Why do we seek change in midlife?
It’s almost like we’re programmed for change. Instead of seeing the changes that occur in midlife as a problem, what if the desire for growth and change at midlife were seen as a healthy adaption to entering the second half of life. It takes courage to change, to make the decision to become your best self.
For Butterflies, Change is Automatic in Midlife
I love butterflies, in fact, I’ve given over a part of my yard for a pollinator garden complete with lots of milkweed plants to attract Monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on the leaves, to turn into very hungry caterpillars, form a chrysalis and then become a butterfly. The Monarch butterfly does not say to herself, “I wasted half my life as a caterpillar.” The average Monarch butterfly takes about four weeks from an egg to transform into a butterfly, and then lives about 2 to 6 weeks. Butterflies don’t seek change in midlife, change comes automatically with the transformation to a butterfly. When the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, the point of metamorphosis or change, the butterfly does not spend time regretting decisions made in the first half of life like so many humans do.
The First Half of Life is Programmed
Since birth you’ve been programmed by parents, caregivers, siblings, peers, teacher, religion, society and the particular group of cultures you’ve been immersed in. That’s the nurture part. Your values, beliefs, what you like to eat, how much you exercise, how you handle money and so much more. Whether you go along with your programming or rebel against it, you are still living under its influence. You also are programmed by the nature part, your genetics. From your genetics, you have predispositions such how resilient you are, how happy you are (your happiness set point), genetic markers for diseases and so much more. At midlife, many come to an awakening that the life they are living a life that someone else designed for them. It’s not that you change who you are but rather you become who you are meant to be.
Ironically when you change, you don’t change who you are but transform like a butterfly into the fullest and best versions of yourself. Change comes when you stop being what others expect and instead become who you want to be.
Ready to Get Off Autopilot
By midlife, you are an adult. You have the ability to take 100% responsibility for your life and what you create. What you do for a living may no longer suit you. You may reexamine your beliefs, values, and relationships. You begin to value your opinions more than the opinions of others. You may choose to make or to not make changes in yourself and your life but the choice is yours.
For most this happens at midlife. By midlife, you are ready to let go of the expectations of others. You’ve been able to step outside yourself and your point of view to see that life can be different. For many minor tweaks in lifestyle or career make a huge difference. Others seek a grand adventure, ready to make a drastic change. Deciding to change is still scarry and takes courage. Because of that fear many will never heed the call of midlife to change.
Sadly some people are stuck in fear, and anger; anger is just another side of fear. And for others who might wish to embrace their true selves and wholeness, this comes at the risk of physical safety, because of societal and cultural and even in some cases religious and societal institutionalized prejudices and hate.
Looking For Change in Midlife?
What are the Signs? You may find yourself daydreaming, waking up in the middle of the night wondering what to do next. You may be bored, dissatisfied or uncertain. Activities or a career or a relationship that you may have once loved no longer interests you. You may have a growing realization that the life you are living no longer suits you.
For others change is thrust upon them without their consent. Loss of a job, a divorce, death of a loved one or an empty nest. When the world around you changes, no longer can you continue to do the same thing. You may be sad or angry or fearful about what is next.
As a midlife coach, Amelia can help you rediscover meaning and purpose, let go of what is holding you back including taking a look at the values and beliefs that suit you now and create a plan to move forward. The good news is that the second half of your life can be the best half of life.