Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

A Lesson from 2007

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blog.

Here, in brief, is what I learned in 2007:

Honor your losses.
Celebrate your blessings.
Give compassion to yourself and others when either of these tasks seems difficult.

Two weeks ago, I shared my grief over my friend Gio’s sudden passing and invited you to honor your grief by sharing your stories. In addition to the one I am reprinting below, which speaks to the poignancy of love and loss, I received so many e-mails with condolences and tributes. Thank you for responding with your lovely, healing words and tender hearts. I am truly touched.

The Person You Would Love To Hate but Just Couldn’t

One of the closest friends that I’ll ever know, Jill, died 11 years ago TODAY. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen her that I sometimes have doubts that she ever actually existed. She feels more like a dream than someone I actually knew, but if I tap in a little deeper, I remember that she did exist and was one of the most amazing people I have ever known — and it drums up all kinds of emotions.
Jill was the type of person who made everyone mixed tapes, sent cards for no reason, collected poetry, always laughing and joking, kind to everyone she came into contact with, an amazing athlete — basically the person you would love to hate but just couldn’t. Everything about her was genuine. And I tend to look back in awe — thinking I should have known that she was temporary. There was something about her that was bigger — so much more than anyone I’d ever known.
I’d thought about her a few times today and thought to myself that I should do something today to honor her — and then your e-newsletter came, Jane, and it provided me the perfect opportunity. It also reminds me of my passion to help people celebrate the lives of loved ones…which I hope to start looking into in the very near future.
—Jenny C.

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.

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Life After a Breakup

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

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

1. Have a pity party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.Recognize that rejection is a myth.

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

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

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

3.Give yourself the love you want to get.

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

4.Release your Resentments

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

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

5. (Re)Inspire Yourself

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

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

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

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

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, 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.

Lessons from The Wizard of Oz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Value of Friendship

Saturday, June 24th, 2006
 
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Although most people don’t consider themselves isolated or friendless, 1/4 of Americans say they don’t have even a single close friend (according to a study reported in USA Today, June 23, 2006). This is a change from just 20 years ago when only 10% reported having no close friendships. Maybe our expectations have changed. Maybe we don’t expect friends to take the time to listen or to have the skills to help us reflect on our problems. But if not, why not?
In the 1970’s my husband was on the baseball team at Stanford and when the team traveled to another university for a game, the guys spent their time on the bus talking together. About what? He doesn’t remember. But there was nothing else for them to do. Without ipods and laptops, these guys were forced to use each other to pass the time and build the camaraderie that cemented friendships he has to this day.
He went back for a Stanford reunion last year and saw something that alarmed him: When the football team got off the bus, they weren’t talking or laughing; they were all plugged into ipods. None of them seemed connected with each other. He imagined they spent the entire duration of the trip alone in their own world of music rather than goofing around, strategizing, learning more about each other, in other words, creating bonds that would last beyond their time as college athletes. He felt saddened for them. How would kids from the suburbs and those from blighted urban areas bridge the gap among themselves if they didn’t find more common ground than what was underneath their feet during a game?
How does technology affect our friendships and even our ability to know how to be a good friend? If what used to be a natural alignment such as teammates can be broken by a pocket-sized white rectangle that puts us in a bubble, how are we to reach out or be reached out to? Even taking the bus to work used to involve seeing the same people every day, affording us an opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and develop connections. Today, on a typical bus ride during commute hours, more than likely we will be on our cell phone or plunking at our laptop keyboard, using the bus as our mobile office (or catching up on sleep). We’re working longer and harder and the price we pay is increased isolation.
With online chat rooms and dating services, text messaging, and email, we can “exclude the wrong people” and avoid “wasting time.” But how many of us who are happy in a relationship would have picked our mates out of a line up? Did we really end up using the criteria we had in our minds or on paper? Does our partner really look or always behave like our wish list? Who are we overlooking by not taking the time to have a cup of coffee but instead choosing to not “wink” back at?
What can we do about this trend? And do we want to do it? Is it simply more efficient to pay for therapy or coaching? The problem with relying solely on “professional friendship” is that they are not there when you need someone to pick up your child from school because your boss wants you to stay late or the car breaks down. And unfortunately, you might be afraid to bother even those you consider friends if you haven’t taken the time to nurture these relationships. Needing something in an emergency becomes an embarrassment instead of part of the pact of friendship.
But even beyond emergencies, we owe it to ourselves to have at least one or two people who are available to us without having to whip out our appointment calendars. It takes conscious effort these days. We may not live in walking distance of that special friend. We have jobs and chores and families that demand so much of our time and focus. But we need friendship perhaps today more than ever.
The fewer outside friendships, the more pressure we put on mates, who are as ill prepared and time crunched as everyone else. Many of my clients fight with their significant others more about communication or lack of it than about sex, money, or children. They complain that they never get to the real issues because they can’t find the time to talk to each other or don’t feel listened to, resulting in escalating arguments rather than solutions. Couples sometimes schedule an appointment with me just to carve out the uninterrupted time to talk or to have a mediator who will keep them from hurting each other’s feelings. My work is about teaching them to listen better, to feed back each other’s words so that they each know they are being heard objectively, and to communicate more sensitively. This takes practice –lots of it, practice we are deprived of increasingly in our technological wonderland.
So it isn’t just technology that is the problem. One of technology’s side effects is the dwindling of our social skills. It takes more than just time to be a good listener; it takes skill. One has to learn to focus one’s attention on someone else to discern and help with underlying feelings that might be too painful or embarrassing to reveal immediately. This can’t be done via text messaging or email. It is tricky enough to do on the phone when we can’t see someone’s face. Without practice or the expectation from one another that we provide this, we lose both the ability and the commitment to provide the glue that binds us as something more than acquaintances. Without deep and intimate friendships, we end up enduring, stewing in our own juices of self-doubt and self-criticism.
Nurturing friendships requires changing our routine: unplugging from the TV and computer, picking up the phone instead of emailing, sharing meals together, setting up “play dates” just as we do for kids, and most of all, slowing down long enough to listen.
If these words speak to you, call (don’t email) your friends today, acknowledge them for something, thank them for gracing you with their loyalty. A true friend is both an investment and a treasure.