Harness the Power of Midlife

Jun 7, 2020 | Mental Wellbeing, Midlife

Harness the Power of Midlife

In this article our Member Lucinda Leo, founder of Giraffe Life, cognitive hypnotherapy and coaching, tells us Why we need to harness the power of Midlife crises (And Stop Calling Them Crises)

If there was one thing I was sure of in my twenties, it was I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes my mother had made. I wasn’t going to get divorced once, let alone three times – no, my marriage was going to work.

I picked a kind, clever husband, had a couple of children, and moved from London to a pretty Surrey town where I imagined we’d live out the rest of our days.

Then, in 2017, my oldest child started listening to rock music, triggering a sequence of events that was to turn my life upside down.

Although my husband and I met dancing a nightclub, I’d barely listened to music during our marriage. I’m sensitive to noise, and there was more than enough of that already in our home once we had kids.

But as my 13-year-old shared his music, something inside me began to wake up. I found myself imagining the years of hedonistic excitement ahead of him, which in turn plunged me into deep mourning for my own lost youth.

Never again would I dance for 4 hours straight to indie music in a dark basement nightclub. Never would I fritter away a Saturday afternoon playing pool at my local. Never again would I feel my body pulsating among hundreds of others in a festival dance tent.

I told myself the feelings would pass. I threw myself into my work, my children, my writing. I began working out at the gym every day – it was the only way to keep my rising energy under control.

Then one day it hit me…

What if I didn’t have to keep the energy under control? What if the intense energy was there for a reason – to get me moving?

I felt as though I were standing in the middle of a glass cake stand, and someone had removed the lid. I reeled in shock as I became present to a new reality – a faraway, unknown, wilderness, beyond walls I hadn’t even realised were imprisoning me.

I didn’t make hasty decisions. I meditated. I confided in trusted friends. I talked things through with my wise, compassionate coach. I shared my feelings with my husband. And eventually, with a mixture of sadness, trepidation and excitement, I told him I wanted to separate.

I won’t pretend what followed was easy. Often I felt as though I was scrambling through that wilderness with my bare hands. At times it felt like the universe was saying, “Hey! You want a new life? How about a few more curve balls?”

I suppose some people might label all this a mid-life crisis. Those same people probably complain about the ‘terrible twos’ and horrible teenagers. They might hear about my sadness for my lost clubbing days and snap at me to get a grip and grow up.

But just as toddlerhood and adolescence are key milestones in a child’s move towards independence, perhaps a mid-life re-evaluation of the state of our lives is something we all need to go through.

Looking back, I can see that what happened to me was precipitated by a tidal wave of hormones, but even those not in the grip of perimenopause deserve our compassion and understanding, instead of the derision and contempt society so often shows to those who, after decades of behaving like a ‘sensible adult’, begin to question their lot and rebel a little.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting everyone should jack in their relationship and move to a new city. In my case those were absolutely the right choices. Twenty years living with a man who turned out to be irredeemably depressive were enough, and my new seaside city teems with kindred spirits where the suburban town of my married days had none.

But I do think that every mid-lifer should allow themselves a period of questioning and reflection, during which they take stock and consider what they want from the second half of their lives.

For many of us, midlife is the first time we have any real choice about our lives –  and that feeling can be both heady and overwhelming. Since childhood we’ve been swept along on a conveyor belt of education, career, and children (whose needs subsume our own for well over a decade).

So when we finally start to get some time for ourselves again, is it that wrong to want to play a little, to explore our own wants and desires?  Perhaps that means learning to pole-dance. Maybe it means spending £2,000 on a new bike, or dating someone fifteen years our junior. It might mean getting arrested every weekend in the cause of climate change. Or perhaps it’s taking an oil-painting class and dying our hair blue.

Whatever our flavour of midlife madness, it’s only by allowing ourselves the space and time to experiment that we can identify what’s most important to us, and that we want from the rest of our lives.

As I approach my fiftieth birthday, my life is richer and fuller than I could possibly have imagined back in my thirties – a delightful mixture of sensibly middle-aged activities like gardening, dog walks and choir, with plenty of festivals and hedonistic afternoons in the pub thrown into the mix (once we’re allowed within 2 metres of each other, anyway). I probably won’t kiss a man in his twenties again, nor wear a leather dress to go clubbing. But I’m so happy I did both those things (and plenty more besides) during my period of midlife re-awakening, because they were part of my journey to the deeply contented place I’m in now.

How will you harness the power of midlife?

Get in touch with Lucinda If you could use some help finding your path through these sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding years.

More About Lucinda Leo

Lucinda Leo is founder of Giraffe Life. Lucinda helps you live your happiest, healthiest life, with a combination of cognitive hypnotherapy and deep coaching. Cognitive hypnotherapy is an inclusive, evidence-based approach that draws on the latest research in neuroscience, NLP, and positive psychology to bring fast, permanent improvements
Research suggests that 90% of our behaviour is automatic. This explains why it can be so hard to make changes in our lives using willpower alone. Lucinda doesn’t use labels or diagnoses. Instead she’ll explore with you what’s getting in your way, and update your unconscious programming with your conscious mind’s understanding of reality.

Lucinda runs workshops and 1-1 sessions, both privately and for businesses.

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