them, and set up Classroom Earth where we open our hearts, remembering that harsh and hurtful behaviors are disguised cries for help.

The Buder sisters didn’t know what a difference they would make in one girl’s life and now, through the book, in possibly tens of thousands of lives. They were simply compelled to do something. Whatever compels you, trust it. You are bound to make a difference.

Announcements

Click here to read more about Jane’s popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, #15 on Amazon’s bestseller list in the spirituality category.

Dear Jane Podcasts
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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 JaneStraus.com for more information and testimonials.

Click here to read Jane’s article in USA Today on the lessons we can glean from celebrity breakups.
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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition
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Making Your “Habitat” Humane

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

As you read this, I am probably ensconced in a chair at my neighborhood café listening to strangers tell me about their concerns. (See my Coffee Talk announcement in last week’s blog.) In some fashion, I am likely to be asking them, “What risks are you avoiding taking that might very well make you happier?” Together, we will examine whatever fears, self-judgments, or limiting beliefs are holding them back, keeping them in Courtroom Earth instead of letting them enjoy hanging out in Classroom Earth.

Courtroom Earth is where we tell ourselves I can’t; I shouldn’t; I’ll fail; I’ll get rejected; No one will love me if…; I’m too…; I’m not enough. In Courtroom Earth, we are always on trial, just waiting for a “guilty” verdict. It is a place where we redouble our efforts to avoid humiliation or failure. It is a place of suspicion, doubt, second guessing, watchfulness, and hesitation. The feelings we experience in Courtroom Earth are boredom, cynicism, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, or depression—the symptoms of Endurance that I write about in Enough Is Enough. It is in Courtroom Earth that we procrastinate, blame, and ridicule (mostly ourselves). How can we exit the Courtroom and start hanging out in the Classroom?

First, we have to know that Classroom Earth is worth risking changing our thoughts for. I’d like to entice you to the Classroom, where you don’t have to pretend to be perfect or to know all the answers. You are expected to learn by trial and error. You are encouraged to ask questions. You may re-do projects to get more practice. You are not threatened with repercussions or governed by fear but are motivated by curiosity, hope, and challenge. You are supported in contemplating questions that you may never be able to answer. With an open mind and an open heart, you get to discover who you are today, and nobody expects you to be exactly the same person you were yesterday.

So who creates this wonderful environment? You guessed it: We do! We create it by moving through our fears of rejection and doing “it” anyway, whatever “it” is. We create it by letting go of our self-judgments and replacing them with affirmations. We create it by questioning our own authority when it comes to beliefs that keep us isolated, lonely, or tight. Choosing to hang out in Classroom Earth is worth taking these risks, don’t you think?

Announcements:

Update on Raising Funds for the School in New Orleans

Your outpouring of generosity continues to be phenomenal. So that we can tally up the total and get the supplies shipped to J. W. Johnson Elementary School, please call in your donation by the end of the day, Friday, April 18. (See last week’s blog for list of items.) To help Robin of SchoolOutfitters.com process your order efficiently, please provide your credit card #, expiration date, 3-digit code on the back, PLUS your billing name, address, and phone number. Or you may mail a check to SchoolOutfitters. Here’s all the information you need:
School Outfitters
P.O. Box 141231
Cincinnati, OH 45250
1-866-619-5320
1-866-619-4320 (fax)
robin.fox@schooloutfitters.com
http://www.schooloutfitters.com

In next week’s newsletter, I will let you know the list of supplies that, together, we purchased for the school.

Kim Nance, the assistant principal, wrote this to us this week: After experiencing a hardship, we need reminders that there are kind people like your readers in our country. It’s been so important for our students to feel that people do have compassionate hearts.

Create Your Abundant Life NOW!
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!

What if you discovered, while on vacation, that your limiting beliefs were not true?

How do you know if you have limiting beliefs around abundance?
Just ask yourself:
Do I believe that abundance is that which already exists?

If you can’t answer that question 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.

Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1999 (regular price $2600)/$1000 for children under 18, which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Check out this beautiful, newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
Luminaries Joining Jane as Presenters:

Cameron Johnson: You Call the Shots

Maybe you’ve watched Cameron on the Big Give with Oprah – now meet him in person. Cameron is recognized as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the world. Over the last eight years, Cameron has given hundreds of speeches worldwide. Cameron is also the author of the international bestselling book, “You Call the Shots.” Cameron will inspire you with his story and motivate you to the next level of success.

Teresa Rodriguez Williamson: Build Your Personal Mission Statement

Teresa is the creator and founder of TangoDiva.com—a worldwide online social network and travel magazine for women. She is also the author of “FLY SOLO: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone.” She has appeared on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and newspaper articles around the world. Teresa will teach you how to create and build a mission statement that can guide you to success.

Chet Holmes: How to Double Your Sales

Super Strategist of the Fortune 500, Chet Holmes had more than 60 of the Fortune 500 as clients, taking his place as America’s top marketing executive, trainer, strategic consultant, and motivation expert. He is the author of the NO.1 bestselling book, “The Ultimate Sales Machine.” Chet will teach you how to double your sales – no matter what your business is.

Stephen Pierce: The Art of More

For many, Stephen Pierce’s name is synonymous with success. Recognized as one of the world’s leading Internet marketers and Business Optimization Strategists, Pierce wears several hats when it comes to his businesses. He will teach you how to expand your business in a competitive world.

Spike Humer: Consciously Creating Your Future

Dedicated to the passionate pursuit of creating joy, excellence, and positive abundance in life, health, relationships, and business throughout the world. He will help you create a clear and compelling vision for your life.

Joe Polish: From “Real World” to “Real Money”

Joe Polish is the founder and President of Piranha Marketing, Inc. Considered to be one of the most effective direct-response marketing experts in the world, Joe made his name teaching other entrepreneurs the marketing techniques and business strategies that came directly from his own “real world” work experiences. Joe Polish is a business strategy consultant and marketing expert who has helped thousands of entrepreneurs become successful. And during your week at Club Med, he will teach you his secrets to success.

Greta Remington: Innovative Thinking for Growth

What is the next “big idea” for your company? How do you know which ideas to pursue? Based on the greatest creative minds in history and the most innovative companies of today, Greta’s proven methodology for identifying market opportunities has generated millions in incremental revenue for her clients from the Fortune 500 to start-ups. Greta will teach you her step by step methodology for improving your innovative thinking and creating actionable ideas to grow your business.

Contact Teresa Williamson at media@podium-pr.com for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane Or call Teresa @ 650-759-1005 or Raha @ 925-915-1515

Dear Jane Podcasts

I’ve got 32 podcasts available for listening so enjoy!

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.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition Now Available

Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Four Categories!
#1 in Reading
#1 in Lesson Planning
#1 in Vocabulary
#1 in Grammar

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, home-school families, editors, writers, & proofreaders. If you buy the book through Amazon, please write a customer review. Reviews are immensely helpful at letting other consumers know that The Blue Book is a valuable resource.

The True Measure of Abundance: An Extraordinary Life

Monday, March 17th, 2008

To read my English usage blogs, click here.

One of my clients used the expression, “earning a living,” and it struck me that this phrasing is so painfully close to saying “earning a life.” If we equate earning money with earning the right to live, we are likely to find ourselves in what I call Endurance (yes, with a capital E).

Endurance comes from a belief that we are worthy because of what we do, not for who we essentially are. Endurance looks like waking up in the morning depressed, anxious, and/or convinced that today will be as boring or stressful as the day before and that tomorrow will be no different. When we are Enduring, life is a vicious circle, where we chase after money in order to be happy, finding that there is never enough of either and that neither money nor happiness seem to last long enough.

The only way out of this vicious circle and onto our path is to question the authority of the fundamental belief that we are anything less than fully worthy of an extraordinary life. Not just a good life—an extraordinary one defined on our own terms. If you don’t feel that your life is already extraordinary, you’re not alone, which means you can find ample evidence that an extraordinary life is reserved for other people, perhaps the wealthy or the lucky or the talented.

