Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 190, When There’s Pressure.
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. Have you checked out the new training that I just did, the free one, How Widowed Moms Can Truly Love Life Again Without Forcing Gratitude, Thinking Positively or Reading More Grief Books? I just want to mention it in case you haven’t seen it because it’s really good. We did it right before Christmas. And you know how when you do a training or maybe you don’t, but you know when you do something and you just feel so good about it, so much better than you even expected about it? That’s how I felt after that training was over.
It felt so good to me. So if you haven’t checked it out, you should definitely do it and it’s free. So when you apply to Mom Goes On and your application is accepted you get it for free. And so I’ll tell you, I’m recording this podcast episode really early in January. So just heads up, if you have been thinking about joining Mom Goes On, I’ve decided in February we’re only taking 10 women and there’s already one spot, actually two, two spots already gone. So if you want in I suggest you get going. And even if you don’t want in or you don’t think you do yet, go get the training.
It is just that good. You can go to coachingwithkrista.com and click on the Work with Me tab. And that’s where you’ll see the application for the training.
Okay, so here’s what happened. Here’s where this episode came from. I was in the kitchen and I was talking to my daughter, she’s 19. And I was telling her that I was working on picking a word of the year. This was sometime last week. And her response to me was, “Ooh, that seems like a lot of pressure.” And she said, “What if you don’t like the word you picked? And do you have to choose just one word for the whole year? That seems like a lot.” And her whole face was scrunching up as I explained this concept to her.
To her, the idea sounded absolutely terrible. And it caught me off guard because it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about it like that because in my mind, choosing a word of the year felt fun. It seemed like an opportunity to get clear on what I wanted and where I wanted to focus. And when I thought about it I felt a little bit excited, I still do. And I kind of want to lean in because of the thoughts I have about the idea. And yet here my daughter was wanting absolutely nothing to do with the idea of a word of the year.
Now, is she wrong and I’m right? No, that’s not the point. Thoughts aren’t right or wrong, they’re not good or bad. Thoughts just are. But they do create our emotional experiences. So her thoughts about the idea of a word of the year created the emotional experience of pressure for her. My thoughts on the other hand created excitement for me. So a word of the year wasn’t creating pressure or excitement. A word of the year is just an idea that exists, but thoughts about that can create an emotional experience.
And that’s just a tiny example of why our thoughts matter. And so this experience got me thinking about other times when we feel pressure and when we believe that the pressure is something that’s outside of us, that’s happening to us, that is caused by an idea, or a person, or an event, or a happening as opposed to seeing it as it is which is something that we have the power to create. So it got me thinking about when I felt pressure and assumed it was being caused by something or someone outside of me and when my clients do this, when have you done this?
And what was really going on there? Back in my project management days, mostly before Hugo died, although I did keep working there for the same company for about a year and a half after he died. We worked at that company together. I remember feeling pressured to get certain aspects of the job done, in particular as I thought about, I remembered feeling a lot of pressure to get engineering deliverables done on time to support a certification project or whatever we were working on.
And I would just scurry around especially in those early days, stressed, and worried, and anxious, and thinking that I was under the gun and that I’d better make sure these things get done. And sometimes it was engineering that was needed for test prep or conformity documentation that we needed, ducks that needed to be in a row to support a test we were doing, or literally a plane that was being delivered sometimes. And of course, it was always part of an effort that was bigger than my department.
But I remember many of these items that I was responsible for weren’t actually things I could do on my own, of course, they’re engineering deliverables. So they involved buy-off from multiple people across multiple disciplines. And part of my job was to make sure that those deliverables would get all the way through the system on time to support whatever the milestone was. And sometimes something would sit in an engineer’s queue for longer than it was supposed to according to the project schedule.
And it was my job to figure out what the problem was and get that person to sign off on it or find out what needed to change in the engineering so that they would sign off. And when I was new to the job I naively assumed that because I felt the pressure to get the deliverable released on time that everyone else did too. I look back on how cute it was that I thought that. I kind of chuckle because I think about how some of those long time, been there, done that, battle worn, not their first rodeo, cynical engineers would look at me when I tried to move something quickly through the system.
