05/02/2011 06:53 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Moving Beyond the Shock of Midlife

Here's a question from a reader about navigating the initial shock of midlife:

Dear Maddisen:

OK, I get that I'm in midlife, and I want to make a difference and maybe even be happier. But how do I get past this feeling I've done something wrong? Like I'm a misfit now? Help!

This is an excellent question because it hits on a real sore spot that is fostered by a culture obsessed with youth. But not to worry, because it simply points out an imbalance, and one that we can equalize by how we perceive, honor and befriend ourselves as we walk along this well traveled path of midlife. Everyone, no matter what age, will eventually pass this way, so let's show 'em how it can be done with ownership, vitality and finesse.

You're not alone in feeling that you've done something wrong or that you're suddenly a misfit. I've been there myself, as have many of my clients. Why do we get these unpleasant feelings? It all depends on personal history, but they could stem from judgments we have about our accomplishments or lack thereof, from our own irrational beliefs about aging, from fears that our physical changes make us less attractive and valuable, etc. What's most important here, however, is not focusing on what's wrong but rather on solutions and the steps you can take to reclaim your birthright of power and joy, and move forward with your precious life.

There is a very potent and effective tool for releasing these hurtful perceptions, and it's called self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness is one of the very first tools I share with clients, and it's usually the tool that causes the deepest healing and liberation from immobilizing feelings such as fear, anger, shame, unworthiness and self-criticism. Self-forgiveness softens our hard places, naturally releases self-criticism and self-judgment, and frees us to live our lives of greater purpose as our own greatest ally and supporter, which is what we came here to do in the first place.

In previous blogs, I've outlined a full three-step process of self-forgiveness. Now I'm introducing self-forgiveness on the fly, which you'll have handy at all times, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Self-Forgiveness on the Fly

If you're alone and become aware of negative judgments or criticisms you are directing at yourself, or if you become aware of negative judgments or criticisms that you feel that other people are directing at you, say this phrase silently or out loud (whatever feels most comfortable): "I forgive myself for judging myself."

Anytime and anywhere you are, if you're feeling any negative judgment from yourself or from others, continue to repeat "I forgive myself for judging myself." If you're by yourself doing this, imagine the judgments passing overhead and disappearing like clouds in the sky. Don't analyze or mentalize any of it; just say "I forgive myself for judging myself" until you feel calmer or the judgments dissipate.

Try it right now. Make this your mantra for a while.

The Magic, 32-Day Commitment

Get out your calendar and commit to doing self-forgiveness on the fly for 32 days. Do this for 32 days in a row, starting this week. Write down your start date and end date, and get going! If you miss a day, forgive yourself for judging yourself, and then start over.

If you really want to feel better, you've first got to change what you're thinking, and a super effective way to change and improve your thoughts and your vibration is to practice better-feeling thoughts for 32 days in a row. After you complete the 32 days, reward yourself with kudos and maybe a favorite treat, and then continue practicing self-forgiveness regularly. Make it your soothing, liberating habit.

W. H. Murray said:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

This powerful quote describes what happens when we commit to improving our lives, and the 32-day self-forgiveness process may be the express train that you've been waiting for.

So, there you have it: your first key lesson in midlife empowerment. Transform your mind into your greatest ally. Start practicing self-forgiveness today. Share your start dates and comments below. Remember this: when we release the shackles of judgment and accept where we are on the natural timeline of life, it frees us up to thrive, give our gifts and enjoy the rewards that all of this brings. As midlifers, may we continue to rise as self-respecting and empowered adults, expressing and sharing our great value with the world at large.

Your life coach,

Copyright 2011 Maddisen K. Krown, M.A.