I would like to invite you to question the authority of that belief right NOW. Be willing to take off your blinders and you will notice people in all walks of life and from all socioeconomic levels leading abundant, creative, fascinating, fulfilling lives. They may work hard but they are Persevering, not Enduring. How can you tell? They have a goal in mind that inspires their spirit, keeping them on course during the rough patches and the times when nothing seems to be going as planned.

When we Persevere, we are listening to and respecting our Spirit, the part of us that knows what our highest good is, what we are here to do or at least to do next. The result is the feeling that life itself is extraordinary and that all we have to do is tap into its abundance. The key is the willingness to discard the untruth that we are worthy of anything less. So no matter what you were told as a child about having to please others to be loved or approved of, let that go this instant. Choose to see the truth: you are a human being, not a human doing, and therefore worthy because you are here.

Some people are afraid that recognizing their inherent worthiness will stop them from striving to reach their goals; on the contrary, it will allow you to pay attention to what your deeper values are and to focus on ways to achieve the goals associated with those values. You will stop attending to the superficial and pay attention to what really matters. You will find your courage along the way, regardless of temporary setbacks. Most importantly, you will admire the one you see in the mirror. Wouldn’t that be extraordinary? Isn’t living an extraordinary life the truest measure of abundance?


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.
Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1999 (regular price $2600)/$1000 for children under 18, which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Check out this beautiful, newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
Contact Teresa Williamson at teresa@tangodiva.com for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane

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:
get out of a rut
• release old pain
• make a life-changing decision
• discover your passion
• find clarity
• forgive yourself and others
• experience compassion
• thrive

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.

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 stopenduring.com to view her TV and radio interviews, read articles and excerpts from her book, or to contact her for keynote presentations or personal coaching.

Insights into Bullying

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
 
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If only the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me, were true. In reality, being judged harshly, being teased unmercifully, being made fun of for how we look or for who we are—being bullied—may break our spirit and cause deep and lasting scars.

Children who are abused, called names, or ridiculed by their parents, their siblings, their peers, or even their teachers can’t help but believe that there is truth behind the cutting words or angry slap. To a child, everything is personal. They are likely to blame themselves for causing others to hate them enough to hurt them. What happens from there?

When someone is bullied physically, emotionally, or spiritually, they are apt to go into Endurance mode. Endurance is when you wake up in the morning assuming today will be as emotionally painful as yesterday and the day before. Endurance means that you don’t experience 365 different days a year; you experience 1 day a year 365 times. Endurance is believing that your wishes, dreams, and goals don’t matter. Endurance is hopelessness, dread, and anxiety rolled into one. Those who have been bullied suffer from Endurance and are likely to develop a belief system that is severely limiting, self-judgmental, and fear-based. What are the symptoms of this suffering?

If a child doesn’t commit suicide, get strung out on drugs, or have a fatal “accident,” he or she often grows up exhibiting the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Like other PTSS sufferers, they/you may become distrustful, secretive, self-abusing, and sometimes even abusive towards others as a result of all their pent-up hurt, rage, and humiliation. So how can we stop the bullying? How can we help those who are being bullied or have been?

The good news is that bullying is finally receiving the attention it warrants. We are recognizing that bullying creates more bullying, is a trigger for depression, suicide, and drug abuse among teens, and often creates a lifetime of disorders that hinder people from living the extraordinary lives they deserve.

One story currently garnering major press began in my home town of Mill Valley, California, at my daughter’s school, Tamalpais High. Two sisters who attend the school, Emily and Sarah Buder, along with their mother Janet, read an article about a girl in another town, Olivia, who had suffered from the torture of bullying at her middle school. Although the Buders had never met Olivia, they felt compassion and a desire to help. They began an email campaign requesting other teenagers and anyone who had ever suffered from bullying to write to Olivia. Fast forward some months: Thousands and thousands of letters poured in from all over the world to support Olivia and her mother. As a result, today Olivia realizes she is not alone. She no longer feels the need to isolate. And she has come to believe that there are many good people in the world, people who care. She has even received letters from admitted bullies who have apologized and promised never to do it again, people who confessed that their bullying began years earlier when they were emotionally or physically abused themselves.

