Welcome to Week Five of Bereavement Boot Camp. You have probably noticed that as time goes on, the subject matter and the challenges get a little tougher -- but then again, so have you. If you have been using your affirmations and at least attempting your challenges, you may very well be feeling a little bit stronger and a lot more empowered... which is great, because you are about to put that strength and empowerment to good use this week.
This is the week that you will:
Quit conducting your Healing Journey (and your life) according to opinion
Right now, you are doing either one of two things. You are either reaching for the mouse to click away from this article (because you believe this to be an impossible task) OR you are sitting there thinking, "Yeah right, Carole. Easier said than done."
I hope you choose not to click away just yet -- and if you are thinking "Easier said than done"...no, it really isn't. It is neither easy to say, nor is it easy to do. I know this to be true because I have had to do both.
Confession time: I am the perennial cheerleader. I have always been the type who was trying to garner the approval of everyone in the world. I also own the reality that I have occasionally allowed the opinions of those who simply do not matter to get the better of me, at least momentarily. However, where my own Healing Journey was concerned, the lessons came quickly and I hope I can expedite those lessons for you as well.
During Week Two of Boot Camp, you discovered that your Healing Journey actually belongs to you. While this is a great discovery in itself, it is now is time for you to actually start believing it. Belief consists of more than turning simply a deaf ear to the "Aren't you over it" and "Why are you / aren't you..." comments that all of us have heard. It means that it is now time to start choosing to do whatever it is that you want to do to either further your Healing Journey or move onto the next phase of your Healing Journey...without first polling the world at large. These things might include (but are certainly not limited to):
*Making a decision about your ring(s); including the decision to keep wearing it / them.
*Take a vacation; even if that vacation is during the holidays, an angel-versary or any other time when people might be likely to "disapprove" or otherwise question your choice.
*Going through and / or making decisions concerning your beloved's belongings.
*Moving out of (or staying in) your home.
*Changing jobs or careers -- or retiring altogether.
*Pursuing a new hobby or interest - or picking up where you left off with a current hobby or interest.
*Deciding if dating again is right for you at this point on your journey.
While there are obviously many more, I enumerated these particular Healing Journey moments because they are (a) the ones on which I receive the most mail and (b) the ones that are most often subject to "popular" opinion and / or vote, whether solicited or not.
Last week, you were challenged to jettison the negative Energy Drainers from your life and if you were unable to eliminate them from your life altogether, you were challenged to prevent them from being intimately involved with your Healing Journey. Hopefully, you now understand why. Energy Drainers are very likely the same people from whom you are either seeking Healing Journey opinions (which is counterintuitive to say the least) or they are venturing their own unsupportive opinions without being asked; opinions that you may allow to keep you from moving forward.
When you ask someone what they think if you (fill in the blank), what you are actually saying to them is, "I really want to (fill in the blank) and I really need you to support me in that decision / choice / goal". Unfortunately, the Energy Drainers of the world are not going to give you the support that you seek and you will ultimately wind up feeling worse for having shared with the wrong person (or people).
Here is the problem. When you do seek opinions from negative people, you are likely going to use their opinion to formulate your opinion of you as a person. For example, let's say that you and Energy Drainer are having a cocktail. You get up the nerve to share, "I'm thinking of going on a date - it's my first time. What do you think?" Energy Drainer is perhaps a little jealous or thinks that you should be wearing the black veil forever or wants you to remain their divorced "wingman" - whatever the case, the response is something akin to, "How could you do that?" or "Don't you love him / her anymore?" (to a widowed) or "Don't you think that's inappropriate"... or some other similar nonsense.
I promise, without fail, that after hearing these kinds of responses, your immediate thought processes will be negative. You are now thinking, "Of course I still love him / her" or "Maybe it is 'inappropriate' or "How could I even think about dating again?" ... or some other similar nonsense (intentionally repeated).
Your conclusive thought will then be: "I am officially a terrible person".
Voila. Not only has someone just wrested the control of your Healing Journey away, you now have an extra-helping of lousy self-opinion to go along with it - and that opinion of yourself was just dictated by someone else. You thereafter mentally skulk away from the conversation with Energy Drainer, feeling both absolutely terrible about your future and even worse...feeling absolutely terrible about yourself.
I know firsthand how hard it is to find the determination and the strength to do whatever it is you have in your heart to do, despite the opinions of those around you. The bottom line is that at the end of the day, you are the only one living your life. You are the one who has to live with the decisions that you make, not the person opining and eventually casting judgment upon decisions and choices that have nothing to do with them or their life whatsoever.
To be blunt (because this is Boot Camp after all), judgment is reserved for courtrooms. If you are of a spiritual nature, judgment is also reserved for your higher power. That's about it. Please also remember one very important thing...absolutely no one is driving home from work at night, wondering if you went out on that date or booked that vacation or decided to sell the house or change jobs or anything else that you have it in your heart to do. Do you know why?
Because after all has been said - in the worst possible way - they go right back to living their life - which is fine.
But it is now time for you to live your life.
Here is your fifth Boot Camp Affirmation. Keep it with you all week:
"I recognize that what others think of me is not half as important as what I think of me. I recognize that not everyone will agree with what I do or how I do it; however as long as I am not hurting myself or anyone else and I continue to fulfill my responsibilities and obligations, I will pursue my Healing Journey in the ways that I see fit. I further recognize that my identity and my self-esteem have nothing to do with my current or future marital status, what I look like, my career path, a number on a scale, any material accumulation or what anyone else's opinion might be. My identity and self-esteem come from within and my opinion of myself will always remain the most important"
BOOT CAMP CHALLENGE: It is time for you to get very honest with yourself. Find a quiet space and a quiet moment, no distractions allowed. Now, think of just one thing that you have really wanted to do (or try) with all of your heart, but have been afraid to do or try specifically because of what someone (or several someones) might say or think. Or perhaps someone has already ventured opinions that succeeded in discouraging you or stopping you altogether. This is the week that you will take the first step toward your One Thing without asking the opinion of anyone who is not or has not been supportive of your Healing Journey. Got your One Thing in mind? Now take one step toward it. Price out that vacation, choosing a time that you wish to take it (note that a vacation doesn't have to be long in duration or far from home); fill out the online dating profile, see what new job possibilities exist in your chosen field - whatever it is that you feel you have been prevented from doing on your Healing Journey because of the opinions of others. Those opinions no longer rule your life. Take that step...right now.
Next Monday: Bereavement Boot Camp Week #6: Get Up...Get Moving...Get OUT!
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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