Posts Tagged ‘hearts’

Three Keys to Creating an Extraordinary Relationship

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Click here to read my English Usage blogs.

While love can make us soar to new and giddy heights, it can also bring us to our knees. Love can be difficult, daunting, and more often than we wish, devastatingly painful. Ram Dass, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers who speaks truths with both lightheartedness and great compassion, has said that relationship is the hardest yoga of all. So maybe we shouldn’t think any more highly of a monk meditating on a mountaintop than we do of ourselves for having the courage to struggle with loving another human being.

Most of us have secretly believed, at one time or another (or frequently), that if we just changed partners, it would be SO much easier. And we may be right. The problem is that our hearts don’t always know if letting go is the answer or is simply an avoidance strategy. What if we pick the same person/problems in a new disguise? What if our partner is right and we’re the problem?

When couples come to counseling, they want to know what I think: Are they better off apart? Is the relationship worth salvaging? Will it get better? How much better? Will it ever be good enough? Relatively pain free? Do they even dare hope for happiness? When will they know when they’re “there”?

Even with 27 years of experience as a relationship coach, I am terrible at predicting the future of relationships. I worked with one couple who I would have bet wouldn’t last another six weeks past our first session. Ten years later, they still write me holiday cards with photos of them with their growing brood, their smiles real and joyful. They always write something that gives me way too much credit for their happiness. I laugh, mostly at myself and how wrong I secretly was about their chances.

Another couple, who seemed to have only minor issues, left their third (and final) session grateful, holding hands, reassuring each other of their mutual respect and love. The next I heard, only a few months later, one of them was living with a new partner. Like many of their friends, I murmured to myself, They seemed so good together.

USA Today, in an interview I did for them, gave me the title of relationship expert. I chuckle at that. Is there really such a thing? What are the qualifications for such an exalted title? Should expert status be conferred by statistics? Is it how many couples I have worked with who have stayed together? Or maybe how many couples I have helped split amicably, avoiding costly attorneys’ fees? Or should someone be dubbed a relationship expert who is a good predictor of a couple’s chances?

We have such high expectations of relationship: We want to feel loved, safe, heard, respected, supported, beautiful/handsome/sexy, and…we are inevitably disappointed when our partner isn’t a deep enough reservoir. Should we give up and move on? Can we do better? Will learning tools or increasing our self-awareness really help?

If there are tricks or theories or strategies or paradigms or sociological studies, how do you know which one(s) to pick or whom to trust? A numerologist will give you one set of parameters for finding and keeping your “perfect” partner; an astrologist, another paradigm; a psychologist, a third set of compatibility factors. A Buddhist guide might help you see relationship through the lens of karma. The psychic has spirit guides, tea leaves, or your palm at his/her disposal. Most of us take the smorgasbord approach: We try a little of this, a little of that, hoping to cobble together our own paradigm for success in relationship.

So, as USA Today’s relationship expert and, more truthfully, humble observer of hundreds of couples, let me add another morsel to your plate with my three keys to creating an extraordinary relationship. I believe that these are the “must have” tools that will help you find your way back to trust, intimacy, and friendship.

Jane’s Three Keys to Creating an Extraordinary Relationship

1. Ask open-ended questions. When people tell me what makes them feel most loved, they’ll mention roses, sex, cards, candlelight dinners, long walks, back rubs—all the usual stuff. They never mention being listened to. But I’ve found that it’s the act of love that is most appreciated, melts even the most cynical heart, and is a more potent aphrodisiac than chocolate or flowers.

2. Provide a safe haven. You know that Allstate insurance commercial with the two hands cupped together, palms up? When the chips are down for your partner, be that. Don’t judge or give advice; just gently hold their precious spirit in your hands. This is as close to unconditional love as one adult can ever offer another.

