Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, today’s midlife woman gets a second change at life without the duties, obligations and commitments that were pervasive in their young adult years. Midlife women today are used to freedom and opportunities that their mothers and grandmothers never dreamed possible for themselves. They are not content to fade into the background as the previous generations did.
This is the time nature has decreed that midlife women reconnect to their authentic self, unbridle their passion and live the life they were born to live. Reconnecting to your authentic self is a process of excavating your hidden talents and your heart’s desires, your hidden beliefs and your programmed “shoulds.This requires your time and attention. Observing yourself, tuning into your thoughts and feelings, journaling, meditating, practices like yoga or Tai Chi, and personal coaching, are all useful tools in getting to know yourself at a very deep level. It can be a challenge in our distraction-rich culture that blares away at us from all sides.
When I say getting to know yourself, that includes those shadow parts that have been relegated to the basement of your subconscious mind so you could fit it. This midlife transition is the time to re-discover the bitch within! In order to fully express your Authentic Self you need to make friends with her and the other hidden parts that were long ago exiled to the dungeon of your subconscious mind.
Things that fulfilled you in the past, when you were busy fitting in, may no longer be useful to the new you who is yearning to be birthed. You will get important clues as to what is working for you and what is not by paying attention to what makes you feel excited, joyful and content, and what brings you down, or leaves you feeling burdened and resentful.
Tools For Inner Exploration
Journaling is the act of writing your deepest, truest thoughts in a notebook dedicated as your journal. It is a popular and powerful way to get to know yourself. It can be a fancy journal purchased at the stationery store, or it can be a simple spiral bound school notebook. The most important thing is that you are able to write the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (so help you God) and feel safe that it will be for your eyes only.
Often what bubbles to the surface are thoughts you don’t want anyone else to ever see. Feel free to burn what you write if you are uncomfortable with the material. But, write it. The act of writing opens a channel to your inner wisdom that is a rich source of inspiration.
Journaling is a way of “cleaning out the basement” while opening you to your highest wisdom. One way to start journaling is to set aside a specific amount of time for the process and then put pen to paper. Keep your pen or pencil moving without stopping and write whatever comes to your mind, even if it seems to make no sense at the time.
You first thoughts might be something like, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t have any particular thoughts to put on paper, I feel like this might be a waste of time, I really have a lot of other things I could be doing right now.” Write all of this down, every thought that comes to mind, and keep on writing. Eventually, the clutter will clear and you’ll get to important thoughts that have been hidden in the basement of your subconscious mind.
Another use for journaling is to write down insights that come to you while you are doing other things. Be sure to date your writings, including the year. I guarantee that after some time has passed and you look back over your journal, you’ll be amazed at how profound some of your insights are.
Meditating is the act of quieting your everyday mind to let your inner wisdom bubble to the surface. It is also useful to begin to look at the random thoughts that clutter your mind on a regular basis. If it is true that what you think about, you bring about, then getting to know what you are thinking is very useful. You can’t change your thoughts if you don’t know what they are!
Letting Go Of What’s Not Working
Letting go of the baggage from the past is a freeing, yet sometimes grief evoking experience. To see that you have operated with beliefs about how life is, then to discover how limiting and false some of them are can create a “crisis of recognition.”
With no guidelines and few role models to follow, the midlife transition is a daunting journey that deserves support. Whether you go to workshops, get a coach, take some classes, read books, or develop a circle of like-minded women, support is crucial as you make this midlife transition into the second half of your life.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this transition is a normal phase of the life cycle. There is nothing weird, abnormal or “crazy” about the intensity of feelings, the shift in perspective and the desire to have a life of your own. Do yourself a favor and reach out for the support that is available if you open yourself to receive it.