It is a term that elicits a lot of reactions from people—those who are in it, those approaching it and even those who are past it.
Midlife has gotten a bad rap.
“Midlife” is actually a misnomer in this day and age. It is a psychological, emotional, spiritual and cultural phenomenon that hits us around our late thirties to early forties even though many of us are living longer and healthier lives these days than the average eighty years.
There are certainly aspects to it that are connected to our physical bodies, especially for women who feel the impact of peri-menopause and menopause, but even women who have undergone a hysterectomy at a younger age feel the pull of the midlife experience by the time there are forty candles on the cake.
It often starts with an inner urge – a feeling that a change is coming.
Curiosity or concern might pop up as you wonder, “What is going on with me?” You might feel a little scared and maybe a little excited. It causes us to question if we are at the right place in our careers and in our lives, and to look to what is next.
Some women are launched into the experience of midlife as a result of dramatic life experiences:
- becoming an empty-nester
- losing a spouse or partner to divorce or death
- a career road-block
- or maybe the loss of a parent or sibling
These kinds of major life transitions can make many women feel disconnected and disoriented.
Midlife as a Gateway
However one arrives at the realization of being at midlife, it is the threshold to a whole different experience of oneself. It is also the point at which we truly confront the question: “What is my life purpose?” As we mature into the process of sorting out our conflicting desires and impulses, the question becomes a clear voice from inside demanding that we identify what it is that we truly want in our lives.
“Am I living the life that I truly want to live?”
Over time the coping styles and defense mechanisms of our childhood and young adulthood give way to a deeper questioning. There is a truth inside that wants to express itself.
Some people move through this process and come out the other side with a sense of clarity and peace of mind. For others it is a crisis. However, understanding the process can open the door to the excitement of this time of life – a time of re-igniting old passions and finding new passions. It is a time to explore and reach for big dreams, to the awakening of deep inner wisdom.
As we age, we seem to become invisible in our culture, and herein lies a paradox. While a predominant message in our culture may lead us to experience ourselves as more invisible (and perhaps powerless), an inner power is emerging and we see ourselves more clearly than ever. The conscious choice to be present can banish our confusion and release our energy. When we embrace the freedom to speak and live our true selves, it becomes a passionate commitment.
Using the Midlife Experience for Positive Change
It means being willing to bear the challenge of insight and to confront what is no longer working for us, which can be difficult for some.
But by coming into the full experience of ourselves, we unburden our souls and clear the way to live on purpose rather than randomly. We feel true to ourselves and complete rather than feeling that there is something missing. By remembering that we are the owners of our lives, we become powerful beyond measure.
As we let go of what has become familiar and move toward what is to be, we experience both a loss and an incredible craving. We grieve the loss of the patterns, the roles we have had in our lives up to this point. We long for new meanings and a deeper sense of meaning. This letting go allows the soul to open to new personal and spiritual growth. We discover previously hidden and emerging talents, desires and confidence. The longings for meaning, integrity, and wholeness are driving forces in midlife.
Being present with these driving forces provides a promise of renewed clarity, enthusiasm and strength.
Full Circle Institute’s A Time of My Own™ programs give you the opportunity to explore and understand your experience and get clarity about who you want to become and what you want to accomplish at this profound time in your life!
For more information and to register for a one-day workshop, visit A Time of My Own™ .