While writing this post, I came across these words by Søren Kierkegaard that aptly captures my state of mind at the start of my midlife transition:
Losing oneself can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss– an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed(Kierkegaard, 1957)
As you stand at the brink of midlife, can you relate to this loss Kierkegaard describes? Have you quietly lost your sense of self in an ever-evolving world that subtly, and not so subtly, grapples to impose identities on you that don’t align with your true nature?
If so, take heart because you’re not alone. The good news is:
The midlife season holds the potential to bring you home to your truest self.GLYNIS KLEIN
If you choose to approach this new life season wholeheartedly, with curiosity and openness, it can strip away all the unhelpful ways you’ve shifted out of alignment.
Before exploring ways to recover your identity, consider what it means to lose yourself.
Five Ways you Can Lose Your Sense of Self
- Trauma, tragic loss, or life-altering events and significant life experiences can fracture your hope or motivation and leave you out of touch with who you were uniquely created to be.
- Unexamined inherited beliefs, habits, and cultural norms can become internalised and repeated in your life, leaving you quietly dissatisfied.
- Life contexts such as political, economic, or environmental impacts can leave you scrambling for basic survival, leaving you disillusioned and unmotivated to focus on personal growth or self-actualisation.
- A significant chronic illness can keep you preoccupied with basic healthcare and survival, unable to focus on anything else.
- An overburdened lifestyle that leaves no time for self-care or personal development can contribute to a loss of self.
If you’re a regular visitor to this Blog, you know by now how much I believe in the power of telling our stories to connect us in our common humanity.
In My Story, you can read about how I lost my sense of self in my social context and how I regained my innate identity through deeper self-awareness, re-evaluating my experiences, and external support.
In a separate post, I shared about my awakening to the midlife season after two decades of focusing full-time on Motherhood. I started my midlife transition like someone emerging from a dense fog, completely lost about who I had become and what it meant to enter midlife.
Psychologists maintain that our inherent personality traits, beliefs, and views are influenced either positively or vice versa by our social environment and early life experiences. Also, we tend to internalise our life stories, and integrate a reconstructed past, perceived present, and anticipated future into a self-defining narrative.
In my case, this has been a complex mix of both. I’ll probably always remember that aha moment of awakening because it was such a liberating feeling. It was a clarity that ushered me into a new beginning. At that moment I shifted from viewing this new season as the decline of my life. Instead, I started to view midlife as the beginning of a new chapter that holds so much possibility.
Author and educator, Parker J. Palmer urges us to look for the clues our lives hold to try and understand what our lives are truly about because it can vastly differ from what we would like them to be about, no matter how earnest our intentions are. When we blindly pursue our own unexamined way, this is when we shift out of alignment with our core selves.
Palmer also has this to say about uncovering our true selves:
I’ve spent the better part of the last decade trying to uncover that hidden life quietly yearning to be uncovered. I scoured spiritual resources, self-development books, workshops, and personality measuring tools. I completed academic studies and sought therapeutic support to help clarify my inner roadblocks, understand my true nature, spiritual gifts, unique abilities and skills, and how to harness these towards self-actualisation. It was a search worth undertaking because I found the answers I was looking for.
Your true self is worth uncovering because it holds the keys to you living a meaningful and purposeful life, particularly in this new season when time takes on a deeper significance in the midlife hours.
Are you ready to recover your lost sense of self? If so, I created tools to support you on your journey. Feel free to grab what you need on the Resources page.