I hear it from clients, friends or strangers there’s a near constant frustration in the lives of strong, middle aged women,
“I just don’t understand why I’m so miserable. I look around and see that I pretty much have everything any woman could ask for but I still don’t feel happy.”
If you’ve built a solid career or raised healthy children (for many women it’s both) and you look at the fruits of your labor with pride but still feel empty inside you can relate to the “is this really all there is for me?” sentiment.
You may have even lamented your lack of fulfillment over the “me time” manicure you thought would help and terms like “spoiled brat,” or “ungrateful” spring to mind because how could you possibly want more when you lack for nothing.
Like most women in this position the missing purpose from your life does require more self care, just not the self care you can buy with a gift card. It’s time for Self care (with a capital S) at the fundamental level. Get ready for a paradigm shift that supports the next phase of fulfillment and purpose in your life. Your Self has been asking for a deeper, more meaningful life experience for awhile. Massages and Girl’s Nights are band-aid fixes that are, quite simply, not enough to bring you back to a sense of delight with your life.
Use the following inventory to find (and change) what’s missing from your beautifully depressing life.
1) Helpful Influences
There’s a lot of truth to the theory that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with (your children, as a collective, count as one).
Take a minute to reflect on what that means because it will tell you a lot about yourself and where you have room to evolve.
~ Do the people around you only call when they need something?
~ Are they guilty of the bitching habit where the only way they know to interact with you is to complain?
~ Or, when they face obstacles do they consider where they are growing as a result or at least look for a silver lining?
~ Do they gossip or support one another?
~ Are they honest or do they play games?
Do they live life with a sense of purpose or are they settled into a default that was kind of hoisted onto them because it made life convenient for others?
Try to just notice their (and ultimately your) behavior and see how each option makes you feel. If you feel buoyed by your influences then stretching toward a life of deeper purpose feels possible. If you feel weighted down, however, you’ll also notice “I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t” kinds of feelings. Can you guess which one is Self care and which one isn’t?
2) Healthy Boundaries (Set and Maintained)
If you’re determined to find your path toward vitality you want a major focus on the support that helps you expand your horizons.
This means, it’s time to change what you’re willing to accept in the relationships that are made comfortable by your stagnancy (or uncomfortable by your growth).
Healthy boundaries aren’t just drawing a line in the sand about what you want and forcing others to comply. We simply cannot ever make anyone else do anything and the effort to try is thoroughly exhausting.
Healthy boundaries are a basic set of standards you set for yourself and how you want to be YOUR best, proceeded by a standard of communication and behavior that expects and rewards the same level of respect from others that you’re now giving to yourself.
Keeping healthy boundaries in place is the process by which you teach others how you’re willing to be treated; maintain your healthy boundaries by rewarding relationships that respect your new standards and ignoring those that don’t.
Your relationships are basically a habit based on precedent. When you notice unhealthy dynamics in your relationships you get to consciously change the pattern that created them and make a commitment to practicing the new paradigm.
Viewed this way, “healthy boundaries” are simply creating new patterns and “keeping healthy boundaries” is just the repetition necessary until the new framework sticks.
3) Ability to Let Go
Not everyone is going to be thrilled by the new, more explorative version of the friend that they’ve known and loved all this time.