Posts Tagged ‘negative thinking’

Spotting a UOF

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

(For my English usage blog, click here.)

No, this title isn’t a typo. I am not writing about UFOs. A UOF, unlike a UFO, has had millions of confirmed sightings and can be easily spotted. It is the Uh Oh Factor: the fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs that stop us dead in our tracks, generally right before or right after we take a risk.

You know how your mind works: You apply for a job and you pump yourself up for the interview, telling yourself that you are the right person—perhaps the most qualified candidate—and that they’d be fools to pass you up. You remind yourself of how well you have performed in your current position and how undervalued you have been, which is why you deserve that new position.

But then you no sooner submit your résumé and that little voice starts whispering in your ear, “What if I don’t get the job? What if it means I have to travel more? What if I don’t like my new boss? What if I don’t like my new colleagues? What if they don’t like me? What if I have to work longer hours?” And the worst what if of all is the one with the F word, “What if I fail?” (This mindset works similarly with dating.)

All of our what ifs create the Uh Oh Factor: the negative thinking that reminds us of each of our character flaws, every painfully embarrassing moment from our past, every fear that’s woken us up at 2:00 A.M. bathed in sweat. This Uh Oh Factor (UOF), untended to, can instantly overpower our tenuous hold on our still-delicate affirmations.

The volume of our UOF will only go up if we try to ignore it. In short order, we will hear the voices within shouting, “You’re so full of yourself. Who were you to think you could land this job? You’re a fraud, a phony. They’ll see right through you.” Try to push these negative thoughts away and it’s like playing Whack-A-Mole: you have to be on high alert looking for where and how they’re going to pop up again if you’re going to defeat them.

So what can you do when the UOF begins to override your confidence? As Ram Dass, a wonderfully funny Buddhist teacher says, you can practice thinking of your Uh Oh thoughts—those neurotic fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs—as little schmos. Then, instead of trying to bar them from entry, which is futile anyway, invite them in for tea.

Imagine this scene: Three little schmos, looking like Snow White’s dwarves, come knocking at your door. Instead of hiding in the coat closet, you welcome them in, escorting them to the dining room table. Without any need for small talk, you say to the one on your right, “I recognize you. You’re the schmo who tells me I’m not good enough.” Then you turn to your left. “And you’re the schmo who catalogues the imperfections of my body.” Now you look across the table at another one who is returning your grin and say, “And you, you’re the schmo who reminds me of all my mistakes.” Then, with an inclusive sweep of your arm, you announce, “Thank you all for having tea with me.” You look at your watch and then continue, “But tea time is over because, after all, I am a busy person.” You see your little schmos to the door, although they are reluctant to go because you’ve been such a good listener. When they ask if they can come back, you let them know that they needn’t worry; certainly you’ll hear them next time they come knocking. You wave to them as they retreat and then close the door with a sigh of relief.

What you do next is remember to feel grateful that you have learned how to say hello and goodbye to your little schmos. Then you restate your affirmations, call on your support system to remind you of your best qualities, demonstrate behaviors that make you feel good about the person you see in the mirror, and take a leap of faith that these practices will not only keep you sane but will provide you with the courage to take the next risk that your spirit urges you towards.

Announcements

Create Your Abundant Life With Jane
at Club Med in Cancun!
June 21-28, 2008
Enjoy the beautiful beach, delicious food, and luxurious setting while experiencing enriching programs by renowned self-help leaders, including a NEW program that I am offering:
Create Your Abundant Life NOW!
How do you know if you have limiting beliefs around abundance?
Just ask yourself:

Do I believe that abundance is that which already exists?
Do I believe that money is love?
If you can’t answer both questions with a resounding YES!, then don’t waste any more of your life suffering in lack.

