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A-Z of Midlife: W is for Wallowing

March 9, 2010

How many of us can say, hand on heart, that we haven’t indulged in some wallowing at various times in our life? It may not be something we’re keen to admit because, let’s face it, ‘wallowing’ is not generally viewed as a particularly attractive or edifying activity! But there are certain times in life, as in midlife, in which a degree of wallowing is a necessary part of a transformative, transitional process.

It’s true that wallowing has a distinct aura of negativity….after all, we don’t tend to wallow in joy do we? No, it’s far more likely that we wallow in ‘the mire’ or ‘in self pity’ or in our feelings of helplessness, disappointment or, as in midlife, when we find ourselves struggling with change.

Typical ‘wallowing’ signs include:

 • Looking back to the past and how things were.

• Fantasizing about what we want for the future, whilst obsessing about how difficult or impossible it is to achieve.

• Looking to others to validate us.

• Looking for circumstances or people to ‘blame’.

• Allowing our distraction to eat up our time.

• Moping, whining and sighing loudly at regular intervals.

• Wishing for and wanting what we don’t have.

I think a pattern is beginning to emerge here …. and in the words of dear old Rolf Harris, ‘Can you see what it is yet?’ Yes, it’s none other than that universal demon – procrastination!

Wallowing activities are, in essence, an excuse NOT to act. Instead of doing we fret and obsess and leave ourselves at the mercy of all the difficulties and obstacles we imagine lurking out there.

But there comes a time for the wallowing to stop and when instead of saying,  ‘I can’t’ we start to ask, ‘How can I?’ and instead of limply asking, ‘What’s the point?’ we start to address the question we really want to address….. ‘What’s next?’

Now I’m pretty sure that Jim Morrison wasn’t talking about midlife when he sang ‘Light My Fire’ (especially since he never even made it to 30), but I like to think there’s a message here somewhere when he sang:

‘The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now, we can only lose….’

Or perhaps the revised midlife version should be:

‘The time to hesitate is through
Enough time wallowing in the mire
Try now – there really is nothing to lose’

Hmmm, what do you think?

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