Before I get into this topic I would like to first recommend a powerful book that both Susana and I are reading called, The Gifts of Imperfection – Letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are written by Brene Brown, PhD. She is an amazing writer and story teller and this segment of surviving your mid-life unraveling resonated with me as I’m sure it will resonate for many of you who have experience a similar event in your life.
According to Brown, “People may call what happens at midlife “a crisis”, but it’s not. It’s an unraveling–a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re “supposed” to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.”
Maybe some of you right now are experiencing such an unraveling, where who you were and what you thought your life was going to be is falling apart right before your eyes. You might not even recognize yourself in the mirror or many aspects of the life you had before. You are pushed so far out your comfort zone that a stranger looks back at you and says, “hey who are you?”.
There are many reasons for the unraveling. Maybe you are going through a divorce, death of a loved one, moving, retiring, becoming a parent etc. Whatever cause, the shift may be pushing you to a point where you are re-evaluating what’s important in your life and perhaps even the people you are surrounding yourself with. It’s a delicate time, full of uncertainty and fear. So how do you survive an unraveling? I have three tips I can provide and then Susana and I invite you to come to our seminar on the topic sometime in May to learn more. Start with these first.
Don’t go it alone. You don’t need to be brave and think you have to go through such a challenging time all by yourself. You do need to surround yourself with people who know how to truly be supportive and non-judgemental. People who aren’t trying to fix your problem or give you unsolicited advice. You need empathetic, compassionate and grounded people to help you through the storm. Professional help is also a good idea. That’s their job and they can really help you. Support groups are also wonderful because they are a safe environment to talk, be heard and supported.
Be compassionate with yourself. Don’t beat yourself over the head. You are going through a major change in your life and you need to be kind with yourself. Maybe you’ve made some bad decisions but don’t worry we all have. It’s part of being human and imperfect. You are doing the best you can in a difficult situation so cut yourself some slack.
Keep a journal. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal is a good way to sort through your emotions or just vent and not worry about how it sounds because no one is going to read it. Your journal is your best friend and you can be completely honest and open about everything that is going on in your life.
There is so much more complexity to going through an unraveling. It’s almost like being re-born into another life, another way of being, another chance to reinvent yourself. It can be extremely difficult but at the same time it can be liberating as you shed what you think you are supposed to be and become who you truly should be.
Trust me when I say that you have clients. participants, family members, friends and colleagues that are either going through an unraveling now, how been through one or will most likely go through it. Developing empathy, compassion and a few tips to share along with your own personal experience will certainly allow you to be a great friend to lean on.