Bullying is a cycle we can stop as the Buder family, Olivia, and others are showing us. First, just as we have done with sexual abuse and molestation, we must take it out of our collective closet, shine the light on it, call it by its name, and let those who have experienced it know that they are not responsible for carrying shame. We must not turn the other cheek, ignore it, or tell those who are bullied that someday it will get better. This only teaches sufferers to endure loneliness, shame, humiliation, rage, and self-hate. Loneliness can become a habit. Shame can become a habit. Drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity can become habits—lifelong habits. By naming bullying we take away the power of the secret. We become islands in the stream for those who have suffered from bullying, safe havens where they can rest, release, and rebuild.

Secondly, we must open our eyes. We must commit to noticing not just the bullying behaviors but the symptoms of those who are being bullied. Anyone who is depressed, self-destructive, accident prone, suicidal, anxiety-ridden, doing poorly at work or in school, has difficulty concentrating, has low self-esteem, or has addictions may be suffering from bullying. If you have the courage to ask, you may find that they have the courage and the desire to share their secret with you. When I have had reason to be suspicious that a new client was sexually abused, I have often just asked straight out. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the response, “Oh, my God. How did you know? I’ve never told anyone, not even my _________ (therapist/husband/minister).” Few want to live with the secret of sexual abuse or of being bullied. Most think they have no other choice.

Thirdly, we must recognize that the act of bullying is a cry for help. We must stop seeing the situation in simplistic terms, categorizing people into perpetrators and victims. We must realize that anyone who bullies must have been subjected to bullying themselves. If we simply criminalize bullies, particularly teenagers who exhibit these disturbing behaviors, we will be missing thousands and thousands who need our help. The cycle of bullying will break when we reach out with compassion to everyone—bullies and bullied alike. This doesn’t mean that we should tolerate bullying. On the contrary, we should have zero tolerance for words and deeds that are hurtful—by others as well as by us.

Who among us hasn’t said something hurtful when we’ve been hurt or humiliated? Who among us doesn’t owe someone an apology for having uttered, in a moment of anger, a cutting remark, a harsh criticism, a mean-spirited “joke”? As Alexander Soltzenitzen wrote (slight paraphrase): “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take all the evil people and put them over there, then we wouldn’t have to deal with them. And all of us good people would stay right here. The problem is that the line separating good and evil cuts right through the human heart.”

Let’s get out of Courtroom Earth where we vilify others self-righteously, labeling them as bullies, and set up Classroom Earth where we can admit to our own mistakes and make it safe for others to do the same. Let’s make our personal amends so that it is not too much to ask others to do the same. Let’s open our hearts, remembering that all judgmental, harsh words and all hurtful behaviors are simply disguised cries for help.

Lastly, we can help heal ourselves and others suffering from abuse through self-expression such as poetry, literature, art, drama, and music. Teresa Rodriguez Williamson, San Francisco Woman of the Year, author of Fly Solo, and founder of the premiere women’s travel site, tangodiva.com, was bullied when she was young. While still a child, she wrote this poem, which won the California State Writing Contest.

COLD

I have been faced with a cold
A cold unknown to man
Only to children
A cold of being left out
A cold of no love
A cold of no care
Feel it
And learn from it

In our family, community, our nation, and our world, let us feel, learn, and create the warm heartedness we all so deserve.

Jane Straus is the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass, 2005 pub.). She is a frequent television and radio guest expert and writes columns for numerous magazines. She also has a life coaching practice for individuals and couples. You can read more about how to live an extraordinary life, view Jane’s TV and radio interviews, read excerpts from her book and articles, and find out how to book Jane as a keynote speaker for your next event by visiting www.stopenduring.com.

How to Find Clarity in a Confusing World

Monday, March 26th, 2007

We can become confused when our two inner voices, the Guardian and the Spirit, clash. Our Guardian is there to protect us from potential harm, both real and imagined. Ideally, our Guardian keeps us from getting into the car to drive home after a night of drinking; or it warns us, “There’s something a little off about that person…let’s avoid him.”

