Mid-Life Psychology

In our 20's and 30's we worked to develop competence in the world. We wanted to establish a place for ourselves. Our inner worlds may have been a bit fuzzy and incomprehensible but we focused on polishing our outer world facades and that was sufficient.

But now in our 40's and 50's, it's no longer enough. We have achieved some measure of success but, strangely, we're dissatisfied and we can't explain why. Nothing is wrong exactly, but nothing is right enough. We must have MORE and we must have it NOW. Something is gnawing at our souls and no matter what we "do" we can't assuage the restlessness.

Slowly it dawns on us that it isn't a matter of "doing" at all. It's time to "be" in a different way and we can't willfully manufacture that.  By our mid to late 40's life has confronted us with the truth about who we truly are. Those demons that have been living in the shadows inside roar and demand that we acknowledge them now. We must feel the hurt from the childhood loneliness which we've pushed away with our life-of-the-party act. We can't escape the anger that still smolders. That seemingly bottomless pit of need and want waits for us and will not be covered over. Now is the time and our inner world is the place. Healing is finally possible.

Surrender is the key mid-life term. Through surrender--feeling whatever feelings come and accepting whatever situations arise--we find resolution. Our lifelong conflicts seem to melt away as we release our resistance. Finally we are on top of our lives and not because of our efforts but because we have relinquished efforting.


The surrender we experience in mid-life opens us to partnership. This process of integration that occurs (without our conscious assent) is a basically spiritual one. We reunite with parts of ourselves we have distrusted or feared and disowned and through this integration we find peace. We realize a creativity and an aliveness that we have not before known. We see opportunities that had been hidden when we relied upon our logic.

It happens only through surrender and only at mid-life. From that point on, this partnership with the larger whole which we have established through listening to our inner worlds guides our days. We find we are not alone.

Attention in Mid-Life

By mid-life the rules have changed. No longer are our days about striving, focusing on achieving a goal, or keeping someone comfortable. Now our attention goes to realms inside we haven’t visited. We explore our own undeveloped capacities. Never played duplicate bridge? Let’s do it now. Never danced onstage? Now is the time. We pick up the paint brush or the camera or the backpack or the pen and we allow our creativity to guide us.

“Allow” and “creativity” are mid-life words. They connote our respect for our partnership with Life and our trust that what we don’t understand knows what’s best for us. We move enthusiastically into spaces we’ve never travelled.

We explore the depths behind our feelings. Maybe we’ve always been caught by our neediness. Now we don’t let our fear stop us. Trying to satisfy those needs has never worked anyway—not with love or food or drink or money or prestige. Those same old feelings of “I want,” “I need,” “ I long for” still exist but now we move into our Observer and we say, “OK, tell me about it.” And we sit still and pay complete attention to those feelings and we don’t do anything. That’s right. We don’t solve our “problems” for we see that our so-called “problem” is a beautiful, valuable part of ourself. We want to know that part of ourself and help it develop and mature and blossom. There is always a gift hidden by the pain and now we demand the gift!

Creativity doesn’t come from our head or our training or anything external. Creativity is the experience of allowing Life to guide us and following with humility and attention and commitment. And always saying “Yes.” We are all artists with our consciousness and in mid-life our consciousness expands. We release limitations and identify with our spirit, not our intellect. We open to anything. Finally, we’re ready. We know that who we are is valuable and that we must offer our gifts to the world. So we do, because we must.

 

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