By: Mallika Bhatia
One beautiful October afternoon, I sat with a cup of perfect coffee in my balcony facing the forest. The filtered sun rays created pictures better than any artist could. The squirrel played hide and seek with me or was she playing with her mate? It was all so picturesque, seemed so perfect.
Yet what I felt within me was far from perfection. What have I achieved in the past years? Is being a mom, all there is to me? What about the years of education and work experience I gathered! Has it all gone down the drain? Can I face the ‘job-world’ now? Do I even have it in me anymore? What is the real point of me? What I am going to do next? My child is all settled in her school, she doesn’t need me so much anymore. Has my prime truly passed? Is this all there is to me? How would I ever lose all the weight that I have gained?
That’s what was going inside of me- questions, doubts, fears, anxieties and nerves. The more perfect the outside seemed, the more fears filled me from within. For a few days I forced myself to believe that these were more existential questions than self-doubt, and still I couldn’t let the inner sinking pass. I finally decided to speak to someone, so here I am, she said.
I am sure the above narration feels familiar to most of us. The feelings, the questions, the self-doubt and the fears are what particularly defines a ‘Midlife crisis’. In my practice, I often meet women, especially mothers who are going through this phase. Midlife crisis is usually categorised as a negative state but it doesn’t have to be, I always tell them. Here I am sharing the top 7 tips, that I share with my clients. Hope they help you pass through challenging phase.
1. Acknowledge the crisis-Denying the crisis is the biggest mistake we make. Acknowledge your feelings, experience and accept them. Don’t let yourself believe that not thinking about the fears makes them go away. They don’t. Pushing your self-doubt under the carpet makes it bigger than it is. It gives more power to the doubts. Greet your feelings. That way you can address them. Facing it is the first step to change.
2. See the complete picture-Especially when we are down and out, we burden ourselves with the thought that mommy-hood is our only identity. This saddens us to no limit. The truth is that it isn’t. Being a mother is just a part of who you are. It isn’t the whole. It is an important part, some may even say that it is the most important part of you, and yet there is more to you than that. You are a person with many facets, many moods and interests-never let yourself forget that. Befriend those other personalities within you again. Complete yourself by focusing on your complete self.
3. Try New Things-We can’t expect different results if we keep repeating the same actions. Midlife crisis is a perfect time to move out of your comfort zone. Try new things, new ways and new approaches to the same situation. Get a new hobby, do something that challenges your comfort zone. Discover a new you. How else would you befriend the whole of you anyway?
4. Jump at the chance to change-Since you are already in a contemplative state, why not use it to the best of your advantage? Why not ride the wave and make the changes within you that you have so deeply desired. The crisis-like feeling can help you face your inner demons. If you can face them, then you would get to now then. Once you know them, then winning over them is easy. All you need to do is to decide to do it. Take that course you have dreamt of, start exercising, seek help… just be ready to take the first few steps and the rest will be worth it.
5. One step at a time-Once you decide to take the first few steps, it is also important to remember to take each day as it comes. Take one step at a time. All transformations happen step by step. Don’t focus on the mountain that you plan to climb, rather focus on the next move. That’s it. Define small and achievable goals for yourself. When we achieve something (doesn’t matter if it is big or small), we are instantly motivated to achieve more. Smaller goals will help you remain on your path to self-discovery by keeping you motivated.
6. Talk to someone-Never let yourself hide. Especially when you feel low. Reach out, connect, talk, share! You would be surprised to know how many of us are going through this at the same time, seek support. Someone may have passed this phase already and they would have many tips for you to sail through it as well, seek guidance. If you feel talking to friends isn’t enough then meet a professional. There are counsellors and coaches who have been trained to make it easier for you. Give them a chance.
7. Appreciate what you have-No matter how low you feel, you are still lucky to have what you have. Appreciate it. Gratitude will take you a long way. Be thankful to yourself for creating such an array of experiences for yourself. Be thankful to life for providing you with the opportunity. Be thankful for your body, for it is the only instrument through which you are capable of experiencing life. Be thankful to your mind for being so perceptive to feelings. You have a lot more to be thankful for than you realise. When you truly realise all that is going for you, it would be easier for you to embrace the changes life has to offer.
Midlife crisis may not actually occur at midlife. In fact, it may not be a crisis at all. Any major change can be a stressor- change of career, country, marital status, parenthood.. anything. Just promise yourself to work with yourself at the right time and don’t wait for it to become too big. And remember, we all have difficult phases that seem like the end, just like the caterpillar feels before it turns into a butterfly.
Mallika Bhatia is a Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a degree in Hypnotherapy — with more than 13 years of experience. Yet her 3-year-old seems to believe that Mom is a snack-maker who is good at telling bedtime stories. She is a writer, a blogger and a published author who has regularly published columns in National Dailies in India. Though her daughter still strongly believes that Mama’s work is sitting in cafes and staring into empty spaces. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype. For appointments & more information check out- www.mallikabhatia.com
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