Posts Tagged ‘listening to spirit’

Decisions, Decisions!

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

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Should I take this job or that one? This one offers security but is boring and has little room for advancement; that one offers a chance to grow but carries economic risks.
Should I get this car or that one? This car gets better gas mileage; that one is more fun to drive but has fewer seats.
Should I buy a home or rent? Housing prices may still drop so maybe it’s better to keep renting; but if I buy now, will the tax break offset the higher price?
Should I try to get pregnant now or wait? My relationship with my husband is wobbly so maybe we should wait; but my clock is ticking, and what if I can’t conceive later?

Decisions, decisions! We face choices—big and small—constantly. Even the decision between two good things, such as a vacation in the sun or one on the ski slopes, can cause us anxiety. How do we decide how to decide?

Most of us poll our family or friends. After all, they know us and will probably have some good pros and cons to offer us. But have you ever listened to their valuable advice, nodding your head in agreement, then walked away feeling just as confused or undecided as before? Why is it that some decisions are so hard to make?

Indecisiveness is sometimes a clue that we’re not considering the right criteria. For example, if you’re choosing a car, instead of starting with the sticker price or the fuel economy, you might want to ask yourself what it is you want to experience. Are you looking for fun? Is status important? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you want to drive on all the school field trips? Do you want the safest car, short of a military tank, because you have a teenager about to get her driver’s license? By asking what you want to experience, you give the message to yourself that you are worthy.
When you remind yourself that you are worthy of choosing according to your own intrinsic criteria, clarity is sometimes instantaneous. You may say to yourself, “Of course, this is what I wanted all along. Why did I make it so hard for myself?” Maybe all you had to do was clear out the other “voices in your head”—the ones that said “I shouldn’t want this.” “This is too nice for me.” “Others will judge me for wanting this.” “I don’t deserve this.”

However, even using your own criteria for deciding, you may still feel confused. Why? Because your mind and spirit may be arguing so effectively that you can’t tell who’s who. If you want to know what your spirit wants, here’s a quick exercise: Close your eyes and imagine a traffic light. Then think about one of your alternative choices. Quickly, what color do you see: green or red? Now think about the other choice. Quickly again, what color do you see? Green is your spirit’s choice. (Yes, it’s possible that your spirit will see green with more than one alternative because it may be fine with more than one choice.)

What if your spirit didn’t see green with any of your choices? Then maybe it’s time to look into more options. We can get caught up in either/or thinking: I can pick this car or that one, this job or that one. Maybe there are more alternatives that you haven’t even considered that would result in a green light. Don’t limit yourself prematurely, especially with self-talk like, “I would never…” I worked with a single woman in her mid-thirties who said, “I would never have children without a mate.” She also told me, “I would never marry a man who already has children.” Well, by the time she was forty and still single, she was questioning her strong stances. By forty-two, she had adopted two children and couldn’t imagine her life any other way. At forty-three, she met a man through her single-parent support group and guess what? She’s now married raising four children. When I last saw her, she laughed as she told me, “Jane, at 35 I thought I had to play it smart. I know now that all I had to do was listen to what I really wanted and things would work out.”

Things do tend to work out when we promise ourselves that we won’t regret our decisions as long as we honor our criteria, come from worthiness, and listen to our spirit.

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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.”

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Location: Nomadic Outfitters, 2426 California St. (at Fillmore), S.F., (415) 345-8338
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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.

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.

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Friday, October 12th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
Although I am a loyal, caring person in relationship, I can hardly find a bird of the same feathers to flock with. What can I do besides pray?

Sometimes we choose our relationships for reasons we’re not aware of consciously. For example, do you find that you have chosen a partner who is in some way like one of your parents? This can be great if you felt loved and nurtured. But if you didn’t always feel that growing up, you may still pick someone who unconsciously reminds you of that parent, not because you are masochistic, but because your spirit is trying to find someone now to help heal your past.

So maybe your mind wants a loyal, caring love, but you have been unknowingly seeking something else to try to heal past suffering. What can you do about this?

1. Home in on the lessons you have been learning from your less-than-loyal relationship. Whom does your last relationship (or relationships) remind you of? How did you handle the hurt you felt as a child? How have you handled the hurt as an adult? If you could “do over” your last relationship, what would you do differently?
2. Don’t take other people’s behaviors personally. They’re doing what they do from their own past programming, including their self-judgments, fears, and limiting beliefs. (Just like you.) If a partner betrays your confidence, for example, it is something in him/her that would allow for that. The less you personalize, the less you will feel victimized.
3. Don’t ignore signs and indicators. If you meet someone who tells you that they’ve cheated on a relationship and you think it will be different with you, it may be that you have an unconscious need to learn some painful lessons. If you want a conscious relationship, you have to work to be conscious yourself. Ask more questions. Check inside if you really feel trusting. Pay attention to your intuition.
4. Check inside to see if you’re looking to be right about how relationships are untrustworthy or not good enough. We often try to be right to protect ourselves from future hurt at the expense of current happiness. Being right can come at the expense of intimacy.
5. Make sure you are like the person you want to attract. If you have ever been uncaring or disloyal, don’t pretend to be “holier than thou.” Admit your trespasses to yourself and make amends to anyone you have hurt or betrayed. This clearing of your slate will invite a new, higher-level relationship.

Announcements

Recovery from the Inside Out

Jane has been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, www.StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com. My gratitude to my dear friend, Patte McDowell, for donating her air miles.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
Jane will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. She will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

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.

