Reinvention: Becoming the Butterfly
September 1, 2013 | Joy Kirsch
Life is about change. Some of it happens organically and sometimes change is forced upon us, like when we lose a spouse. In an instant, our lives are very different than what we hoped or imagined.
One of the hardest parts of widowhood is the feeling that you’ve totally lost control of your life. It’s easy to feel that you’ve become a victim of circumstance and that you’re on a path that isn’t of your choosing. Ironically, excessive spending in the initial months after the loss of your husband can be one way that you try to take back control. And yet, committing finances to large home remodeling projects, new cars or family trips before you’ve had time to develop a workable financial plan can lead to dire long-term consequences.
A better way to regain that feeling of control may be to consciously work on your own Reinvention. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘reinvent’ as “to remake or redo completely.” Immediately following the loss, the pain is typically too strong to allow you to imagine a time when life will feel normal again. But this feeling of being stuck in a nightmare is only temporary. To quote Susan Bradley of The Sudden Money® Institute, “The nature of life is to change and seek greater happiness, purpose and connection.” Somewhere in your journey, you will start to have a glimmer of hope about your future and start to think about what your new life and how you want it to look. If you have not already done so, you will want to put a cash flow plan in place that allows you to live within your means while you work through this exploratory period.
Do my thoughts really matter?
The good news from Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Beliefs and a pioneer in the field of Epigenetics, is that our beliefs can have a huge influence on the outcome. “I was exhilarated by the new realization that I could change the character of my life by changing my beliefs. I was instantly energized because I realized that there was a science-based path that would take me from my job as a perennial “victim” to my new position as “co-creator” of my destiny. (Prologue, xv)”
Imagine that at this crossroads in your life, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself in the best way possible. Imagine that you can dream a future of your own making into reality. With this mindset you can actually start to think about the loss of your spouse as a gift to you in that it created the change needed to springboard you to a new and promising life.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Know that reinvention will not always be an easy process. It is said that when the caterpillar begins its metamorphosis into a butterfly, the new cells feel so foreign to it that its immune system kills them off. In this passage part of your journey, you may experience the emotions of grief and fear in one moment and feel invigorated and excited about your future in the next. These are common emotions when one is reinventing oneself into a butterfly. The chrysalis phase is not a pretty one and writing the story of you as new butterfly will also take time and effort on your part. Use this time as an opportunity to explore who you are, determine your strengths, and revisit the activities that energize you as you develop a new sense of self around your values, passions, dreams and goals.
Use a journal or notebook to record your thoughts and dreams. Start to develop the elements of your new story and add to it regularly. When you start to see recurring themes, stop to ask yourself “How am I feeling when I think about this?” and see if you can flesh out the theme. Although a reliable income stream that covers your expenses is essential to this process, you should use your values, passions, dreams and goals as your compass, with your finances only serving to provide you with a sense of security and to help you set boundaries.
In summary, while it may be unsettling and confusing to reinvent yourself, science gives us hope that if we can determine what matters the most to us and then believe it can be, we can create that reality and have a happy and fulfilling future.
What better way to regain our sense of control after the loss of our spouse?