Midlife a Time to Awaken

Most of us have hopes and dreams which give us a sense of purpose and structure but as time goes by what once gave our life meaning shifts, our children grow up and our roles change or become redundant. Work which may have once fulfilled us may suddenly becomes a chore, relationships change or break down altogether. And for some of us our big dream never came to fruition, leaving us wondering, What now?

This time in life is often described as a midlife crisis, a better way to describe it is an unravelling, as it’s a time when we question everything about ourselves, our lives, who we are and what we believe. Of course, some people go through periods like this earlier in life but what typifies a midlife unravelling is the life stage, and it’s often associated with some change in our lives.

Midlife unravelling is an inside job. Those closest to you may have no idea what’s going on. You may feel apathetic, fearful, anxious, despairing, depressed, confused and out of control. Or, your might just feel lost. The intensity of this time varies for each one of us. It feels as if this is something we can’t control, manage or fix but, if we are open and willing to learn it can lead us to the best time in life.

Not everyone goes through a midlife unravelling. Midlife is generally classed as the time in life from mid to late 40s and 50s, although some people experience it as early as 35 and some in their 60s as it occurs because of a life stage.

I experienced a midlife unravelling in my late forties when I felt every one of the abovementioned emotions. What led me out of my crisis was my curiosity, I actively went looking for a better way to live and discovered that what made me happy had changed. Up until that time my life had been very goal focused. I became aware that achievement and success didn’t necessarily equate with being happy and so I chose to shift my focus onto being the ideal person I wanted to be. That discovery led me to find my passion and the work I do today.

Midlife unravelling is not something that is experienced by just women, having been a life coach for 20 years, I’ve worked with many men who have been through this transition as well.

It’s so easy to cling to our old lives, to the familiar even when that life doesn’t fulfil us any more usually because it’s not as scary as the unknown.

How we handle this period of discontent or disconnection, determines how difficult it will be. If we refuse to look at anything that makes us uncomfortable or try to be perfect by working harder and longer, while pushing our emotions down, this transition becomes tougher than it needs to be. Some people in fact never fully recover and live their lives accepting that the way they feel is all there is.

My books, and all the work I do resulted from questions I asked myself. Every time I don’t know what to do, feel lost, confused or just need guidance I ask questions. Some people say, Who are you asking? And the answer depends upon your belief system. Some people ask God, the Universe, themselves, life. As a coach I have seen first-hand the power that one question can have on a person’s life.

If you are going through a period of confusion in mid, or even late life, ask yourself these questions. Then listen for the answers which can come in many different ways.

  • What’s missing from my life?
  • What matters to me?
  • Who could I be?
  • Is it too late?
  • If my life was rich and meaningful what would that look like?
  • What’s standing in my way?

Unravelling provides us with an opportunity to awaken to what our hearts and souls are calling us to do. Our heart is our compass, it knows what makes us happy and our soul knows what makes our life matter. By being honest with ourselves and viewing life through different filters, we can recognise and share our unique gifts, and this is what adds meaning to our lives.

Midlife is a doorway that leads to the best time in life, if you are ready to step through it.

No tree tries to become a certain kind of tree. No flower tries to become a certain kind of flower. The tree and the flower open up to the sun and soak up water. Thus, they grow into themselves. No judgment. No expectations. No commentary. Your task is the same. If you can stop trying so hard to become who you think you should be, and instead commit to understanding and nourishing yourself, you will bloom into whatever kind of person you are.
Vironika Tugaleva, The Art of Talking to Yourself

 

 

Finding Your Calling

We spend a great deal of our lives stumbling around in the dark complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding then something happens that sheds a light, and if we are open and willing, we have an awakening that leads us to our calling.

When I was ten years old I prayed for a baby, even at that young age I knew I was meant to be a mother. If I couldn’t have had children I would have adopted, fostered or even started an orphanage in an impoverished nation. My calling was that strong. As an adult I knew I wanted to write. Initially my desire came from a need for recognition, but I also had a very strong desire to share what I had learnt with others. Now I write in my mind every day. It’s something I love doing and I can’t help but write, and I would continue to write even if no-one read my work.

