Mid-Life Crises and Our Mother Relationships (Part 1)

By Val Boyko • February 15th, 2011

So many of us go through a transformation in mid life. Some put it down to menopause, while others call it a mid life crisis where we try to cling to our youth. I came across another perspective from John Welwood which resonates with me, and possibly you too!

What happens to us in our middle years can be the trigger to a new realization about ourselves. Many of us will begin a  journey of self exploration and a search to find who we really are. It’s the start of a shedding or unraveling process to find our true selves.

What does it look like? The way we thought of ourselves isn’t comfortable anymore or the way that we see the world and what we have believed to be true, no longer seems to be. Something feels off balance and there is an internal struggle, frustration or uneasiness that yearns for attention. We may find ourselves losing confidence and becoming more fearful as we face something unknown.

In simple terms, what has worked before, no longer seems to be working for us! In some ways its like reliving our teen years (UGGH!) but now we have the wisdom of experience that allows us to make different choices.

John Welwood talks about the conditioned personality that all of us form as we grow up. As children we defend and affirm ourselves by creating some form of stable existence for ourselves. We develop an identity structure based on self images and stories about ourselves that come about through our interactions with others.

We take on the beliefs about the world and ourselves from those closest to us. Our mothers are the primary source of this conditioned personality.

In his book “Towards a Psychology of Spiritual Awakening” JohnWelwood writes : “Sooner or later the personality strategy we adopted in childhood to survive our family circumstances becomes an obstacle to our further unfolding.”


How we negotiate this identity crisis will determine the direction of the rest of our lives.

Powerful stuff! And also reassuring.

We are not alone….. and we aren’t necessarily crazy. We are actually on the brink of something very special that wants to be revealed.

This identity crisis can affect all of the people who have known us (and loved us) in our familiar “old” ways especially our mothers and partners.

For me, it impacted both, and took me on my journey to establish a new sense of who I am and what I wanted in my relationships and my life.

Read more next time on what options we face and what happens next.


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