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Short and Sweet Summary: Are you a widow whose self-confidence has tanked since your spouse died? When you’re learning how to start over without your person it can be really difficult to gain traction and believe you’re making progress. However, what successful widows do differently to boost confidence is chuck the self-defeating self-talk and choose to feel courageous on purpose instead.
Losing confidence in widowhood is no joke. You could exude self-confidence one minute and the next – after your spouse dies – you’re a quivering mess of discombobulation.
When you’re learning how to start over and DO EVERYTHING by yourself, it can be really difficult to gain traction and believe you’re making progress. Everything is overwhelming. Grief consumes you. And fear holds your self-esteem hostage. The stories you tell yourself are often littered with phrases like, “I don’t know how to do this!” or “I’ll never feel normal again.”
And the worst one of all?
“I don’t deserve to be happy.”
If that’s not a confidence buzz-kill, I don’t know what is.
So, what’s a widow to do? How can widows boost their confidence and return to some semblance of normalcy?
You can start by telling yourself a different story.
Here are ten ways to reveal a new and improved version of what your life is really like. I’m not saying your worry and grief and anxiety will magically disappear. What I AM saying is you can decide on purpose how to handle your feelings and boost your self-confidence in the process.
ACCEPT ALL YOUR FEELINGS
You get to feel however you feel without assigning a negative meaning to any of those emotions. We know that grief is a roller coaster of emotional pain and sometimes those ups and downs are hard to take. But all the feelings are normal. Every single one of them.
What successful widows do to boost confidence is accept the feelings without critiquing them. When you’re feeling angry, feel angry. If you’re feeling sad, let the tears flow.
On those days when happiness creeps in, let it!
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT
You have a lot on your plate and the mind-boggling list of new things you have to learn how to do is long y’all. So, take a deep breath and give yourself the time you need to figure out how to do whatever it is you need to do.
When you feel competent of figuring something out, your brain jumps on board and helps you find evidence of success in your desired outcome. If you don’t think you can figure it out and tell yourself stories like, “I’m not experienced enough in this area” or “I don’t have what it takes to complete this task,” your brain is happy to provide evidence of how that’s true as well. You see, your brain likes efficiency, and it’s being as efficient as possible when it agrees with your thoughts. So, give your brain the option of helping you figure things out by believing you will.
Now, keep in mind, I’m not suggesting you learn how to put a new roof on your house or become an overnight CPA if that’s not your forte or interest. You can call in reinforcements any time you want. What I’m suggesting is you can give yourself the option (and time) to find the help and resources you need by believing you are capable of figuring it out.
When I heeded my own advice
When my business CPA called to tell me she’s retiring, I panicked. Well, actually, I sobbed hysterically. For hours. I’m not in the least bit interested in learning how to do my business taxes by myself. NOT IN THE LEAST. Could I learn? Yes. Do I want to learn. HELL TO THE NO.
The thing is, my panic and hysterical sobbing prevented me from believing I could figure out what to do. And because I know this, I started to calm myself down. But first, I accepted my feelings (“Hi panic 👋, I see you – I understand why you’re here and I know it’s because you think you’re useful”) and cried my eyes out. And then I set about telling myself a different story. The new story of how I can make a list of what services I need, ask for referrals, review and interview new CPAs near me and decide who to hire from my findings.
I’m sad my CPA is retiring. I’m cautious about trusting someone new with my business and personal finances. But none of that has anything to do with my ability to figure out next steps.
EXPECT OCCASIONAL LAGS
No one is on top of her game 100% of the time. No matter how self-actualized you become, you’re still human. And humans run the gamut of emotions, so some days you might take a self-confidence nosedive. Acknowledge self-doubt when it shows up, just don’t let it stick around for too long.
Knowing how to recognize your humanness is the first step in keeping self-confidence lags in check.
If you’re accepting your feelings and convincing yourself you can figure things out, occasional lags in self-confidence ain’t no thang.
REALIZE YOUR GOOD FORTUNE
If you’re stuck riding the struggle bus and haven’t hopped off yet, grab your pen and paper and write down what’s good and positive in your life. Seriously, WRITE IT DOWN. It’s amazing to not only put forth the effort to remind yourself of the positives in your life, but actually see it in black and white.
Do you have a job? A supportive friend? A roof over your head? Running water? A loving pet? A bicycle? Great hair? Good health? Outstanding kids? Wisdom?
