Time never waits for anybody, and we all walk the path of life. I always thought when you reach your middle age years is when you are well established with lots of self confidence. Well, would you believe me when I tell you that one of the biggest middle age problems is low self-esteem?
It is essential to be aware of your own true identity, to prevent this from happening to you. I have discovered over the years that there is a “me” I want to be. In this post I will discuss how I am going about to achieve this, discovering various “me’s” along the way applying information I get from a book I’m currently working through. And while working through this, I’m discovering the me I want to be.
Middle Age Problems Are A Cause For Scary Statistics
Recently I stumbled onto an article written by Lucy Cavendish in The Telegraph, asking the question “Why do so many middle-aged men feel so lost?”
In this article she describes how one of the biggest problems we are currently facing is actually much more than just a midlife crisis. Middle-aged men today are caught between baby-boomers and Generation-Y.
According to the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report (U.K.) for 2014, men between the ages 40 to 44 are the demographic group with the highest rate of suicide, nearly four times that of woman the same age. For men aged 45 to 54, the rate is roughly three times higher for men than woman.
Lucy Cavendish further quotes Professor Rory O’Conner, then the head of the suicidal behaviour research group at Stirling University(U.K.) as saying: “Men currently in their midyears are caught between their traditional silent, strong and austere fathers who went to work and provided for their families, and the more progressive, open and individualistic generation of their sons. They do not know which of these two very different ways of life and masculine culture they should follow.”
Knowing Your Own Identity
What gave this information more impact for me is the book I am currently busy reading, with the title “The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You”.
I am really enjoying this book. The author, John Ortberg, has a fine sense of humor. He is brilliant in describing everyday life situations in such a way that you just can’t help to have a little giggle about it. He has the ability to make you feel that you are right there in the situation with him, feeling every emotion, disappointment and victory.
Anyhow, I’m getting off the point…..back to the crisis we are dealing with. As mentioned before, middle-aged men of today are caught between baby-boomers and Generation-Y.
To me this means an inability to know your own identity. It is only logical that it will then lead to self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. If these issues are not addressed, the outcome can obviously be disastrous.
In the book “The Me I Want To Be” the issue of your own identity is addressed in the opening stages of the book. John Ortberg takes you on a journey to find your identity.
Discover Your Own Identity.
I believe the first thing we need to realize, is that it is not all about our achievements (or failures). It is not about how much money we can make, or the top position at work, or how many businesses we have. It’s not about what we do, but about who we become.
I would like to quote John Ortberg from his book, when he discovered this fact.
“I’m a grown man, I thought, I do not know how many years of life are before me. I cannot wait anymore. When I was going to school, I was preoccupied with good grades or getting cute girls to like me. As the years went by, I became preoccupied with work and my circumstances because I thought they would make me feel alive. I can’t wait anymore to be that man, I thought.
I realized this then, and I know it now; I want that life more than I want anything else. Not because I think I’m supposed to, not because it says somewhere that you should. I want it.
There is a me I want to be.”
Then we start discovering the various forms of “me” that we have to deal with until we find “the me I want to be.”
Let’s quickly have a look at what we are dealing with:
- The Me I Don’t Want To Be: We live in a society with so many rules and regulations. Don’t get me wrong, we all need rules, but sometimes it gets taken out of context. We often hear the remark “if you want to be successful, mix with successful people”, and I’m all for that, but when it gets to the point of one person thinking he’s better than the next, or it becomes a rule not to associate with a certain “class”, it becomes dangerous territory. Just to use a simple example is when employees are not allowed to eat in the same room as management. These rules can force you into becoming someone you don’t want to be. You start behaving according to a set of rules.
- The Me I Pretend To Be: It is good to have a role model while we are trying to achieve success. But the emphasis should be on imitating the actions that the role model is doing, and not to imitate the person. Don’t try to become a second Donald Trump, or Sylvester Stallone. Rather become the best you that you can be. Many people use name dropping to impress other people. You can also try this experiment; next time when you are in a meeting or just taking part in a conversation, try not to impress the other people with your knowledge or your opinion. Just stick to the facts. It can become scary to suddenly see how little you have to say.
- The Me I Think I Should Be: This can happen when you find yourself within a group, and you try to become the person you think will be accepted within the group. It can also be when you are more of an introvert and your spouse might be an extrovert. You might end up trying your very best to become an extrovert like your spouse. It might be for the sake of recognition, or maybe you are impressed with the ease that she closes the one business deal after the other. Stop doing that. She fell in love with you for the person you are. Why do you want to become someone else now?
- The Me Other People Wants Me To Be: This is normally the influence from society. Everybody is expecting something else of you. Your employer wants you to be more productive and work more hours. Your spouse expects of you to spend more time at home. The dentist wants you to pay more visits. The retail store wants you to spend more money and the restaurant wants you to eat more. Where does this leave you? Learn when to say “no”.
- The Me I’m Afraid To Be: What if I become the person I think I should be, but I can’t face the challenges? What if I just don’t have what it takes?
- The Me That Fails To Be: This is the one that I think is the most relevant to the theme of this post. It is a condition referred to in the medical field as FTT (Failure to Thrive). It is guessed by doctors that failure to thrive happens when a parent or caregiver is depressed and the depression gets passed down. Sometimes it can be something in an infant’s metabolism that seems to be off for reasons no one can understand. According to John Ortberg in his book The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You “psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem in our day. It is not depression or anxiety, at least not at clinical levels. It is languishing – a failure to thrive”. It is when someone might still be able to function but has lost a sense of hope and meaning. There is no presence of mental illness; it is just an absence of mental and emotional vitality.
- The Me I Am Meant To Be: Becoming the person you were meant to be is never just about you. John Ortman describes it well when he says “it is a ‘so that’ kind of condition”. You have been designed and created “so that” other people can be encouraged, gardens can be planted and music can be written, for sick people to be helped or for businesses to grow. See, it is quite clear that everybody would benefit when I become the me I want to be.
So Where Does All This Lead To?
How sad is it that we have to be faced with statistics as mentioned in this post? The next time you start talking about your friend who is surely going through a midlife crisis, and how you wish he would just get over it, maybe you should reach out to him, and share this information. Who knows, you might just end up saving a life. Even better, by discovering the “me” he really wants to be, he might even have a better life than he had before.
For more reading on the subjects of mental health and self improvement, feel free to visit my BOOKS page for a wide variety of reading material.
Let me hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below. I look forward to hear from you.