© 2011 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author
Through the midlife years, we enter a whole new stage of life. We find ourselves on a journey that leads within — to deeper understanding of ourselves and the purpose of our lives.
When you look back at your early adult years, you realize you were focussed externally: getting an education, starting jobs and career, starting a family, forming lasting friendships and social networks. You were getting launched into the world.
Then, things begin to change. In midlife, you may experience a sudden or unexpected crisis. A long-term relationship falls apart. A job, once treasured, no longer satisfies. Children are growing up and becoming independent. Your body shows signs of aging and you don’t feel as resilient.
While these outer signs of transition are challenging and demand our attention, there are inner callings.
Midlife can raise issues such as:
- discontent with your life
- feeling bored with things that used to be interesting
- feeling adventurous/wanting to do something completely new
- confusion about your life or who you are
- wondering about the meaning of your life
- beginning to recognize your own mortality
These are all common experiences and often happen as part of the process of going through a big transition in midlife. You might be thinking: Is something wrong? What is happening is you are experiencing a natural life transition that brings all these issues to the fore.
When you look back to your 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s, you may see your life was very externally oriented. As we enter our midlife years, we turn our attention to ourselves and find we want to let go of old ways and what we no longer need or identify with. We are on a journey within, a journey to wholeness. It’s like gathering the pieces of the puzzle of life that we were not aware of before. This journey continues in our 50’s and 60’s as we go through the second half of life.
Unfortunately, in our culture, we do not have rites of passage for these big transitions, so often people go through this alone, or without the support or understanding of those close to them. This is a time of life that deserves to be recognized and supported.
Some therapists may suggest the following types of contemplations and actions:
- Acknowledge what stage you are at in your life.
- Take a little time out to notice: What are you feeling? What do you need? What keeps you awake at 3 a.m.?
- Have the courage to share your feelings with family or a trusted friend. Call upon any support system you have in your life.
- Journal about your current thoughts, feelings and questions you have.
- Seek the support of a counsellor or coach to help you through this time in your life.