3. Offer truth, not just mere honesty. You may be honest if you tell your partner, “You were an inconsiderate boor” or “You’re an idiot.” Honesty can be hurtful to a relationship because it can contain judgments and assumptions. The difference between honesty and truth is that truth is nonjudgmental. I can say in truth, “I am really angry that you talked about my weight loss struggles in front of our friends. It felt humiliating.” When I teach couples this distinction, they sometimes argue that the truth sounds so much scarier because of the vulnerability required. I say, “Exactly! How do you expect to have intimacy without vulnerability?” It’s a choice—a courageous one. Truth is a form of love. When we are willing to tell the truth and hear it, we let our partner know that we are risking everything for the sake of the highest good of the relationship.

In my book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, I offer many more tools that will minimize your pain and maximize the intimacy and joy in your relationship. But these three may be enough to get you out of your relationship rut and back to remembering why you were attracted to each other in the first place. Here’s to your courage, your vulnerability, and your compassionate intention!

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Click here to read Jane’s article in USA Today on the lessons we can glean from celebrity breakups.
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Love in the Age of the Internet

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

To view my English Usage blogs, click here.

Dear Jane,
How can I stop wasting my time on Internet romances that fizzle out? What really makes a romance blossom into a long-term commitment?

With Internet dating, you have more opportunities than ever to meet potential partners, which also means you have to be more discerning so that you don’t get overwhelmed, frustrated, and hopeless. But it’s important to say up front that no one has figured out a magic formula for success in finding a soul mate. Even with dating technology like winking, e-mailing, and personality profiles, finding Mr./Ms. Right is still a combination of luck, grace, and often a lot of perseverance.

However, here are 8 ways you can avoid sabotaging yourself when using an online dating service.
1. Pick at least two good pictures of yourself. Yes, they should be current, not ten years old, and shouldn’t be Photoshopped. But I’ve had some really attractive friends and clients upload some of the worst pictures. It’s almost as if they’re daring someone to get past the photos to be appreciated for the “real” them.
2. Ask your friends to help you write your profile. We rarely see ourselves the way others perceive us. This may also bolster your ego as your friends are likely to point out the traits they appreciate in you that you take for granted in yourself.
3. Set your sights on what would be a good match for you. If you’re a 54-year-old man with no money and health problems, seeking a 35-year-old woman who wants children will just leave you lonely and feeling desperate. Either change aspects of your own life or change your expectations. Or recognize that you’re not really serious about having a relationship right now, which is fine too.
4. Listen to your intuition. If someone looks good on paper but something doesn’t sound right on the phone—maybe you feel pushed into meeting too soon or that the person wants to control you without having even met you—take your time.
5. Take frequent breaks from online dating to remember who you really are rather than trying to continually figure out if you fit others’ criteria or if everyone interested in you fits your criteria. You don’t want dating to become like a never-ending job search.
6. Think outside the box. Many people end up being surprised by whom they fall in love with. You can have your list of criteria but be willing to add, subtract, or at least shuffle your priorities. Be open to discovering something about yourself in the process of dating.
7. Who says you’re limited to just one soul mate? You may have many partners whom you would be compatible with, many people you could love and be loved by.
8. If you do meet a soul mate online, don’t hide the truth from others. Why be embarrassed? Given our busy lives, online dating is a legitimate, efficient method of connecting. And if you don’t tell others, they’ll think that no one ever finds true love online. This simply isn’t true! In the last few years in my relationship coaching practice, I’ve witnessed many online romances blossom into long-term relationships, including marriage.

