“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.” Brene Brown
So, what is it about turning 50 that makes it so different from any other age milestone? There is something about that “half-century” mark that makes people stop and think,” Where did the time go?” A time when suddenly new aches, pains, and graying hair seems to spontaneously appear. For some people, it is just the sudden realization of not feeling motivation about things that used to inspire. Or for others it’s thinking, "Is this as good as it gets?”
Even though you may be successful, you could still be questioning everything you have devoted to the last couple of decades. All those carefully laid out life plans suddenly do not seem to matter as much anymore. You may start questioning your purpose and the choices you have made. Or maybe, you could be feeling resentful of the choices that you did not make. Whatever the feeling, it’s helpful to look at some mindsets that can inhibit enjoying the golden years!
Many people feel that transforming life after 50 is important. In this post, I’ll explain why after fifty living feels difficult and mindsets you can adapt to transform your own post-50 life.
Why do I feel so bitter the older I get?
“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20, has wasted 30 years of his life.”
The stereotypes about getting older have been ingrained through culture, media and entertainment. This has caused many of us to be primed, early on, to anticipate feeling old even before we reach the age of 50.
By the time that 50th birthday rolls around, we are more aware of things we can't control anymore, like growing old. And oftentimes losing control on one area can force a person to hold onto things that they feel they can control, like point of view or a belief. (Does “No one is going to tell me what to do” sound familiar?)
Beliefs and viewpoints become stronger the less control one feels. Asking someone to change or try something new, can actually come across as a threat to the comfort of what is known. Any challenge to this can be met with fear, anger and bitterness.
Why is addressing bitterness in aging important?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Anais Nin
In realizing life after 50, our minds love what is familiar. Familiar is safe and to keep the familiar safe, requires rigidity. This rigidity creates a mindset that may feel protective but is actually deceiving.
Holding on to negative thinking is a protective mechanism but the cost is, being less tolerant, less patient and seeing things more negatively when it doesn’t match what is familiar.
Feelings of disappointment, resentment and an all-or-nothing type of thinking further strengthens the bitterness mindset. Because you get more of what you focus on, limiting oneself to only that which is familiar, the known, keeps the mind feeling safe.
The mind’s negative outlook and belief is further validated through the mind's mechanism of “confirmation bias”. This is this bias that offers a sense of mental safety and control when you only see what you choose to see.
The detriments of the bitterness mindset is that it can actually speed up aging, narrowing a person’s view of the world and inhibit feeling good about life. Engaging in bitterness can also lead to depression, exacerbate pain, compromise the immune system, and sabotage relationships (a time when connection with others is crucial).
I’m older and feeling invisible!
“There’s one thing worse than being whistled at, it’s not being whistled at!” As an old saying goes...This is an unfortunate analogy but feeling invisible or overlooked is a common phenomena in aging, sometimes called the Invisible Woman Syndrome. Not feeling seen affects self-esteem and can alter a person’s sense of self in the world.
However, this feeling can happen to men as well. Feeling invisible is a mindset of how one is seeing themselves in the world, it can compound bitterness and trigger old core beliefs of not feeling good enough, having low self-worth or feeling like not belonging.
I Feel Like I’m Never Going to be Happy in After Fifty Living
Furthermore, entering the phase of midlife with unresolved issues can increase the bitterness of an already negative mindset. With a negative mindset, you may not be transforming your life after 50 at all. An inner program that was imprinted to feel anxious, fearful, negative or depressed, can grow with thoughts of:
What happened to my life?
I’m scared! I'm running out of time!
I don’t feel the love anymore.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
I feel alone and old.
These thoughts narrow one's world and opinions get fixed on finding validation of why life is difficult and unfair.
The Value and Importance of a Healthy Mindset in Life change after 50
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl
Why is Mindset important?
Mindsets are the beliefs that you hold that shape you, it’s how you see the world, how you react to experiences and it influences your decisions. It is biased to you and it will give you what you see, feel, hear. Good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, it is the map you use to guide you through life. Carry a bitter mindset and your experiences will validate your thinking, your outlook.
When you upgrade your mindset, you upgrade your life!
Contrary to the wording, a mindset does not mean it is “set”. It can be changed. No matter what the age. What it does require is that the person is willing and has a desire to change. It may seem daunting the older one gets, afterall, those old beliefs have become an identity, a personality and who would you be without them. But not only is change possible, it is liberating!
Imagine what it would feel like to finally to finally get rid of old limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, self-sabotaging behaviors, the people-pleasing behaviors, the fears of not being good enough or the feeling that happiness is not available.
Just like any system, the brain is one of the most complex systems known. It is the central organ of the human nervous system. Its job is to keep us alive, keep us safe and perceive threats and it does this by holding on to familiar ways of thinking, no matter how outdated, negative or irrelevant. Having these beliefs may have worked in the past, but it now contributes to on-going bitterness.
Being a system, it operates on what was programmed into it based on experiences and conditioning. However, instead of reprimanding yourself with the same old self-talk (Ex., “get it together,” “what’s wrong with you,” or “stop complaining”) it might be time for a full mindset upgrade which means, changing the programming.
Benefits of changing a mindset later in life
Experience more fulfilling relationships with family and friends
Develop motivation to take action to learn and experience new things
Increase energy, stamina and focus
Overcome feelings from depression and anxiety
Increase overall happiness and life satisfaction
What would it feel like to hear these words from a loved one or a friend…. “You’ve changed. Or maybe you know of someone who may benefit from a mindset upgrade to start feeling relevant, positive, active and curious..
How do I know if the Midlife Upgrade program is right for me?
I would love to chat with you about whether the midlife upgrade would be a good fit for you. Feel free to contact me directly here to schedule a free personal discussion.
Doing the deep dive to become a better version of you, will allow you to shed long-held imprints that hold onto inner turmoil and negative self-talk so you can start living your best life... for the rest of your life!
The choices you make now are some of the most important of your life, how are you choosing to live in this new phase in life?
Jacqueline Connors, MA,LMFT is Clinical Therapist and Mental Coach in Napa Valley, CA specializing in improving mindsets, overcoming old programming and midlife transitions. Having passed through the needle of turning 50 and making major changes in her life, she provides an understanding and skill level to support individuals through her Midlife Crisis Program. The program is specifically designed for those wishing to release old negative beliefs and patterns of behavior in a profound way that allows one to enter this phase in life with energy, excitement and freedom.