Should I go on?!
All the positive things in your life have one common denominator: you. So you must be doing something right 😊. What successful widows do to boost confidence is take the time to remember their good fortune and how it’s channeled by their choices and actions.
REMEMBER WHEN YOU’VE BEEN CONFIDENT BEFORE
Even though your spouse’s death shook you to your core, you’ve been confident before and you can be confident again. Just remind yourself of your past successes like the office presentation you rocked or the car dealership negotiation you commanded or the college degree you earned.
You’ve had to take deep breaths and push through doubt before. You can do it again.
REMIND YOURSELF YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
You might ask yourself the question, I have what it takes for what? And the answer is, whatever you need. You have what it takes to live a productive life, be happy, grieve in your own way, increase your confidence, find love again, retire, move, join the circus or do whatever the hell else you want to do.
You’ve survived the death of your person. And you continue living through excruciatingly painful moments and move forward. Every day you find a new way to make peace with your grief.
What successful widows do to boost confidence is to realize they ALREADY HAVE what it takes.
VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS
What does self-confidence and success mean to you?
Visualize yourself in that place.
You get to decide how you want to feel and what a successful life means to you. It won’t mean the same thing to your friend, neighbor, or your parents. And success isn’t tied to career achievements or relationship status. Success is how you define your own life and how self-confidence fits into that space.
So what does it look like? Create a vision board if you need the visual cues and reminders. Meditate on it. Write about it and craft interesting descriptions. Shout it out loud.
Just put that place in your brain and visualize yourself reaching it.
CHANGE UPRODUCTIVE HABITS
Changing unproductive habits might seem like a futile proposition because, I mean, it’s hard AF. Or at least that’s the story you’re telling yourself. Do you see a pattern with these stories in your head?
So start with tiny habits. Like, really small habits. And then work your way up. Set yourself up for progress by inching along like the tortoise instead of running out of gas like the hare.
A surefire way to boost your confidence is to be content. When you’re content with your life, you’re automatically confident because things are going the way you want them to. Get rid of the nagging little unproductive habits to make room for more contentment.
Maybe drink an extra glass of water one day. Or get up 10 minutes earlier than normal so you can journal or watch the birds or whatever brings you peace in the morning. Buy some apples and commit to eating one per day. Walk one mile.
Decide what habits are counter productive and then decide how to change them by taking small steps. ONE HABIT AT A TIME, PLEASE.
No need to overwhelm yourself further by putting undue pressure on yourself.
IDENTIFY YOUR UNIQUE STRENGTHS
There’s so much to love about you because you’re not like anyone else. There’s no need to compare your progress, lifestyle, or decisions with another living soul because they’re not you.
What successful widows do to boost confidence is to identify and admire their unique strengths. There are plenty of things you can do that others can’t (or won’t) do. It’s easy to fall into the I’m-not-good-enough trap. But if you can stop yourself from focusing on what you think your weaknesses are and play to your strengths instead, there’s no limit to what you can do!
RELEASE WHAT DOESN’T SERVE YOU
You’ve been through so much it’s so unfair to see you hanging on to things (or people) that don’t help you show up as the best you possible. Honestly, though, isn’t it hard sometimes to realize what’s holding you back? How do you even identify what’s preventing you from being your best self?
What feels off in your life? What’s unclear? Can you identify stressors? Discontentment? Limiting beliefs?
Decide where you feel the most “off” and attempt to release your white-knuckle grip on it. You’re holding on for dear life to something – what is it? You know you can’t change circumstances or people, but you can change your reaction to them. When you decide that it’s OK to let go of anger, resentment and hostility, you might get a clearer picture of what’s been holding you back. Maybe you forgive yourself and others. Or say no to things you don’t want to do. You agree to let go of things that are one-sided or don’t bring you joy.
This isn’t a one-and-done strategy. You should take an inventory of what no longer serves regularly.
You gain self-confidence instantly when you put yourself and your needs first.
WIDOW WRAP UP
If you’re a widow whose self-confidence has tanked since your spouse died, follow one or more of these ten steps to boost your confidence and trust in yourself. When you’re learning how to start over without your person, it can be really difficult to gain traction and believe you’re making progress.
However, what successful widows do differently to boost confidence is chuck the self-defeating self-talk and choose how to feel courageous on purpose.
And you can do it too.