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A Journey to Self-Discovery and Empowerment

As women, we take on a host of roles throughout our lives. We are partners, mothers, daughters, caretakers, professionals, confidants, and trusted friends. It’s no wonder so many of us arrive in midlife asking the questions:

Who am I in my depths? What is my authentic self?

These questions often start burning a hole in our pockets as we begin to navigate the challenges and complexities of midlife. I was in my late 40s when the question started bubbling up, but it took another decade and a major life upheaval to crack the facade I’d spent most of my adult life constructing. Behind that mask, a self that was both familiar and foreign began to emerge from the many layers I’d created. 

Accessing Your Authentic Self in Midlife

Written by Lee Bodkin

Accessing our authentic selves is not a linear process, or a goal we can attain by following a five-step program. For many women entering midlife, the urge to ‘get real’ begins with a whisper, a sense that some part of us has been hiding in the shadows. For others, like myself, dramatic life changes can be the catalyst to dismantle the personas that no longer fit.

What follows are tools you can utilize to help you find your way back to your authentic self — a part that has always been there waiting for you to show up.

It starts with intention and a willingness to engage in the process with curiosity, a sense of play, and patience. Life has a way of showing us what we need when we loosen our grip and make space.

Reflect on Your Life Journey  Take time to reflect on your life’s journey—your achievements, failures, joys, and sorrows. Acknowledge the lessons learned and how they have shaped you. Reviewing your experiences can provide insights into your true self and help you understand what genuinely matters to you. 

Identify and Embrace Your Core Values  Core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide your decisions and actions. Identifying these values is crucial to living authentically. Consider what principles you hold dear—whether it’s honesty, compassion, independence, or creativity. Once you have a clear understanding of your values, strive to align your life with them, making choices that reflect who you are at your core.

Cultivate Self-Compassion  Midlife is often accompanied by self-criticism and doubt. Cultivating self-compassion is essential for accessing your authentic self. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend. Acknowledge that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you are worthy of love and respect just as you are.

Explore Your Passions and Interest   Rediscovering and pursuing your passions can be a powerful way to reconnect with your authentic self. Think about activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s painting, writing, hiking, or volunteering, make time for these interests. Engaging in activities that resonate with your true self can lead to a more meaningful and satisfying life.

Set Boundaries and Prioritize Self-Care  Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining your authenticity. Learn to say no to commitments that drain your energy or don’t align with your values. Prioritize self-care by taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This might include regular exercise, meditation, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking time for yourself.

Seek Support and Community  Connecting with others who share similar values and interests can be incredibly supportive. Seek out communities or groups where you feel a sense of belonging. Whether it’s a book club, a yoga class, or an online forum, surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide encouragement and inspiration.

Embrace Change and Let Go of the Past  Midlife is often a time of significant change, whether it’s children leaving home, career shifts, or changes in relationships. Embrace these changes as opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Let go of past regrets and grievances, focusing instead on the present moment and the future you want to create.

Practice Mindfulness and Presence Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and fully engaged with your experiences. Practicing mindfulness can help you tune into your inner self and recognize what feels authentic to you. Regular mindfulness practices, such as meditation or mindful breathing, can enhance your self-awareness and clarity.

Accessing your authentic self in midlife is a transformative journey that involves self-reflection, embracing your values, and living in alignment with your true desires. By cultivating self-compassion, exploring your passions, setting boundaries, and seeking supportive communities, you can navigate this stage of life with confidence and grace. Remember, midlife is not an end but a new beginning—a time to reconnect with your true self and live a life that is deeply fulfilling and authentically yours.

If you notice any of these benefits showing up in your life, I’d love to hear from you.