Sigmund Freud was once asked in a lecture "What is needed for a successful life?" Surprisingly, he answered in only two words: "Lieben und Arbeiten." To give and receive love -- and to do work that is right for you. His words still resonate.
If we are not living our values or purpose or expressing our passion in meaningful ways, we will be living someone else's purpose. The task of midlife is to find out who you really are and to claim your life." We need to ask ourselves, whose life am I living? When we are not living our lives in purposeful, meaningful ways we experience a sense of emptiness, loss, are bored, unhappy often withdrawn. Often we wonder if we are missing the point of our existence.
"If our work or life does not support our soul, then the soul will extract its butcher's bill elsewhere. ( James Hollis) Wherever the soul's agenda is not served, some pathology will surface in everyday life." Symptoms often include boredom, low grade depression, work holism, obsession with material wealth, or loss of energy, to name a few. When we try to escape these gremlins of lethargy and or fear, we can develop such diversionary habits as drug or alcohol abuse, over eating, addiction to television, the internet, work or even affairs, each offering a fleeting respite from the emptiness of a life not fully lived. Unfortunately, no matter the diversion, the symptoms will recur unless we make changes that will bring authentic happiness and satisfaction to our work and lives. As Rilke stated, "Our task is to be defeated by ever larger things."
Two of the most striking predictors of a person's longevity can be found in the answers to two questions, says Nortin Hadler, MD at UNC's Medical School: "Do I like what I do? and "Do I have a satisfying social support network?" Meaningful work and satisfying relationship are crucial to health and happiness.
Psychologist Erik Erickson highlights two essential tasks for adulthood and mid life: Intimacy and Generativity. Intimacy is the ability to share and confide, to give and receive feedback, and to accept our selves and others. The relationship we have with our self is mirrored in the relationships we have with family, co-workers and friends. We need to be able to form intimate and healthy relationships in our 20s and onward. With healthy and supportive relationships, we are better equipped to address generativity, the essence of midlife.
Generativity (versus stagnation) is simply a focus toward making the world a better place than when you found it. It can occur in some small way, like planting a tree or coaching your child's soccer team - or it can appear in grander acts of volunteerism and philanthropy. Whatever mark you make it needs to be based on self awareness and self acceptance. It requires knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, responsibility for your behaviors, and a connection to your passion and values; and that which is larger than yourself. Thus, expressing your talents in unique and meaningful ways.
How ready are you to handle your midlife issues?
Contact me for a free 30 minute consult or call 919 967-4106 today