Complex changes occur at midlife. This period of metamorphosis is ripe for beginnings and endings. Children leave home and aging parents need attention. Illnesses and health challenges surface. Careers and work that once fit perfectly suddenly feel unfulfilling. The strong marriage we took for granted is on the rocks, and either we need to fix it or file for divorce. And all these changes seem to be happening simultaneously.
The changes aren’t just occurring in our outer life. We morph as we approach menopause. A cascade of internal hormonal fluctuations impacts body and mind. Brain fog replaces mommy brain. While our daughters face the freshman 15, we battle the menopausal 10. Anxiety, moodiness and insomnia increase and libido decreases. We’re literally riding a perimenopausal merry-go-round, but instead of horses we’re sitting on erratically shifting levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that leave us stressed, harried and feeling like things are falling apart.
The good news is internal and external changes are a spiritual wakeup call from the universe. As the ground beneath us shifts, we’re offered an opportunity to enter a new stage of being, to start fresh, reinvent, tap into our inner light and grow & glow.
The down side of this new dawning… it’s disconcerting and terrifying. Like a colt taking its first wobbly steps, we feel doubtful and uncertain. The old strategies we used to navigate our life and feel better aren’t working. That unsettled feeling forces us to ask tough, probing questions about our identity like: “Who exactly am I,” “Where do I fit in,” and “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
As I mentioned in my previous post, I call it the Chick Effect. At midlife the cozy, comfortable nest egg we built starts to crack. Internally, we feel claustrophobic, confused and restless and long for space, meaning and purpose. There’s a desire to evolve from the inside out into something fresh, substantial and new, which sets the stage for shell shock. Change occurs in our external world to crack us open so we can rebirth, rebuild and reinvent ourselves.
Here’s some more good news. This isn’t your mother’s mournful midlife. Rest and retire? Forget about it! Midlife is a fresh beginning or it can be if you harness change to create a new life you love.
Forty years ago when my oldest brother left for college, my Mom felt her reason for being (i.e. Motherhood) was ending. All she could do was mourn. She’d go down to my brother’s room, play his records and cry. In contrast, when my daughter left for college I was sad and emotional, but I also felt celebratory. Both of us were starting exciting adventures. Suddenly, I had more space and time on my hands to feed my urges and desires — to make a difference in the world, work on my business and take care of myself.
Trust me, while change feels crazy and uncomfortable it’s exactly what you need to grow and glow. When we face the fears ignited by change and rise we build self-confidence and can leverage this power to write our next glorious chapter.
Life reinvention is like an operation, when you’re on the gurney, there’s no such thing as minor surgery. Yes, change is turbulent and emotional, but if you listen to your heart you’ll move in the right direction and build a fulfilling second act. Like an Oreo cookie, the good stuff is in the middle. There’s a world filled with sweet possibilities, waiting for you.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to use during periods of change to help you soar.
1. Don’t Judge Yourself
Refrain from blaming or beat up yourself when things go wrong. Self-criticism just creates stress. Rather than trying to be perfect accept yourself flaws and all. When your self-loathing demon surfaces remember everyone is imperfect and makes mistakes. It’s part of being human.
2. Don’t Run From Feelings
In the face of rapid change it’s tempting to ignore uncomfortable feelings and emotions and go right into problem solving mode or try to distract yourself to feel better. Instead of fleeing, keep the faith. There’s nothing wrong, this is just the way life is. Slow down. Take time to integrate and learn from this experience. Ask yourself: What is life teaching me, and how can I heal myself?
3. Don’t Ignore Self-care
During periods of intense change it’s tempting to skip meals, live on fast food or skimp on sleep and exercise. While you may feel you don’t have the time, during periods of change self-care is needed more than ever.
1. Discover Your Seat of Ease
When you feel harried and stressed from all that change, relax your body and mind. Take three deep breaths. Visualize your body being filled with light, and notice how your energy shifts. Remind yourself: Every day, every moment is an opportunity to relax and let life flow.
2. Practice Self-compassion
The essence of self-compassion is treating yourself the way you would a good friend. Be kind to yourself rather than judgmental. Recognize when you’re suffering and give yourself what you need. Remind yourself that suffering is part of life, we all experience fear, challenges and change.
3. Connect With the Divine
Intense change is a spiritual invitation to connect with the Divine and discover your soul. There are as many ways to connect with God as there are people on the planet. Energy work such as yoga, Tai Chi or Reiki offers a powerful roadmap to wake up your spirit. You can explore the religion you were brought up with or try a new spiritual path. The key to connecting with the Divine is: Let go of trying to control everything in your life and make space for God to sail your ship.
Need help navigating change? Let’s connect and explore how you can create a life filled with grace, beauty and ease. To book a free consult click HERE.
Its hard to know at my age with having mh issues if the symptoms are the menopause,severe anxiety/depression or the medication.
Perhaps, rather than thinking about what the symptoms are caused by (they’re also probably interconnected) consider your whole self and what you need to feel better. Notice how your body, mind, heart & spirit are feeling and think about what action or choice, no matter how small, you can take to shift to a better place. Does that make sense?
