Episode 29: Three Steps to Finding You
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 29. In this episode, I highlight the importance of our own thinking as it relates to recreating identity in life after loss, and I offer 3 steps to do just that.
Many people struggle to rebuild themselves after the life-altering loss of a spouse. 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? Do you feel completely lost?
Notice the thoughts your brain is offering you and remember that we should never believe everything we think.
Thoughts are powerful. And optional.
Thoughts are powerful because they create feelings, and feelings prompt actions, which ultimately produce results in our lives, 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 the brain is doing its job—attempting to keep us safe during a time of major uncertainty.
But the good news is that thoughts are optional - we can direct our brain 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, and I would offer the following thoughts to try out:
• 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 managing your mind. To harness the power of your mind, select the true-to-you thoughts that generate the feelings that prompt the actions that produce the results you want in your life. Listen to episodes 7, 8 and 9 for more information.
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 experiences that you would like to have in honor of your spouse. As time goes on, you can always add and delete items from your list.
Step three is all about creating connections in the areas that are interesting to you. The loss of a spouse can sometimes mean the loss of social connections. So, redefining your identity is a key opportunity to grow socially.
Alongside each item on your list, write the name of a friend or acquaintance who has similar interests. This may be a good time to reach out and nurture existing relationships.
You’ll likely have blanks after some items on your list, and that is perfectly okay. This is an opportunity to expand your social network in the areas that interest you. MeetUp, Eventbrite, and social media groups are great places to create new connections based on those blank spaces on your list.
I think it’s important to make new connections with others who have lost a spouse, and that’s easy thanks to Soaring Spirits International. They offer Regional Social Groups and other events and programs. Regional Groups exist across the US, and Widowed Village is a virtual gathering of widowed people. There’s more information in the show notes.
Grief Share is a faith-based opportunity to connect with those walking through the loss of a loved one. Groups are held across the country online and in person.
Expect that your brain may tell you that it is impossible to grow your connections during such a difficult time in your life. And that you’re too tired to make the effort. And every other reason why you shouldn’t even try. Listen to all of that, but then do what feels right to you. Please don’t let your brain get away with the thought “It’s impossible.” It is possible.
By being “on to” the brain and choosing thoughts that serve us, we can start to believe that this next chapter can actually be bright. From that place, we can define ourselves partly based on our interests and passions, and then fill our lives with people who are 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.
If this episode was helpful, please rate and review it so other widowed people can find this podcast, too. 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.