Posts Tagged ‘wake up call’

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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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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Sit with Jane for just a few minutes and she will help you:
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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.

Finding Time for What Really Matters

Monday, August 27th, 2007
 
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Starting to work for personal change is exciting but after a while, it feels like life interrupts and there’s not enough time/energy to do what needs to be done. What are some of the ways people who have been successful keep up with their plans for the long haul?

Years ago, one of my spiritual teachers said, “We always do what is most important.” In my mind, I argued against that, but I’ve thought about it a lot over the years and learned something important about myself and about human nature.

The truth is that we aren’t always honest about what we are making important. So when we say we want to do something but we don’t have time, we need to question what we are really valuing.

For years I proclaimed that I wanted to write a spiritual, self-help book that would provide whatever wisdom I had gleaned in my 20-plus years as a life coach and personal growth seminar leader. Yet I couldn’t seem to find the time even to make an outline.

Then in January of 2003, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Needless to say, this was a wake-up call that compelled me to do a deep personal inventory. If this brain tumor was cancerous or I lost my faculties because of the surgery, would I have any regrets in my life? The answer was a loud “Yes!” I knew I had copped out about writing the book.

But why? I really did want to write it so why hadn’t I? I had to find what my overriding priority had been if I wanted to “find the time” now. And the saying, “No time like the present” seemed more obvious than ever before. I discovered that my real priority had been to avoid fear and rejection. I had feared that I wasn’t a good enough writer, that no publisher would want the book, and that there would be no audience for it. I also feared some of my family’s disapproval of my thoughts. Once I was honest with myself and realized that there truly is “No time like the present,” I shifted my priorities.

Suddenly, where I had no time before, I was now able to carve out time. Where fear had blocked me, ideas now began to flow. Writing Enough Is Enough! was hard work and often ego bruising but, because I had been honest with myself, it got written, was welcomed by a publisher, and is a tangible object I use to propel me through my other fears.

With Enough Is Enough! birthed and out in the world, I had to face my next writing demon: As a teenager, I said I wanted to write the Great American Novel. Over the years, in fits and starts, I had scribbled ideas, dialogue, and even chapters. But it was all collecting dust until I again faced the truth that I had been prioritizing my fears over my spiritual longing.

I’ve spent the last two years working diligently, learning the craft, taking in experts’ critiques, and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. Last week I sent my manuscript, titled Touched, to my literary agent. I’ll let you know what she thinks.

So don’t fool yourself with your excuses. It’s a setup for regret. I was fortunate to get a second chance. Use NOW as your chance to prioritize your spirit over your fears. No doubt, you will find yourself living a more extraordinary life.

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and thrive.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Jane Straus is the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.

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.