There is so much validity of this for me presently. It makes me feel that I am certainly not alone! At 43 I imagine some of it could be physiological. It is so frustrating to suddenly have doubts in life about things that were certain just a short time ago. I am very self judgmental which I feel is very negative. I have recently started meditation and am about to start a diploma in mindfulness which I am really looking forward to doing. I am going to certainly use your 3 deep breath strategy and I certainly need to show more self compassion.
Very interesting read, thank you.
Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
Love your point about not feeling alone. (That’s the common humanity element of self-compassion) Realizing that millions of other women feel like you can help you feel less isolated and more comfortable with your situation. It’s also great that you recognize the self-judgment. See if you can offer yourself kindness rather than judgment.
Namaste, Dr. Ellen
Many thanks, I’ll certainly try. Thanks again for your posts.
I love the way you speak your mind, its really down to earth and uplifting. Thanks so much for your valuable inspiration that keeps me going when I am feeling down and depressed.
You’re very welcome, Melanie. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I’m glad that I’m inspiring you. Light & love, Dr. Ellen
This is beautiful Ellen and really inspires a glad curiosity about the future and tame fear and regret. Thank you.
My pleasure, Lisa. Let me know how it goes. Wishing you much peace and happiness and way less fear and regret, Ellen
Thank you! I’ve spent years in perpetual judgement of myself, my life situation and of those around me. Midlife is now time to break free and embrace all of the blessings that surround me. I am so thankful to live during this time of connectivity, as I now realize I am not alone. Thank you.
Hi Edith, my pleasure and I’m glad the post helped you. Midlife can be an amazing, freeing time of transformation. It’s high time for those of us in this rich period to be authentic, have more fun and claim our happiness. Blessings, Dr. Ellen
Hi Dr. Ellen!
At 45 I began my rapid changes. I had to sell my home of 30 years and move across town. I went back to college (and finally graduated!) I got married. I got a new job. My only child turned 21. Started losing my hair and eyebrows. Insomnia. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and falling asleep during the day. All kinds of stuff happening in a period of 3 years.
I started with gratitude for the changes I was/am going through. A lot of them are positive so I focus on that. I began being grateful every morning for the little things that are really huge and basic like a roof over my head, food to eat, a family I love very much, my health (focusing on the positive) and safety. I am also ever so grateful for the nature I enjoy, especially the birds I love to watch at my feeder.
Being grateful and thanking my Creator helped me to realize all the wonderful blessings I have. This makes me feel happy. And this is just the beginning for me.
Positive Affirmations have worked wonders for me. I have lots of them in a shortcut on my phone and I have my favorites that I say every time I use the bathroom – they are on post-it notes on my bathroom mirror.
I have been practicing positive affirmations and collecting positive quotes for months now and these help keep me focused on the best of me.
I have also taken up yoga. I can’t explain it but there is something very spiritual about yoga for me and for many others. I already believed in and practiced gentle, daily stretching but yoga shows me more healing (yoga replaced physical therapy for my aching shoulder/arm) ways to stretch, balance, and meditate.
I still struggle with self confidence. My confidence level has always been low but I am working on it continuously and am improving. My self image regarding my body is always a challenge but again, I am becoming more accepting of certain things. I am practicing self love and compassion.
Thank you again, Dr. Ellen for your passionate work. I am greatly influenced by your posts.
Hi Emmie, thank you for sharing your story. I know that many other women will resonate with what you’ve experienced and how you are constantly working on yourself. Sounds like you are powerfully on your path. I agree with you regarding yoga it is a profound life changer and can really help you harmonize body, mind, heart & spirit. Thank you as well for your kind words. I’m glad my work is helping you. Light & love, Dr. Ellen
Good post. I am going through many of these issues as well..
Keep up the incredible job !! Lovin’ it!
This was a wonderful post. At 50 I am reinventing my life. Thanks for the DO’S
For years I was not good to myself and now I need to be.
Glad you liked it, Renee and are reinventing your life. Keep being kind to yourself. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Ellen
Hi I Carn, t help feeling heartfelt surprise at the nice caring posts left by women with similar issues to me, I am not alone in this change and feelings of loss of me .I think in a way i am everybody’s doer, but I haven’t been my own champion, I miss me if that makes any sense. Thankyou for a helpful post
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mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.
Beautiful share. Thank you for this.
Thank you Diana for sharing. Glad you like the article.
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It was practical. Keep on posting! https://ow.ly/qTqn309WHJh
you say: Children leave home and aging parents need attention. Illnesses and health challenges surface. Careers and work that once fit perfectly suddenly feel unfulfilling. The strong marriage we took for granted is on the rocks, and either we need to fix it or file for divorce. And all these changes seem to be happening simultaneously.
I never had a career that fit perfectly, then I was made redundant anyway.
Brain fog replaces mommy brain. While our daughters face the freshman 15, we battle the menopausal 10. Anxiety, moodiness and insomnia increase and libido decreases. In Britain we have a very different system, we don’t have freshman, but yes teenagers (if we have them) will be more demanding.
I do think that the issues you mention are true for many women between 45-57 ish.
The only creator I have are my parents, i don’t believe in any outside “force” for bringing me into existence.
Positive Affirmations are really useful, I ought to practice them.
Thanks for sharing, Jan.
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