Are you over 50 and feeling ignored? Do you think you’re having a mid-life crisis-of-confidence?
With a lot of focus on ‘Millennials’ and how to communicate with them in the world, where is your voice? What about you?
“I feel like my voice is diminishing”
This was a phrase a client used on the phone to me. In her mid-50’s, a CEO of a charity, regularly interviewed and asked for her opinion on TV, radio and in newspapers, she was facing a change of role, looking for a new position. However, she no longer felt relevant – like she was being left out of the loop in a youth orientated market – like she no longer had a voice that was being heard.
Another client is a 55yr old ex-GP recently semi-retired. He was previously a partner in a practice, still chair of a CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group), has published research papers for Kings College, married for over 30yrs and brought up two children … but now feels like he hasn’t achieved much and isn’t sure what to do, or where to go in life now.
Lacking in Self Confidence?
Maybe a last job change, or retirement, isn’t your challenge. Perhaps you feel like you’ve never really lived your life, but the one other people expected of you, and you want to find you again. Maybe you had children who have now left home and you and your partner are having to fill the void and find new ways of being and communicating with each other. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a separation, or bereavement which has shifted your reality.
Whatever your situation, there’s a chance that as you move forward in life, you are not where you thought you would be, or if you are, it doesn’t feel like you thought it would. Wherever you are, as you move in to the middle and later years of life there’s a chance you are feeling a bit lost.
Over 50 and Feeling Ignored
What is your role? Can you really step up another level? Who are you now? How can you still be relevant? What if you haven’t achieved ‘enough’?
People lose confidence when they feel lost, or like they don’t belong, especially in expressing themselves. Even, or sometimes especially, those who have held leadership positions in the world (whether that’s running a company or running a family) can feel uncertainty kick in, as life changes.
Where you are going? What you are doing? Is there a reason why? When we aren’t confident in who we are, or what our purpose is, that is often joined by a lack in confidence in feeling worthwhile, or relevant. So if you’re over 50 and feeling ignored, here’s what you should do …
What do you want to do next?
What do you want for this next phase of your life?
What can you do to re-establish or re-affirm your place in the world? How can you be both seen and heard, and confident in your space?
When I worked with the above clients, the focus was on their place in the world. How they could be sure they’ve made their mark? Would they leave a positive legacy? Could they feel both relevant and like they could live their life as retirement approached. They also wanted to have a voice.
Know What you Want!
The first step to being confident with where you are going, what you are doing and what you’re saying, is knowing what you want. When you are feeling a bit lost, knocked off balance, or bereft, it can be hard to remember what you want to create or achieve. It can be difficult to connect to the passion behind your purpose – or feel like you have a purpose at all.
Many people go through life doing or being what they feel they ‘should’. People do what’s expected of them by family or society, in order to make others happy, to provide or just to survive. . Sometimes this can have the side effect of squashing who you really are inside, or suppressing a side of you that doesn’t get to be expressed. There comes with that a sense of duty, the slight heaviness of obligation.
Do you still need to conform to those ideas? Is there a possibility that you could start to say “What about me?” “What do I want?”
Communication is Key
If you are in a relationship, make sure this thought process is being communicated – don’t just drop it on someone! Perhaps you can support each-other as you re-discover what you want and start to step from obligated duty, to the confidence of desire.
When you’re doing something with a spark of desire, there is automatically more confidence in your step and it’s easier to express yourself. (If there’s something you feel you have to do, can you see or find enough benefits in it to change the energy around it to want to do it?)
If you’re starting to make changes, challenges may arise with other people’s perception of you. Your friends, family and colleagues will have got used to a version of you, one that maybe didn’t express what YOU wanted, or what you needed, to be happier or more fulfilled. If you’ve never told people what you need, what you want, or how you really feel about something – then how can they possibly know? If they don’t know, then how can they support you, or change their behaviour, actions, or words to make it easier for you?
Become More Visible
This is often the biggest vocal confidence challenge – expressing to others what you want, asking for help so that you can get what you need, or starting to share the things that you feel are important. You might be surprised – when you let people know why you need something to be a certain way, suddenly it becomes a lot easier for them to do it and you’ll find you’re less grumpy, or nagging. You will also become more visible, more relevant, and what you feel to be important may also be acknowledged by others.
In order to start to express yourself, start to ask yourself; “What do I WANT here?” “What end result do I want to create?” and remember to be aware of what energy or emotion you want to have around that situation.
For example, you can be heard by shouting …but what energy is under the type of shouting and what result will that create around the situation? Each situation requires a different approach. If you’re in a team meeting with lots of loud people not listening, and they’re not used to you speaking up – you may need to raise your voice, initially, to physically be heard. However, if you’ve let yourself get to the end of your tether about something and you’re shouting out of frustration, it creates a different result.
If in doubt about how to start, here are a few tops tips.
Stop ‘Should-ing’. Start Wanting
- Write a list of 3 things you feel you ‘should’ be doing that relate to your current challenge – then look at them and decide if you WANT to or not.
- Look at the benefits of doing it to create more desire. If you don’t want to – how can you change it?
- THEN write a list of 3 things you really do want which relate to that challenge – how can you start creating that?
Change your thoughts before you talk. If you think people won’t want to hear what you have to say, then they won’t. Instead of thinking “Who wants to hear this” think about how what you know has helped others in the past, or what it is you want as a result of what you are saying.
Hold yourself high. To be more confident, look more confident. If you change your posture to one that is open and tall, that sends a message to your brain that ‘you’ve got this’. When you feel that energy through you, it gives off a message to those you are with, that you are worth hearing.
Love your experience. But don’t preach or patronise. You have experience and that is hugely valuable, but no-one likes being told what to do. Alternatively, being informed of what they might expect to encounter or experience is a different thing – and that you can share with them.
Ask for help. If you’re feeling lost, bowled over, bereft, or uncertain of where you are, or what’s happening next – let someone know – friend, family member, colleague. Trust me you will find you are not alone. If you want someone neutral to help you find your new voice or remember your direction, find a coach or counsellor, there are lots to choose from.