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Starting over at 40 seems to be a universal theme among women today. Too often in the media we get the message that, as women, we're doing everything wrong and life beyond 40 is hopeless. We read stories about how Hollywood actresses are not as appealing once they turn 40 – unless they get plastic surgery. We read stories about how women will be dumped for younger women when they turn 40 – unless they fix themselves. We read stories that women can't find love after 40 – unless they're struck by lightning. This is not the message women need to hear. Because it is not true. Not for real, authentic people.
"Where's the lie?" Starting Over life coach Iyanla asks the women telling their story when they first enter the Starting Over house when something smacks of dishonesty. Often the women show up wanting to start their life over thinking it's just a matter of learning how to drive, to start a new career, go back to college, or focus on some other external goal. When the discussion touches on deeper, more personal issues the women say, "Uh uh, I'm not going there." The more experienced women in the SO house smile because they know the key to starting over in that new life is doing exactly that – digging up old issues. Why? Because that's where the problem lies. That's the roadblock, the obstacle, the hurdle to living a real, meaningful, authentic new life. It's all about standing in your truth.
Before you can truly start over – stand in your truth – you need to heal. That requires analyzing your life, your history, figuring out what needs looking at. The most painful, the most dreaded, the one thing in your life you have avoided looking at until now is exactly what you need to face. When a woman is resistant in facing those issues, Rhonda pointedly asks them, “So, how's that workin for ya?” Most women have an “aha” moment, realizing that's exactly why their life isn't working. But for those women who refuse to face those issues, well, those are the women aren't ready to start over. They can't. Not facing the truth hinders them. The dead giveaways: Unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment, edginess. Denial is not the answer but working through these feelings takes time. But the first step is being ready. If not now, maybe later.
Once you work on the internal you, then you're ready to focus on those external goals. If it's a job or a career that needs changing, you need to figure out where your gifts lie. That's where you'll find your purpose, your passion. And that'll tell you what steps you need to take to further your gifts. Do you need more education? Do you need a mentor? Training? Apprenticeship? Self-study? Your goals will give you the answer as to which path you should take.
But maybe it's a marriage that's unsalvageabl e. No matter whose fault you think that is, you both participated in it. And you need to analyze what went wrong, what part did you play, where you need to change, and what you might want in the future. Because, without that important step, marriage #1 turns into marriage #3 or #4 because you didn't take the time to do the internal work after marriage #1 and before marriage #2.
And, if you have children, please know that no matter how well they seem to be adjusting, it always affects them in a negative way. Even if you can't see it right then. It's just something you need to be aware of, to address it, and get the help your child needs because sometimes leaving is necessary.
As a result of my own healing journey of starting over, I recommend the following books:
"Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" by Dr. John Gray
"Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie
"Traveling Hopefully: How to Lose your Family Baggage and Jumpstart Your Life" by Libby Gill
"Fearless Living" by Rhonda Britten
"Love is a Choice: Breaking the Cycle of Addictive Relationships" by Paul Meier, Frank Minerth, and Robert Hemfelt
"What about the Kids?" by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee.
"Don't Throw Away Tomorrow" by Dr. Robert Schuller
"If You Want to Walk on Water, You Gotta Get out of the Boat" by John Ortberg
"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren
The bottom line is, in order to live a fulfilled life, in order to really start over, you have to find your own self-worth. It's inside you. It's not "out there." Not in a man, not in a career, not in education, not in fame, not in fortune. It's in you.