Once you are in a relationship, here are 5 keys to nurturing Great Love:
1. Tell the truth. Truth and love are synonymous. But be careful because telling the truth is not the same as being honest. Honesty may contain judgments, such as, “I think you’re narrow minded for saying you wouldn’t marry a Republican.” Truth is more vulnerable and does not contain judgment. Restated, the truth might be, “When you say you would never marry a Republican, I feel hurt and scared. I’m afraid that if I disagree with you politically, you will leave, regardless of the other great things about our relationship.”
If you don’t feel safe telling the truth about your past, your personality, or your quirks to your new relationship, tell your partner that you need to keep some things private still. But don’t massage the truth, don’t go into an act, and don’t lie. Remember, it’s hard to regain trust that’s been broken.
If you’ve lied to someone you’re involved with, don’t spend one more day torturing yourself with the shame, guilt, and fear that’s inside of you. No matter how afraid you are that you will be rejected or abandoned, clear the air without excuses. (The only exception to this advice is if you have reason to believe that telling the truth will endanger you physically. If this is the case, get professional help.)
Truth is sexy. Truth is passionate. Truth is intimate. Truth is love.
2. Be the love you want to receive. We all want love, loyalty, intimacy, respect, compassion, and friendship. But to deserve it, we need to offer those same things to our partner. And we need to offer them generously. An open heart is much more inviting and accessible than a protected one.
3. Become your partner’s safe haven. Becoming a safe harbor for someone is one of the greatest gifts we can offer and is very much appreciated. Allow your partner to express feelings, even negative ones, without rushing to judgment or trying to fix him/her. Feelings don’t need fixing anyway.
4. Fight fair. This is the hardest prescription on the list for many people as we’ve learned bad and sometimes destructive habits. If you can admit right now that you don’t know how to fight in such a way that you end up closer rather than more estranged, then get help. Hire a life coach or therapist or read books on conscious, loving communications (including my book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life). The sooner you become adept at this skill, the less resentment your relationship will build. Fighting well is cleansing and makes make-up sex even better!
5. Make a list of the 10 Things That Make You Feel Most Loved. Ask your partner to do the same. You may be surprised to hear each other’s lists. They often don’t match. Keep your partner’s list and look at it every day. If your partner loves to receive roses, then don’t send irises, even if they’re on your list of favorites.
In Enough Is Enough!, I talk about how I feel loved when my husband remembers that I like yellow mustard, not Dijon. We’re all quirky in what makes us feel loved. Honor your partner’s list and you will build a strong foundation that will get you through the hard times.

Announcements/strong>
Join Jane at Club Med in Cancun!
June 21-28, 2008
Enjoy the beautiful beach, delicious food, and luxurious setting while experiencing enriching programs. Check out this newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
I will be teaching Creating Your Abundant Life. Other wonderful teachers will be offering you daily opportunities to nurture your mind, body, and spirit.
Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1549 (regular price $1599), which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Discounts for couples and families.
Contact Teresa Williamson at teresa@tangodiva.com for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane

A Sneak Peek at Creating Your Abundant Life:

If you feel that you don’t have enough of any of the following:

• Time
• Money
• Energy
• Love
• Intimacy
• Fun
• Self-esteem
• Inspiration
• Direction

This workshop is for you!

There is a Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. Three kinds of thoughts stop us from manifesting abundance:

Fear
Self-judgments
Limiting beliefs

Any one of the above can sabotage us, keep us stuck in a rut, stress us out, cause us confusion, or make us want to give up.

We will use cutting-edge strategies and fun processes to uncover and release your fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs so that you will begin immediately to manifest your spirit’s deepest desires.

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.

Empowering vs. Enabling

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

Dear Jane,
What is the difference between empowering and enabling someone?

I’ve struggled with this in my own life. I want to be compassionate, but how can I know whether I am helping or when I am supporting someone in believing they’re helpless? How do I combine a belief that we are 100% responsible for our thoughts and behaviors at the same time that I increase my awareness of our interdependence?

A few years ago a family came to live with us. They had been evicted from their apartment and because our eight-year-old daughters were friends, when the knock on the door came, we opened up, not just our door, but our hearts. They stayed with us for three months rent free…until at 6:30 one morning, the police banged on our door, arresting the mom for parole violation and theft. Two weeks later a credit card bill arrived totaling $3000+ on a card we had never used and that we thought was still in our desk drawer.

