Ep #18: Confidence After Loss

I hear from so many of my clients that, after the loss of their person, they find themselves struggling with their confidence levels. Sometimes they attribute this to having to do new things around the house that their husband used to take care of, or maybe just that he isn’t there anymore to say the right things when they need a little lift.

It’s also possible that you lacked confidence while your person was still alive. Whichever way you look at your confidence and the reasons for the state that it’s in now, this episode so for you, my friend. I don’t care how long it’s been since you became a widow, taking action and doing something about your confidence is always an option.

Join me this week as I discuss why we lack confidence during this time in our lives, the beliefs that we have about our confidence that prevent us from working on it, and how you can build your confidence and self-confidence (yes, there is a difference) without having to change the world around you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why there is no shame in lacking confidence, especially when your life has changed so dramatically.
  • The difference between confidence and self-confidence, and why it’s important distinction.
  • Where we really draw our confidence from.
  • Which beliefs about our lives hold us back from working on our confidence.
  • 4 steps that, if followed, lead to confidence in any area carrying out any task.
  • Why we can lose confidence after our person is gone.
  • How to redevelop the confidence in yourself that used to come more naturally.


Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 18, Confidence After Loss.

Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief to grow, evolve, and create a future you can actually look forward to. Here’s your host, certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. How was your weekend? If you’re listening to this on a Monday, when the podcast releases, did you have a good one? Are you ready for the week? Are you dreading the week? Did you spend your time the way you wanted to? Maybe yes, maybe no – overwhelmed and you’re not feeling so confident?

Maybe you saw the title of this podcast and said, “Hey, yeah, my confidence isn’t where I want it; maybe I’ll listen to this one.” If that’s you, I hear you. I see you. I’ve been you. So we’re going to talk about confidence.

I’m going to teach you why your confidence has taken such a hit, if it has. And I’m going to teach you the difference between confidence and self-confidence. Because a lot of people don’t know this and I think it’s really super useful to understand so that you know where to go from here.

Alright, before we jump in though, as usual, I want to read a listener review. So, this listener review – I love the name, Super Latina Mom. And the title of the review is Do I Need to Lose Someone in Order to Benefit?

And she wrote, “I was impressed with the resourceful content that Krista offers in this podcast. It’s not just about death and grief. It’s really about dealing with our emotions when we have setbacks in life. Everyone can listen and learn from her practical tools, how to heal and get unstuck. This was very refreshing. Her tone is positive, uplifting, and inspirational.”

Yay, Super Latina Mom, that is the idea. It isn’t just about death and grief. It really is about how do we deal with setbacks. And at least in my life, the greatest setback I’ve ever faced was the unexpected death of my husband. But what I teach is applicable in all setbacks. It’s not just about death.

And grief isn’t just about death, PS, grief is about loss, so this is applicable for all types of loss too. So thanks for taking a few minutes out of your busy day. I’m sure it is, to write a review. That is how I’m going to reach a million women with this podcast. That is how you’re going to help me reach a million women, which I really do appreciate.

So, okay, confidence after loss. I hear it all the time that we are not as confident as we once were. And many of my life coaching widow clients are quite perplexed. And you might fall in one of two camps here. You might have been the type of person who felt incredibly confident, or at least mostly confident, when your husband was alive or before this loss. Or perhaps you’ve always struggled with self-confidence. This is going to be relevant either way.

But the people who often find themselves the most perplexed about confidence after loss are the ones who, before the loss, felt like they had a decent amount of it, and now they don’t understand where it went or why it’s not here anymore and they really don’t know what to do about it.

So, that’s the segment of you guys that I’m kind of talking to.  It can also help you if you’re just lacking confidence and self-confidence and you always have been, this is for sure the opportunity to learn how to change that. This may be the goodness that brought you here, that even if you weren’t super self-confident before your husband died, now at least you recognize that and maybe you’re ready to see what can be done about it.

So let’s talk a little bit about what self-confidence and confidence are first of all. Because sometimes I think we think they are a product of our genetic makeup, that somehow self-confidence and confidence are something that a person either has or doesn’t have. This is not true at all.

