Episode 44: The brain is like a juke box
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 44. In this episode, we look closely at difficult feelings and how to smooth out the emotional roller coaster that comes with grief.
After the loss of a spouse, you eventually get back to functioning again. You go about your life in a way that looks somewhat normal. You get groceries, walk the dog, go out for lunch. You keep up something of a normal schedule.
From the outside, it looks okay. People might even say you’re doing really well. They’ll tell you how strong you are.
But to you it all feels surreal. It’s like living someone else’s life. It’s certainly not the life you signed up for.
Some days are sort of okay, and other days it’s like the rug was pulled out from underneath you. And you never know which type of day is coming. It seems as though you have no control over your emotions on any given day. And that adds to the uncertainty and the fatigue.
But if we take a closer look, it’s always thoughts that cause feelings. When you’re feeling, say, sad, or any emotion, ask yourself, why am I feeling sad right now? And the answer will be the thought you’re currently thinking.
Of course, you may encounter a new circumstance in your day. Something unexpected. Perhaps you go to church and there is a new church directory being created, so parishioners are being encouraged to schedule with the photographer. And who wants to take a picture alone, without their person? And that creates a deep sense of loneliness. Of course it does.
Just notice that it’s not the church directory itself that creates the loneliness, it’s the thought ABOUT the directory: “I don’t want to do this by myself.” Or maybe it’s “he should be here.” It’s the thought that directly creates the feeling.
Because another person might have entirely different thoughts about taking a solo picture for the directory. And they would therefore feel entirely different feelings.
The human brain is a bit like a juke box. If unattended, the juke box plays songs on default. Or we can tell it what to play. The human brain, if left unattended, offers default, well-practiced thoughts. Some are true and some aren’t. Some are useful and some aren’t. Some are kind, and some aren’t.
We humans have the ability to think about what we think about. Our juke box brains will always offer thoughts on default. Then we can ask ourselves: is it true? Is it useful? Is it kind? And based on the answer to those questions, we can tell the juke box what to play. We can think true, useful and kind thoughts on purpose.
So when the unexpected happens, notice what thoughts happen first. Observe those thoughts. Think about whether they’re true, useful and kind. And if they’re not all three, then ask your brain for other possible thoughts.
Because thoughts are optional. They’re also infinite.
Unlike a jukebox that has only a certain number of songs to choose from, there are an infinite number of thoughts to choose from.
Ask yourself, “What else is true?”
Looking back at the early years of my life after loss, very few of my default thoughts were true, many were not useful, and hardly any were kind. Despite well-meaning people offering me platitudes, it took years for me to find other thoughts that rang true for me. That served me.
What is your juke box playing today? And what else might be true, useful and kind?
This is what we do inside of Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. By the way, the doors close today, January 31st for the group beginning February 6th.
After only the first two sessions, my clients report their increased ability to monitor default thoughts and choose other true, useful and kind thoughts on purpose. Essentially they’ve mastered the juke box. Which is music to my ears because it’s a strong foundation for growth and healing.
That’s my hope for you: growth and healing.
If this episode was helpful, please share it with a widowed friend. 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.