My passion was born through a personal crisis. A midlife crisis.
As I approached my 50th birthday, the realization I had more years behind me than ahead woke me up from my autopilot daze.
My psyche was in turmoil.
All of life’s big questions and fears pummeled me like an avalanche of rubble.
- What is the meaning of my life?
- What have I achieved?
- Who do I want to be?
- What defines me?
- How do I find out?
Everything that once felt safe, secure, and acceptable for my life began to feel all wrong. I had a deep longing for something I couldn’t name, a restlessness to find something that felt authentic and real.
During that period of time, I kept a stream of consciousness journal. I’d write whatever came to my mind without awareness of the content until I read it a few days after I wrote it.
On one perfectly normal day, this sentence came out of my head and onto the page:
Your life will be turned upside down and inside out.
I had no idea how prophetic those words would be.
Over the next couple of years, my oldest daughter would leave home, I went back to school, changed careers, started a coaching business, built several blogs, wrote and published a book, created several courses, and my marriage fell apart.
Nearly everything about my life changed in those few years.
It definitely turned upside down, and I was turned inside out.
During that time, I lived with excruciating inner pain and fear coupled with a wild sense of exhilaration.
The more I pulled away from my old life, the more creative energy bubbled to the surface. I was learning, writing, designing, connecting, and producing at an astonishing pace.
Only in the last year can I say my personal and psychic crisis has settled into a place of calm contentment, balance, and joy.
The process of finding my passion involved the dismantling of my old self, and the recognition of the self I’d been holding inside. It took an inner cataclysm to awaken me to my deepest longings and authentic self.
It happens quite often that a personal crisis will unlock one’s life passion.
You’ve probably seen this before with friends or family. Or maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Sometimes you have to slam into a brick wall before you can reach the bounty on the other side.
The brick wall can manifest in many ways . . .
- a death
- the end of a relationship or marriage
- a child leaving home
- the loss of a job
- a business failing
- a depression
- a health crisis
- an unexpected calamity
- an encounter with someone who jars you awake from the status quo
When you are in the midst of one of these personal crises, you aren’t thinking, “Great! Now I will finally find my life passion.” You’re simply struggling to breathe, to survive the crash.
But once the dust settles, once you realize you’re still alive in spite of the fear and pain, you have a choice.
You can hunker down in despair as you clutch the remnants of your old life.
Or you can dive into the depths of the internal shifts you’re experiencing, and mine for gold in the new landscape of your evolving self.
Every personal crisis holds the key to deeper self-awareness and personal growth. It unlocks the willingness needed to recognize your passion if you're willing to turn the key. During these times, you can learn about . . .
- your powers of strength and resilience;
- what is truly most important in your life;
- who you really are when facades are stripped away;
- who you want to become now that options are open;
- what you’d really like to pursue now that someone or something is no longer in your way;
- how capable you are now that your abilities have been tested;
- what hidden interests and longings have been pushed down because of other obligations or inner resistance;
- a new worldview and different personal operating system now that your old life has been stripped away.
Although it carries the exquisite pain of rebirth, a personal crisis forces you to reevaluate yourself and your life. It also affords you a well-spring of inner strength to draw from as you take action on what you’re learning about yourself.
Often when something deeply painful happens to us, we can ultimately say to ourselves, “I survived something really bad. I have lost my old self, so what more do I have to lose by following a new path and becoming a new person?”
It’s a liberating realization. No more pretense. No more struggling to be someone you’re not.
So how can you best navigate a personal crisis in order to find your passion?
Often this happens organically — you don’t have to navigate at all. For example, if you lose your job, suddenly starting that business you always wanted to start becomes a necessity rather than a dream. You are forced to make your passion real.
But in other scenarios, there’s more of a transition and healing process involved.
Here are 5 ways to survive midlife crisis symptoms and find your calling on the other side . . .
1. Give yourself time.
When you experience a crisis, your emotions will be everywhere. You may have pain, anger, guilt, depression, and fear.
You need time to manage the emotions and begin healing from the pain of losing part of your old life.
This can take months, but as you feel more on steady ground, remind yourself of the potential positive opportunities buried beneath the pain.
2. Redefine your life values.
When an upheaval happens, everything you once believed important in your life is in disarray or has disappeared.
If you ever needed guiding principles, this is the time you need them most.
Take the time to revisit your core values in light of this big life change. As you are faced with difficulties and decisions going forward, your values will be a touchstone to keep you on track with your authentic self and your life priorities.
3. Seize opportunities.
With every major life change, new doorways open, new people enter your life, new circumstances call for action.
Remember to stay alert to opportunities that present themselves and act on them if they seem remotely interesting.
Since you’ve been shaken out of the status quo, use this time to explore and experiment with new ideas and previously dormant pursuits.
This is an especially good time to pursue creative endeavors, is creativity is a great way to express your experience and draw out the longings inside of you.
4. Crack open.
When something bad happens, we hide and withdraw from others out of guilt, shame, or pain. Or pride and ego force us to put on a happy face, pretending everything is fine and dandy when it so isn’t.
Staying positive during hard times is valuable, but pretending your life is the same and cobbling together the pieces to look “normal” is an exercise in futility.
Crack open, experience the pain and the liberation of change. Share it with your friends and family and allow them to support you.
You may be surprised how your loved ones have always seen the passion inside of you, covered up by your old life.
5. Accept your emotions.
After you have a personal crisis but before you reach a place of calm confidence in your new life, you will experience a deluge of emotions.
There will be days you’re excited and enthusiastic about your future, and other days when you’re grieving what you’ve lost.
There will be times when you pursue something with passion, and times when your passion is the only thing keeping you sane.
But time heals all things, and if you allow yourself to fully experience all of your emotions, you will heal more quickly and enjoy your new life more fully.
If you are experiencing a midlife crisis in your life now, or any other big crisis, take a deep breath and as you move through the pain and difficulty, remember you have a golden opportunity to tap into your passion.
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Once you catch your breath, ask yourself the important questions, the questions that will help you recognize the new you and the passion you hold inside.
Even if you aren’t going through a crisis now, remember that life transitions and challenges are inevitable.
And when you next encounter a seismic shift in your life, you’ll be prepared with the tools to help you find purpose, passion, and meaning underneath the pain.