Self-confidence and confidence are not things that you are born with. They were not gifted to you from other generations. If you don’t have them, it doesn’t mean you’re screwed. These are things we can create. Self-confidence and confidence are feelings. They’re emotions. And I’ve taught you before in other episodes of the podcast that emotions or feelings come from our thoughts, our beliefs.

So the way that we view ourselves, the thoughts that we have about who we are, the kind of person that we are, what we’re capable of, that is what creates our self-confidence. So if you want more of it, if you’re missing it, if you never had it, if you used to have it then you lost it and now you want to find it again, don’t worry, I’ve got you. It really is something you can learn, something you develop.

Now, some of you might be thinking that confidence and self-confidence are circumstantial, meaning that the circumstances of our lives determine whether or not we are confident. This is also not the case.  There is nothing ever outside of us that creates our confidence or our self-confidence; always an inside job.

It has nothing to do with the career that we have, the marriage that we have, the money that we make, the house that we live in, the things that we own, the money in the bank, the number on the scale, the clothing size, none of it. That is not even relative when it comes to how confident we are or aren’t.

And how do we know that? We know that – let’s just take one of those examples. When we look at people who have money, let’s just use money. Let’s say we look at all the people who have a million dollars, their net worth is a million dollars. We would find, if we took a close look at all of those people, that the amount of self-confidence that they feel is different.

Some have a lot, some have a little, some are somewhere in the middle. And it has nothing to do with money. If it did, they would all have the exact amount of confidence. We could do the same for people who have no money, who live in poverty. If money were what created confidence, then everybody’s confidence level would be exactly the same depending on how much money they have.

And we could also continue that same theory with stuff and jobs and salary and relationships. None of it is external. So I know a lot of you think, well, I can’t be confident until X, Y, or Z. I can’t be confident until I make more money. I can’t be confident until I finish my degree. I can’t be confident until I get that promotion. I can’t be confident until I find another relationship or I lose a certain amount of weight or I wear a particular clothing size or my car is paid off or my kids are grown and I prove to myself that I’m a decent parent and that I can handle this whole widowed mom thing by myself. I can’t think I’m a confident person until I go through all of his stuff. I can’t think I’m a confident person until I get through all of the paperwork.

Whatever it is in your mind that you think is something out there, some sort of accomplishment or achievement that if you could create it, if you could have it, if it could be yours, you would somehow feel confident, I want to assure you, that is not the case. That is not necessary because that is not where confidence and self-confidence come from.

Okay, let’s talk about the difference between confidence and self-confidence, because they are different. This was so good when I learned this. I did not know this until a couple of years ago, but it’s been very useful to me and it’s very useful to a lot of my clients.

So, confidence is what we have when we know we can do a thing, when we know we have a capability or a particular skill. So I am confident in my ability to drive because I’ve been driving now. I’m 43, I started driving at 16, I’ll let you do the math, because heaven knows you wouldn’t want me to do it.

But I’ve been driving for a long time. I’m confident in my ability to drive. I haven’t had a ticket in a long time. I haven’t had an accident in a long time. I am confident in my skills as a person who can drive. I am gaining confidence in my ability to be a podcaster. My new thought, which I’ve been practicing, is, “Podcasting is easy and fun.” Because let me tell you, that was not my thought when we started this whole thing.

But that’s what I’ve been working on. I’m gaining evidence that I can be a good podcaster, that I have the skill of podcasting. And so I’m becoming more confident in that skill, in that area.

Now, here’s the thing; confidence, because it is about our ability to do a thing or have a skill, comes from our past. Confidence is when we look back in history for evidence of what we are capable of doing, what we have done before, what we know we can do. And because we find evidence, we feel confident. Our thought is, “I know how to do that. I’m good at that. I can do that.” And so we feel confident in that one thing or that one area.

So, how does this affect the widow? How does this affect you, the mom? There are some things, some skills that you have never had to do before, ever, especially the things that your spouse did. There are new areas. And it’s different for different people. Everyone’s situation is unique. But I know for me, a lot of the more technical things around the house, I had never done before.