Some details I left out of that story: I knew something was amiss when I was shown the mom’s “ankle bracelet,” her house arrest monitor. On the first day of their stay, she admitted that she had embezzled $32,000 from her employer. She and her husband also admitted that they had defrauded their roommate, making her think that they had used her rent to pay the landlord when they had actually kept it.

So what did I do with this information? I counseled them; I fed them; I drove their daughter to school and events; I cooked for them. Clearly, I was enabling, not empowering, them. Why couldn’t I see that?

I have a habit of assuming the best in people. In other words, I’m gullible. But sometimes seeing something in someone that they don’t see in themselves can bring out the best in them. Hasn’t someone seeing something in you ever made you believe in yourself more?
I also cared very much about their little girl and couldn’t imagine throwing her out into the streets for the sins of her parents.

So, yes, I was an enabler. Yes, I was foolish and disillusioned for a while. I admit fully that I not only didn’t empower her parents; in fact, I made it possible for them to commit further crimes. I could have done more by insisting on their helping more around the house or getting a job or getting drug counseling. But I’m pretty sure that insisting would have made them feel too exposed, and they would have left looking for their next suckers. If I didn’t care about their little girl, this would have been just fine.

Empowering vs. enabling is often distinguished by how people receive our help. When people want to be empowered, not enabled, they don’t ask for pity; they ask for clarity. They don’t give excuses; they overcome obstacles. They show a willingness to change their thoughts and strategies. They take responsibility for their actions. They don’t try to get away with things; they want to get out of their ruts in order to thrive.

Because life is complicated, I still don’t always know ahead of time how my help will be received or if I’m being foolish, throwing away money or energy. I can always hope that good intentions will sow their seeds, even if I can’t know where they’ve been planted or when they will germinate. Maybe, just maybe, this little girl, basking in some unconditional love and living in a safe and secure environment for even a short time will help her not re-create her parents’ life. That little girl is now 15. She still calls us. That feels great. I’ll live with being a fool.

Join Jane at Club Med in Cancun
June 21-28, 2008.
I will be teaching a new, exciting program on Creating Abundance everywhere in your life.
More about this in next week’s e-newsletter.

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.

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.

The Gift of a “No Holds Barred” Apology

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

(Click here to read my English usage blogs.)

Recently, Ron Whitney, a life coach and lay counselor at his church, wrote to tell me that he had read my book, Enough Is Enough! He added, “I hope I am not being out of line, but as I read the chapter on forgiveness, I could not help but think that you might appreciate a letter I wrote to my ex-wife several years ago.”

Well, I thought so much of Ron’s letter that I asked his permission to reprint it for you. It is a wonderful example of (1) an unconditional apology (no ifs, ands, or buts), (2) self-forgiveness, and (3) nonattachment to outcome. (Ron asked for and expected nothing in response.)

Dear ____,

I have agonized over writing you for several years, trying to figure out how I would say what I want to say.

I want to tell you how deeply sorry I am that I offended you in numerous ways during our marriage. I am deeply sorry that I was not emotionally available to you. You were right in your frequent complaints that I “was always down the street and around the corner.” I am deeply sorry that I allowed my interests in Auburn football, softball, umpiring and church activities get in the way of our relationship. I am deeply sorry that I did not express my anger toward you when anger would have been an appropriate response. I recall on more than one occasion you asked me if I never got angry with you. My response was always, “I choose not to get angry.” I was so arrogant. I am deeply sorry that I did not confront you in a loving, compassionate way when I thought you were out of line. I am deeply sorry that I denied for almost all of our married life that I had a problem or that we had a problem.

I hope that you will forgive me for these ways I am aware that I offended you and caused you great pain. I also hope that you will forgive me for those offenses of which I am not aware.

Sincerely,
Ron

How many of us long for such a letter? How many of us would feel unconditionally loved by someone’s willingness to admit the wrongs they perpetrated against us?

I hope that Ron’s letter to his ex-wife serves as a reminder that you deserve such a letter, whether you ever receive one or not. And perhaps it’s time for you to write such a letter to someone who deserves the gift of your amends.

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.

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.