Three Steps to Finding YouJul 03, 2020
Many widowed people struggle to rebuild after such a life altering, profound loss. If we’re not one half of a couple, then who are we? We find ourselves at a crossroad without a map and with our identity in question.
At such a critical juncture, our thoughts matter more than ever. Are the best years in the past? Is the future uncertain and filled with fear? Are you completely lost? Notice what your brain is offering you and remember that we should never believe everything we think.
Thoughts are optional
Thoughts are powerful because they create feelings, which prompt action, which ultimately produce results, for better or worse. Our human brains often send us fearful thoughts, especially when a great loss brings our world to a screeching halt. This is simply a sign that our brains are doing their jobs - attempting to keep us safe during a time of major uncertainty.
But the good news is that we can direct our brains to choose any thought that feels true to us. Carefully selected, purposeful thoughts create feelings that serve us.
Most widowed people would do anything to go back to plan A. Short of that, we argue with reality, wrestle with what is, rail against our circumstances, and end up deeply exhausted.
We also have the choice, when we feel ready, to redirect that energy into picking up the pieces and starting to reconstruct ourselves. It all starts with our thoughts.
- I’m open to believing that I can rebuild my identity and my life.
- I’m seeking evidence that my next chapter can actually be a good one.
- I’m exploring how I can make myself a priority so I have more to give to others.
- I’m considering how I might live my best possible life after loss.
- I’m going to be an example of what is possible.
If those thoughts feel true to you, try them on for size, and see what feelings they generate. Or come up with other thoughts that are true for you that produce useful feelings.
Step one in rebuilding identity is mind management. To unleash the power of your mind, select the thoughts that generate feelings that prompt the actions that produce the results you want in your life.
Define your interests
Step two is making a list of things you enjoy, things you’ve been curious about, things you’ve always wanted to learn. Add in the things that you’re only recently starting to be curious about. If you gave yourself permission to be a beginner, what would you do? Include things you would like to try or explore. If it feels right for you, include things that you would like to do in honor of your spouse. As time goes on, you can always add and delete items from your list.
With the loss of our spouse, we also tend to lose connections. So redefining one’s identity is a key opportunity to grow socially. Step three is all about creating connection in the areas that are interesting to you.
Alongside each item on your list, write the name of a friend or acquaintance who has similar passions and interests. It may be a great time to reach out and nurture your existing relationships.
You’ll likely have blanks, and that is perfectly okay. This is where you can expand your social network in new areas that interest you. MeetUp, Eventbrite, uGetTogether and social media groups are good places to create new connections based on your blank spaces.
Expect that your brain may tell you that it is impossible to grow your connections during a pandemic. In truth, more than ever, social connections are happening virtually, and in some cases, physically distanced in person gatherings are starting to occur in some locations. Do what feels right to you, but don’t let your brain get away with “It’s impossible.”
By being “on to” our brains, and choosing those thoughts that serve us, we can start to believe that this next chapter can actually be bright. From that place, we can define ourselves based on our interests and passions, and then fill our lives with people like us. By committing to finding our authentic selves, we allow our new identity to reveal itself, and ultimately we can become all we were meant to be. Not in spite of our loss, but because of it.
Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH, The Sudden Widow Coach, helps widows who have experienced the sudden loss of their spouse or significant other learn to live and love their life again. Her coaching program is exclusively for widowed people and offers the perfect mix of private and group coaching along with the most life changing tools for the uniquely challenging widowed journey.
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