Episode 25: Bridges and Ladders to New Thinking
You are listening to the Life Reconstructed podcast with me, Teresa Amaral Beshwate, grief expert, best-selling author and widow. I’m so glad you’re here because in this and every episode, I shine a light on the widowed way forward.
Hello and welcome to episode 25. In this episode, I explain how to believe what feels impossible right now, and how to feel better, today.
You’ve lost your spouse, and gotten back to functioning again, but it’s a daily routine that feels mediocre at best.
And while you know other widowed people who are living truly happy lives again, you don’t believe it’s possible for you.
You can’t believe it’s possible to forgive yourself, to be happy again, to feel joy again, to rebuild a life that you can truly love.
You’d like to believe in those things, but they feel so far away, totally out of reach. You can’t access those thoughts because they just don’t ring true.
This is when a bridge thought can help the mind open up to possibilities. Bridge thoughts have two parts. The first part of the sentence is a toe in the water, so to speak, and the second part of the sentence is the ultimate goal.
Here are a few examples of bridge thoughts. I’ll pause between the first and second parts.
I’m seeking evidence that . . . my next chapter can be happy.
I’m learning that . . . my future can be a good one.
It’s possible that . . . my life after loss can be meaningful.
I’m open to believing that . . . my future is filled with purpose.
I’m becoming a person who . . . believes in herself.
I’m considering that . . . I can live enough for the both of us.
These are examples, and perhaps some version of them might work well for you. Use the first part of the sentences – “I’m learning that….” “It’s possible that…” etc. and add the thoughts you’d like to believe, but can’t, as the end of the sentence.
Sometimes even bridge thoughts feel too far away. That’s when the close cousin of a bridge thought, which is a ladder thought, comes in handy. When you can’t remotely believe that something is possible, simply choose to think that the very first, smallest step in that direction.
For example, if you would someday like to lose fifty pounds yet you simply cannot fathom accomplishing it, you could try a ladder thought, such as, “I’m a person who can walk a little further today,” or “I’m able to eat an extra serving of vegetables today,” or, “I can weigh myself each day.”
As that smallest step becomes a habit, you can then think the next smallest step is possible; you’ll soon begin gradually building rungs on the ladder toward your desired result.
Bridge and ladder thoughts are just one example of being mentally flexible, of challenging your brain to consider thoughts beyond the usual broken record that plays in your head.
Fair warning: you’re asking your brain to do more work than usual, so expect it to resist. It is hard wired to be efficient, and in the spirit of efficiency, it offers you the same thoughts on replay. Just be the boss of your brain, and direct it to try on new thoughts.
By practicing bridge and ladder thoughts, you’ll become more mentally flexible. You’ll access new, believable thoughts that you can practice regularly, and be sure to pause after each thought to notice how the thought makes you feel.
You’ll experience curiosity, optimism and hope, just to name a few. And those just feel good, and you deserve that.
And if you want to feel even better, I invite you to join my next small group coaching program. If you’re listening to this episode when it releases on 9/20/23, I want you to know that the October group is starting soon and I hope you’ll be a part of it. Now is the time to join us so that you can approach the holiday season feeling equipped and capable. The link is in the show notes. I look forward to meeting you.
If this episode was helpful, please rate and review it so it can help others. And remember that I believe in you, and I’m here for you. Take care.
If you’ve found this podcast helpful, I invite you to join Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. It will help you step forward toward a life you will love again. Simply go to thesuddenwidowcoach.com and click work with me.