Ensuring our survival keeps our Guardian very busy. The problem is that the Guardian can get stuck on a loud, attention-getting frequency (Watch out! Don’t open your heart!), seeing danger in every situation and around every curve. In fear for our very survival, the Guardian can shout down the Spirit. When it does, we will get confused, wondering why we’re in endurance, feeling bored, lethargic, cynical, or hopeless.

I was a classic example of this “shout down” strategy by my Guardian and didn’t even realize it. Before being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2003, I had a list of reasons why I couldn’t write Enough Is Enough! I convinced myself that with a fulltime life-coaching practice and a young child to raise, who had time to write a book? Interestingly enough, however, once I was told that I might not survive the brain surgery or that I might not have all my faculties afterwards, suddenly those reasons seemed more like excuses.

I tried not to beat myself up with self-judgments like coward. After all, my Guardian was just trying to help me avoid my fears of rejection and of not being good enough. It took a wake-up call for my Spirit to speak up. When I pulled through the surgery unscathed, I was able to “miraculously” find time to write. What I realize from this experience is this: If we listen to our Guardian voice only, we will end up stuck in confusion and endurance. If we are willing to pay closer attention to what our Spirit has to say, we will find our way out of our ruts and onto the road less traveled, a road that leads to the surprising and the extraordinary.

Jane Straus is the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. Visit stopenduring.com to read more articles, preview her seminars, order the book, or have her as your personal coach.

How to Know When You Are Fulfilled

Friday, December 22nd, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
How can I figure out whether I am doing what makes me happy? What are some of the symptoms of unhappiness, or must I wait for a life-threatening situation?

I wrote Enough Is Enough! to help others avoid having to go through a life-threatening situation in order to wake up to your spirit’s calling.

If you are having to ask yourself if you are happy, then you probably aren’t. Perhaps you haven’t yet had the satisfaction that goes with fulfilling your spirit’s purpose, so you don’t know what benchmark to compare your feelings with.

The symptoms of endurance or a less-than-thriving life are discussed in depth in my book. I will give you a short list here that you should find helpful:
Anxiety, addiction, depression, cynicism, hopelessness, helplessness, boredom, frustration, resentment, endless To Do lists, ruts, listlessness…the list goes on and on!

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, don’t ignore yourself. You deserve to create a thriving, extraordinary life. Remember, others in your life will benefit also. As one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.” This is a way of saying that you owe it to yourself to like the reflection you see in the mirror. Time is precious and so is your spirit. Begin today!

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.

(Re)Kindling Your Passion for Your Work and Your Life

Friday, July 28th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
I wake up every weekday morning dreading the upcoming day. I’ve got a good job and a loving family and should feel grateful. What’s wrong with me?

Most of us have woken up occasionally to a feeling of dread or anxiety, wishing we were facing a different day ahead of us. But if this is how you feel most mornings, wishing you had a different life, you are suffering from burnout. Burnout is the result of enduring for too long and is debilitating to your spirit. The good news is that it’s curable.

When you are in burnout, you may feel a whole host of symptoms, including:
• Depression
• Restlessness
• Anxiety
• Addiction
• Hopelessness
• Chronic illness or pain
• Lack of motivation
• Stuck in a rut
• Fantasizing having a different life or even being a different person

