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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
—Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Last week you reflected on all you have learned on this journey through loss. Now, you will use that information and take that next step in putting together the pieces of your life that were disrupted into a new picture of who you can become.
Early in my writing career, I did an interview with a Christian radio station host. Before the interview, I was given a set of questions to preview that would be used in our discussion. They included my years growing up, my family, my teaching and counseling career, and my new career goals as a writer and speaker.
The interview preparation made me pause and think about who I was before and after the loss of my husband, what I valued, and how the things I learned helped me achieve. Taking some thoughtful time to reflect gave me a deeper appreciation of myself, the attributes I had, what I had learned about myself, and the life experiences that helped shape and mold me.
Each of us can uncover similar things when we take time for reflection. We are a composite of DNA, personality traits, childhood experiences and core beliefs established along the way. We are a combination of strengths and weaknesses. When we’ve suffered a major loss, our thoughts revolve around why we can’t or won’t succeed that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Throughout life there will be turning points, defining moments where we can stop and reflect; opportunities to eliminate what isn’t working and put in place new resources. Beginning with a more measured assessment of who we are, and what helped us succeed in the past, we will be better equipped to make plans for our future.
Who Am I?
As you consider and anticipate the needs and wants for your future, think about what makes you “you.”
How would you describe your personality and attributes?
If we just met and I asked you to tell me about yourself, what would you say? Typical responses are often the roles we have in life such as teacher, mom, CEO, factory worker, mechanic, librarian, physician, etc.
But that is only a small part of our life story. That is merely the outside wrappings. How would you describe yourself outside of those roles?
Use the following questions to help you in this process:
- What do you value and believe?
- What do you think about on a daily basis?
- What do you like to do and why?
- What do you hate and why?
- How would you describe life in general?
- What creates problems for you? Do you consider them faults and failings that have more power over your life than the unrecognized assets and strong points that are waiting to be applied?
- What achievements have you made? It is important not to minimize.
- What do you consider your special talents and abilities?
Say Hello to Yourself
Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle in the center. Add a smiley face and put your name in the middle. Draw spokes leading outward like a sun. Each of these spokes radiating outward is a part of how you describe or define who you are.
As you consider the following questions, write on each of the spokes a descriptive word about yourself.
Be sure you put a balance of strengths and weaknesses. We are an amalgam of positive traits and those we might see as not so positive. We are not either/or. We are a wonderful combination of all of them and can benefit from all of them.
- What traits or strengths would you assign to yourself? For example: Do you see yourself as strong, determined, or hesitating and thoughtful, etc.?
- Describe some of your social skills. For example: do you consider yourself friendly, shy and aloof or engaging, talkative, social, etc.?
- What are your predominant attitudes or ways of thinking – dependable, trusting, independent, reliable, loyal, positive, etc.?
- How would you describe your typical emotional state? Are you happy, anxious, angry, contented, cheerful, compassionate, etc.?
- What talents and abilities do you have – artistic, computer savvy, athletic, good planner, etc.?
Be as honest as you can with this exercise. Add as many spokes as you need. You are a wonderful human being. Take this image with you as you move forward.
Next week we will continue our preparation for new goals.
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.