Here’s another test of your abundance quotient:
Do you feel that you don’t have enough:
• Time
• Money
• Energy
• Love
• Intimacy
• Fun
• Self-esteem
• Inspiration, or
• Direction
There is a Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. Three kinds of negative thoughts stop us from manifesting abundance:
• Fear
• Self-judgments
• Limiting beliefs

Any one of them can sabotage us, keep us stuck in a rut, stress us out, cause us confusion, or make us want to give up.
You will experience cutting-edge strategies and intriguing processes so that you will begin immediately to manifest your spirit’s deepest desires.
Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1999 (regular price $2600)/$1000 for children under 18, which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Check out this beautiful, newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
Contact Teresa Williamson at teresa@tangodiva.com for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane

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

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

Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm in your Journey of Enlightenment

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

Dear Jane,
I’m excited about a potential new job but I’m holding myself in check, trying to practice the Buddhist concept of nonattachment. But The Secret teaches that if I don’t let myself get excited about the job, I won’t attract it to me. These philosophies are confusing to me. Which one should I pick?

The mental games we play with ourselves can be maddening. The reason we invoke nonattachment may have less to do with a desire to be enlightened than an underlying superstition that it is bad luck to want something too much. But then The Secret tells us to do everything in our power to manifest that which we desire. Inevitably, we are faced with questioning if this “law of attraction” is immutable. Are there exceptions? If we want something too much, is there a “law of repulsion”? Should we try to find some middle ground with our emotions, wanting just enough, whatever “just enough” means?

If you are simply afraid of disappointment and are trying to minimize the letdown if something doesn’t go as planned, then you’re already suffering disappointment, aren’t you? And by consciously curbing your enthusiasm, aren’t you actually attaching to disappointment? Why do this to yourself?

It is possible to revel in anticipatory excitement and hopefulness while practicing nonattachment. Nonattachment to outcome means that you are not attaching to feeling any feeling forever. This means not being attached to always feeling excited or hopeful or successful; it doesn’t mean not ever feeling really excited. Practicing nonattachment allows for you to be alternately excited and disappointed, giving these transitory emotions their time while practicing not clinging to the former or avoiding the latter. While “not clinging” requires plenty of practice, it is very different from “not feeling.”

Enlightenment is not the same as hedging our emotional bets. The Dalai Lama tells us that the purpose of enlightenment is to experience happiness. So maybe it’s as simple as “be happy” when you’re happy and “be disappointed” when things don’t turn out well. You aren’t required to squash your joy or mask your sorrows for the sake of practicing enlightenment. Maybe you can practice taking all your feelings, which are fleeting anyway, a little more lightly. This may not be The Secret, but it is A Secret.

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.

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

This is a modified version of a talk I gave at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco on February 2, 2008. My panel’s room was set up for 30 people and 150 showed up. The technicians scrambled to set up speakers in the hallway so the overflowing crowd could hear.

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

I have a need for full confession here—call it my Jewish guilt—before I go on to give you advice about how to lower your stress and thrive more. At 23 years of age I had a stroke. At 48 I had a brain tumor. So although I’m not the poster child for handling stress or always being tuned in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages of my mind/body/spirit, I have spent a good portion of my 27 years as a life coach seeking correlations between health and happiness for my clients as well as for myself.

First of all, stress is a catchall phrase and not so useful when we’re looking to thrive and create a more extraordinary life. Instead, I recommend asking yourself whether you are Enduring or Persevering. Both may feel stressful. But Enduring leads to the blahs and worse while Persevering leads to thriving. Here are just some of the symptoms of Endurance: anxiety, addiction, boredom, cynicism, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, illness, “Is that all there is?” lack of energy, procrastination, resentment, ruts, and “Why me, Lord?” If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, then I encourage you to consider that you are in some Endurance.

So how do we end up in Endurance and how do we get out of it? Most of us have an underlying belief, conscious or unconscious, in what I call The Big Lie. The Big Lie is that we think that we are not fully worthy. If we don’t believe we are fully worthy of thriving or having an extraordinary, abundant life, we will sabotage ourselves using three universal techniques:
• Stoking our fears
• Whipping ourselves with our self-judgments
• Gathering evidence for our limiting beliefs.

Example: Have you ever had a bad hair day? If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wake up in the morning feeling ugly. That’s your self-judgment. So what do you do? Instead of picking out your nicest or sexiest outfit, you dress to be invisible. Why? Because you fear being noticed for how ugly you think you look. Then you leave home, go to work, and what happens? No one notices you. No one compliments you. And what does this do? It confirms your limiting belief that you are not attractive. This is just one example of the wisdom of the Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts.

