At the age of 48, I found myself suddenly, unexpectedly, crash, bang in the middle of that familiar cliche, a midlife crisis.
I started waking up in the middle of the night, head pounding, racing thoughts and during the day, overwhelmed by dull, worrisome thoughts that I was getting old and everything new and exciting was behind me. Gradually I withdrew from life and my world became narrower as my mood became consistently lower.
This went on for a few years.
It wasn’t until I came across the three principles or an inside out approach that I could see any way out of this. Reading and exploring these life-changing ideas, I became more aware of the nature of my thoughts and their relationship with my feelings.
Thoughts come and go, some good, some difficult or upsetting.
These thoughts are 100% responsible for how I feel. Sometimes I fall into the trap of believing things outside me, like having a row with my pre-teen daughter, an unexpected large bill are the cause of my any stress or worry.
But my feelings aren’t a direct, objective reaction to any of this but a reaction to my thoughts about these situations and my interpretation. The downs I’d experienced were due largely to believing my thoughts, thinking they were reality, a true reflection of my midlife worth and future life prospects.
But these thoughts were never the truth.
When I finally deep down “got” my feelings were due to believing my faulty, inaccurate thinking – this realisation was huge. I realised the feelings these thoughts generate (thoughts about my age, the menopause, midlife) come and go. Some days they’re focused around the new opportunities that I can now see surround me. Other days, my mind is crowded by preoccupations about what’s being taken away (smooth skin, youthful looks).
Now sometimes, yes I still worry about drooping and sagging body bits and regret past opportunities but I know these thoughts and feelings will pass. And if it’s a useful thought about needing to take more exercise or eat less chocolate, I take action without letting any thought run me down for days.
We all have up and down moods – that’s part of being human, not a reflection of how great a person I am or not. And when a bad mood strikes, I don’t need to try and think my way out of it, just simply let it be and pass in its own time.
My thoughts aren’t who I am, I’m someone far richer and deeper than this. And I’ve found as I listen less to my thoughts and take them less seriously, my mind has become quieter. I find it easier to tap into the deep part of me, a place that’s always available for inspiration, always doing fine no matter what crisis or dramas show up in my life.
This has been significant and life changing and as I started to feel more comfortable in myself again, I began to question what I wanted to do with my career.
I now coach other women and sharing my experiences to help them out of the mess I’d fallen into and which I subsequently discovered, hit so many of my friends of a similar age. And I’ve also created an online presence with my business. I know it can seem as if the online world is full of bright, glossy-perfect young things and for me, concerns about the technology, creating a website, marketing on social media, seemed like a huge hurdle. But what I came to see was there’s always a way to figure those problems out.
I also made sure I reminded myself that I’ve had decades of valuable work experience (let alone wisdom and experience gained from what life had thrown at me over the years). It’s just about being open to the possibility that we can learn, change and adapt. And we certainly don’t need to let lack of confidence in our own abilities or fears we’ve left it too late to be the reason why we don’t start a journey of entrepreneurship.
To overcome my midlife crisis, I haven’t needed to leave my husband and daughter, travel the world and dye my hair orange (although the last two are still interesting possibilities). Instead I’ve seen it as a chance to move in a new, fascinating work direction.
It’s taken an internal shift, a fundamental change of how I see my reality. A huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders and in the end it didn’t require effort or work. Now I know I’m free to start creating an exciting future, one that offers more possibilities than I could ever have dreamt of five years ago.
And if you’re feeling stuck in midlife, it’s not too late. Find those opportunities that are going to let you use your amazing life skills and experience. It’s time to embrace a new midlife chapter.