Several years ago I watched an episode of Oprah in which she talked with Dr. Christiane Northrup about menopause and midlife. Northrup made an observation that has stayed with me: midlife is the time to “put away childish things”.
Whether it’s the passing of the years, or the realisation our days are definitely numbered, I agree with Northrup that midlife particularly calls us to truly become an adult. There are few things less attractive than a smart, self-aware midlife woman unconsciously behaving like a self-centred, petulant child – so out of character!
At midlife we need to let go of patterns, habits and ways of being which no longer serve us, including the behaviours which have us be less than we are capable of, in the way we care for ourselves, interact with others and go after our dreams.
It’s time to stop indulging in self-pity and self-flagellation when we, or our expectations, don’t live up to how we think things ‘should be’ by now (except of course when the truly adult thing to do is to indulge in a glorious, deliberate and time-limited pity party!).
Midlife is about getting real, and deliberately crafting a life that reflects who we are and what matters most to us. A life that is both meaningful and – dare we suggest – delicious.
Getting real doesn’t mean donning age-appropriate clothing or engaging in specifically age-appropriate activities – whatever that means these days! It’s about the attitude and approach we bring to our choices. It’s about being deliberate, rather than defeatist, in choosing how we respond to what life throws at us – even though at times that can be pretty crappy. It’s also about being prepared to be open, vulnerable, scared beyond belief and still take action anyway.
Doing so means that most of us will need to make some adjustments to the nature and tone of the conversations we have with ourselves and our Beloveds. It means having the courage to say: “I was wrong”; “I’m overwhelmed” or “I’m not okay with this”.
We need to stop being our own worst critics and start talking to ourselves with compassion, humour and firmness. Talking as one would to a beloved friend who has temporarily forgotten just how truly wonderful and capable they are, and are letting themselves down by temporarily behaving in ways unworthy of their wisdom and experience.
Playing big truly is the name of the midlife game. But it doesn’t mean we need to make radical changes or move to Patagonia. It’s about aligning how we behave with who we know we are capable of being.
The wonderful thing about this is even if external circumstances aren’t great right now, we can still take heart from how we choose to show up. Granted it won’t necessarily change the outcome, but I’d put money on the fact that, regardless, we will feel better about ourselves – maybe even grown-up and a little proud of how we handled things.
So how have you deliberately chosen to show up recently that’s made you proud? Go on – inspire us below!