Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why your husband needs to have a midlife crisis (Guest blog)

A midlife crisis is a great thing and it’s about time we celebrated it!

For too long the midlife crisis has been confined to cliche reasons for 50 year old guys having an affair with a 24 year old, buying a sports car, or deserting a relationship with no hint or warning.  Sure, these symptoms can have something to do with it, but maybe if we celebrated the crisis a bit earlier on, it might not result in destructive behaviour.

Look around at our planet and you’ll see that life is about growth, adaptation, nourishing the new, transitioning, and celebrating the things that have thrived through the seasons and turmoil.  There’s simply nothing that doesn’t change.     Sadly, so many people get to their 40s and 50s and inadvertently put growth on hold.  Sure, we all understand the pressures and commitments of mortgages, kids, jobs and visiting Aunt Daisy on Sunday afternoon when you could actually be snoozing on the couch. But we are designed to grow, to learn new things, to develop, to push ourselves, to adapt, to live with a sense of purpose and ultimately help make this World a better place?

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting we quit our job, smoke weed and live off the local food bank either.
But here’s the thing: A midlife crisis creeps up and confronts us when we suppress the natural stimulus within to keep growing and continue the journey towards being the person we really want to be.  

Take the test to see if you’re in a midlife crisis. 

Of course, there’s times in life where we’re not afforded the luxury to just stop, focus on the big picture and contemplate World Peace, but if we put on hold who we really are for too long in the name of sacrifice and compromise we start to live a lie.  We are not being true to our own self.
We suppress who we really are and pretend to be someone we’re not.  Added to this, is the underlying and subconscious pressure from our nearest and dearest to keep the good times for them rolling.  Of course they’re actually enjoying life – they love the stability, fun times with friends, growing older and simply being ‘normal’ like everyone else.  How indulgent for us to contemplate destroying their happy bliss and start to think about who we’d really like to become? 

Herein lies the seeds of confusion and the tension between the two worlds fighting to ensnare us into their gravitational pull.   But what if ‘normal’ isn’t who we are?  What if we’re suppressing who we are for the sake of our family and our own fears around growth and change?  What if it’s too scary to do what we really want?  What if we actually don’t believe in ourselves or our ability to take a risk?  What if there are dreams and desires deep down that are unfulfilled and we see no way of ever achieving those?  

Let the frustration and discontentment begin!  

Added to this our 40s and 50s are a time when a number of truths confront us:

1.     Time is running out – if I don’t pluck up the courage, face the fear and chart a course to become the person I’m meant to be soon, I’ll never do it.  Endless time is no longer available.  But I’m paralysed by fear, and too many other things haven’t worked.  I’m trapped.

2.     The goal posts are moving – our dreams and desires of our 20s and 30s don’t have the same pulling power as before.  Our desires change.  Being a slave to a job we don’t enjoy for the sake of providing and buying the nice house isn’t exciting anymore …. I want to have purpose in what I’m doing.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my life unfulfilled.

3.       Unfulfilled dreams - we didn’t become CEO of that Global corporation.  Far from it, we’re stuck in middle management fighting insecure and political managers dealing with their own issues.  My Husband or Wife has disappointed me – they don’t meet my needs and haven’t grown into the person I dreamt of them becoming.  Life is hard, we’ve had some unfortunate situations and life just seems like a dark tunnel with no light at the end.

Here’s the thing – it’s not all about the rash big decision to solve the issues …. ditch the Husband or Wife, buy the Porsche, buy more shoes, have an affair, become a hippy or bury yourself in more work to get rid of the feelings inside.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Firstly it’s about understanding what’s going on so you can start a journey.  Then, look at the many options you’ve got and understand deep down inside who you really are, your values, and what type of life, roles and responsibilities are aligned with who you are and make a plan.  What do you need to do to transition out of and away from and what do you need to move towards?  Who do you really want to be in five years’ time is the question, not what do you want to have?

Click here if you’d like some proven coaching techniques to help understand how to get more alignment in your life.

You’ve all heard about the Chinese characters that make up the word ‘crisis’ – danger and opportunity.  I think this definition is so apt for those of us in our 40s and 50s.   A midlife crisis is actually life nudging you to re-evaluate, take stock and ask yourself who you’d really like to become.  What needs to change?  Is fear holding me back?  Have I been able to discuss this with my spouse or partner, and how can our lives together be much more enriched by making a slow transition? (Rather than letting the pressure build up inside and then a rash decision that could cost you your marriage, finances, job and happy future together).

Okay, so it’s not always as easy as that, but there’s a fight taking place inside you or your partner’s head and heart.  This crisis is actually life pulling you forward.  It’s an opportunity to step up and be the person the World is waiting for you to become.

For help on transitioning to the next phase, or if you want to take our free midlife crisis test  (http://site.midlifegps.net/midlife-crisis-test) simply click on these links or visit us at midlifegps.net.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Members, affiliates and their guests welcome

That's the sign that greeted me at the last 'Club' I visited.  The incessant radio advertisements had told me the same.  

So off I went, same day of the week as usual, same group of friends - to have a bit of a dance and enjoy same bowl of chips and ungainly handle of beer - at the  same club (for maybe the 100th time).

Welcome? I think not.  It turns out that my membership card had expired.  It was issued by a different club (that would be an affiliate).  I didn't know this - and clearly the super duper highly technical computer system that has registered me countless times before didn't care.  There was much sighing and sucking of teeth by the lady behind the bullet proof glass with the slide across speakery thing (seems that clubs full of old people are very dodgy places these days).  