Here is my personal example of a bad hair day: I was 48 years old and had not yet written my book, Enough Is Enough! Why? I had stoked my fear that I would be rejected by publishers and the public. I had self-judgments that I wasn’t a good enough writer, even though I had written and sold over 100,000 copies of my Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and had edited for friends and colleagues for 30 years. And I had plenty of evidence that there were enough self-help books out there glutting the market already and that mine would get lost in the pile. What stoking my fear, whipping up my self-judgments, and gathering evidence for my limiting beliefs did was to keep me in endurance by perpetuating The Big Lie that I wasn’t worthy. My personal favorite symptoms of Endurance were boredom and resentment.

Then I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That, as we say, was my wake-up call. I asked myself, “If I don’t make it through the surgery, will I have any regrets?” The answer was a resounding yes. I had seven weeks between diagnosis and surgery, during which time I bargained with the Universe. Here was the deal I asked for: Let me live and come out of surgery coherent and I’ll write the book. I’ll even be willing to believe that I’m worthy of doing so. Gratefully, the Universe must have acquiesced so I started writing. Now writing a book is no stroll in the park, especially if you really care about your topic and audience. But the difference was that, once I decided to say boo back to my fears, stopped reminding myself of all my self-judgments, and began to question the authority of my limiting beliefs, I found that I was no longer Enduring; I was Persevering.

Writing the book was still stressful. I had to write late at night because I still had my commitment to my clients as well as to my young daughter and loving husband. I had an editor who sent back my work full of red ink on a daily basis. But it was different. Perseverance is energizing. It is a commitment to the process, regardless of any particular outcome. I found that I was willing to write the book not knowing if it would ever be published or read by another human being.

I think that the secret to thriving that also lowers your stress level is to counter The Big Lie by listening to your Spirit’s longings. Your spirit knows what really matters and it knows when you’re enduring rather than persevering.

So here are five things you can do right now to thrive more:
1. Make amends for past misdeeds and forgive yourself daily so that you can feel worthy of thriving.
2. Say boo back to at least one fear. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the commitment to persevere through it.
3. Allow yourself to be wrong about your self-judgments and limiting beliefs. Being right just keeps you enduring in survival mode.
4. Listen more closely to your spirit’s longings.
5. Model your behaviors after those you admire. Or, as one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.”

Announcements

On the Couch—A Unique Opportunity With Jane
Can You Really Find Insight/Resolution/Relief/Renewal in 15 minutes or less? Yes!
Sit with Jane for just a few minutes and she will help you:
get out of a rut
• release old pain
• make a life-changing decision
• discover your passion
• find clarity
• forgive yourself and others
• experience compassion
• thrive

Location: Nomadic Outfitters, 2426 California St. (at Fillmore), S.F., (415) 345-8338
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Price: Free! No appointment necessary. Drop in and talk with Jane, listen to others share, and/or shop. All donations go to hospice.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

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

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

Thoughts on Faith

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
 
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Jane, other people seem to be able to find faith much more easily than I do. I’m of Jewish background but I never believed I was one of the “chosen people” in that I don’t think anyone else is less chosen. I’ve never embraced the idea of a God that watches over me or my loved ones or cares if I win or lose a tennis tournament. And I’ve never taken Bible stories literally. I do believe in what I call the Great Mystery, and I know I can’t possibly fathom realities that exist beyond my five senses. So I’m not cynical. But I wonder if I’m missing something.

You and I are very similar in our beliefs. Having disclosed this, I will now tell you that I am a person of faith. You are too. We all are. We all believe in something, usually many things, even if some of them are our worst self-judgments or the most limiting of beliefs.

Sometimes I put my faith in the brain tumor I had removed in 2003. I can believe in its power to return unexpectedly and with a vengeance. Do I want to believe this? I’m sure you can imagine that my “No” here is more like “No way!” Here’s what I choose to do with that thought. First, I recognize that it is just that—a thought. I may be right about it someday; I hope I’m wrong. But I have a choice about putting my faith in it. Why would I want to? Maybe because I use the brain tumor to remind me how precious life is and that every day counts. If that’s the lesson I want to get from it, then I think I’ll put my energy into making each day meaningful. I can change my faith to a belief in the power of living every day to the fullest. That way, maybe I won’t need a brain tumor (again) as a wake-up call.

