Posts Tagged ‘sadness’

Struggling to “Be Here Now”?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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Many of you know Ram Dass’s famous book, Be Here Now, the 1971 precursor to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. From the titles of these books, you get the idea that there is something to be gained from focusing on the present rather than being run by our painful past or anxiously awaiting the unknowable future. Easier said than done, perhaps.

We have all seen (or have) the bumper stickers that say, “I’d rather be ____.” And who doesn’t say wistfully, “I wish,” ending the sentence with fantasies of Friday/the weekend/vacation/a new job/a new relationship/more wealth. There’s nothing wrong with wishing and hoping and fantasizing. It’s a testament to our optimism and unique ability as humans to imagine the future. However, this same ability sometimes works against us.

One of my clients told me that he and his wife are going through a tough time. He’s afraid they may not make it. After a brief pause, he added, “Jane, I want to be hopeful. So I’m just going to put my anger and hurt aside.”

If it’s possible for this man to truly let go of his anger and hurt with the snap of his fingers, then more power to him. But if his hope depends on ignoring his painful feelings, that hope is bound to be short lived. Anger and disappointment, ignored and pushed aside, tend to recirculate. As much as we try, denying “what is” doesn’t make “what isn’t” more attainable.

Like this husband in pain, I often wish I were “there,” or at least anywhere-but-here, now. But we can only change that which we acknowledge exists. If we can practice sitting with our feelings as they are—all of them, not just the comfortable or happy ones—if we can stay present with the present, we notice that our feelings evolve.

Anger dissolves into hurt, sometimes tinged with regret. Hurt and regret give way to sadness and mourning. If we don’t run from this grief, it eventually leads to a unique combination of acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, and compassion. From this fertile soil, wisdom sprouts, flowering into grace. Grace releases us from the grip of suffering. We begin to notice that we feel free where we formerly felt constrained and tight. This process may happen slowly or quickly, but with patience, compassion for our struggle, and perseverance, it will happen. Isn’t this worth being here now for?


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The Gift of a “No Holds Barred” Apology

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

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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.


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, 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,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at