When I work with women in midlife, I look for common threads in how we talk about our experience, because ultimately the words point us to our inner experience and how we can break free!
“I often hear my group program participants say ‘I’m not where I want to be!’ during The Midlife Upgrade Course.”
Feeling stuck, lost, and unsure of your life’s direction are all such common experiences for women in midlife, that just hearing other women express similar frustrations is supportive in and of itself.
And I think we can go a step further and shoot for a psychological reframe which emphasizes the importance of accepting where you are and letting go of self-judgement or comparison to societal expectations.
Easier said than done, I know, but I hope that this episode where I reflect on my own journey and not being where I want to be as I hit my 53rd birthday, will give you an experience of support and inspiration.
Grab your headphones, take a listen and let’s walk this imperfect adventure of midlife together!
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Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00] Meegan Care: Hey friends, welcome to the podcast. This week we’re talking what to do when you’re not where you want to be, which is a very common experience in midlife and really is top of mind for me this week because it is my birthday week and I’m turning 53 and I’m, you know, in that midlife phase.
Probably further through the middle of my life than I am at the beginning of my life. Very likely that that’s the case.
And it’s come into the front of my mind, front and centre, because the women that I’m working with who are in midlife as well, a common experience is, I’m not where I want to be. I’m stuck, I’m lost, and worse than that, I don’t know where I want to go. And I want to break this down so that we can feel less swamped by it, less overwhelmed by it.
Birthdays for me are always a time of interior reflection. And for a few years after my mum died, A lot would come up around my relationship with her and some regrets and a lot of grief and a lot of sadness and some sweetness as well and now it’s been eight years this year and And, that doesn’t arise so much in me now, on that visceral level, it certainly did in those beginning years I still miss those special little things she used to do for my birthday, and And that’s a part of life, isn’t it? Of loving and loss. But what shows up now is this sort of looking back on my life and sometimes a feeling of, you know what? I’m not where I thought I would be or I’m not where I want to be.
And I actually think it’s okay to feel that. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a really negative, depressing thought or feeling. It can be, for sure. And so I want to talk about my experience around that and how I support myself through that feeling experience.
So this is the challenge of midlife, right? We can look back on our life. And think about dreams and hopes and goals that we had. And many of them, quite likely, we haven’t met or reached. That’s also a really normal part of life. Some of them, hopefully, we have met or reached. And some of those goals or, intentions that we had for a life and maybe we reach them and maybe there was some disappointment along the way.
What’s important for me is this piece that even though I’m not where I thought I would be or maybe not even where I want to be, that’s actually okay. Like that’s an okay, normal part of life. If we can separate that out from what we do with those thoughts. So very often I make that mean that something has gone wrong, that I’ve done something wrong, that I’ve somehow failed in my life.
And, you know, raise your hand if you’re in that camp from time to time. That’s a really normal human experience as well.
We can actually choose to change our perspective. can actually choose to change our perspective around this and still acknowledge, you know, I am not where I thought I would be or I’m not where I perhaps want to be at the age of 53. And I am choosing right now to not give myself a hard time about it, to not make myself wrong for it, to not put myself down for it.
and I’m inviting you to do the exact same thing. To acknowledge this is my reality. Perhaps I’ve had these hopes and dreams for my life and they haven’t come to fruition yet, or some may never. But I am choosing To apply goodwill to myself and I am not going to give myself a hard time about not being where I think I should be in quote marks, right?
So this is such an important piece to let ourselves off the hook for where we think we should be in our life at a certain stage. And so that is one piece that often feeds into. Low mood, reflecting on our life negatively at this age. But I think it’s really, really helpful to actually reflect on our life, but we want to separate out the reflecting with the how I feel about it.
And know that we can acknowledge, you know, feelings, how we might feel about our life, how we might feel about where we’re at right now. And then we can also choose to bring in some goodwill, bring in some self compassion, and temper that with the self compassion and the goodwill. Because what would you say to your friend if she came to you and she was In her fifties, and she said this hasn’t worked out for me, this isn’t where I thought I would be financially, I’m not where I thought I would be my career, it’s going okay, but it’s not reaching the goals or the pinnacles that I expected for my life, and I’m feeling really rubbish about it, I’m feeling like quite a failure.
