Rediscovering yourself and your sense of identity in your 40s

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has been left feeling pretty blah and with a very watered down sense of identity having battled our way mentally and emotionally through this god-awful pandemic.

The pandemic has battered or erased so many things hasn’t? That sense of freedom, joy, friendships, mental health and maybe – if you are like me – your sense of identity too.

Time to break free

Living in a little box is no good for anyone. Yet that is what as a collective we’ve had to do for the best part of two years, as our world became beyond micro and life became restricted as hell. Little by little, we’ve been picking our way through the rubble, trying to piece together the things we loved before this social tsunami pretty much wiped out the things we loved and brought us joy. But it all takes time.

The other day I went away for the very first time BY MYSELF. I took myself up to Yorkshire from London to see a friend who was visiting from Germany. It felt monumentous. That ritual of packing up my things and taking a train far away from home for pleasure left me sick to the stomach with anxiety but also giddy with excitement.

I realised just how much confidence I had lost with this living in a box mentally which had become the norm. The simple act of stepping outside my daily life, my comfort zone, was so empowering. I would’t have even given it a second thought before the pandemic but it felt epic. I told myself to woman-up: come on Talya, I said…you’ve travelled to India by yourself. You can do this! And so I did. Needless to say I returned a new woman and realised at that point the enormity of that which I – and probably also you reading this – had lost during this utter shit show.

Craving a break from the norm

What was next on the menu and operation sense of identity restoration? I was keen to keep on with the rebuilding of self and sense of identity. I needed to continue rebelling against the mundane which we had all become trapped in. I booked myself and my daughter our very first Stand Up Paddle Boarding lesson with our local operator – Hampton Court Paddle Sports. I had always wanted to be able to engaged with our local part of the Thames on a deeper way than just swanning around on a boat, and this was it.

I won’t lie to you, as we were talked through our explanatory land session, my mouth was so dry with fear it may have as well as been the Sahara Dessert. Completely ridiculous coming from someone who has jumped out of a plane on a skydive before. But there you go. I swear every muscle in my body rallied against me as it got up on that board, but within minutes once my mind had got over the fact that no – I was not about to meet my death by crocodiles in the River Thames – I started feeling free as a bird and began to enjoy the experience immensely. Think walking on water but only better.

Going with the urge

So why does the sudden urge to reclaim your sense of identity happen at this juncture? Jade Mitchell, at Blank Canvas Coaching says, “Many of my clients come to me seeking to renew or rediscover their sense of purpose in their 40s. They want to explore the place they find themselves in, gain clarity on the direction they want to take and set objectives to see real change in their lives. There are the demands on time, the sense of wanting to be fulfilled and challenged but needing to balance the demands of family, as well as the need to keep paying the bills to be factored in. It’s a challenge, but I believe every circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity, and fundamentally its down to having a positive mindset.”

So with many of us having taken a massive battering in terms of sense of self due to a more limited way of life then coupled with the mid life effect, how can we go about reclaiming our sense of identity in our 40s before? Here Andre Radmall M.A. MSc. B.A. psychotherapist, coach and author of the book Get Unstuck, Change the Script, Change your Life‘ shares his tips for rediscovering yourself and sense of identity.

Rediscovering your sense of identity

Self-care

Get into your body as much as possible. It could be dancing, yoga, gym, running. It doesn’t matter what you do but getting out of your head and into your body is essential for self-confidence.

Self-compassion

Watch the language you use about yourself– either internally or in conversation. Try to reduce negative self-talk.

Rewrite the script

In my book ‘Get Unstuck, Change the Script, Change your Life‘ I talk about rewriting your life story. When women enter their 40’s the scripts that society gives women change. Women often describe becoming less visible at this stage. This is a good point to step back and think about what your story over the next ten years could be. To build your story you will need to look at what you can realistically bring with you from the past and what new activities or relationships you want to build into the future.

See things differently

Identity can be broadened and expanded and changed by trying new things out. Write a list of three traits that describe you. Then think of the opposite of those traits. Then imagine how your day would be if you took on THOSE traits. How would you stand, move and relate to others? While this may feel like it’s being fake, you are actually allowing more space for different, previously hidden aspects of yourself to come out.

Have you found a burning urge to rediscover your sense of identity of late? Share your experiences in a comment below and connect with us on Instagram here to contine the conversation.

Photo by elifskies, Olga,  Quang Anh Ha Nguyen from Pexels