Five Truths to Remember When Fear Takes Over Your Midlife
Why is it that when our midlife years appear, we are bombarded with fear? We suddenly think we’re not capable to re-enter our lives or the workforce with confidence. I think some of it comes from hormones. Ugh. Most of it, I think, is that we’ve simply forgotten that we are good at change. My sisters, we need to confront this wrong thinking head-on. How do we overcome fear in midlife? Let’s dismantle it together.
1. Fear is a big, fat liar.
Fear is just that, a liar. It tells you that you are not enough. It tells you that you are not ___________ enough (insert your own word here). Fear whispers that you’re not good enough, or young enough, or skilled enough, or educated enough……..to do whatever you’re thinking about doing. The list is endless.
And it’s a lie.
Just because our roles may be changing a bit doesn’t mean we’re not good enough.
Our kids are flying the coop, and this mothering gig that we know, that we’re good at, is easing a bit. We are gifted with more time to fill, and it’s a little eerie. Maybe we can finally start that new hobby, or redecorate a room, or explore a new career. Though we allow ourselves to dream a bit, the empty space, the quiet, is unnerving.
Change looks a little scary and it’s hard to let ourselves think outside the box and outside what we know. The box itself looks different now. And really, we’ve been focused on the box for so long that we don’t know how to refocus the lens.
Let me tell you right now. YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. You are capable enough……to do whatever you set your mind to.
Even though our littles may be growing up and out, this is one of my favorite, and inspiring, clips from Moms’ Night Out. We always need to be reminded.
Here’s a little truth nugget for you:
Learning – anything – is not just for the young. Just like we used to tell our littles, learning is about trying. It’s about making mistakes. It’s about getting tired and falling down. It’s about NOT being good at something at first.
How many times have your encouraged your kids with those same words?
Thinking of starting those tennis lessons that you loved in high school? Or ski lessons? Or perhaps a cooking class? Do it! Own the fact that you may not be good at first. That’s ok!!!!! (That’s why they call it learning!)
How about starting that small catering business when you know nothing about the law or financial issues? You can learn all that! No one knows everything when they start out!
Need to sharpen a resume to look for a new job or career? Scan the internet to find a service or website to help you! Your wording and skills can be formatted in such a way to highlight your amazing abilities. You can learn those keywords for your industry that employers look for.
In the words of The Help, “You is kind. YOU IS SMART. You is important.”
You, my sweet sister, are enough.
2. Fear only shows you shadows.
I don’t know if it’s just because we live in a world of instant news, but we as women tend to live in a land of ‘what-ifs’. We worry. We can’t wait for truth so we make up terrible scenarios.
We worry about what could happen, about anything and everything. A lump shows up in the shower. Your daughter’s phone goes straight to voicemail. The news alerts us of military action in the country where your soldier son is stationed. Your husband seems distant.
All these circumstances cause us to jump headlong right into the dark shadows of fear. And they are shadows. They are big shapeless blobs of unreality. Much larger than reality.
And, to make it worse, our feminine imaginations just blow them up even larger. (Thank you menopause.)
Shadows are always dark, and often scary. They’re associated with evil, and secrecy, and hiding. Have you ever read a scary novel that didn’t use the word ‘shadow’?
Let’s stop living in the shadows, my friend, and walk into the truth. To escape the shadows of dim worries that loom over us and seem larger than life, we must turn on the light to expose the truth.
More often than not, our worries are radically overblown and unrealistic. Once the light is directed at a problem, the answers, solutions, are often found right beside it.
Fear will tell you that your problem is too big, that the job is beyond your abilities. First, fear is lying to you (see #1 above). Second, all you’re seeing right now is only the shadow of the actual problem.
So how do you dispel the shadows? Find out the truth. Shine the light on it. See your doctor to get an actual diagnosis. Have the difficult conversation with your adult child. Learn about caregiving issues or insurance so you can help your aging parents. Actually look at your savings and get a true picture of what you may still need to retire.
We have to move a little to step out of the shadows. Do something. And once we do, truth makes fear dissipate as sunlight does to a fog.
We must stop living in shadows and step out into the sunlight.
I’d love to give you my free printable Five Toxic Mindsets to Eliminate from Your Midlife! Just shoot me your email at the end of this post.
3. Fear doesn’t want you to start.
Let’s go back to our high school days and straight into physics class. Remember Isaac Newton and his first law of inertia?
Ok, I’ll remind you.