Perceiving in High Definition

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Our limiting beliefs magnify and distort our perceptions, hindering us from seeing possibilities that someone else may. We miss out on opportunities that we never knew existed, all because of a tendency to see in black and white. For example, if your partner criticizes you, you may think, “He doesn’t love me.” However, the truth may be that he is afraid of being vulnerable and sharing what’s really going on.

Our guardian voice, the one that tells us to “duck and cover,” blows up our worst fears, reminding us of some painful past event such as past rejection, and then convinces us that this situation is exactly like that one.

Why? As I write about in Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, the guardian voice’s job is to protect us from hurt, embarrassment, confusion, and rejection. However, to do this, it oversimplifies, dividing the world into good and bad, right and wrong, safe or dangerous, win or lose, friend or foe. The guardian voice can’t tolerate nuances or it will have fallen down on the job.

How can we quiet our guardian voice if it’s so persistent? We can listen to our spirit’s voice, the voice within that can perceive beyond black and white fear-based thinking, the voice that tells us to take a breath before playing out our knee-jerk reactions. Our spirit’s voice is the one that says there is probably more to this situation than meets the eye. It is the wise voice that says, “Maybe this perceived enemy is just scared. Maybe handling this person’s fears and my own will grant us more understanding.”

The spirit’s voice is the voice of the Teacher in Classroom Earth, not the Judge in Courtroom Earth. It doesn’t look for guilt or blame; it strives for compassion, peace, dignity, and respect.

To hear your spirit’s voice, first trust that it is there. Maybe it’s a mere whisper because your guardian voice has been drowning it out. Then do what the wise do: Follow what it says. Keep listening for it and your spirit will get louder, your heart will open more, and you will experience the crisp, bright, and vivid clarity of HD perception.

Learn more about how to live your extraordinary life by going to StopEnduring.com. There you can read excerpts from Jane Straus’s book, Enough Is Enough!, view her seminars and TV interviews, listen to her radio interviews, make an appointment for a personal coaching session, purchase the book, or sign up for her free newsletter.

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.

Your Life Purpose

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Dear Jane,
What is my life aim? My birth date: 2/14/76, time 05:10 p.m.

It seems as though you are looking for an astrological or numerological reading. Before I suggest where to get help with this, I will let you know how I approach this very important spiritual quest.

When I help people explore their life purpose(s), I ask questions that are helpful in letting their spirit speak up, such as:
1. What do you enjoy doing?
2. What gives your life meaning currently?
3. What gave you meaning or fulfillment in the past?
4. If you could be anyone else, who would you be? What would you be doing?
5. Whom do you admire?

These questions should spark a good discussion and help lead you to your deepest truths of who you are becoming.

For numerological and astrological guidance, I recommend Carol Adrienne, who wrote the foreword to Enough Is Enough!
She offers a free, brief online chart to help you begin exploring your life from this perspective.

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.

It’s a B*tch Being Conscious

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006
 
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Do you ever feel that it takes more work, more out of you emotionally, to live a conscious life than it did to live less-than-consciously? Many years ago I had a T-shirt made with the saying, It’s A Bitch Being Conscious. I wore it on the first day of my Journey Into Ecstasy workshop intensive because I could count on it to evoke instant, knowing laughter from all the participants.

So why do we do it? Why do we keep working on ourselves when it takes so much effort, when we’d sometimes rather be zoned out, pour a cold one, light up a joint or cigarette, or grab the remote? Why do we put ourselves through seeming torture for no guaranteed rewards, sometimes paying a hefty price for the privilege of doing so? Are we just masochists disguised as seekers and healers? Is ignorance perhaps, if not the best policy, at least a better one than relentless self-examination? Who is it that said that the unexamined life is not worth living? A lot of people might disagree.

I know that I’m supposed to answer these rhetorical, “teaser” questions for you in this paragraph. I’m supposed to justify and validate all your hard work, the money you spend on coaching, therapy, workshops, and books, the courage you’ve mustered to face your demons. But you know, I don’t know why anyone does it.

When my coaching clients express how hard this work sometimes is all I can do is smile, agree, and cheerlead. I say things like, “Doesn’t clarity feel better than confusion?” “Doesn’t feeling your emotions feel better than walking around numb?” Sometimes they give in and admit that they like living in an aware and awakened state. Sometimes they give me the look that lets me know I’m skating on thin ice, that their answer just might be a resounding “No!” if I weren’t so chipper.

I can relate. I like the temporary high that blaming and playing the victim provide so well. Blaming feeds my ego and playing the victim allows me to relinquish responsibility for my life. Who wouldn’t say, “Bring it on!”

But once the high leaves, I’m stuck with all my hangover symptoms: depression, lower self-esteem, helplessness, and hopelessness. I wake up and see in the mirror someone who traded the excitement of possibility for the drudgery of inevitability, someone who is stuck in a rut, reading from a very boring script, complaining often and loudly. I see someone who, while familiar, is less than admirable.

Kicking and screaming, or at least whining, I stop the chatter and remind that face in the mirror what the goal of consciousness is: happiness. I tell myself that I am more than the sum of my fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs. I quiet the chatter long enough to hear my spirit’s whispers. And when I persevere, I do occasionally stumble onto great and unexpected joy. More often, I find myself feeling at least a small measure of peace. I’m grateful for that. Is it all worth it? I guess each of us needs to answer that question for ourselves.

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.