"It feels like a silent storm inside of me. Am I crazy? Is this a midlife crisis? Am I being immature and selfish? I just feel like something is missing in my life. I want excitement and purpose. Will I regret it if I don't take another path and explore?" Many of my female clients in their thirties and forties are asking these questions.They have loving husbands or partners, both have college degrees, lucrative employment, nice homes, vacations and some have children with all of their material needs met. So what is missing?
In this generation of 'The Housewives' media description of how women are supposed to dress, look and feel, women are confused when all of the criteria are met, or somewhat met. The standards can never be met because the media adds more expectations each day.
These women are feeling a deep longing for connection to themselves and others, for their childlike pleasures and passions like running, having fun, exploring. These can't be bought; they come from within. What keeps them from finding them within their current lifestyle? Sometimes guilt from family members, lack of support for shared values, lack of social support. Being responsible and thinking about your retirement and your children's college fund is being responsible. Where did that get the Boomers? The Boomers did the right thing, dedicated themselves to an employer, worked to keep health insurance for their family and contributed to their retirement fund. Many lost their dreams. Their hard work was rewarded with a severance package at best. This generation of adults who are now 30 and 40 years old (those born through late 1970's) are longing for life purpose. They don't want to postpone their lives by being responsible. Although cultural, religious and social differences occur in these age groups, I am referring to the clients I see in person and online throughout the USA.
When I meet with these women, they are tearful with guilt and pressure about which path to take in life. they struggle with whether to stay in a safe place of responsibility and stability, or take another path of exploration and passion for the life they feel within them but have no guarantee will manifest.
So is this generation yearning for spiritual renewal? Have we come full circle from materialism back to a spiritual or even humanistic focus? Where does the freedom, joy, exploration and fun of childhood go? Remember jumping rope, exploring in the woods, playing hopscotch and just not wanting the day to end? When does stress and responsibility replace freedom and exploration? Many people are asking themselves why they can't have both.
Today's stressful lifestyle occurs gradually and seems to be occurring at a younger age. Why are so many children (50% in some school districts throughout the USA) on medication? Between their cell phones, computers and televisions, young people are trying to manage as many as seven tasks at one time and ADHD is prevalent. This way of life is the opposite of mindful living. People are not really living in the moment and are not fully aware of what they are experiencing so they miss the enjoyment of sensory pleasures. The stress of living seems to be occurring at a younger age. Some of my 18 year old clients are already being treated for anxiety about their grades, college placement, job future etc. They are spreading themselves thin with jobs, school activities and other resume building activities. They feel the competition and respond with anxiety. They feel the pressure from within and at times they pick up on their parents' fears. It is a time of change, shifting of perspectives from stress to freedom. This is another discussion. Is this the beginning of losing yourself, your life purpose while being so busy meeting the standards that continue to bar higher and higher?
Here I sit outside in the sun. A white butterfly just wisped by, enjoying the sun on its wings, the lift of the air under its wings, exploring and ' being' what it is here to be...a butterfly. Have we lost the ability to 'be' what we are here to be? This seems to be the conflict for many women and men but women tend to seek therapy more often than men although I am seeiing more men recently. There is a world of difference between 'doing' and 'being'.
Being is another way of experiencing mindfulness. According to Thich Nhat Hahn during an interview with Oprah, he explained "Mindfulness makes life beautiful and meaningful. When I am mindful of my in-and-out breath and relax my whole body, I am in touch with how good it is to be alive." Bringing mindfulness to your daily life requires letting go and allowing time to enjoy and give gratitude for everything within and around you. My life purpose coaching helps people move toward this so that they may not have to leave their current situation if they can learn how to be' mindful . Being mindful cognitively changes their ability to see themselves and their world as a place to enjoy, explore and have fun. The moments become hours then their lives become full of more of what was lost, the childlike enjoyment of freedom, excitement and the joy of being alive. Learn more about Creative Mindful Living at www.jeanemdrcoach.com and at http://www.oprah.com/spirit/A-Conversation-with-Thich-Nhat-Hanh-About-Savor/2#ixzz1Vfhiu0n7