Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 241, Game 1 vs Game 2: The Top Seven Mistakes.
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 truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I just recorded Game one vs Game two and I am just jumping right on in with the top seven mistakes. Hopefully you’ve had a week to think about it. You listened to the game one versus game two episode. If not, go ahead and pause and go back and listen to that one first and then come back to this episode. Because everything I talk about in this episode is going to be built on the last one. So go listen to game one versus game two, if you haven’t already. If you have, let’s keep going.
I made a list of all the ways I think we hold ourselves back from winning at game two and it was 27, yes, 27 items long. That is way too much to share with you. It will overwhelm you so I just narrowed it down to the top seven. The top seven ways that we hold ourselves back from winning in game two, mistakes, if you will. Alright, let’s jump in because I don’t want you to be making these.
Alright, game mistake number one, refusing to accept the rules of game two. When we’re in game two but we’re clinging to all the rules of game one, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. When we’re telling ourselves that we should be playing game one, if only we were playing game one, it would all be better, it was better then, game one was better. Game two sucks. I hate game two. I only like game one. And we keep trying to use the same rules that applied in game one even though we’re in game two.
What that does is it pretty much sets us up to fail at game two because game two is not the same game. It does have different rules. We’re not in a partnership anymore, well, unless you’re dating again. The responsibilities we used to share, we don’t now. The way we did life then isn’t the way we’re doing life now. There are different rules. And when we’re arguing with the fact that we’re in game two and things are different here and we keep clinging to game one, we don’t actually get to be present in game two. And that’s sad to me because that’s where we are. We’re in game two.
So if we’re in game two, we might as well acknowledge and decide that yes, we are in game two. There’s no point in continuing to tell ourselves that it should be like it was in game one because it isn’t. That’s mistake number one.
Mistake number two is that sometimes we cling to the identity that we had in game one. So maybe we were a caregiver, a lot of us had relationships where we were the long term caregiver because there was a long term illness. We identify as wife, partner and we cling to that. It’s so familiar to us and it’s so much of what we’ve known that we have a hard time putting it down and figuring out how we want to identify ourselves next. We hold those identities so tightly that they block us, that holding blocks us from finding what the identity or identities will be in game two.
And that can look like just refusing to explore it, being closed off to new ways of thinking about ourselves, new ways of living, new ways of being, doing things differently. So I want us to think about it as though there are two different versions of us in a helpful way. Yes, there was a version of us that played game one and we can identify with that version and also who do we want to be as we play this new game because that is a person with different identities.
Most of those game one identities may not have carried over, so let’s stop trying to drag them into game two when they really belong in game one.
Number three, this one’s big, you all. We make ourselves feel guilty about playing game two well. We make ourselves feel guilty about experiencing happiness in game two. As though how we play game two or the amount of happiness or joy or fulfillment that we feel in game two has anything to do with game one. It doesn’t. It doesn’t.
Loving life, playing game two well, doing the best you can in game two, being who you want to be in game two, laughing in game two doesn’t mean you did not love game one. It doesn’t even mean you wouldn’t take game one back if somebody would give you the chance. It just means you’ve decided to be where you are, which is in game two. So if you’re noticing yourself making yourself feel guilty about being happy and guilty about playing the game well, I hope you’ll give yourself permission to stop that.
And there are other reasons we make ourselves feel guilty. I coach on it all the time. So I don’t need to get into that today, but just notice if you’re doing that and what would shift if you gave yourself permission to stop. Stop making yourself feel bad about winning at game two.
Number four, we focus only on the problems of game two instead of the solutions. Now, we do have a brain with a built in negativity bias. It is designed to prioritize the negative and the ick to keep us safe, so we can’t change that. But what we can do is decide that that tendency doesn’t get to be the boss, that part of our brain doesn’t get to be the boss. That bias doesn’t get to be the boss. We can intentionally make our brain look for solutions when we notice it is focused on problems.
Because, I’m dating myself, but I remember playing Super Mario Brothers. And you play that game, and if you hit a new level of that game there’s all these things that are frustrating because you’re in a new level. And if you’re constantly just focusing on, well, that didn’t happen in the last level and I keep getting to this point and then dying. It’s not going to help. We wouldn’t do that. We know enough not to do that. Let’s apply the same knowledge here. When we’re playing the game, let’s look for, okay, that’s a new stumbling block that I didn’t know about. That’s a new roadblock.
That’s a new part where somebody jumps out and tries to get me. How am I going to adjust my strategy so that I can adapt to that? Instead of focusing on the fact that it’s happening, I can find a solution to that. And a lot of us are very problem focused instead of solution focused. And yes, we have brains that are built that way and also we get to be the boss of those brains.
Number five, we do ourselves a disservice in game two when we prioritize the wellness of other players above our own. Nobody is going to take care of us in game two, but us. And we’re not maybe very good at prioritizing our own wellbeing. And we might be looking at all the other players like our kids and our other family members and our friends and our coworkers and whoever else and trying to take care of them at our own expense. And yes, as women, we are socially conditioned to do this. So we understand why we do and also game two is a great time to stop that.
Game two is a great time to say, “You know what? I’m going to put myself and my wellbeing and my mental health above all the other people who are asking for me to take care of them.” And if we want to take care of people who are asking for us to take care of them, we do a better job of it when we’ve taken care of ourselves first. Two more.
