Taking your Power Back: 10 Steps to Transitioning to the New You

Taking your Power Back: 10 Steps to Transitioning to the New You

If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
 ~ Maya Angelou

This is the last blog in the series this month offered by Modern Widows Club on How to Take your Power Back. I wanted to focus on what we need to do once we are ready to transition to the new you.

In marriage, we become one. In loss, suddenly, we find ourselves standing alone. Eventually, we begin to question who we are. Who are we without our soul mate, our partner, our significant other? The transformation from “us” to “me” and then the” brand new me” can be challenging. It is simultaneously painful, exciting and life changing.. And it doesn’t happen overnight.

From the beginning of our journey in widowhood, it is so important to stay in touch with ourselves. Over time, I challenge you to exercise your mind to begin to imagine different potential scenarios of some changes you would like to consider for your life. Feel free to really tune into your feelings, your emotions, and what thoughts this “daydreaming” brings to your mind. Widowhood allows us an opportunity to make some changes, even In the unplanned transition from “us” to the “brand new me”. We do have an unexpected chance to stop and take a personal inventory of who we are, where we are in our lives, and who we would like to become. The powerfulness of that transition is transforming. 

What kind of woman would you be if you could be anyone? That is a serious question. If you had a choice, and you all do, what would you change about yourself. Which great adventure that you have always been afraid of, would you begin to research and pursue? I used to dream of being that girl you see hiking successfully at the top of the mountain with her arms waving up in the air in victory! Being married and raising my children, I did nothing to pursue this athletic muse that taunted me! However, after Kevin passed away and I found myself alone, with a lot of time on my hands, I started walking, really walking and going on some short 5 K walks, once a month. I went hiking more with my hiking friends. I got scared, and tired, and I didn’t always make it to the top, but, I’m closer to being that girl now than I ever was!

Hiking in Palm Springs with my brother, January 2018

What bad habit that you dislike about yourself would you like to work on and let go? Where would you love to go visit? What kind of class would you love to take? French Cooking, Flower Arranging, Yoga? What kind of work have you always dreamed of doing, but just didn’t have the chance or the courage to pursue? Who would you like to be now that you are beginning your life, again? Who is the “brand new you” you are creating?

The hardest part of the change, is the change itself. It feels so unnatural, so uncomfortable, so new. I imagine a capatilliar pick, pick, picking at its cocoon until it can emerge as a beautiful new butterfly. There are steps to take, and it takes time, wisdom and courage to make a move.The first step is indeed the hardest. 

However, not taking that first step will hold you back, into a life where you cannot fully live. A place where you will be stuck in sadness and grief, a place that doesn’t allow your heart to sing again, nor your soul to soar. We were born for living, not dying. And so, we are challenged to begin again.

“At the center of ourselves, at the very center of our body and our soul, lives the heart. When we allow ourselves to stay in the flow of the feelings of life –  feeling sadness when it reaches out like a child in the dark, feeling jealousy when it pricks the side of the eyes, feeling anger when it scalds like lava, feeling joy when it hums and laughs – the heart remains open and fully alive. In this openhearted state we’re more attuned to gratitude, we feel excited by life, we’re open to creative inspiration, we inhabit our bodies, and we’re more open to giving and receiving love with our loved ones.” Sheryl  Paul
Making a commitment to take the time to rediscover your new heart, your new soul in this brave new world will take time. You have to be patient with yourself and not go too fast, or too slow. You have to take a chance to make a choice and pursue some changes in your new life. You will begin to emerge stronger in spirit and ponder your life with a new vision. 

Kristin Meekof, author of A Widow’s Guide to Healing, shared some helpful steps for successful transformation: 
Here are 10 things you can do. These items are in no particular order of importance. The key is that you begin somewhere — and these items are here to help you create a new path for yourself. Some of these things may not work for you, while other items you may find to be a better fit.

1. Set a goal.
Goal setting is important because your self-esteem likely took a major hit when your loss occurred. At some level, you thought you were able to control things and then you found you couldn’t. Setting a goal and being able to achieve it will help you see that you still have control over some things. Reaching the goal will hopefully help to bring back some of your old confidence.

The goal should be small enough that it can be attainable within a reasonable amount of time. For example, if your goal is to exercise more and you have never gotten off the couch, setting a reasonable goal would be to exercise two to three times a week, not running a marathon within four weeks. Do not set yourself up for failure.