And we had a way of marking items that were needed urgently as hot. We would flame them, we called them. They were hot or they were flamed. And I would say, “But it’s hot. It’s markedly hot.” How do you not feel the pressure that I feel essentially? And I remember one engineer, his name was Tom and he was trying so sweetly to explain it to me. And I was just new and naive and he was trying not to insult me. And he said, “What you have to understand is that if everything’s hot then nothing’s hot.”
So here I was feeling pressured to the max by the way, super stressed out. And there he was totally unbothered and yet we were both looking at the same deadline, the same deliverable with the same impact on the same company. Now, again was I right and he wrong? No, that’s to miss the point. The point is that pressure isn’t caused by the deadline, it’s not caused by something external. We create it with our thinking which is why I was feeling it and he wasn’t. Again, not right or wrong, not good or bad. It’s just not caused by something external.
When I look back and I think about how much pressure I felt after Hugo died, to do what I thought he would have wanted when it came to taking care of his son, Lance. Oh my gosh, so much pressure. I really thought that pressure was coming from what had happened, that he had died, that he had life insurance money, that there was no will. That Lance technically was not his son on paper because he had married Lance’s mother and Lance wasn’t his biological son. But he was the only dad Lance had ever really known.
And so in his mind he was Lance’s father and in Lance’s mind Hugo was his dad. But yet on paper there was nothing there that said that they were father son. And so I thought all of this pressure that I felt to do ‘the right thing’ to make sure Lance was taken care of in the way that Hugo would want and not really knowing exactly what that was because we’d never really had the conversation. I felt like all that pressure was caused by what was happening outside of me. In hindsight I know and how I wish I had known then that that call was coming from inside the house.
I was creating that pressure for myself and it was so optional. So when a widowed client comes to me and she says that her in-laws are pressuring her to let them see her children more often than she wants, or that she’s feeling pressured to go back to work, or she’s feeling pressure to stop working, or she’s feeling pressure to move to a different house, or people are pressuring her to date again. It’s my job to show her that those things don’t have the power to make her feel pressured. She gets to be the boss of that.
And I want you to hear that too. I want you to hear that pressure isn’t caused by anything outside of us. Pressure is caused by what we think. The call is coming from inside the house so let’s not get it twisted. And we don’t use this information to punish ourselves, or shame ourselves, or blame ourselves, or hold ourselves back. We use this information to empower ourselves. If we’re feeling pressure there’s no value in making ourselves feel badly about it. That is not the point.
The point is can we get curious, can we consider if outside things don’t have the ability to create pressure for me then what would it be like to create a different experience for myself? Even when the outside events are what they are, even when people are making comments about when I’m going to date again, even when people are making comments about when am I going to come back to work, or even when somebody’s telling me I should move, or whatever it is.
Whatever it is that’s outside of you that you think is causing pressure, what would it be like to create a different experience for yourself? That’s what’s available to each of us. And I would also say that I think we can use pressure in ways that help us or we can use pressure in ways that freak us out. So I’m not saying that we always want to get rid of pressure, that’s probably another episode on how we can use pressure in service of something we want. That’s not what I’m trying to get out in this episode.
In this episode I just want you to start thinking of yourself as the powerful creator of pressure when you feel it, own it, make it yours. See it as something you have the ability to create or not and then we don’t need to give our power away to things outside of us. And we start focusing our energy on places that actually can move the needle, which is who we decide to be in a given situation and how we decide to think which determines our emotional experience of it.
That’s what I have for you this week. I hope that whatever’s going on for you early this new year is amazing. And if you haven’t checked out the free training go check it out, won’t you, coachingwithkrista.com/workwithme. Alright, I love you, you’ve got this, take care and 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 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 you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click work with me for details and the next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.