Number six, we take a lot of advice from people who have never played game two and they love us and we love them. But if they are still playing game one and they have never played game two, maybe let’s not take their advice unless we just really love it. And listen, I am a fellow game two player. I very rarely give advice. If you’ve ever watched me coach, you know, people ask me all the time, “What should I do?” I very rarely tell them because even I, as a keen adept player of game two, do not believe I know what’s best for another person.
So not only do we not want to take advice from people who haven’t played game two, but we really want to get better about figuring out how to tap into our own wisdom and our own knowing and let that be our guide. Because we’ll always have that no matter what game we’re in. So I really want to offer those people who, for the most part, I really do think they mean well. It’s okay to not take their advice and take your own instead.
And the last thing, number seven, that we do in game two that really holds us back is that we tend to treat any struggle to adjust to the new rules of game two as a personal flaw, a personal failing or a shortcoming. We make what’s very normal in game two, i.e. grief, mean something that it does not mean about us. And let me give you some examples.
Especially if you’re early in grief and you know this feeling and you have widow fog and you make it mean there’s something wrong with you. We do this because nobody told us about widow fog so we know why we do this. But that is not a you problem. That’s not a game one, you problem. That is a game two problem. That is a grief problem, especially in early grief, prefrontal cortex, bless its little heart, is trying so hard to keep up and it can’t because everything is out of whack.
Our whole body is impacted by grief and all those things that are happening in our body that nobody prepared us for, so we don’t know that they’re happening. We tend to make them mean something’s wrong with us. But it’s not a you problem. So you’re not sleeping well, not a you problem. It’s probably that there’s all kinds of things going on in your body, your hormones are off.
If you’re counterfactual thinking, if you’re noticing a lot of grief bombs, if you intellectually know that your person has gone, but yet you keep wishing for them to come back and you keep thinking that they’re on a trip. There’s nothing wrong with you, that is not a you problem. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful. It’s just grief, and that’s a game two thing.
Also, if you walked into a new game and truly, you sit down and you go to play a new game and you keep losing and you don’t understand the rules yet and you don’t exactly know how to play. You probably wouldn’t assume there’s something wrong with you or that you’re broken, would you? You would know that this is just a new game and you’re not a bad game player. You just haven’t played this game enough yet to feel really good about it. You wouldn’t be mean to yourself about it.
You would show yourself some grace and some compassion, and you would give yourself some time to learn the rules of the game and to practice and to fail and to fall down and to get back up. And you’d have your own back about it, you’d be kind. And a lot of us aren’t doing that. We’re making a very understandable struggle mean something it doesn’t have to mean and we’re being mean about it. So let’s not do any of those things.
I could go on. There are more mistakes that I see us making that prevent us from winning game two, but let’s just focus on those. So accepting the rules of game two, we’re not in game one anymore. It’s not supposed to be game one. It’s not like game one, maybe some things are, but a lot of things aren’t. And when we keep arguing with the new rules, it doesn’t help us be successful. It takes away from our ability to be present, to be where we are, to play game two successfully.
A different version of us is going to play and win at game two than the one that was in game one. So clinging to our identity, those old identities, those old labels, those old roles doesn’t help us. Let’s hold that stuff lightly. Let’s allow ourselves to evolve and change and grow and express ourselves differently.
Number three, we don’t need to feel guilty about playing game two well. We don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying game two. Enjoying it, having fun doesn’t mean anything about game one.
Number four, let’s focus on the solutions. Yes, there are problems, of course, there always are and we have a brain designed to focus on them. But let’s keep pivoting that brain and redirecting it just like we would a little kid so that it helps us find solutions so that we can figure out game two.
Number five, let’s not prioritize the wellbeing of other players over our own. This is the time where we get to prioritize ourselves, especially if we’ve never done it before and we’re not used to it, it’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to feel awkward because we’re probably not practiced at it. But it’s a great investment, ourselves, we’re a great investment in game two.
Number six, let’s not take advice from people who have not played game two unless we’re just in love with their advice. Internal wisdom for the win every time. Those people love us, but they’re still living in game one.
And then number seven, let’s treat the struggles of game two as just the struggles that one finds in a new game, not as personal flaws, not as shortcomings. It’s not you, you’re fine. You’re amazing. You’re wonderful. You’re resilient. You’re going to adapt. You’re going to adjust. You’re going to learn how to play game two. And yes, it’s hard, but it’s not hard because you’re wrong or bad or doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s just hard to play a new game and learn the rules and figure it out and it’s disorienting. And you didn’t even ask to be here.
So I hope this helps you thinking about it in this way, game one versus game two. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear it and you can leave a review of the podcast, that would be great. You can send me an email email@example.com. I’m really curious how this resonates with you and how you might use it. And yeah, I just love you so much. Let’s focus on this new year, this game two. We can even start it a little bit fresh from now. Here we are in game two, it’s a different game. It’s got some challenges, but we can still figure out what we want it to be like and how to win. You can, I can, let’s do it.
Okay, that’s what I have for you this week. Remember, I love you and you’ve got this. Take care. I’ll see you next week, bye bye.
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. Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than what you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click Work With Me for details and next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.