Midlife is a challenging time for many of us when we are being called to pause and take a look at ourselves and our lives.

We begin to get a sense that life is short and we have an increasing hunger to live in alignment with our authentic selves.

Brené Brown, wrote a powerful article, about this midlife unraveling where she explained:

The truth is that the midlife unraveling is a series of painful nudges strung together by low-grade anxiety and depression, quiet desperation, and an insidious loss of control. By low-grade, quiet, and insidious, I mean it’s enough to make you crazy, but seldom enough for people on the outside to validate the struggle or offer you help and respite. It’s the dangerous kind of suffering – the kind that allows you to pretend that everything is OK.

Having gone through my own midlife unraveling, which felt like a dark night of the soul and accompanying many others through theirs, I’ve come to understand that this transition is an opportunity to shift and integrate those parts of ourselves that have been lost.

What are some shifts that happen through this midlife unraveling?

A shift from the primary focus on the outer aspects of our lives to expand and integrate our inner world of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and our personality structure.

A shift from doing and taking action on things that arise from satisfying our ego’s need for control to action that arises from our soul and the life force that is flowing through us.

A shift from being unconscious and reactive to being conscious and responsive.

A shift from primarily relying on one part of our brain to bringing our whole brain to our life.

A shift from building a healthy ego to using our healthy ego in service of our souls plan for us.

A shift from overidentifying with either the masculine or feminine energy within us to a balanced and integrated way of being and contributing.

A shift in relationships that compensate for our wholeness to relationships that promote wholeness.

A shift from the first half of life where we do the journey to the second half of life where the journey does us.

A shift from primarily identifying with the world of form to getting curious about the mysteries of life and spiritual matters.

Navigating this journey is challenging for many of us because it requires that we forge a new path without a map.

The following three simple, yet powerful practices may help you navigate this time of uncertainty and change:

  1. Practice surrendering to life as it is rather than as you think it should be.
  2. Practice self-kindness and compassion as you enter into the unknown and uncertainty.
  3. Practice curiosity and have a “beginner’s mind” about everything and everyone that crosses your path. These are all signs and cues as to what your next steps are meant to be.

In the following interview, I speak with Dr. Donna McArthur about her experience with her “midlife unraveling” and what helped her get through it:


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