Written by Colin
I’m often asked what I believe about mid-life transition; the critical bridge that connects the first half of life to the second. Here I’ve captured three of my core beliefs. As you read them see how they fit with your experience.
1. Mid-life is a gift
Firstly, I firmly believe the mid-life period is trying to take us all somewhere special – back home to our real Self (with a capital S). The overall purpose of mid-life is to allow ourselves to be transformed by it. Although it’s often difficult to see it at the time, mid-life offers us a magical opportunity – to let go of the person we think we are and become the person we were meant to be. This is a journey back to our original psychological address.
Mid-life is a new birth, a new beginning, a chance to start over again. It’s a time to pursue forgotten dreams and put yourself on the path to a more meaningful life. This is the good news. The bad news is that many people do not enjoy the transformation process and through lack of understanding attempt to avoid, resist or deny the opportunity mid-life presents. To take the journey is to undertake a certain degree of suffering. The amount of suffering varies from person to person. When we start to redefine ourselves, we suffer the loss of much of what society taught us growing up of ‘whom’ and ‘how’ we should be.
We often have to let go of much of what we bring into mid-life. We find ourselves having to adjust to new situations, to let go of people, activities, and things that have dominated our life up to that point. Letting go is hard and painful but there is a good reason for all this suffering.
3. Our smiles only come out of hiding when we do what is important
Secondly, I believe our smiles only arrive in our forties, fifties and sixties when we do what’s most important to us. This is what living an authentic life really means. Before we hit mid-life we’re far too busy to figure out what’s important to us. The curriculum learnt in the first half of life is usually based on someone else’s dream. Once we jettison this curriculum we’re free to design a second half of life that’s aligned to our inner truth. This means reaching for higher levels of self-fulfilment. Some of the answers can be found by:
- Becoming clear on your core values and living your life in accordance with them. Once your core values are fixed they become part of the “non-negotiable” part of you.
- Letting go of your younger self with all it’s personas and finding out who you really are.
- Accepting yourself completely, warts and all.
- Becoming self-care centred and learning to say “no” to other people’s demands by setting clear boundaries.
- Discovering your true passion in life and living the life you were born to live.
My experience has shown me that once someone is clear on what’s most important to them and they align their outer behaviour with that inner truth, two significant things happen. Firstly, their life automatically starts flowing in a direction that’s exquisitely meaningful to them; and secondly, they handle better whatever challenges life throws at them.
3. The answers you seek lie inside you
Thirdly, I believe that the best I (or anyone in this field) can do for you is be skilled enough to direct you to the place where the answers you seek lie – inside you. By the time we arrive at mid-life most of us have come to the conclusion that what we’ve been seeking (happiness, contentment, fulfilment) can’t be found outside of us and we therefore start the journey inward.
Going inward and finding out who you really are so you can create a world that’s aligned with your authentic self is a very personal thing. It’s both a journey no guru can map out for you and a journey no one can take for you. The mid-life journey has been called the “pathless path” because there is no map to follow; each individual’s journey is different. There are no set stages for us to pursue. No seven step formulas to follow. Walt Whitman summed it up brilliantly when he wrote, “Not I, not anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself.”
At best we can find signposts from other peoples mid-life experiences that help point the way and explain the terrain we may have to navigate to find our way back home. We can learn from the great wisdom traditions that show us ways to create our own internal compasses that help us stay on course. Ultimately, the path to the real self and wholeness is unique to every individual. It’s your quest. The process is like holding a piece of thread as it leads you from step to step.
This gradual awakening slowly guides you back to the part of you that’s real. What starts as the smallest hint of inner strength will quickly grow and flourish. As you find that inner voice and begin to listen to it you’ll unearth who you really are and discover answers to your own fundamental questions. This is what the second half of life is for and what it expects of us.
How do my beliefs match with what you believe? Write and let me know. I would love to here from you.