A couple of weeks ago, I figured out how to change the humidifier filter after it almost backed up and caused a major flood in my basement, but I figured it out, right? I had no confidence in my ability to change the filter in my dehumidifier. I’d never done it before. I had no evidence that I could do it, so I wasn’t confident in it.

But now, I have figured it out – thank god for YouTube. I figured it out, I did it myself, and now I am confident that if I needed to do it again, I could. And I bet you have lots of areas like this in your life; things that he always took care of that you’ve never had to do before. And so you’re not confident in those areas.

Cut yourself a break. Of course you’re not confident. You have no evidence in your past that you know how to do the thing that you are wanting to feel confident about. It could even be something more generalized that has nothing to do with your husband.

Maybe you want to go back and get another degree or get your first degree, finish school, and you don’t have any evidence from your past that you can do that thing because you’ve never done it before. Maybe you want to lose weight and you don’t have any evidence from your past that you can. Maybe you want to run a 5K and you’ve never run before and you have no evidence that you’re a runner, so you have no confidence in your ability to do that thing.

So when you’re thinking about confidence as it relates to a skill, of course you aren’t going to be confident if you are now at a point in life, because you are doing things you have never done before, that you have no evidence that you can do, of course it is understandable that you don’t have confidence in your ability to do the thing because you have never done the thing. You don’t yet have the capability.

So here’s what I learned that was so incredibly useful to me and I want you to hear it. It came from my mentor, Brooke Castillo, but she learned it from Dan Sullivan. And Dan Sullivan is a business coach. I love him.

And Dan Sullivan teaches this concept called the four Cs. So as it relates to confidence in a skill or an area, we want to understand that we’re going to eventually get confident, but it’s not going to be the emotion we feel before we do the thing, before we develop the skill. In fact, it’s going to be at the end of the line. It’s going to be the result of our having learned this new skill.

So whatever it is that you’re thinking about doing that’s got you feeling self-doubt, this new skill that you want to have that you don’t yet have, or a new thing that you need to tackle that you want to tackle and you haven’t tackled it before and you have no evidence that you can do it, I want you to consider these for Cs and how you can apply them.

So the first C is commitment. And what Dan teaches is that the first thing we have to do when we want to learn something new to accomplish something we’ve never done before is we have to commit 100%, go all in, decide we are committed. And when you commit 100% and you go all in and you really truly commit, you will feel scared.

You will feel scared because you’re committing to something you’re not confident you can do. So fear is going to be present. This is the way of it. This is what is supposed to happen. You commit, and then you feel scared. And because you feel scared, the second C is necessary. And the second C is courage. Courage is only needed when fear is present.

So first, we commit. That scares the holy poo out of us, and then we have to show up with courage. And instead of waiting on confidence to fuel all of these actions that we want to take, instead of waiting on confidence to show up so we can do the thing we want to do, we don’t do that. We use courage.

We use courage as our motivator, courage as our fuel. We’re scared and we do it anyway because we’re courageous. We’re brave. And with courage, we take the actions, we do the thing, whatever it is that we need to do. We try it, we fail, we pick ourselves up, we take more action. It’s massive action. It’s imperfect action. It’s action until we learn the thing, we cross the finish line.

Because remember, we committed, number one, we committed. So through courage, we take all the action. We fail as much and as often as necessary. We learn what we can with every failure and we keep going and we keep picking ourselves up, we keep trying again, and we keep doing it in a different way.

And then, eventually, when we don’t quit, we develop a capability; a capability we never had before, a capability that came from commitment and courage and failure. And when we have that capability, the third C, then we have confidence in our ability to do the thing because remember, confidence comes from our past. And now, because we committed and we were courageous and we developed a capability, we have evidence of our new skill. We have evidence we can do the thing.

So if you’re out there and you’ve decided you’re going to run the 5K and you’ve never been a runner, you don’t have to have confidence to start running. In fact, it would kind of not be so useful if you tried to wait until you felt confidence in your ability to run because you don’t have any evidence. You’ve never done it.

Better just to commit, expect yourself to feel terrified, show up anyway by being courageous, and then do it, go, develop the capability, Couch to 5K, that was the app that got me there. Do it. Or whatever it is for you, you take this and apply it to what you need to.

Okay, so that’s confidence. Confidence is about a skill. If you’re feeling unconfident, if you’re feeling self-doubt because your husband always managed the finances and now it’s you, if you’re feeling unconfident because you had two incomes and you’ve never run a house with children or no children or grown children or whatever, you’ve never done this by yourself before, of course you will not feel confident in your ability to do that. How could you, you’ve never done it before.

So relax. Stop expecting yourself to feel confident in something you’ve never done before. It isn’t fair. It’s not reasonable. It’s not how it works. When we do new things that we’ve never done before, we’re not going to feel confident. That doesn’t mean we can’t do them.

Okay, let’s talk about self-confidence. Self-confidence is your confidence in you. It is the way you see yourself. It is the way you think of what you are capable and willing to do.

Now, a couple of things that you need to know. One, the worst thing that can ever happen to you, do you know what it is? This blew my mind when I learned it. The worst thing that can ever happen to us is a feeling, an emotion. That’s the worst part of losing your husband; all of the feelings, all of the emotions.

And I’m going to tell you what – if anybody has felt some feelings, it is you. It is you. Now, you may not have enjoyed it. I’m not saying it was a picnic. But listen, the worst that can happen, you have endured that. It was a feeling. And you’re still probably feeling them and that’s okay too. I just want you to give yourself some credit for a second and truly let that sink in, that the worst thing that can happen is a feeling.

Now, I taught you in episode three how to feel better now; my whole process for how to actually feel a feeling. Because what a lot of us are doing isn’t actually feeling the feelings. We’re trying to resist them or avoid them or we’re reacting to them, and that is not feeling a feeling. That’s why I recorded that episode. So if you haven’t listened to that one, you might go back to it, episode three, How to Feel Better Now.

But if the worst thing that can ever happen to us isn’t actually an event, it isn’t actually a failure, it isn’t actually a loss, it’s the feeling that happens after, then it would really serve us to get good at feeling feelings. I have a whole process for this that I teach my coaching clients, even in much more detail than what I go into in episode three. But episode three will be really useful to you, so definitely start there.

But if you are willing to allow any emotion to course through your body, the chemical cascade that happens when we think a thought, we have some chemicals that happen in our body. We experience them, they create a physical vibration, that’s an emotion. When we understand and develop this skill of how to not try to get away from a feeling, how to not try to numb it out with alcohol or food or shopping or Netflix or whatever our buffer of pleasure is, when we can just get really good at allowing feelings to be there without making it mean that something’s gone wrong and we develop that skill, that’s a game-changer because if the worst that can ever happen is a feeling and you’re a person who’s good at feeling feelings, guess what, a whole lot of doors are going to open for you.

Because if the worst thing can happen is that you don’t hit your goal and you think some thoughts that generate shame and you’re pretty good at feeling feelings like shame, not nearly as big of a deal as we want to make it out to be.

So, part of developing self-confidence is developing the skill of feeling feelings, knowing that you are a good feeling feeler and that you’re willing to feel all the feelings. The other part that’s necessary though is a belief in yourself that even when you might not know how to do something, that you are a person who is capable of figuring it out.

Marie Forleo just wrote a book – I’m looking forward to reading it – called Everything is Figiureoutable. And I’ve always loved it when she says that, right. When you believe that you are capable of figuring anything out and that the worst that can happen when you fail, if you fail, is a feeling, then you will feel self-confident.

And what’s happened for so many of us is that we didn’t really realize that we were leveraging our husband’s beliefs. I’ve so many clients that tell me, “My husband always used to tell me I’m beautiful and I’m smart and I’m amazing and I’m such a good mom and all the things. He said all the right things.”

If you had that husband and he said those things to you all the time and now he’s not here anymore and he’s not saying them anymore, the only thing that’s probably happened is that you just don’t believe them right now. You haven’t really realized that it’s your choice to believe those things about yourself. And before you had him cheering you on, and so you just believed in him. And because you believed in him, then you believed what he said and you basically borrowed his beliefs in you.

