Master Your Mid-life through Self-Reflection (5 simple steps)

Why is our Mid-life often seen as a tough phase in life? Why is it often connected to words like crisis, depression, or anxiety? With some honest self-reflection and action steps, you can Master your Mid-life and turn it into the best mental phase of your life.

Instead of searching for new things to escape from the daily burdens, self-reflection during mid-life can result in the mental clarity we strive for. Step back, evaluate your life, and focus on the experiences that you cherished most, it will add more happiness to your life.

Shall we be honest with each other here?

I feel I am missing something in my life sometimes, do you?

A feeling that I cannot seem to satisfy.

Maybe for a short while, but it keeps coming back.

Let us reflect.

1. Acknowledge your thoughts.

Did you ever ask yourself why you feel dissatisfied sometimes?

Or do you jump straight into the action of scratching that itch?

Do you ever stop, and really hear yourself think?

I mean, in a way without judgment.

We, men, are masters in self-judgment. In most societies, it is expected of us to be tough and self-sufficient in order to take care of others.

Emotions are often considered weaknesses.

This societal perception has led us to believe this actually is the full truth.

And so we talk to ourselves in this way as well.

But I found out firsthand, from my performance coach, this is not true. I am learning to get out of my head and into my heart. As this is both very new and uncomfortable, it is also very familiar and liberating.

For most of the last decade, I have muted my own thinking when it came to feelings.

I felt that emotional reasoning would only slow me down and make me insecure.

But, by acknowledging my thoughts I am learning so much of why I did what I did.

And how I act on autopilot based on subconscious thoughts.

I hope you took the time to try out action step 1 here above.

If so, wow was that, listening to your own thoughts?

Weird? Uncomfortable? I know I felt like that.

But I can tell you it can bring you so much.

2. Analyze your life.

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get”.

Forrest Gumb

That Forrest Gumb was absolutely right when he said that I think. Predicting the future is still something we humans are not that good at. But we can look back at all the chocolates we have gotten already in our life and evaluate what worked and what did not.

Why would we do that?

A Mid-life crisis can kick in because of various reasons.

But it is safe to say that a feeling of unhappiness is part of the equation.

If we do not discover what lies behind that urge, we will either get sucked into the dark realms of crisis.

Or we go head first into the short-term satisfactory actions.

Here is a list of things that some of us turn to in our mid-life to scratch that unsatisfied itch:

  • Extreme career changes
  • have an affair with a younger woman
  • buy excessive gadgets, up until the purchase of the famous Porsche we cannot really affort
  • Indulge in risk-taking activities like sky diving or mountain biking
  • obsess about their hairline or beer belly
  • Gamble
  • many more

Not all of us turn to these measures luckily.

How about, instead of searching for these new things, we take pen and paper or a digital canvas, and we reflect on our last 30 years of life in order to expose that underlying feeling of unhappiness?

You already know how to listen to your thoughts, right?

Let us go a level deeper now:

As we are exploring this together, I will share my own list here below.

I hope it gives you a visual representation of how it could look.

Of course with your own memories in there, please.

Happy memoriesUnhappy memories
Playing soccer at school with my friendsNeeded stitches on my chin from falling at school
Christmas with the whole family in a restaurantNot having many friends in high school
Getting my high school graduationLosing my formal boss (big inspiration) in an accident
Getting that first promotion at workGetting fired from underperforming at work
Dating the most beautiful girl I ever sawTake a 30k loan for selling our apartment with a loss
Birth of my daughterGet easily mad at my daughter
Her first bicycle ride without side wheelsGetting my son into the hospital with a broken
toe for not being careful in the garage
Hearing we were going to get a sonNot being successful with first tries in blogs and YouTube
Seeing Self-Made Focus Come to Life
My son passed his difficult swimming exam
Seeing Self-Made Focus come to life

I really felt a great joy after doing this exercise.

First of all, the happy list is longer than the unhappy list.

But mostly because the unhappy list has proven itself to be all valuable life lessons in itself for me.

What first conclusions do you make of your list?

3. Attention makes it grow.

For the remaining part of our conversation here, I want to focus on the left side of your table. Because, as the header suggests, what we give attention to grows. Therefore we want to stay away from giving too much attention to our unhappy moments.

What a beautiful list of cherished memories you have created, right?

Take a moment and listen to yourself for two minutes while reading this list again.

Did you know, our mind is capable of processing around 50.000 thoughts a day?

This was stated in a research paper by the National Science Foundation back in 2005.

What is more scary is that 80% of our thoughts are negative thoughts.

95% of those are subconscious thoughts.

And 95% of those negative subconscious thoughts, you think of them on a daily basis.

A quick calculation thought me we have 1.6 repetitive negative subconscious self-thought per second!

The most worrying thing of all of this for me was that for our mind, the thoughts do not need to be factually true in order to manifest in our brain as the truth.

Let that sink in for a second.

No wonder we always feel our mind is busy with so many things.

A little Mental Minimalism could benefit the way we think about ourselves.

I hope you could discover a trend in what theme makes you generally most happy or what happy memory spoke to you most. It would be very interesting to discover why this is your happiest memory. Try to look past the superficial feeling but try to go deeper.

For me, the happiest memory that I can relive anytime is the moment I drove up to the parking lot where I saw my wife for the first time. I connected this memory to the color green as she was wearing something green. So now, I subconsciously get happy when I see the color green.

The phrase; what we give attention to, grows. Really is true.

4. What if

What if, you could devote 1 day, only to doing more of those things you cherish?

Do not alow your rational thinking to go into limitations of not having the time or money or other excuses.

Just stay with the thought how it would be if you would send a whole day with only the happy things.

Like the previous step, you just gave attention to the things or people, or activity that makes you happy. You let your mind create an image of something that you cherish.

Can you tell me how you feel?

I know I feel lighter and with a bit more energy. Is that not fascinating?

We did not move our body or activity did something but we were able to lift our spirit to a more happy moment.

5. Real action

As I am diving deeper into neuroscience myself, both through my education and interest in reading books and scientific papers, as well as through my performance coach, I am learning so many things that I want to share with you later.

The few exercises I walked you through here above are just a glimpse of what we could do if open our thinking to our mind. By taking a step back from the automatic pilot we move around in every day. We might just be able to take more control over our mid-life and our perceived reality.

I sincerely believe we are the only ones that can make ourselves happy. It is a simple thing to say, I know.

Sometimes simple things are the things we need to do, as the difficulty lies not in the insight, but the execution.

Remko van Buuren

The real action I want to point you towards now is to go to my other blog posts on this subject so we can stay in touch and I can continue to trigger your thinking.

Because I will continue on my quest to master mental minimalism.

In order to be able to make space for more happy moments in my life.

Hopefully, it creates a spark in you that you can create this space for yourself as well.

If so, please do let me know!

For now, I wish you all the happy moments you can enjoy in your life.

-Remko-

Remko

Owner and creator of this space. My mission: Provide you with insights and tools you need to create more happy moments in your life and in that of your loved ones. By using Mental Minimalism for more clarity.

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