Then there are the additional, perhaps surprising, symptoms of burnout that deserve your attention:
• Cynicism – When you feel jaded about your work, your clients, your colleagues, or your contributions to others, you are experiencing one of the most serious symptoms of burnout. When we are excited about our lives, we don’t tend to feel cynical.
• Boredom – Having little interest in your work or your life can lead to running out of motivation entirely. You can delude yourself into thinking that you are bored because of the outside world. But prolonged boredom is a smokescreen to avoid facing the risks we need to take to feel more fulfilled.
• Confusion – Not being able to make up your mind can happen when you don’t give yourself the highest options to choose from. We must aim for what our spirit really aspires to in order to get clarity.
• Jealousy –Jealousy is what you feel when you think you can’t have or don’t deserve what someone else has. It’s a clue that you have a limiting belief that is keeping you in a rut. To overcome jealousy, we need to commit to ourselves to create a life that is remarkable on our own terms.
• Low Self-Esteem – If someone else thinks you’re great but you can’t feel it about yourself or you can’t take in compliments, it may be because you’re not doing what you really need to in order to thrive. Sometimes we have to practice thriving behaviors even before we believe we deserve to.
• Defensiveness – You will react most strongly to criticisms that mirror your own self-judgments. When you judge yourself, you automatically put yourself in a prison of endurance. Take note of the criticisms you pile on yourself every day. They probably sound something like, “I’m too fat/stupid/afraid/old to succeed/be happy/find a partner/make enough money.” There is an ancient Buddhist saying, “No enemy can harm us as much as our own thoughts.” Rather than defend ourselves, we can focus on self-encouragement rather than self-judgment.
• Impatience – When you are short with others, it is a clue that you’re unhappy with your life in some way. Maybe you think people talk too slowly, or you get road rage, or you jump on your partner or kids for slight infractions. It’s time to ask yourself if what you are really feeling impatient about is some aspect of your life. Are you tired of waiting for something better to happen? Impatience can work for us when we heed its message, which is to evaluate our circumstances and make new commitments to ourselves.
• Frustration – Annoyance with things that aren’t within your control is a symptom of deeper dissatisfactions. If so, quick fixes won’t work. Instead, address the root cause of your burnout, which is that your spirit is not being nurtured enough. Sometimes, when we are afraid of making changes, we will try to focus on the small stuff. But isn’t it better to act on our dreams and aspirations?

So once you recognize your symptoms of burnout and you are motivated to thrive, how do you “go for it”? Answer these questions honestly and follow the suggestions that you are drawn to:

Question: If you felt passion for your life or your work at one time but don’t feel it now, what has changed? What did you love about your work/life at one time? Suggestion: Perhaps you’ve changed and evolved. Perhaps what was true for you five or ten years ago is no longer current. Stop blaming yourself for any discontent. Instead, be respectful and check in with what your spirit longs for now.

Question: If you’ve never felt passion for your life or your work, why not?
Suggestion: Maybe you chose a profession or lifestyle based on others’ expectations instead of your own. Or maybe the work or life you chose was based on unrealistic fantasies. Prioritize your criteria for a satisfying life. What do you imagine would make you happy? Try out scenarios and see if they work for you. For example, if you like the outdoors, volunteer as a trail guide for a short stint. If you are artistic, become an apprentice to a graphics designer or take an art class.

Question: Do you feel at home in your environment or are you like a fish out of water?
Suggestion: Take a personality style assessment to find out if you are a Director, Promoter, Analyzer, or Supporter. A good life coach can help you interpret the results. Each style has its needs, wants, and most conducive environments for thriving. You deserve to have a life aligned with your style instead of fighting it.

Question: What self-judgments are keeping you from creating a more extraordinary life?
Suggestion: Respond to your self-judgment with an affirmation that you are willing to believe but do not yet hold as true. An affirmation can start with, “Although I have believed I’m too old to find a partner, I am now willing to create a loving relationship.” Affirmations are commitments to yourself that counter negative beliefs.

Question: What limiting beliefs are stopping you from living a richer life?
Suggestion: Limiting beliefs are often taught to us as children. We assume, from our child’s perspective, that they are true, so they often go untested. Examples of common limiting beliefs: “You can’t trust people. You can’t have what you want. No one is really happy. Your happiness doesn’t matter.” Think about what you have believed about the world that is self-defeating. Be willing to question your own authority or the authority of those who taught you these “facts.”

Question: Do you worry about what will happen to your significant relationships if you stop enduring and start manifesting your dreams?
Suggestion: There are consequences to making changes in your life. But if you hold yourself back out of fear, you may get what you are avoiding anyway. For example, if you fear that someone in your life will reject you if you make changes, aren’t you going to isolate more anyway if you become more miserable and fear driven? Our fears are based on the past and the future, not on the present. If you stay focused on what your spirit is telling you in the present, the company you will be keeping will be the company you want to keep. Why? Because you will have become the company you want to keep!

