MAY 2019


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How to adjust to
a new phase in your life

How we look and the age we signal are important to many people. But looks are not the only key to well-being and feeling good about one-self. How we feel about our different life phases is equally important. This is why it is important to learn how to adjust to a new life phase.

Turning 40, 50, or 60 represents not only biological changes but also psychological changes. We may become aware that other people react to us in new ways, and we ourselves may observe changes in how we think and what is important to us. This is part of a natural process that most people experience. Of course, we may not be happy about it, and it can cause stress and depressive thoughts.

Growing older gives many people more insight into themselves and some people become more confident and sure of themselves with age. But growing older also represents a loss or can be viewed as a loss-of youth, of good times, of health.

We may not like it but if we know how to say proper 'good bye' to the life phase that is over we are likely to feel better about our new life phase. A proper good bye is quiet and invisible according the to book Healing Pain: Attachment, Loss and Grief Therapy (Routledge, 1991). Saying goodbye may take some time, maybe a couple of years or more.

People who are in denial of the changing life phases often get mental health problems because they do not acknowledge their loss, and thus they avoid the feelings associated with what they have lost.

Loss may be a dramatic word to use in this respect, but loss reflects that to some people it can be dramatic to turn 50, 60, or 70 and retire from the work place and realize that there are fewer chances to do what you want to do in life. 

Using the word loss also indicates that there can be a need for a grieving process when all these changes happen. Grieving is an unpleasant feeling but when handled as a process of change it can lead to new insights, new life skills, and a new outlook on life.

The more literally you can say good bye to what you have lost, the better chance of getting through the entire grieving process without mental health problems. This may involve stating one's loss to oneself, either by verbalizing it or writing about it. Sharing these thoughts with people who are or have been in the same situation can be beneficial-if they have adjusted well to their new life phase.

Grieving takes time. It may take weeks or months but verbalizing the loss one is feeling to oneself and to close friends are the most important steps you can take to move on with your thoughts and feelings.

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