It’s common at mid-life to have the feeling that you didn’t factor yourself into your own life. In fact I got that phrase from a client who, at 47 years, had noticed that she hadn’t. You think your goals and plans were all about you, but at mid-life we often have the feeling that we were living someone else’s life, and following someone else’s goal because the ones we achieved, or didn’t, don’t seem to have the meaning we thought they would.

We are our feelings, and when we take a break and stop to feel our lives, we may find they’re missing. What we thought would bring us joy hasn’t. What we thought would feel like “arriving” doesn’t. In fact for many, it may be quite a while since you asked yourself how you felt about anything, I mean REALLY felt, and also, sadly, that no one else has asked. Nor have they asked you what you WANTED.

You may have had your “15 minutes of fame,” or you may not have had it. Those who have had it know it’s just 15 minutes, and that there’s a let-down afterwards. The bad news is the highs of life are fleeting. The good news is the lows of life are fleeting. The real news is that feelings are only temporary, and that whether it’s great, or whether it’s awful, it will change.

So if you’ve been trudging along, waiting for the highs, or having the highs and wondering why the feeling doesn’t last, or having the highs and experiencing the let-down afterwards – nature’s way of balancing things, or feeling nothing, feeling numb, or having that awful “been there, done that” feeling and despairing that there will ever be anything new to delight you … it’s time to take stock at midlife, and also time to make restitution. I talk more about this in my ebook, "Making Restitution."

It’s no secret that at midlife we often try just the opposite. It’s not called the “midlife crisis” for nothing. The meek accountant leaves his wife of 25 years, buys a red Corvette and takes off with a 25 year old lover. It’s not going to end well, but it’s not a time one can be reasoned with. Or the at-home homemaker gets a new hairstyle, loses 25 pounds and gets a job outside the home for the first time in her life, abandoning her gardening, cooking and other hobbies, to the dismay of her husband who is now ready to get domestic, grow tomatoes, and enjoy the grandchildren, having explored the work world and all it has to offer – and doesn’t.

So how do you make this turn in your life? It’s a good time to develop your emotional intelligence. To start getting in tune with your body and what it’s telling you about how you’re feeling about things. Whatever this means to you, if you’ve discovered that even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat, why not be something else?

The more you’ve ignored your feelings, and the longer you have, the more challenging it is to let it all back in. This is because it will involve pain. We tend to scurry over the painful points in our early years because we know there’s lots of time ahead, and also because it doesn’t feel good to hurt and there are plenty of distractions. However it tends to all come to a head, like a boil, and that’s when it needs lancing. It’s a law of emotions, like the laws of physics, that if you shove down one emotion, you shove them all down.
For most of us there are big changes at mid-life. Kids leave home and them a portion of the financial burden (plus a lot of joy but a sense of a job well done), there’s a time vacuum, we may move ‘down’ in housing, have a change in finances, or retire, and there are about as many body changes as there are at puberty. Our health can also start requiring more attention.

In a way you become a new you, and need to recreate your life. It’s time to get back in touch with your feelings, so you can sharpen your intuition to guide you through the next stage. How else can you know what you want? It’s isn’t an intellectual thing, it requires emotional intelligence. We know what gives us the momentary pleasures, but what bring contentment, balance and a sense of well-being? What brings meaning to our lives? What’s our anchor when we feel at sea with all the changes?

The person with the most power in any situation is the person who is the most flexible, and flexibility is an emotional intelligence competency that can be developed. It can involve learning about the “other” side of your brain – left or right. Typically we have one hemisphere dominant, and that’s where we’ve spent most of our time. Exploring the “other” side and strengthening the connection between the two brings balance and harmony.

Instead of thrashing around trying to figure out the details, why not work on your emotional intelligence so you’ll have a sure guide? Intellect is not useful in making this transition and emotions, if not understood and managed, can get in the way. Many people become depressed which fells like “nothing,” but is really an active mental state which also manifests in flash anger, irritability, and irrational thinking. Lost in the fog of what feels like no emotions, it’s only our emotions that can give us a map to the way out.

Intellect dictates that “new and better” will bring happiness – whether it’s a new and better car, partner, house, boat, job, or location. Emotional intelligence guides us to something quite different, unique to each individual, more meaningful and more lasting. Why not give it a try?

The less you know what this is about, and the more resistant you are to the idea, the more it’s probably just the thing for you! After all, if you aren’t happy and keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve been getting, and time is of the essence.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, Life and EQ Coach, . Susan is the author of “Making Restitution: For Women at Midlife,” and coaches individuals in emotional intelligence with application to all life situations. She also trains and certifies EQ coaches, the perfect midlife profession. For more information on this fast, affordable, all long-distance program, or for FREE EQ ezine,

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