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A-Z of Midlife: I is for Identity Challenge.

July 28, 2009

I
Question:
What does a midlife woman have in common with a young adolescent?

For those of you who answered raging hormones, foul moods and embarrassing physical changes you are definitely on the right track! But that’s only part of the answer.  We both go through a life phase characterised by internal ‘turbulence’ as we try and work out who we are. Some describe this as an identity crisis but I much prefer to think of it instead as a challenge – so I is for Identity Challenge.

Both adolescence and midlife are phases where important identity adjustments takes place, leading ultimately to the emergence of new personal awareness. The task first time round was to separate from our families and define who we are as individuals, our values, likes and dislikes. In midlife, the task is to revisit some of these issues in an attempt this time to discover, ‘Who am I NOW?’

There’s a name for this process, you know – it’s called ‘individuation.’ If you haven’t heard the term before, here’s a definition:

in·di·vid·u·a·tion
(ĭn’də-vĭj’ōō-ā’shən)
n.  
In Jungian psychology, the gradual integration and unification of the self through the resolution of successive layers of psychological conflict.

So, there you have it. The next time your loved ones accuse you of being a moody old bag, just tell them to cut you some slack, whilst you set about the important work of gradually integrating and unifying your self by resolving yet another layer of psychological conflict. That should shut them up.

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