Advice For Widows

By Doug Mayberry

June 3, 2011 3 min read

Q: Now, in my late 50s, I keep wondering why I am so stymied. Why can't I do what I really want to do? I am a widow whose husband died 15 years ago, and I depend on myself. A friend suggested that I conduct a self-validation. I don't know what he means. Can you help me sort this out?

A: I am not a psychologist, but my thought is that your friend believes that you have the ability to do what you want but that you have not resolved that you can accomplish it yet. In self-validating your past successes, a wake-up call will convince you that you can achieve whatever you wish. We become adults based on our genes, abilities and potential.

We have the option to become positive, negative, judgmental, happy, mean, content, accepting or unhappy. Our choices result in forming our attitude, which influences up to 80 percent of our happiness and capabilities.

Make a list of major reasons you are not moving forward. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Are you a perfectionist? Are you too hard on yourself? Do you spend more time judging yourself than you do others? Is seeking approval a major priority? Do you believe it is necessary to do everything right in order to get approval? Did or do you love your parents, or are guilt trips holding you back? If any of those are true, consider how much pain you're putting yourself through. Do you need this?

In all of our daily experiences, we make judgments of approval or disapproval about others, but we retain the option of making ourselves happy, unhappy or victims for "whatever."

Reflect on your accomplishments and how you already have made a difference in the lives of loved ones. Share your list with a friend who has judged you. Ask whether he or she agrees. It is reasonable to expect you will have a change of mind and discover what a great person you really are. Then you can do what you want to do!

Q: How can l make others happy? I am now widowed and have no close family members, but I would like to volunteer to help others. What are some options?

A: Consider joining a hospital auxiliary. They need enthusiastic individuals to help run their gift shops, to cheer up patients and often to steer and guide families to residents' rooms. Many families can't visit their loved ones if they live far away or have busy work or family schedules. Many patients are very lonely or do not have family, which makes them appreciative of visitors. Encourage them to talk about their happy times in life. Maybe hold their hands, and you will be their angel for the day.

Other volunteer opportunities include libraries, city and state welcome centers, religious groups, schools and avocation interest groups. With your attitude, you easily will find that you will make a difference!

Doug Mayberry's weekly advice column, "Dear Doug," appears at

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