And now he’s not here and he’s not saying those things and you think something is wrong with you. All it is, is you just haven’t made a decision to believe that you’re still amazing, that you’re still beautiful, that you’re still capable, that you’re still smart, that you’re still all the things that he said you were.

So, in summary, confidence is what happens after we have evidence that we can do a particular thing. Confidence is not something we wait on to learn to do something new. It’s not necessary. It’s not reasonable to expect that we have it. So in whatever area you’re trying to do something new and you’re not feeling confident, stop beating yourself up.

Stop waiting to do the new thing until you feel confident. Know that what’s necessary is your commitment to doing the thing. Your courage, when you notice yourself feeling scared, which of course you will because it’s the way our brain is wired – and then eventually, because you keep trying, because you’re committed, and because you’re willing to be scared and keep going anyway, you’ll develop the capability, and then you’re going to have the confidence in that thing. Don’t wait for confidence to try the new thing.

And then, as it relates to self-confidence, if you simply believe that you are the kind of person who will figure it out and that the worst thing that can happen is a feeling and you are all in for feelings, you’re willing to feel any feeling, self-confidence will result. It doesn’t have anything to do with any of the material things in your life. It doesn’t have anything to do with your genetics. It is not unreachable for any of us.

Self-confidence is just the product of thinking. It’s just the product of choosing how we want to view ourselves. And one of the things that I specialize in is helping women see themselves differently, helping them choose to see themselves in ways that feel like a great stretch, in ways that maybe they have no evidence of, so they can actually do the things they want to do and live the life that they want to live.

It’s all possible. It’s all possible, you just get to decide what you want to think about yourself. You get to create self-confidence for yourself. You don’t need anybody’s permission. You can just decide.

So, if your confidence, or your self-confidence feel like they aren’t where you want them, it’s okay. Now we know where we’re starting. I’ve given you a couple of tools that you can use, ways to think about it that might be different than what you were thinking about it before. I want you to cut yourself some slack, show yourself some love, give yourself some grace. You’re navigating a new world.

And, PS, don’t care how long ago your husband died. Don’t care. Don’t tell me that, “Well I should have figured it out by now.” Don’t do it. I’m going to come over there, okay. You’re navigating a new territory, you start where you are and you build from here.

Alright – oh hey, I almost forgot, I’m launching a new group coaching program. It’s going to be amazing. If you’re interested in it, you should hit me up. And you can do that in a lot of different places. As long as you’re on my email list, you will be able to get that. If you’re not, you can just head over to my website, coachingwithkrista.com – there’s an opportunity to join my email list there so you will be kept in the loop of what I’m up to. But I am about to launch a small group coaching program that is going to be fantastically transformational.

I’m so excited to meet those of you who are going to be joining me there, even if I don’t know you yet, chances are I don’t – it’s going to be six months, we’re going to dive deep. We’re going to look at all the areas that you feel like are holding you back, bust through all those limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck, figure out how to feel our feelings and build our self-confidence and create the next chapter of life; a chapter that you can really actually look forward to and feel great about. So, start thinking about that.

Remember, I love you. You’ve got this. And I will see you next week right here on the podcast. Take care, bye-bye.

Ready to start building a future you can actually look forward to? Get a free copy of Krista’s Love Your Life Again Game Plan, and learn her three-step process so you can stop feeling stuck and start creating your next great chapter. No matter what you’ve been through, your past does not have to define what’s possible in your future.

Text the word PLAN to 1-858-widows-1, or visit coachingwithkrista.com/plan and get Krista’s Love Your Life Again Game Plan delivered straight to your inbox. A future you love is still possible and you are worth it. Text the word PLAN to 1-858-widows-1, or visit coachingwithkrista.com/plan and get your free game plan today.

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About your coach

I created a new life using small, manageable steps and techniques that made sense. The changes I experienced were so profound I became a Master Certified Life Coach and created a group coaching program for widows like us called Mom Goes On. It’s now my mission to show widowed moms exactly how to do what I’ve done and create a future they can look forward to.

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