There’s something about reaching this middle period in our lives that makes us stop and take notice.
For me it was the huge realisation that I had probably more years behind me than I had in front of me, yet I still didn’t feel like a proper ‘grown up’!
I didn’t feel like I’d done anything with my life at all. It wasn’t true, of course. I’d raised two wonderful children, been happily married to a wonderful man for nearly 25 years, was now the proud Nanny of a beautiful granddaughter (ok so I can’t take all the credit for that!) and held down a career in the Ministry of Defence for 30 years. But, I definitely didn’t feel like I’d reached my potential.
The catalyst for me came when I hit the big five oh! Fifty years old, how the hell had that happened? I was dreading turning 50. It felt so very old. And if I’m honest I hadn’t helped myself. I was overweight and unfit. I was doing a job that whilst I didn’t think I hated, I certainly didn’t love. Everything felt a bit stale and samey.
My kids had left home and I’m sure I was struggling with ‘empty nest syndrome’. For over 20 years my main purpose in life had been to ensure that my children were well looked after and that I was there for them in their formative years and now, they’d flown and I had lost that feeling of being depended on.
What a double-edged sword that is. I now had the freedom to go anywhere and do anything I pleased, but the problem was I was 50! I was fat. I was unfit. I was struggling with lack of confidence. I was in a rut. And the main purpose of my life to this point had gone.
And to top it all, the damned menopause had kicked in.
Not only had it kicked-in but it felt like yet another kick in the teeth and further proof that I was, in fact over the hill and close to being put out to pasture.
I’m not going to go into detail about how my life changed, how I lost weight, got fit, regained my confidence, upskilled, changed career, resigned my job and started my own business. If you’re interested you’re welcome to come and get to know me on social media, my Facebook community is Fifty, Fit and Fabulous.
Instead I want to talk about what has changed in my head over the last 3 years.
First off, I should probably tell you that I’m not a details kind of person at all. I never really think things through. I’ve very impulsive and tend to act pretty spontaneously. On the occasions when I have stopped to think and ponder, I normally manage to talk myself out of taking action anyway.
Again. this tendency has its pros and cons. As you can imagine, my impulsiveness has often led to bad decisions and probably spending too much money. Impulse buys of clothes I’ve never worn or relationships I probably shouldn’t have got into. Arguments I could have probably avoided and career choices I may have regretted.
But, it also means I take action. Every single best decision I’ve ever made has been on impulse. From having kids to getting my degree, from signing up for half marathons to resigning my job.
If I could just package that impulsiveness, that courage to take action in every single part of my life it would be amazing.
But, like most people, I overthink things. Yes I dive into things, but then the self-doubt kicks in, the inner mind chatter that tells me I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I’m not smart enough, interesting enough, knowledgeable enough….. the list is endless.
Our mindset is the culmination of all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences we have had and the meaning that we have attributed to them.
Messages we received from our parents, not necessarily deliberately, are absorbed early on in childhood and can stay with us well into our adult years, if left unchallenged.
As the youngest sibling and the youngest of 5 cousins, I grew up believing I was bottom of the pack. I also grew up in a very low-income family in a not great part of Newcastle so believed people like me weren’t successful. I went to a school where teachers were more interested in trying to keep the kids from ending up in prison or dead from drugs than preparing them for University.
All of these experiences and beliefs have remained with me, unconsciously, throughout my whole life.
When I started working with a coach, reading books for personal growth and challenging some of these beliefs I started to see them for what they are. Safety mechanisms based on misinformation and distorted reality.
The beauty is that our mindset is not an immovable rock that we cannot shift. With commitment and a willingness to change the way we see the world we can start to reprogramme our thinking and imprint new, more beneficial beliefs in place of the old, unhelpful ones.
Of course, these changes don’t happen overnight. They need to be worked on consistently and intentionally. They are, after all, a part of our unconscious and therefore automatic. Changing them means recognising that they exist in the first place and then having the courage to work through the discomfort of changing them.
But what is the alternative if we don’t? Well for me it would have meant staying in a job I was growing more and more out of love with, remaining stuck in a body I hated and never following my real path and finding work that fulfilled and challenged me.
So I challenge you to ask yourself, what beliefs are you telling yourself that are holding you back from achieving your best midlife?
Grab a pen and paper, or your journal if you keep one, and start getting real about what it is that’s stopping you.
Write down as many beliefs as you can. Don’t hold back, however uncomfortable it might be. (Hint, no one needs to see what you’ve written unless you choose to let them!).
Next ask yourself if the belief is true. Some will be some won’t be.
A limiting belief that says I can’t lose weight is totally untrue however, if your concern is that giving up alcohol might cause backlash from your friends, that may well be true.
If you decide the belief is untrue, then you can choose to disregard it. If, on the other hand the belief is true, you still get to choose what you do with the situation.
If your mates are likely to give you backlash for not drinking, ask yourself a few hard questions. Does it really matter? Is this just a handy excuse for you to not give up? What are the consequences of giving in to your mates on your health? Would they be more understanding if you explained your reasons? Etc.
I’m not saying it’s easy to simply ignore the fear that will come with thinking differently. But if you feel fear it’s just your body’s way of trying to keep you safe.
The mind will do one of 3 things when it senses danger: fight, flee or freeze. All of which are great strategies if there’s genuine danger. If I’m faced with a life or death situation you bet your life I want to know that my fear strategies are going to kick in and either fire me up to fight the threat, or run away.
But look back at the answers you gave to what is keeping you afraid. How many of them are really life or death? I’d go so far as to guess that none of them are genuine threats to your safety.
I truly believe that the biggest barrier to us living our best life are the hurdles we put in our own way through the limiting beliefs that we have about ourselves.
Working on changing our mindset is the number one strategy for living our very best life.
Bev Thorogood is a certified nutritionist and health coach specialising in helping women navigate their way through menopause and beyond. With a strong focus on mindset she offers personal and group coaching to help women remove the blocks that stop them from living their best midlife.
If you’re looking for help to move you towards a better midlife book a FREE breakthrough call – it might just change your life!
Oh, and just before you go, why not join our fabulous facebook community ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous’ for support, help, inspiration and motivation from other women just like you?