What would you say to your friend? Well, if it was me, oh, you know, I’d acknowledge her feelings. I would sit there with her in those and I’d also, you know, support her. To bring in some kindness and some compassion. And you know what? Most people’s lives are not where we want them to be. That’s just the reality of being human.
And this is where we have to separate our reality and true reality. And reality out from everything that we, we see online and social media that is marketed to us, people’s lives that are marketed to us because that pristine, beautiful house that you’re seeing behind that, there could be a ton of stress.
A ton of really difficult relationship dynamics, anger, frustration, depression, huge financial stress. I’m not saying this is always the case, but very often there is way more to the picture than what we see. You know that, and I know that. But when we reflect on our life. we forget to include that in the mix.
You know, if I’m being, if I’m bringing in that goodwill and that self compassion to how I reflect on my life, I would reflect on the fact that in my 20s there was probably nine or nine years. Maybe longer, where I was recovering from chronic illness, where there wasn’t a whole lot I could do in any other area of my life other than focus on my health and well being and try and improve that.
And that is not something that we can see in my life. But it is the foundation of the life that I have right now. And yes, there might be certain aspects of my life that are not quite where I want them to be. But, I have pretty good health. I have really good mental health most of the time, like all of us.
I have down days. That is another reality of being human. We’re not always going to feel 100%, 100 percent of the time. And the sooner we accept that life has ups and downs, and that a normal part of being a human is that we don’t meet our goals and our aspirations. And that’s totally okay because it’s not about getting to that destination.
It’s about… It’s about the person I’m becoming while I’m getting there. It’s about the person you are growing into while you’re walking that path to your goal, to your destination. That is the real accomplishment.
And so what stops us very often in midlife? Reaching for more, carving out a second phase of life that we love, that we enjoy, that we’re really engaged in, is a sense of, once you get past the physical stuff that goes on in menopause and you’ve kind of got that handled, very often it can be, well, That didn’t work out for me in the past and that goal didn’t work out for me and I didn’t reach that standard that I wanted so, oh, I must not be good enough.
I must be a failure. And so you can see how our intention for opening up to the second stage of life is so much lower when we reflect on it that way. But what if we were to see Every single failure that we have had in our life, and by our 40s and 50s there have been a lot, what if we could see every single one of those as having some gold nugget, some wisdom, some learning, some growth for us.
I am a much more patient, tolerant and kind person than I ever was because of the illness journey that I had. I have infinitely more persistent than I ever did before I was unwell with Crohn’s disease, because I just had to hang in there through that time.
And yeah, I was later getting started with. My career and finding my feet in the world and with my community and all the rest of it But my journey is unique Just as your journey is unique and so this midlife Time is a huge opportunity for us as women. It is a tipping point. So we’re leaning into the second phase of life.
And, yep, we’ve got the physical stuff going on for many of us. Some of us will have the mental health stuff going on around menopause. That’s just part of that hormonal shift. We, we choose not to blame ourselves around that, right? And this is a time, this opportunity, where we can start to harvest the wisdom, the good, the learnings, the growth that have come out of every single thing that I have done, that has been hard, that has…
been successful or unsuccessful that maybe got halfway but I, you know, didn’t see it through to the end, I’ve still grown from that experience. From the pain of ending of relationships, I’ve still grown from that experience. From behaviors of mine that I’ve had to own have been less than desirable, I am choosing to learn from that experience and to harvest from it.
Not guilt and not shame because once I’ve taught me what I’ve needed to learn, I can let those go. They’re not useful for you to carry in your life on an ongoing basis.
But there are so many more qualities you can harvest from your life’s experiences.
We are not promised.
We are not promised a life that shows up like a fairy tale movie.
And this time of our life. Is an opportunity for us to get our head around that and that does not have to be depressing at all. That can be hugely liberating for us. When I can own inside myself. My life has had many wins, many joys, some adventures, some of those adventures have been bloody tough and my life has had many disappointments
and I am not going to give myself a hard time for that and I’ve also done the work that I Don’t need to give anyone else a hard time for that or sit in too much resentment. Remember, we don’t have to be 100 percent perfect with this. This is a perspective shift that we can take. And so can I sit with, my life is not where I want it to be.