2. Seek a mentor.
Look for someone who is doing what you desire to have for yourself. It would be ideal if you could actually talk with this person, but if you can’t for some reason, carefully study what they have done to be at the level you strive to obtain. Let Modern Widows be a great resource for you! We offer support through chapters and online offerings. 

3. Become very clear about what you desire. In a time of crisis, which is what loss is, you can feel that you need immediate relief, which can cause you to act erratically or impulsively. If you want stability, then a decision made on a whim may not bring the consequence that you seek, because you are not thinking everything out. If you seek trust, you can’t get this from others if you do not trust yourself. Finding clarity after a loss often takes time because the water is very muddy after the upheaval created by the loss. Don’t expect to know exactly what you want within days or even weeks of your loss.

4. Observe your thoughts. Begin to monitor this. Don’t judge your thoughts, just observe. Do you find yourself perseverating on the loss? Do you find yourself talking about some aspect of the loss in many of your conversations? Are you engaging in critical self-talk? Our thoughts influence our actions. And many times, we are unaware of what we are thinking until we begin to observe our thoughts. You may be in the habit of negative self-talk and you don’t even realize that you engage in this behavior several times a day. You can’t change something that you are not aware of, so getting an accurate picture of your thoughts is important.

5. Stop one thing. This may sound very remedial but it can change a lot for you. Pick one bad behavior that you find yourself doing and eliminate it. This can be very small. For example, a widow I talked with said that after her husband died, she would eat fast food every time she dropped her daughter off at gymnastics classes. Her daughter was going twice a week and this meant that this widow was eating fast food twice a week. This meal choice was devastating her blood sugar levels, which was impacting her mood and in turn, she found herself being short with her daughter. This didn’t mean that this widow never ate fast food, but making this one change helped on multiple levels.
Ending one behavior will allow space for something new. It will also show you that you do have control over something.

6. Engage in new conversations. Engaging in conversations that you haven’t had before doesn’t always mean that you are seeking out a complete shift in your life. If you have always loved modern art, but have no intention of becoming an artist, then start going to modern art exhibits. Just being around artists and this environment will bring something positive to your day. I had forgotten how much I loved museums!
Also, be mindful that certain friends are not healthy. Having continuous conversations with a negative tone is not going to spark a new flame. This doesn’t mean that all of your friends are not healthy for you. What I am trying to be clear about is that some conversations are not a good fit for you post-loss.
If you are thinking about a new career, then start to enter those conversations as well. For example, if you want to become a physical therapist, then begin to talk with other physical therapists. They will naturally bring up certain topics that are relevant to their profession that you may be unaware of if you had not spoken with them.

7. Practice gratitude. Now, this may sound like a platitude that is overused but often in our sorrow we find it difficult to find things that are good. Part of creating a new path means changing the way we see the world, and when we view things through the lens of gratitude, our world is richer. It is difficult to bring about something new when you are not able to see that which is already present in your life.

8. Be open to all that is unknown. With any loss comes enormous fear, and this fear can cause us to restrict our thoughts and behavior. Some people literally shut down and refuse to listen to anyone. Others are not ready to listen to different opinions or views. When you live with a restricted view, it is like breathing with one lung — you are unable to expand your breath properly.

At some point, opening yourself up is necessary to creating a new path. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job. What I am referring to is that once you allow yourself to be open without seeking an immediate answer, you will be able to see things in a different light.

9. Accept the unresolved. This is very painful because the loss left you amputated and you may never know why it happened. This item is not for the faint of heart and takes tremendous courage. So, I am providing this suggestion because if you are continuously seeking resolution to your loss, you may find yourself deeply disappointed. Some losses will never bring answers. They do not present themselves with a reason. Seeking a reason for your loss can lead to countless tears and more loss.

10. Ask yourself this deep question.
If you can only do one thing on this list, then this is one you may want to seriously consider. With every decision and conversation you find yourself in post-loss, ask yourself this, “Is this going to expand my growth or restrict it?”

The unraveling is a time when you were challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are.” Brene Brown

Growth is painful, but it is where your power lives. We have to work our way through the difficult layers of grief to find the way that will lead us into new life, new light. If we don’t do the hard work, we won’t be able to find out who the “brand new me” really is. We are all waiting for her to emerge. She is beautiful, she is free, she is loving. We need her! We love her and it’s time for you to meet her… It’s time to take your power back, girl! 

Reference: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/widows-guide-healing/201511/10-things-you-can-do-create-new-life-after-any-loss

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