How to Reinvent Yourself

Are you wondering how to reinvent yourself following a loss or major change in your life?

Perhaps the work you used to do no longer fits, you don't want to live in the same place, or you just don't feel like the old 'you' any more - and you know that things need to start changing.

I'm always fascinated to discover which words people have typed into a search engine and been led them to my website, and this week I noticed that someone had found me with 'widow reinventing myself'.

And what a huge task that redefinition is. For me, it's fallen into several stages. One was making a move away from the initial stages of loss, when I felt as if I had the word 'widow' stamped on my forehead, and that my loss was the only thing worth knowing about me. These days, I'm 'Elizabeth' first and foremost and rarely use the word 'widow' to describe myself - unless I'm filling in an official form!

Another stage is recognising and accepting the unlooked for shift from 'us' to 'me' that goes along with bereavement.

This involves getting used to the fact that there's no one else to consult about the colour of the kitchen walls or the holiday destination, or to mull over bigger decisions, about running the family purse, bringing up the children, organising daily life and making decisions about the future.

All these phases play into the rebirth that's needed when your whole life takes a sesimic shift following a loss or major life change. Early on it can feel upsetting and often frightening. But as time goes on you develop a trust in yourself as you successfully navigate one decision, then another.

For me, I've come to enjoy the sense of autonomy and independence, even though it's not what I'd have chosen. If you're going through the experience of redefining yourself, here are a few tips to help you.


1 If there's a place you've always wanted to visit, an experience you've longed to have, an ambition you want to fulfill - start thinking about the first steps you need to take to get there. It could be working out a savings plan to fund yourself, signing up for a class, or researching new job possibilities.
You may have learned the hard way that life doesn't last for ever, so resolve to live in a way that fulfills and nourishes you from now on. You need only take small steps - or you could take huge ones - the choice is yours. What's important, is to make a positive turn towards building a new future for yourself.

2 Think about the words used to define you. I once heard the process following bereavement described as the transition from widow... to woman. What steps do you need to take to make the transition to 'woman'?
One way to work on this, is to think about all the things that make you the unique individual that you are. What are your qualities, interests and joys? Write them down or find pictures to express who you are. Start to get a sense of what you have to offer the world when you go out simply as 'you', without labels or expectations.

3 What skills do you need to develop as part of your redefinition? Whether it's something as simple as learning to inflate the car tyres (my own pet challenge!) or a bigger and more complex task like moving house, you'll gain confidence and self-belief every time you tackle a job that you'd have avoided in the past.

4 Tell other people what you're doing. Make it clear to the world at large that you're taking responsibility for making changes in your life to shape it in a way that suits the person you are becoming.
It's odd, but true, that others are sometimes reluctant to witness or encourage this growth. Think about the people who expect you to be always sad, or are surprised - maybe even a little shocked - when you tell them of the brave moves your making in your life.
Spend less time with them, and more time with the ones who are ready to support and champion you as you experiment with different ways of leading your life.

5 Give it time and be gentle with yourself. It takes guts to break out of stuckness, and emerging into a new stage of life is a big task.
Take small steps, pause often to look back at how far you've journeyed and congratulate yourself on your courage. and determination.

My 1-1 coaching programme, 7 Steps to Rebuilding Your Life after Loss, is designed to support and help people who are reinventing themselves from the ground up following a loss or major life change. Do check it out if you're in the midst of this stage of life. I would love to talk to you!

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scatterbrained and directionless Not rated yet
I have lost my indentity. I have moved on from my abusive husband, his death, doing it on my own, re-falling in a liar who single handedly …

Not the widow I thought I'd be! Not rated yet
My husband was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2009. In the three years of his illness, I had occasion to imagine what sort of life I'd have …

Reinventing me Not rated yet
Elizabeth, I know just what you mean. It took me more than a year to start doing things because 'I' wanted to do them - not because they were something …

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