By Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D
We have all been there, back at the starting gate, I mean. Whether we have had to reinvent ourselves for a new profession, get used to our own company and being alone in the empty nest syndrome, or going through a divorce or break up with a significant other ALL women at some point in their lives experience starting over.
In the 20 plus years I have been counseling and advising people one thing that has clearly shouted out to me by the person sitting in the chair across from me is this: There is fear in the unknown; and starting over is rife with unknown. "What if" thinking is rampant: What if I never find another relationship? What if I am unable to learn when I go back to school? What if potential employers think I am too old to reenter the job market? I have seen people what if themselves into depression and anxiety. Certain that life is over and they can't reinvent, restart or gear up for the challenge, many draw the bedroom curtains and avoid life altogether.
We have learned how to have relationships with our children, significant others, friends, strangers-everyone but ourselves. We have learned all we can about what pleases and nurtures them, and not nearly enough about what pleases and nurtures us.
Starting over is a perfect and crucial time to develop a relationship with yourself.
First, I want you to give yourself a pat on the back for all the good you have done for others.
Then, I want you to forgive yourself for the times you missed the mark. (Stop thinking of it as "failure.")
Go out and get a few books on co dependency. Read them. If there are assignments to follow, do them.
One book I recommend is "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie. If you were married to an alcoholic/addict, I also suggest reading "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood. These oldies but goodies have been around a while and are chock full of insight and healing.
Next, take some time to look at how you treat yourself. Are you as good to yourself as you are to others? How much time per day do you really take to focus on yourself? Try something you have always wanted to do, but were too fearful to do it. Make a long list and start picking from it.
And speaking of fear…Yes, it will raise its ugly head and guess what? You can hold onto your fear as long and as tightly as you want. I promise no one will ever try to take it away from you. Just do these things anyway. Grit your teeth and muddle through as best you can. Don't be perfect at anything. You are just a toddler at all this, after all. Don't beat yourself up over any of it.
I will promise you this: In time, your fear will naturally get less as your body, brain and emotions get more comfortable with your new ways of thinking and behaving. As new patterns replace old habits, you will ease into a newer, happier version of yourself where creativity and energy will naturally flow.
Starting over can be the most exciting, exhilarating thing you have ever done. Reinventing oneself is all about thinking outside the box, keeping commitments to yourself and following through. Look at Cher, Jaclyn Smith, Oprah, and Madonna. These women have stayed at the top of the their respective industries for decades when others have come and gone because they figured out how to reinvent themselves. They stepped out into new territory, outside their primary professions and became moguls.
I don't know you personally, but I do know women. We are resilient. We are strong. We are proud. We are creative. We are loving. I have helped women who were at the lowest points of their lives go back to school, start businesses, repair their souls, gain self esteem, channel their fear and anger into "weapons of mass production".
You can do this. I have faith in you. GO FOR IT!
The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,"there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible". Linda's book, Don't Ever Call Me Ma'am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.