Emotional Awareness and Midlife Crisis Fog
A picture of a fog representing the Midlife Crisis Fog and how Emotional Awareness can help us.
Emotional Awareness is the key to much of the confusion or fog we feel at midlife. I realize that sounds hard to believe, especially if we're feeling a tremendous amount of negative emotion or confusion during our crisis. I can imagine the question, "If I feel so crummy now, why would I want emotional awareness and take a chance on feeling even more crummy?"
That's a fair question.
However, I have a good reason for recommending you become aware of the emotions you're feeling. That reason is this; you can learn a considerable amount about yourself and your negative feelings if you know that you have them. Here's an example from a 42-year-old man I'm coaching. We will call him W.
W first called me last October after hearing about my book Talking Man to Man. He had recently learned that his wife was having an affair with an acquaintance of his. As you can imagine, he was devastated! It was even more confusing when I told him maybe God was calling him to get to know himself. "Huh? He said.
Now it helps to know W is a very devout Christian, and, as I was raised Christian, I know how to speak the language of Christians. I told him, "God is calling you to meet yourself."
He said, with a hint of disbelief in his voice, "I called you because my marriage is falling apart, and you're telling me God wants me to meet myself?"
"Yes," I answered. He got quiet for a few seconds.
I said, "You have no control over your wife. You can not change her. Is that true?"
"Yes," he answered.
I asked, "Why then are you calling me?"
He paused for a minute. "I suppose…" He went quiet again for a few seconds. "I suppose… I want to find a way to make her come back …to get her back." He stammered.
"So, what are you trying to do then?" I asked.
"I'm trying to control her…" His voice faded off. "I am. I'm trying to control her. I had no idea I was doing that, but I am. When I actually think about the past twenty years we've been married, I can see I've been trying, directly and indirectly, to control her. I didn't realize that until now! No wonder she's moving away from me emotionally!"
"Wait a minute W. Are you trying to control her reasons for the affair in your head?" I asked.
He got quiet again. He started to talk, and then he paused mid-stammer. He started again. Slowly, he answered, "I think I am… Why would I do that? Why am I trying to control her answers in my head? …I think I have some control issues going on in my life…" He grew quiet again.
"W," I asked, "how well do you actually know yourself? Your reasons for doing things? Your motivations?"
"I… I… I don't think I know myself very well at all when I think about my motivations. It just felt like the thing to do when I did it." He answered.
I asked, "Do you understand now why I said you might be being called to get to know yourself?
How Emotional Awareness Benefits You
I always recommend getting to know yourself, starting with the simple question of "Are you feeling anything?" Emotional Awareness brings to light the myriad reasons we do what we do, think what we think, perceive what we perceive, and experience what we experience. It affects everything we do in our daily lives! Yet, many of us deny we feel many emotions at all!
Emotional Awareness opens up the motivations which influence or even control our lives. And thus, in midlife, when we feel confused or lost or depressed or anxious or in a fog, it helps to know we are actually feeling something. The emotions we feel are not us; they are how we feel. There is a HUGE difference! One is your identity, and one is how you feel.
Until you can see, you are not your emotions; your emotions will drive every decision in your life whether they help you or not. When you understand that feeling emotions are behind every action, you take, and you'll start to figure out what you really, Really, REALLY want in your life. Your true dreams! Not just your grasping for emotional relief.
I hope the reason Emotional Awareness is so important is a bit clearer now. If it isn't, please write to me and let's talk, I'll be happy to learn from you and, hopefully, you can also learn from me. Please contact me here.
Posted April 17, 2014