Fifty, an age blessed with knowledge, but burdened with the collection of good and bad experiences, is simultaneously a powerful, yet fragile age. Some accumulated trauma goes so deep it is a part of our physiology, affecting what we do and how we feel. The fast darting of cars can rekindle the horror of a forgotten automobile accident, triggering adrenaline that settles into muscle tissue as harmful lactic acid. The memory of experience is in our bodies, as well as our minds.

A genuine Mid-Life Rehabilitation helps eliminate negative physic influences and enables us to enjoy healthier and happier lives. A real change in attitude requires discipline and dedication. You know that you must exercise every day. You know you must pay attention to your diet, but have you enlisted your subconscious to work for you from the inside out? If we make a conscious effort, we can actively create a more positive image, by parenting ourselves, molding and shaping ourselves spiritually, and physically. It’s a fun, exciting, revealing process, and it’s free!

The first step towards mid-life rehabilitation is to start a journal. Make three page entries into your journal every day for three months. You don’t have to write anything in particular. Simply describe an event that took place in your day, or a dream that you had that night. Maybe you want to write about the frustration you feel in a relationship. Resentments may have built up over the years about things you have been unable to change. You feel trapped, angry, and forlorn. Simply putting these thoughts on paper will have a cleansing effect on your psyche.

Your journal is not, nor ever will be, for public consumption. You can be more honest in this journal than you would be with your best friend, your mate, or even your therapist. Your writing will never be critiqued. Your thoughts will never be censured. You may harbor intense jealousies, anger or frustrations. You may be depressed, petty, self-serving—even downright nasty–it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are completely honest, and express yourself thoroughly.

After you have made your journal entries for three months, read them to yourself. You will notice patterns emerging, as well as recurring sentiments. Your journal will allow you to step back from yourself, and to view yourself objectively. Now, analyze these patterns, and ponder positive changes you can make in your life.

In my own case, I was guilty of constantly spurring myself to greater heights. I seemed never to be content with my accomplishments and disappointed with myself because I have not achieved goals I set long ago. At twenty-five, I saw myself at fifty, able to write without financial pressure. I viewed my middle-aged parents as graying relics. Certainly, by the time I hit their distant age, I would have life organized the way I wanted it to be.

The reality is, at fifty, most people are struggling
with the dual responsibilities of rearing teens, while caring for dependent parents. Added to this pressure cooker reality, many have to deal with grueling commutes to taxing jobs. At work, they may experience age discrimination as corporate downsizing calls for the elimination of middle-aged executives. Mid-life can be a great test, some may even call it a battle, but it is not the cruising altitude I’d envisioned.

With the help of my journal and reflection upon my inner thoughts, I saw how unrealistic it was to expect that at fifty that I should have achieved goals that may take a lifetime to bring to fruition. I have eased up on myself, and am enjoying the present, and appreciate the strides I’ve made on my journey. Riveted on the process of achieving those grander goals, I’m no longer bothered by a yardstick of success I imposed upon myself while looking at life though the prism of youth. Revamping goals took the pressure off. Refocusing allowed me to relax.

Once you have analyzed your own thoughts, complaints and mental patterns documented in your journal, you will be ready for Step Number Two. Use a tape recorder to make a meditation tape, specifically streamlined to your particular set of hang-ups, defense mechanisms, and/or barriers to personal success. Write your thoughts down and read them into the recorder using inflection, you find pleasing.

It is important that the tape be created in your own voice. Try to imagine that your subconscious is speaking to you. Visualize an intense connection between separate parts of your body and psyche. Speak to the creative right, or the logical left-brain, whichever part of your mind needs talking to. Tell your brain to deliver good, pure energy to aching muscles. Tell your brain to ease off, stop over reacting to darting cars, or forming clouds of guilt, whatever maybe troubling you. Give your brain and body parts a good, sound lecture. This may sound silly, but it works!

Your tape should consist of four parts. First, place yourself in a meditative state. If you lie flat on the floor, letting your feet fall slightly away from your body, with your palms resting face up, you should slip into a receptive, relaxed state. Concentrate on breathing deep, with slow, steady, inhalations and exhalations of air. As you speak to yourself on your tape go through your entire body, telling it to relax, limb-by-limb, part- by-part. Try incorporating your favorite mental relaxation exercises as you prepare yourself to receive your personal message.

In the second portion of your tape you will transport yourself out of your ordinary realm. For instance, I have a favorite passage describing a day at the beach. Whenever I hear it on my tape, I feel the salty, cool spray of the sea. A serene smile parts my lips as I wistfully allow myself to float to that day. After I have given myself a fantasy treat, I’m ready to receive my lecture.

In the third portion of the tape, I tell myself what it is I need to work on. .“I don’t need to fear the biological clock I hear ticking. I have all the time in the world to achieve my goals. Time is only a word, arbitrary, a mechanical constraint. I have the entire last half of my most productive years to grow, develop and accomplish. People are living longer. If I maintain my body, I won’t run out of time. I understand that goals are guidelines, not ultimatums.” As I absorb these thoughts into my subconscious, I experience a sense of freedom and am relieved of self-imposed pressure.

Much of the strife we experience in mid-life comes about because we wear so many hats. Learn to simplify and prioritize in order to achieve balance. Weed out activities that might have given you pleasure at one point in your life, but are now a drain on your energies. Just say “no” to extracurricular activities that don’t provide genuine enjoyment or reward. Pacing yourself is important. Reckon with the fact that you may have to allow more time to get things done that may have been easy for yo
u in the past. Try to delegate chores that are too taxing. Be willing to let someone make a mistake. Allow others to help you.

I continue to write in my journal on a daily basis. I see genuine progress with tired complaints and nagging angers. I believe I have exorcized troubling emotions harbored since childhood. As life is not a static affair, I do a new tape every three months directing the lecture portion to specific new trouble spots. I conclude all my tapes with a thought I find to be the perfect bridge for me back to the real world.

“I deserve all that is good and beautiful in the universe. I don’t need to be a part of the suffering all around me. I am centered, strong, and constantly renewing myself with good energy and good thoughts. I want to fill my mind with beauty. Not that I can’t see the sadness in the world, but I want to be so full of good, clean, wholesome revitalizing beauty, that the sadness is not a part of me.”

Most important, have fun, and be creative with this process. What have you got to lose?

In addition to being an advocate of journaling, NABBW member Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer and thoughtful traveler who cares about the environment and is interested in connecting with the local population wherever she goes. Her well-researched articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Northwest Travel, and the Specialty Travel Index. She is a regular contributor to Real Travel Adventures and Travel World Magazine, both prominent online publications. Learn more about Linda and her areas of expertise via her website. And check out Linda\’s historical novel, Wai-nani – High Chiefess of Hawai\’i: Her Epic Journey via Amazon.

Top Senior Adventures Blog Linda's mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can before they are no more. Travel tales relating her experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. She had great fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people she met in “naturally high places” for her book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. Go to LostAngelAdventures.com for more adventures.