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“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
—Henri Frederic Amiel
Since January, my articles have focused on strategies to heal and recover after your loss so you can focus on rebuilding – creating a new beginning.
You have grieved, accepted, let go and are now ready to put your energy into making plans for the future.
Before making any major long-term goals, some preliminary questions can help you avoid a lot of wasted time and energy. Some of those questions include identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
Have you given thoughtful consideration to what you would like to do in the future and what obstacles or barriers you may encounter?
Starting over is never easy.
When we started out in life, it seemed there was a more defined path to follow: going to college, establishing a career, getting married, starting a family, etc. Somehow it was easier to coordinate all the pieces and move in the direction we wanted to go.
But now, everything seems more difficult and complicated. Hanging on to what we had, we may find it difficult to define what we want, and we may struggle with where to start. If it becomes overwhelming, we may put it off.
A new approach is required – a new mindset.
One of the mantras I put in place early in my life when faced with difficult decisions was, Yes, I can. That mindset was especially helpful after my husband died. The problems I faced seemed overwhelming at times. Repeating those three little words, Yes, I can, gave me the encouragement and belief I needed to keep going and look for solutions. It was an affirmation I encourage you to apply.
Considering future options
As you consider options for your future, reflect first on everything you have accomplished or overcome in the past.
- What have you learned that can help you moving forward?
- What do you need to leave behind that wasn’t helpful, such as negative self-talk and a negative attitude?
Change is always difficult, but it is also exciting. You are taking the best of you and using it to create a new life that holds purpose and meaning.
To accomplish anything of value requires thought and planning.
Goals require a defined intention, a willingness to work, and ongoing motivation. It is setting a deliberate course of action and following through.
You will be required to set priorities and make some tough choices. What are you willing to do and not willing to do?
In my upcoming articles, you will learn time management and self-regulation skills that will keep you on track. There will be some tough choices such as postponing pleasure in the moment in order to maintain a course that has rewarding long-term benefits.
It isn’t just strengths and achievements from your past that you bring forward, but what you also have been learning through this grief journey. We often do not see the progress we are making.
The questions below offer a quick review of where you might find yourself today. I’ve included links to blog posts and podcast episodes you can revisit that address this.
Are you struggling with emotional conflict?
Review the posts on conflict, difficult emotions and solutions.
- Unresolved Conflict in Our Losses
- Those Troubling and Lingering Emotions: Anger, Guilt, and Shame
- Forgiveness: A Gift We Give Ourselves
Are you accepting and letting go?
Are you reframing your circumstances and loss to see a larger picture of what was and what can be?
Are you putting in place a new mindset that will energize your plans?
Are you able to equate your loss with others who have gone through life altering changes?
What can their true-life stories teach you about making a successful new beginning?
Are you able to identify some of the major obstacles you face going forward?
Sometimes the greatest obstacle you may ever have to face is “you.”.What do you continue to say to yourself that stops you? How do you define your focus of future possibility?
Are you able to see blessings and be grateful?
Balancing your circumstances to include both what was lost and what was gained, helps you heal and normalize life.
As you review the articles, you will notice I have repeated important concepts, defining them in different ways and in different contexts. I did this purposefully, to help you gain a broader picture of what you are capable of doing and overcoming.
You can have a meaningful life again. It doesn’t mean there won’t be some tough spots and difficult decisions. But you are gaining the knowledge and learning the life skills that will help you meet those challenges. I want you to succeed.
Next week’s post will begin the process of picking up the pieces of a life shattered by loss and putting them together in a new vision for yourself.
Learning to Live Again in a New World
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.
It is a guide to help you through the ups and downs of grieving a significant loss. And it includes a study guide at the end for use with groups.