6 Ways to Improve your Self-image and Mindset at Midlife

midlife counseling

Written by Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.

Midlife has arrived, and you feel unease and tension about the next chapter of your life. You realize the clock is ticking, and there are still dreams you never pursued. You notice the subtle changes in your look, and you wonder what it all means. 

A woman in her 40’s came to counseling. She was bright and educated, with a pleasant personality. She was regretful about getting old, and still looking for the ideal partner. She was feeling the blues about her age, and the way she felt about her overall life. At work, she wanted to fit in with her younger colleagues, and wondered if she would have the same opportunities given her age. In her mind, midlife had a negative meaning – a decline instead of time to renew yourself and your dreams.

At midlife, it can be hard to ignore the changes in your body and the impact on your sense of self. This can be a call to examine your motivations and reactions to various experiences, and replenish your energy. This may be also a time to birth something new and take courageous steps towards a new lifestyle, a better relationship or health. 

Most importantly, don’t let age to put limits on what you do in your life.

1.Explore what beliefs you have about getting older.

Notice if there are any cultural expectations of what you should be doing in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. People have been able to make changes, and undertake new paths at midlife and beyond. They have been able to heal from past disappointments, change careers or find new partners.

2. Explore more about you.

We all have different ideas about aging gracefully, and how to live a vital and healthy life. Pause and consider:

Who is the person you’re turning into? What you want to do in your life?  While cosmetic treatments may enhance your physical features, you want to reflect on how that would improve your life or self-esteem. Would you be able to pursue your dreams with more courage?

3. Rejuvenate your mind and spirit.

Acknowledge how you are feeling at the moment. Make time to listen to the message of your emotions. If you feel weighted down by old resentments, give yourself time to reflect and heal your heart.  Acknowledge any sadness or grief about past choices, and see if there are any lessons to be learned. Emotions such as grief and bitterness have to be expressed and shifted so you can flourish.

4. Consider how you will nurture your mind and body.

Do you have to walk away from a demanding job or create work-life balance? Explore what gives you pleasure and joy.  Be open to new possibilities to learn and discover new things, communities or ways to make new friends. Is there a hobby or interest you always wanted to pursue? Find ways to live with passion and bring back vitality and energy.

5. Adapt an ageless mindset.

I like the idea of an ageless mindset, as Dr. Northrup suggests, and living a life full of meaning regardless of your age. Reject the notion that at a certain age our value starts to decline. If you are concerned with being relevant and up to date, consider what improvements you need to make.  Do you have to update your wardrobe and look to feel more confident and beautiful? Start an inspiration board at Pinterest, and collect images of different outfits and styles. Appreciate and enhance your beauty by adopting a new style but also caring for your body and mind.

6. Honor your strengths, wisdom, and valuable experience gained through the years.

Many are concerned about age in the workplace, and having the same opportunities as their younger parts. Keep in mind some fields appreciate people with more mature appearance, and being older comes with benefits. It’s also important to find work that aligns with your talents and interests so you feel engaged and alive.

What are you going to create in the next chapter? It is normal to experience some fear and doubt. They can keep you small and limited without trying anything new.  Consider how counseling can help you explore new ways of being. Act from a place of love, self-acceptance and courage instead of fear.  Your best years can be ahead of you if you invest in your own self-care and nurture your mind with positive emotions. Midlife can provide you with new opportunities if you are ready to imagine. Are you?

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