I also sometimes believe that I have to struggle where others don’t. How could that one possibly serve me? It does give me a good work ethic, a chance to prove to myself how much perseverance I am capable of, and a feeling of having put in “a good day’s work.” I rarely feel lazy. But is this belief in struggle where I really want to place my faith? I want everyone I know (and even those I don’t) to be released from unnecessary struggle, to have ease, to have basic needs met without fear. If I want that for everyone else, can I allow it for me? It seems that if I can give up some of the guilt I’ve obviously carried, I could begin to have faith that life can be abundant without the kind of struggle I’ve endured in the past. And if I begin to have faith in my own worthiness, maybe I’ll be a better role model to others who also want to walk a gentler path.

A product of parents forced to flee Nazi Germany and Austria, I often have faith that evil is more powerful than good. That one can lead me to deep despair. My faith in evil triumphing over good has been tough for me to change because I think that if I expect the worst, I won’t be disappointed. But then again, my attempts to defend against disappointment have been pretty futile. When I listen to the news of someone doing something horrific to another being, it still gets to me. So if I can’t steel myself against disappointment in human nature, why hang onto a belief that magnifies the worst? I can choose to remember that Hitler’s reign did end, that the Berlin Wall fell, that millions of us are working to raise the awareness of genocide in Darfur and elsewhere, and that there are decent people everywhere doing good deeds that will never be broadcast on the nightly news.

I used to have faith that my weight would always be an issue although this faith has been (gratefully) slipping in the last couple of years. I think it started with a willingness to see it as just a belief. Once I did that, I could question my own authority.

We are never lacking for faith. We all believe; we are just not always conscious that we are perceiving the world, our relationships, our health, and ourselves through our belief systems. As soon as we recognize that we are putting our faith somewhere, we can begin to choose consciously where we want to place that faith.

What we choose to believe in matters because we perceive according to our beliefs. In other words, “Believing is seeing.” And what we believe and see and experience we project out into the world. I want to offer the world faith in good over evil. I also want to demonstrate faith in the healing powers of love, joy, and compassion. Where do you want to place your faith?

To learn more about Jane Straus’s life coaching work, read excerpts from her book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass, 2005), view Jane’s TV interviews, and listen to her radio interviews, visit stopenduring.com.

5 Steps to Just Set Yourself Free

Monday, March 12th, 2007
 
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Just set yourself free. This line from a Paul Simon song beckons, doesn’t it? What if we could just set ourselves free? Well, we can if we know what imprisons us to begin with.

So often we tell ourselves that we would feel better if someone else in our lives changed, saw the light, or apologized. And, no doubt, we would feel better…at least until the next person came along and did us wrong. We can’t free ourselves from the prison of our hurt, fear, and resentment by waiting for others to transform. In truth, we owe it to ourselves to stop enduring and get happy now.

1. The first step is to recognize that everything begins with thought. To feel hurt, resentment, or fear, you had thoughts that triggered the feeling. It’s likely that these thoughts aren’t new to you. We tend to recycle painful thoughts because they are based on old beliefs and self-judgments. What self-judgments or beliefs are you recycling that are making you feel bad?

2. The second step is to realize that the person you wish would change is simply triggering your thoughts, not causing them! No one can make us feel bad about ourselves without our unconscious permission.

3. Be grateful–yes, grateful–that this person is such a great mirror. For better or worse, people reflect our beliefs about ourselves. Take advantage of what this person is bringing up for you.

4. Release your self-judgments and limiting beliefs. You can do this every day by practicing acting as if. Act as if you now respect and honor yourself. Act as if you are fully worthy and deserving of kindness and compassion. Act as if you are unconditionally loved by loving yourself unconditionally. Forgive yourself. Treat yourself well. This is how you will train yourself to see your self-judgments for what they are: blinders that keep you from seeing that you are so much more than your worst thoughts. You are enough. You are worthy, regardless of what you have believed and how you have behaved due to a false belief.

5. Remember this: The Jewish sage Hillel said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Let’s add a corollary today: “What is hateful to you, do not do to yourself.” Just set yourself free.

To learn more about how to stop enduring and start living your extraordinary life, visit Stopenduring.com and read excerpts from Enough Is Enough! by Jane Straus. You can also listen to her teleseminars and watch interviews of Jane sharing her powerful work.