Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

By Anna Moore, London Daily Mail

…continued from Wednesday….

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL A MIDLIFE CRISIS COMING ON

  1. Hold it up to the light. Really examine your feelings to accurately identify their source. Which area (or areas) are leaving you dissatisfied? What thoughts and fears are making you anxious?
  2. Examine your options. Once you’re certain of the areas you’d like to change, think creatively. You may not be able to walk out of your job, but could you negotiate one day a week working from home so that you can begin to plan other things in your life?
  1. Make SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound. ‘I want to lose lots of weight’ or, ‘I want fun back in my marriage’ are too vague. ‘I want to lost two stone by the end of the year’ or, ‘I want to go on two date nights a month with my husband’ are much more achievable.
  2. Pick up old passions. What did you used to enjoy that you’ve let drift? The midlife crisis carries a strong sense of loss for the person you once were. Building pleasure back into your days can lighten the mood.
  1. Share with others. Be as honest as possible and explain the reasons behind any plans to the people who will be impacted. It often helps to speak to an older friend who may have come out the other side of a potential midlife crisis, too.
  1. Take responsibility. Blaming others, burying feelings with destructive behavior or telling yourself it’s too late will add to your hopelessness. Accept responsibility for where you are now and start chipping away with small changes.

Likewise, when it comes to a long-term ‘middle-aged marriage’, beware of blaming your partner for all your problems. ‘It feels easier to blame the nearest person than to look internally,’ says Marshall. Invest time in identifying relationship problems and repairing them: ‘Be curious about your partner, make them a priority and acknowledge the good things in your relationship.’

Popular forums such as Mumsnet can also provide valuable advice. On one thread, a user approaching 40 and ‘so very bored with myself’ appeals for help. Others immediately identify. ‘I’m nearly 40 and feel that life is a cycle of cleaning, working, watching TV, etc,’ writes another mum. ‘I feel I want an adventure. I would like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in America but husband wouldn’t come – in fact, I think he might divorce me. But with my daughter leaving home soon, I keep looking at maps and Googling lightweight tents!’

This leads to streams of advice from others who’ve ‘been there’. ‘I got involved in political activism,’ writes one. ‘You have to find something you care about.’ One is launching her own business; someone else has signed up for a late-life degree, while another tells how she has taken up running. ‘Four years later and I am doing my first Ironman triathlon. The sense of achievement I get from being strong and fit is amazing. It has definitely chased away the midlife crisis!’

Miranda also took up running and found it a powerful tonic. She signed up for new challenges that utilised her strengths and wisdom. She joined a lobby group, the boards of various art galleries and became a school governor. She stopped drinking – ‘you crash too much’ – and went to live events as they give her pleasure. ‘One good thing about having a crisis in middle age is that by then you know your strengths and you’re confident enough to drop things you’re not bothered by,’ she says.

You also have the ticking clock to spur you on. Caroline Kendall, 57, was running a restaurant with her husband when she began to feel the need for something more. ‘I’d dropped out of university and built up a great business, but when I turned 40 I started to wonder, “Is this it?”’ she says. ‘The work wasn’t challenging; I wasn’t using my brain and I had a feeling that I hadn’t finished what I’d started at university.’

At 50, with her husband’s support, Caroline enrolled on a part-time degree with the Open University. It took her six years to complete (‘from October to June, every weekend was taken up with study’) and Caroline now has a new career working for a charity in volunteer management. ‘It would have been easy to keep going with my old life; it takes courage to change. But the achievement when I got my degree was overwhelming. It has empowered and changed me in so many ways,’ she says.

And it’s not over. ‘I’d like to do an MA,’ says Caroline. ‘I’m on a journey and it’s not finished yet.’

 

* ***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus