By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club editor and founder, Magnificent Midlife Movement
Why Unresolved Issues Can Hinder Us
I want women to live a magnificent midlife and beyond. Emotional baggage can take up an awful lot of head space and stop us reaching our potential at any age. Unresolved issues can really hinder us, especially when we’re hit by lack of confidence and start doing some serious soul searching in midlife.
If we’re preoccupied with issues from the past and still expending energy on those, how can we possibly make the very most of our future?
Midlife for a woman is a time when we say goodbye to one stage of our lives, while welcoming in another one. If we fail to acknowledge and attempt to deal with any unresolved issues, we risk these holding us back.
Time For Evaluation
Our midlife transition and transformation is not just physical; it’s also an emotional and spiritual journey. It’s the perfect time to evaluate where you are in life and where you want to go next. And while you’re doing that, it pays to consider anything from your past that still causes you pain.
It might be difficult relationships in your birth family, problems in your career that still haunt you, grief or loss you haven’t fully processed, humiliations or deceit that can still trigger you. Dealing with these issues is often much easier said than done!
I have things in my life I’d love to be able to sort out but still don’t seem able to! But years of psychotherapy have taught me, if I can’t deal with an issue when I’ve really tried, it’s better to just let it go, than allow it to continue to cause pain.
If your unresolved issue is something you can gently, compassionately and courageously take action on, give it a go. Maybe you need to acknowledge some responsibility for what happened in the past before you can do that.
Can you think objectively about whatever happened and how you might have contributed to the situation? Can you understand your actions? Can you empathize with others even if they have truly hurt you?
There are some things in life you really can’t do anything about. You can’t change people, you can only change yourself. So perhaps it’s about putting on your armor and becoming Teflon girl.
Or spending enough time meditating on a particular issue, exploring its nooks and crannies and finally saying “Begone, you annoying bit of twaddle!”
Perhaps you write your unresolved issue on a piece of paper and then you have a symbolic burning ceremony to release its malodorous pong to the universe!
Writing things down really does help. This is where the idea of journaling comes into its own. I was sceptical about this for years but when we entered the 2020s, I did a full decade review process before looking at where I wanted to go with the next 10 years.
I finally saw the value in writing things down and am now a journaling aficionado.
I now try to write every morning, taking inspiration from The Artist’s Way Morning Pages, sometimes just free writing or with a series of prompts. Sometimes I just pick up my notebook at any time of day, when I have an issue bothering me.
I find it so helpful just writing out all the crap! Doing a regular gratitude and forgiveness practice is also hugely empowering. And great for letting go of stuff.
Here are the Daily Journaling prompts I try to incorporate in my daily writing:
- I choose to release
- I choose to receive
- 3 affirmations ( eg. I am a strong, I am centered, I am healthy – three things you want to be, expressed in the present tense)
- I forgive
- I am grateful for
- Future me visioning (envisioning who you’re going to be or what you want to have achieved.)
This is where pen and paper work much better than a keyboard. My writing is atrocious and I can type faster than I write. I even bought a book on how to improve my handwriting!
But I’ve discovered recently the very real connection between our thoughts and our hands as the pen moves across paper. Having to make my writing legible so I can read it later, has also forced me to slow down which is no bad thing when trying to process things in my head! So get out your notebook and pen, and start writing!
Take an honest look at any resentment you may still be carrying around with you. Like any unresolved issue, resentment can eat into our head space, allow the persistence of negative patterns in our behavior and generally waste a lot of our energy.
It’s very true that holding resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. It does nobody any good whatsoever.
Holding grudges just steals our capacity for joy. A forgiveness practice as part of your journaling will help you process any lingering resentment and let go of the unresolved issues.
I also discovered the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. This is a very short meditation on accepting responsibility and expressing repentance, asking forgiveness, expressing gratitude and love.
Apparently it doesn’t really matter what you’re expressing repentance, forgiveness, gratitude or love for! What matters is the act of ‘saying’ the words in your head: “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” It certainly has a calming effect!
The Buddhist Loving-Kindness meditation can also help to do away with resentment as well as building self-love. During the meditation you focus benevolent and loving energy towards yourself and others.
This meditation first guides you towards loving and accepting yourself, then people you care about and ultimately challenges you to also apply this technique to people you find difficult. Find out how to do the Loving-Kindness Meditation here.
Ultimately, dealing with unresolved issues or just deciding to ditch them, is going to benefit you greatly going forward. So try out the techniques above and see how you get on.
If there’s a really difficult person in your life and you need particular help with them, check out our post on Recognizing The Signs Of A Toxic Person.
If you need help digging deeper and there’s still a lot of pain coming up, talk to a psychotherapist. If you’d like help working out where to go next to create your magnificent midlife, check out my Work With Me Page and let’s have a chat!
You may also like: How To Fix A Relationship Under Stress
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Rachel Lankester is founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.