We don’t just have one calling, we have multiple callings which we are called to act upon at different life stages. A calling can also be called life purpose, or vocation. It is something that your soul is calling you to do and until you follow that calling you may feel dissatisfied, as if there is something missing.

Some people expect that when they discover their calling they will be happy, that everything in their life will work, but that isn’t necessarily so. Knowing your calling is one thing, acting on it is another. When you follow your calling you develop strengths that enable you to share your gifts with others. Along the way there will be lessons to be learnt and fears that need to be faced as well as joy, fulfilment and a feeling that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do. A calling is always about growing to your full potential and it always supports you to evolve.

You are either moving towards or away from your calling

I once worked with a client who had recently retired and she was feeling lost and directionless. This feeling always precedes an awakening. She had a project that she was working on that had the potential to make her a substantial amount of money, the problem was it didn’t fulfil her, and she didn’t really need the money. As we talked I became aware that up until this time in her life most of her happiness had been derived from her achievements, mostly work related. While achievement can be a way of following your heart, it is generally ego driven. There comes a time when, if we are to grow spiritually, we need to leave our egos behind. I encouraged this woman to let go of her need for achievement and to focus on what made her happy in other ways and to build new strengths.

We get signs to awaken all of the time. These come in the form of problems, tragedy, personal crises. Most people miss these signs because they engage in habits that keep them stuck such as, complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding. Life is always guiding you to grow and develop your gifts, if you are willing to take up the challenge.

My first awakening occurred when my son died when he was 5, I was 33. I knew that there was nothing I could do to change what happened so I made a commitment to make a difference with my life, to do what he would have done if he had lived, as well as what I was called to do. I have never regretted that choice – it changed my life.

When we ignore our calling we often feel unhappy, confused, or more stressed. Sometimes our personalities change. For about 20 years I was in love with a beautiful man who had so much potential. As life challenges came his way he blamed, abdicated responsibility and avoided anything he didn’t want to face. He eventually became someone I didn’t even like and didn’t want to spend any time with. It’s unfortunate that I have seen so many people, who I once liked or admired go down this path as well.

If you have been searching for your calling, but still don’t know what it is, ask yourself what are you resisting. We resist our calling when we are afraid. You may still be an ethical, nice person who on the outside seems okay, but if you are observant, you will notice the little changes that are occurring within you. You may not laugh as much, you may struggle with your moods, you may experience health, relationship, work or financial problems. You may have become more cynical or lost your joy.

Finding your calling isn’t something that usually happens overnight, although it can, if you are open. It’s a journey that you can start at any time, you don’t need to wait for a wake up call.

Step 1. Look at the challenges you face, these are signs

By identifying your challenges you can then choose values that will help you grow.

For the past couple of years life has been telling me to value myself, so the value I chose to work with is respect, especially self-respect. Anything I give to myself I always extend to others. Life has also been encouraging me to be patient. As I act upon these values I find I react less, and other people’s moods don’t spoil my day. I am calmer and I know this is who I need to be to spread my message of hope and joy.

A calling is never about getting or achievement, it is always about growing and giving.

Step 2. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a tool that supports us to manage stress. It can also help us identify our needs, what makes us happy and what takes us off track.

Focus on being courageous, willing and accepting and look for ways to actively demonstrate these traits every single day. Ask for guidance as to what you are meant to do. A calling doesn’t have to be around a career, but it will always be around giving. Callings come in all shapes and sizes and can change at different life stages.

On a typical day take three minutes to walk around the room or space that you are in. Do this without any particular goal in mind. Just walk wherever attracts your attention.

When your three minutes is up write down where your mind went during that time.  Did you:

Have thoughts about the past?
Think about the future or jobs you have to do?
Replay a conversation you had with someone?
Focus on how frustrated you feel?
Look for a solution to a problem?
Criticise yourself?

This exercise gives you an idea of where your attention is placed throughout the day and the many different things that distract you from being present. What can you do to ensure that your attention is on things that bring joy to your life?

Step 3. Look for positive way to bring more joy into your daily life

The more joyful you are, the easier it becomes to recognise your individual calling. Actively seek ways to do something that brings joy, it doesn’t matter how simple it is, it is all about how that action makes you feel.

One day you will notice that you didn’t find your calling – your calling found you.