I love this quote from Brené Brown which expresses how during this time of life, we are called to express our authentic self in the world (apart from our history /conditioning and the roles we have played). The period of Midlife spans over many years (usually from about 40-65 years of age).
It can be a gentle awakening or for others, it can feel like a “Midlife Crisis”. Our defense mechanisms no longer seem to work – often resulting in depression, anxiety and loss of meaning. The Jungian Analyst, James Hollis, says, “the distress should be welcomed, as it signifies a real self that yearns to be expressed, bringing with it a powerful drive and a message of renewal.” In midlife, the magical thinking of ‘the child’, and the heroic thinking of early adulthood is replaced with the awareness of time, and how short and precious life is. This awareness can bring a longing for meaning and purpose in our lives.
Some issues that we can face at midlife:
- A feeling that there “must be more to life’ – bored, stuck and lacking in direction
- The loss of a job, or desire for a change in career
- Dealing with aging parents and the loss of parents and loved one’s
- Disillusionment with our relationships, and the possibility of divorce
- Health Issues
- Children leaving home, and starting to develop separate lives
- Having to accept our changing bodies, and getting older in a society that values youth and outer beauty
- The desire for new adventures
Midlife is an opportunity to befriend oneself – to get to know yourself in more depth. It’s a time where we might feel the ‘call to adventure’ – a desire to travel, to start a new project, job, hobby or even a new relationship.
This is our natural calling to grow into an expanded version of ourselves. This time in our lives can also bring much confusion and difficult feelings. It is therefore important to access and grow self-compassion during this life-phase.
Midlife can also be a time of experiencing greater self-acceptance, inner peace and acceptance of life.
Some useful questions to reflect on at Midlife:
- What qualities do I value?
- What is meaningful to me in my life?
- What would give my life a sense of purpose?
- What do I need to let go of (e.g. relationships that are no longer serve me, letting my kids go off and explore their own lives, unfulfilled dreams and disappointments)?
- What holds you back? (e.g. a negative mindset, too much clutter).
- What are the opportunities for me in this next life phase?
- What makes me feel alive/ energized?
- What do I want to say YES and NO to?
- What are some new activities/ ideas/ mindsets I wish to explore?
These challenges or longings at Midlife can lead us into a phase of deeper reflection and renewal, as we answer the call to grow. It’s is a time where you might find it helpful to reach out to friends or to work with a Therapist, Life Coach or Mentor, as you navigate this life passage.