And I am so infinitely grateful for the life that it is. For all of its moments, the mundane and those glorious moments as well.
Because zoom right out and get a universal look at this life.
And the truth is, it is right where it is right now. That’s it. That’s the reality that we have. And we get to accept it, acknowledge it, allow it to be as it is,
and then we have the capacity to choose. I’m going to beat myself up with this. I’m going to give myself a hard time about it. I’m going to shame and guilt myself into feeling bad about my choices in life. Or I’m going to acknowledge that some of my life was chosen consciously, and some of it happened to me, with me, and for me.
And I’m going to continue to open up to the next stage of my life. Because we get to open up, to choose to open up, and if we don’t, we start to shrink and we start to close down. And this is our challenge. And that’s true. We don’t have the rose colored glasses of youth on our side. I don’t have access to those.
fantastical out there dreams I had when I was a young adult or a teenager because my brain is wired differently now but I can find the fantastical And the infinite and the awe of life in every single mundane moment. Because my purpose is not some
heroic main character in a movie kind of story.
The richness of my purpose is about how I connect with those that I love. How I bring more good into my community, or the people around me, or my family, those that are closest to me.
How I act from a place of care, consideration, and love, joy, fun, adventure, whatever it is for you. Whatever qualities are yours as you, you are that unique human being in the qualities that you are. You are here to express. It could be my connection with nature. It could be my connection with adventure, with joy, with play, with art, with beauty.
That’s our purpose.
And it doesn’t have to be
a disappointment that we’re not going to be saved or the main character or the huge hero in a movie.
That’s a narcissistic dream that is sold to us. Right? It’s okay to enjoy it, to watch it, to play with it. But the reality of life is that those feelings that are evoked from those Movies and from those main characters and from those heroes and heroines Those feelings that they evoke in us They’re available to us in our everyday moments.
I think this is the true nature of reality Although we’ll never know, because in human form, we can’t really see reality as it is. Our brain is perceiving reality and showing us our reality. Version of reality and my version of reality is going to be very slightly Different to your version of reality, even if we’re looking at exactly the same scene Because that is the nature of the human brain How we are wired our belief system our ancestral patterns traumas and inherited traits all feed into the lens that we look through to see and experience our life.
So I really want to flip this piece where we Notice that we’re not where we want to be and we feel really down on ourselves about it. We think really
negative thoughts towards ourself about it. And I want to flip that on, on itself. And you’re not where you want to be? Great! There is so… There’s so much life left to engage in, to live, to get enthusiastic about, to reach out for and grab. And maybe that’s going to look different to what you wanted it to be when you were 25.
And that’s a good thing. Because you’re in this moment. Of a huge developmental opportunity on a personal level and a transpersonal spiritual soul level as well.
We have an opportunity as human beings, women in midlife, to open up to the second stage of life
from a place of gratitude, of truth.
Maybe of raw emotion, but the sense of there’s so much more there waiting for me that I am weaving into being with my awareness, with the work that I do on myself. within my life, within my connections with other people. This second stage of life is waiting for you. Let’s celebrate that we’re not where we want to be.
Maybe we’re not going to get there and maybe that doesn’t even matter because it’s in the journey, step, Step by step by step,
that we’re becoming our most authentic selves.
Will you walk with me on this imperfect journey together?
If you’re still listening, we are walking this journey together. This imperfect human. I have no desire to reach perfection on an emotional, emotional or psychological or spiritual level at this stage of my life.
I know that I am imperfectly human. And that, my friend, is more than okay for every single one of us. That is what being a human being is all about.
I’m right here with you. In the stuck, in the lost, and it’s, it’s an adventure of a lifetime. And I’m excited for our next stage of life. Alright my friends, may you be inspired in your life. This week, celebrate exactly where you are, who you are, as you are right now in all of your imperfections. I’m celebrating you too.
Go well and I’ll talk to you real soon.