Midlife Signpost 2: Refining-Time to drop your mask

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What are the things you need to let go of in Midlife?

As you enter midlife, there will be parts of your life that have to shift, particularly people or things that no longer support your growth. This can range from a poor habit, a relationship, or a job you’ve outgrown, to a social group or role that no longer fits. They’ve served their purpose in your journey and holding on for the wrong reasons is not honouring you, the other person people involved. In gently releasing things that reached the end of their season, you make room for what comes next. 

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

guatama buddha

The challenges of letting go

We are creatures of habit. Most of us like things and people that are familiar and consistent. We find security in knowing our surroundings and having routines. Because of this, it can be hard to accept that some people, groups, or situations can become crutches, become stagnant or toxic, and are no longer supportive of your wellbeing or growth.

What does ‘letting go’ look like?

Letting go doesn’t mean discarding people or things callously, particularly if, you’re an introvert like me who treasure meaningful connection and relationships, and believe that people and situations that impact your life are not random.

Letting go also doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from someone entirely. Instead, it can mean shifting the relationship in a new direction. For example, if you’ve been a member of a specific group for some time, the next step could be to establish a new role in the group. Or, it may be time to branch off in a different direction. This can apply to a variety of contexts, such as a book club, a writing group, blogging-, grief-, addictions-, or a bible study group.

What does it mean to let go of something or someone?

Compliance and conformity take on a deeper significance in midlife. Particularly, if complying and conforming to others’ expectations comes at the expense of your inner peace and continuous growth. In this sense, letting go can be to establish stronger boundaries.

Seasonal Relationships

Some people enter your life long-term, while others come alongside you only for a while. You are constantly evolving and growing from one life stage to the next, and as you do so, your needs and the ways you serve others shift too.

In the book, Boundaries, the authors contend that setting healthy boundaries is a way to honour yourself and those in your circle of influence.

Holding onto people or support structures for longer than it was intended may sour, or even harm, relationships that were only meant to last for a season. The kindest thing to do for you and the other person is to acknowledge and express gratitude and appreciation for the valuable ways you contributed to one another’s lives. These are lasting impacts that you can hold onto forever. But, at some point, it may become necessary for you to let them go gracefully and bravely so you can both continue your journeys towards becoming all you’re meant to become.

Surrender to Ageing

A third area where you need to let go in midlife is to gently release your fading youth. While you’ll still take care of your physical self, you begin to focus more on the inner self. You cultivate the deeper things of life, such as pursuing peaceful relationships, deeper empathy and understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness.

Loosen Your Grip

Growing a deeper self-awareness and uncovering your true self is not a quick process.  It is often buried beneath layers of experiences, culture, inherited beliefs and roles accumulated throughout your life. Without re-evaluating these elements as you mature and grow, can cause you to live a life that pleases others while you lose more and more parts of yourself.

This can mean releasing your tight grip on your expectations of others, or the other way around. You worry less about what people may think of you, and you feel more at peace with your choices, values, and ways of showing up in the world. You do this by embracing the things that deeply matter to you, even if it doesn’t please or impress others.

In midlife, you are more drawn to people, groups or elements that increase your inner peace and joy.

Dear midlifers, what are some things or one thing you know deep inside you need to let go of in order to live a more peaceful life in harmony with yourself, and others?

The third article in the 2022 series explores the third milestone in the midlife transition – freedom to embrace your beautiful uniqueness, quirkiness, and imperfections.

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