Q I find myself feeling out of sorts the last six months or so. Projects that I was excited about seem dull and even meaningless. I don’t find myself wanting to get up and get my day going the way I used to. I have functioned quite well most of my life and have always gotten a lot of acknowledgement for my work. That fed me and motivated me to work harder and accomplish more. Now that accomplishment doesn’t do much for me. I think about the big issues in the world—the recession, wars, global warming and poverty and don’t feel that my life is contributing much to help with these situations. Yet, I don’t know what I really want to do with my life. I am 52 years old and I feel lost.
A Seems like you are quite aware of your recent feelings and you are honest and open about feeling confused and a bit down. There might be several things going on here. If you have worked very hard most of your life and got charged by others’ positive reflection and appreciation, it is more than likely you were not in touch with the deeper and more genuine part of you. This is common when you are a high functioning, intelligent individual. You may be a bit burnt out after such work. Do you feel tired, disinterested and wish you could just get away from it all? Have you given yourself some real time off? Not just a week or two, but have you taken at least a month of vacation where you are actually resting, reflecting and nurturing yourself in ways that replenish and fulfill you? This time can be healing and is a way to attune yourself to your deeper self. See if you can afford to take such time off and go where the environment can greatly support your rest and refueling.
With all the drastic changes in the world and your being 52, it’s natural to think more deeply about your purpose and role in today’s life. Most people are so caught up in daily tasks that they are not looking at what really fulfills them and how they want their lives to offer something more meaningful and to make a difference. As age begins its inevitable slide, the tendency is to work harder to keep, maintain and sustain the jobs and businesses.
This is an opportune time to consider what you really care about. To find this out, you need to know yourself more fully.
You can do this by making space for your thoughts, feelings, reactions, dreams and interests. If you’ve been more driven by outer reflection, going inward might feel awkward, empty, confusing or even scary.
Stay with whatever feelings you have as you get quiet. Some people even feel like some part of them is dying. Although this can feel sad and disorienting, it opens you up to deeper truths which allows for old values and patterns to break down, so there is space for a type of rebirth to take place inside you.
This process can be very rich and energizing.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D. is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. (650)325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com.