An object at rest stays at rest. And, an object in motion stays in motion.
I wonder if Mr. Newton also had a problem with procrastination.
Did you know that procrastination is the first cousin of fear? Can you see the family resemblance? They played together as kids. They both are the offspring of worry, and prefer living in shadows.
Somehow if we don’t see the doctor we won’t have to deal with whatever he may find. If I just avoid dealing with my cluttered basement, I won’t get lost in the huge job that I can’t do (see #2 above.)
Avoidance also lives in the shadows.
Mr. Newton discovered that sometimes we just need a little push to get going. Let me give you some jumper cables of ideas to get you going.
Plan a party! I always find that inviting friends over can jumpstart my butt to get me working with decluttering or cleaning. It helps to have a purpose or deadline.
Find a mentor! Find someone or a group to keep you accountable with a project or new habit. A walking or running group will give you motivation and conversation at the same time.
Or how about this? Give yourself a deadline! Sign up for a race! A monetary investment in a project always keeps you accountable and also gives you a push to begin!
The bottom line is this, jump start yourself (or find someone to give you a nudge) to get you moving!
4. Fear tells you that change is bad, hard, or painful.
If those words don’t work for you, you can just insert any negative adjective in place of those above. Here’s some more, change is uncomfortable and distressing, or difficult.
Life is full of change. Life is the definition of change. We grow and change. And grow. And change. (I know I’m sounding a lot like my own mom now. But, you need to hear these bits of wisdom.)
The only things that don’t change are dead!
Honestly, pain is also part of life. It means your muscles are working for you. When your muscles work, they are getting stronger (and changing). Ok. While it’s true that change can be a little painful, remember, that’s only half of the story. We’re also growing throughout the process. We’re getting better.
Let me remind you what we often forget. We as women are actually good at change.
We change clothes. We change diapers. We change lanes. Most of all, we change our minds. Why do we forget in these midlife years that we’re really good at change? We always have been.
When we lived in Germany years ago, we learned early that we had to be prepared for any weather situation. Unlike America, plans do not change just because of a little rain or snow, and in most German villages, most of life happens outside. (And, rain was the order of the day more often than not.)
In the eyes of a German local, there is no such thing as poor weather. You are just poorly dressed.
Change may require some redirection and adaptation, but mamas, this is what we’re good at. Remember when we adapted our days to accommodate our toddlers? Or high school sports schedules? Now we meet the changing health of our aging parents. We do change!
So, when fear tells you that this change is going to be bad, tell it to shut up!
You can do change. You can do anything.
5. Fear tells you that you are alone.
As a mom of teens, I preached regularly that I felt better when my kiddos would go places with a group. I would instruct them (with pointed fingers) about the power in numbers. This adage is still true today, my friends.
Here’s the dirty little secret about fear. It likes to keep you feeling alone, it can have full access to our brains to whisper its lies.
As our houses empty, we need people, our friends, to give us perspective. We can’t let fear dictate our ability to make new friends or new social schedules. If we stay paralyzed in loneliness, we tend to bask in our own unfounded ineptness. We wallow.
We need friends to see our vulnerabilities. Sometimes we need them to pull us out of the shadows and remind us of the truth, to turn on the light and dispel our shadows. We need them to remind us of our strengths and talents.
We need friends that we can call to bring our family soup when we are out of town caring for an aging parent and our whole family is sick at home with the flu. (Yep, this happened to me and I love my friend Julie.)
Here’s the truth. You are never alone.
Jesus tells us this over and over in the Word. He came for this exact reason. He came to walk with us and give us courage and power to dispel the darkness in this life. But, He didn’t say He would lead us to the truth. Instead, He said He is the Truth.
When actual Truth tells you you are not alone, believe Him.
How do I conquer midlife fear?
- Turn on the light. See a doctor. Find out the truth. Have that difficult conversation with your adult child or aging parent. Search for information. Study your retirement nest egg. Open your Bible, and see Truth.
- Make a plan. Planning projects gives us midlifers a jumpstart (and a deadline) to make big jobs manageable. Enlist help or expertise. Be willing to try and also willing to make mistakes.
- Only live in today. We can’t live in a world of shadows or what-ifs which are NOT the truth. Use the power of inertia (the law of motion) today, which will carry you into tomorrow.
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I have a great new book for you about overcoming fear! The author numerous books and the blog Living Well Spending Less, Ruth Soukup has been through fire, quite literally, and she has a thing or two to say about mustering the courage to Do It Scared.
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