Question: Do you let obstacles like lack of money or possible failure stop you?
Suggestion: These obstacles present opportunities to persevere. Endurance is what you do when you are not listening to your spirit. Perseverance is what you do when you stay focused on your goals. Roadblocks can strengthen your resolve. You probably wouldn’t want what you want if it were too easy. Your spirit is drawn to challenges.

Question: Does fear in general hold you back?
Suggestion: Do one thing that requires courage and moves you toward one of your spirit’s aspirations. Maybe that means taking a class, getting a personal coach, applying for a job, reading a self-help book, or signing up with an internet dating service. Taking steps to address your fears will rightly build your self-esteem. Get support to meet your fears head on.

Question: Do you feel selfish when you even begin to focus on yourself this way?
Suggestion: Remember that energy rubs off on other people. If you are unhappy, burned out, feeling victimized by life, what do you really have to offer others? Committing to making your own life more remarkable is a gift that keeps on giving. You will be much more present and useful to others when you have said yes to fulfilling your own highest goals and aspirations.

It is time to say “Enough is enough!” to endurance, marking time, and burnout. Once you do, you may find that obstacles that once appeared insurmountable now fall away. When you commit to yourself, you are bound to:

• find resources to help you on your path
• carve out time that you didn’t know you had
• tweak something small that turns out to make an enormous difference
• have more fun than you imagined possible
• discover some hidden creativity
• inspire others

The decision to stop enduring and to (re)kindle your passion is an act of profound courage. But if you don’t want your epitaph to read, “Here lies ______. He/she finished everything on the To Do list,” then listen to yourself now. You are worthy of that and so is everyone who will benefit from your choosing to live a more extraordinary life.

The Difference Between Thriving and Just Enduring

Monday, June 12th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
What do you mean by “endurance” and what’s wrong with it? I always thought enduring was a good thing.

When I am interviewed on radio or TV, I am always asked to explain what I mean by “endurance.” I use an analogy taught to me by one of my mentors, Brandon St. John, some 25 years ago. This analogy was used by Al Gore in his amazing film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” where he offers us irrefutable evidence that global warming is real and dangerous and a hope and a plan for rescuing the planet now. The analogy goes like this: When frogs are placed in water that is too hot, they will hop out immediately. However, when frogs are placed in water that is just right and then the water is heated slowly, they will ENDURE and never jump out, no matter how hot the water gets. Our mutual point is this: When we put up with anything that is unhealthy for our spirit or our environment for too long, like the frog, we may not notice until it is too late. In Al Gore’s cartoon with the frog, the frog is rescued by awareness and action. In Enough Is Enough!, I offer so many ways to become aware and stop enduring now, not later, not after we have accumulated too much regret or poisoned our system with too much resentment. Not after we have ignored our spirit to the point that we can no longer hear its whispers.
If you pay attention to your spirit today, if you “take your leap,” you will undoubtedly help yourself, others, and possibly our planet. Here are some immediate ways to start living your extraordinary life and to set an example for others. None of them are easy. All of them require willingness, perseverance, and self-compassion:
1. Stop one self-defeating behavior just for a day and replace it with a healthy, affirming one. You don’t have to change your thoughts, just your behavior. Your mind just may catch up with you.
2. Tell someone about a goal you wish to accomplish. Ask them to support you in it, even to the point of keeping your word about it. Don’t let yourself off the hook. This is perseverance, not endurance, and it is one of the best ways to build self-esteem.
3. Ask yourself where you have not been in integrity with someone. Then make it right. Righting our wrongs is loving kindness put into action. It is humbling and keeps us from self-righteousness.
4. Acknowledge something good in yourself and then acknowledge something good in a person you are having difficulty with.
There are many more ways to get out of your prison of endurance and to make each day forward a remarkable one. Promise yourself you will make thriving your new habit. After all, we are not frogs, are we?