How to be your own Midlife Hero
Midlife is the point in our lives when we can re-connect with our inner power, says Taiwo Dayo-Payne, coach and founder of The New 5ifty. In this article Taiwo explains how we can all be our own midlife heros.
In the days of yore, or back when we engaged in face to face networking, I would inevitably be asked what I do and when I said, ‘I’m a transformational coach working with people in midlife,’ would usually get one of two responses:
‘Oh that sounds interesting’ and we would chat for a bit or ‘What, you mean like midlife crisis, arf, arf.’
In the early days I would feel a bit irritated with the latter and then as time went on compassion crept in, and now I just smile. I smile with compassion because as time went on I recognised that arf, arf was just their way of saying ‘help me understand what I’m going through,’, ‘help me make sense of these feelings that I’ve been taught I should feel embarrassed about, arf, arf.’
Online searches on the word midlife inevitably lead to the word crisis because that’s how it’s generally perceived. The misconceptions of midlife are of women battling mood swings and hot flashes and of men wearing leather trousers and the sports car of their dreams.
Clichés that make it difficult for some to articulate what they may be experiencing through the lens of midlife or difficult to associate those feelings with this period of change.
As a woman deep in her middle years I look back and see how challenging some of those years have been. More than that I see the opportunities I’ve gained to experience my life in a way I would never have dreamed could be possible, which now seem so normal, so natural.
Midlife for me has been more about finding myself again, like I’m remembering who I was, how I was, and returning to that person in the way a voyager returns home after a long journey.
And what I’ve observed over the years of working with people who are making their way through midlife, what I’ve seen of my friends and family is this need to reconnect with our real inner power, our true self and not the person we had to become in order to simply get things done or, in some cases, to survive.
Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, The Hero’s Journey is where the Hero is called to leave their ‘home’ to face a challenge that will change them. They return ‘home’ and this transformation is incorporated in a way that enriches their ordinary world.
This resonates so much with midlife.
The Midlife Hero’s Journey is where you, as the Hero, are called to leave the home of who you think you are and face the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that bring you back to your true Self.
A moving away from what was comfortable, working through challenges that eventually brings you closer to who you truly are. An invitation to be seen again – in the first instance by you and then by those around you in a way that enriches your world.We each have our own experiences of midlife. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and it’s not for me or anyone else to state what midlife is for you.
For some it contains words like transition, for others it’s a reinvention. Words that imply that midlife is about changing who you are. Moving from one thing and becoming another.
For me it’s a journey to remembering, and for you possibly something completely different. At some stage that transition or reinvention or journey may create a feeling of crisis and that’s okay. What’s not okay is for anyone to feel they can’t honour their experience or be honest about what is going on for them and it’s definitely not okay for anyone to be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed by what they are going through.
As we approach the end of what has been a very challenging year for most people (whatever age) I invite you to reflect on what our collective 2020 experience has meant for your Midlife Hero’s Journey, what opportunities has it afforded you and what insights have you gained about the way you now see yourself or let your Self be seen.
I invite you to move into 2021 with the intention to approach it in a way that honours your experience.
I invite you to explore how you can be the Hero in your Midlife Journey.