So many women tell me they lost their confidence as they approached menopause. For some it's a sudden omg, stop in their tracks moment, often accompanied by a panic attack. For others it's a gradual wearing down, a slowly dawning realisation that everything they had been certain of before suddenly isn't so certain any more.
Sometimes, there seems to be no apparent reason for this loss of confidence. Anxiety, depression, a feeling of being lost can come out of nowhere. So what can cause this loss of confidence and what can we do we do to arrest it? How do we get our mojo back?
1. Physical appearance. Slowing metabolism often results in weight gain, especially around the middle. Facially, we lose collagen and start to notice a softening in the jawline, wrinkles, eye bags - if we feel we don't recognise ourselves in the mirror any more it can knock confidence.
2. Psychological changes. It is not uncommon for a woman who has never had a day's depression to suddenly feel suicidal. Anxiety is common, as is loss of concentration, "brain fog" and panic attacks, all very alarming!
3. Physical changes. It can be really disconcerting when your body starts to let you down - aching joints, irregular and erratic periods, loss of temperature control - to name but a few.
4. Career difficulties. Some women might have been successful in a career for years, yet suddenly start to doubt their ability. Most workplaces still don't support menopausal women, which perpetuates stigma so that many women feel they have to hide their age and any symptoms they might be experiencing.
5. Loss of Fertility. Having choices over our lives removed is disempowering. Many women mourn the end of their fertile years, even if we've had children. If we've put off having children, or decided not to have them at all, there is a difference between that being our choice and nature making it impossible and many women who have been happy with their decisions are surprised by a feeling of loss.
6. General Life Changes. Very few people get to 50 without some experience of hardship or loss. Bereavement, joblessness, empty nest, divorce - big life changes often knock our confidence as what we have always believed to be normal life for us is turned on its head.
Losing confidence during the midlife transition is common, but doesn't have to be inevitable. As we age we can become somewhat entrenched in the views we have developed and our own sense of what is right, comfortable and desirable.
I believe that the greatest skill needed to make the most of our midlife and beyond is the ability to embrace change. Adaptability, resilience, an open mind - these are the essential tools we need to be happy. The good news is that if you do find yourself struggling, these are attributes that we can develop or strengthen at any age, rebuilding our confidence and paving the way for a happy, more contented life.
Start now by making a list of your strengths, the things you like about yourself, the achievements that make you proud. They don't have to be big things. I make a good Victoria sponge for example, leads you to think about the benefits of that attribute - my work colleagues love it when I bring cake into the office, or my grandchildren love Grandma's chocolate brownies are positive thoughts that form the building blocks to increased confidence.
We work extensively on rediscovering confidence in the Membership - do consider joining us if you need a little help.