It wasn't possible to let me in you see, because they couldn't confirm I was a member of anywhere.  No, an expired card wasn't good enough. No, I couldn't just renew my old membership for that place on the day, there was a process to follow.  No, I couldn't go in and find a friend to sign me it (the electric doors stayed firmly shut and the security guard ensured I didn't get too close - heaven forbid I might make a run for it!)  No, I couldn't wait inside in the warm whilst they checked things out - for that would mean letting me past guard, cats bum lipped receptionist AND the auto door.  Well yes, she could, she supposed, ring my own club and confirm I was a member.  

Much ado followed - it would seem that my own club do not follow quite the same strict rules, and, good grief, did not have someone manning the phone at 9 pm on a Friday night to ensure that crazy rebels like me didn't sneak through without a card.  It took three phone calls, and an ever increasing tightening of those lips before finally, thankfully, someone answered the darn phone at the other place.  Only they couldn't really help, because you see there was some problem with their card system, so sorry it wasn't possible to tell if my membership was current or not.

In frustration, I went outside, banged on the glass window (much to the consternation of the octogenarians sitting beside it) and gestured to my Friends to come and sign me in.  And lo, I was in. So quick, so painless in the end.  Although cats bum lips did remind me that it was VITAL that I had the membership issue sorted out so that such instances didn't happen again, and REALLY what kind of place were they running out in the sticks and HONESTLY you'd think it wouldn't be that hard.

She was absolutely right.  It really shouldn't be that hard.  It's no wonder that service clubs have a dwindling membership if it's that difficult to get in the door.  I understand that there are certain rules and standards that go with membership organisations.  But seriously - the kind of people who frequent these places - or who might, if only they didn't have to overcome a cold war to do so - are hardly going to be causing mayhem.

Sure, give members 'special privileges' like cheap drinks, or meat raffles, or their own special beer glass. But if you want normal, sober, people like me to come and spend money at your club, if a warm welcome is out of the question, at least make it easy for me to get in the door.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The little black dog (part two)

Six or so  months ago I wrote about the little black dog who kept turning up at my door.  I think most people figured out that this was not a literal dog, but an analogy originally  coined by Winston Churchill to describe his 'fight' with depression.

Firstly I'd argue that it's not a fight.  I'd say Depression is a wave ...a cloud...it covers you - can threaten to choke you, but it's certainly not something (for me) that involved a great deal of fighting!  Not least because in the midst of a downer, I don't think one has the energy to do very much at all , let alone indulge in a scrap with something that has no form.

But I digress.  Because there was still a fight - its just that the fight for me was not with depression. The fight was internal, having to accept that I might need some 'chemical intervention' and having to swallow my pride enough to go and ask for that.  The Doctor, on hearing my sorry tale (and believe me it was a sorry one, even those I'd tempered it for prides sake more than anything) sat up in her chair and announced  'I can't believe you're still upright' - and then offered me a veritable cocktail of delights - some to help me sleep, others to stay awake, uppers, downers, and in betweeners.  I declined all but one relatively benign option, and then fought with my own handbag as I walked around first with a prescription for two weeks, and then with a wee bottle of innocent looking pills for another two.

But, finally - as much because I'd spent so much stinkin' money on the Doctor and the prescription, as any other reason - I took one of those pills. And another the next day and another the next day. and by day four I was seriously a different person.  Yes it screwed with my sleep patterns, but so what - I was only sleeping about three hours a night anyway, so it just meant I was tired, and wired, at a different time of the day.  And yes, things seems a little...bright...or something - like my senses had been heightened in some weird way. Which maybe they had, in that the cloud had shifted -  it was just a little confusing when I was also feeling, finally, blessedly removed from that cloud I had become almost comfortable under.

After about three weeks things settled down, and I started to feel normal again.  I admit I was a bit slack and missed the odd day of medication but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference provided I got right back in the swing as soon as I realised.  At the one month mark I had to get a repeat, and the Doctor told me that whilst I had noticed an immediate change (and so had she - she was dead right about how deficient my 'insert name here' hormone was), it would take at least three months, possibly six, to see true outcomes and for the meds to be absorbed and sustainably effective

As three months approached I knew I didn't want to go for a another prescription repeat. I felt good, in control, normal (well kind of, I think, maybe).  She warned me against coming off it but agreed it was my choice and that as long as I did it slowly - over the course of two or three weeks, breaking the pills into smaller and smaller bits, and stretching out each dose - and I was monitored by someone who could watch for any changes - she would support the decision.

And so I did.  Three weeks later the meds were out of my system.  It would be fair to say there were a few times in the next couple of months I questioned my decision - maybe I'd done it too early, not least because the issues that had got me to where I was in the first place weren't all resolved.  But by and large I was feeling pretty good.  Stayed busy with normal life, talked (even more than normal) through what was in my head.  Retired some energy sucking relationships and working on developing the ones that were mutually energising.

Now I fear I've turned into a 'go to the Doctor' preachy kind of person.  I have watched a couple of close friends cope with highs and lows (I'm reluctant to diagnose it) and really struggle to get out of the lows.  Maybe they need chemical help, maybe they don't.  Medication alone will not fix problems, and should not be viewed as such, but it can give you enough oomph, or breathing space, or clarity of perspective to be able to move forward and deal with whatever got you to that place in the first instance.  The first step has to be being willing to talk to someone who really knows their stuff and just might be able to help.  That's probably the bit I found hardest. And it was probably the bit I should have done earlier.

What I learnt is that (cliche alert) prevention might be better than cure, and medication might be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff - but you just can't be too proud to beg.  A hundred dollars on a Doctor and some pills saved my sanity I reckon.  What a bargain.