This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson. I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way. To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.
So, you’re in your early 50s and you’ve suddenly realised that you’re wearing the trousers in your partnership? Or you’re powering up the corporate ladder? You are not alone.
Even since you were a little girl your brain has been washed in a sea of female hormones geared to making you reproduce and help the survival of the human species. Of course, there was oestrogen, the hormone that underpins fertility and sexuality. But every time you showed sexual love for your partner or motherly love for your children, you were rewarded with a wave of oxytocin to persuade you to do it all over again.
However, once a woman gets to the menopausal years, the levels of oxytocin decline. In many women, levels of male hormones such as testosterone take over. It makes us more assertive. We are less interested in putting others before ourselves, and we’re not afraid to say so.
As someone who has always been very maternal and nurturing, I can report that there has indeed been a shift during my ahem mid-life years! I am still a caring and nurturing person, but there are changes afoot people!
I don’t love my
children kidults any less but I am not as prepared to sacrifice myself and my own needs for them to the degree that I used to. If they need me, I am there, but I have made myself a priority now whereas once that wasn’t the case. I actually used to neglect myself by putting everyone else’s wants and needs ahead of my own. I have come to realise that self-investment and self-care is not selfish but essential in order to obtain the life balance I need to feel well and to be a happier and nicer person to be around! It never occurred to me that part of this shift within me was actually a thing – a decline in oxytocin thing!
I think that my ability to prioritise myself more these days comes down to some other things too, like having more time and more wisdom! I have found too that I speak my mind a lot more than I used to (just hope my filters stay put)! Depending on the occasion and circumstances – If I don’t agree, I say so; If I don’t want to, I say so; If I’d prefer something else, I say so; If I don’t want to go, I don’t go. I’m not the meek and mild young girl I once was. I am much more outspoken and assertive and much less of the people pleaser that I once was. I have less tolerance for people who are not genuine or sincere or those that are overly negative and draining or critical and not supportive. I choose my friends more wisely than once I might have. Quality over quantity is my motto when it comes to friendships. I sound scary don’t I, but in actual fact I like that I know what I want and need now. Life is easier when you skim off the unnecessarily stressful and/or detrimental bits (those that you can) and keep the bits that uplift you and add value.
Have you had a mid-life brain shift? Feeling more assertive? Are you prioritising yourself more than you used to?
Ciao for now,
Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit
Lyndall of Seize the Day Project
Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
Deborah of Debbish
and Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.
This is fascinating! I have had an identical shift in thinking recently! Now I know why!
It was a surprise to me too. I didn’t know about the decline in Oxytocin!
I’ve had a similar shift. The big thing, though, that I’m finding at the moment is my mind doesn’t seem able to keep as much in it of late – not at the same time anyway. I’ve always been able to retain & juggle information – and I still can – but less at the same time. Maybe that’s the testosterone lol.
Oh Jo – you’re not alone with the mind not being able to hold as much anymore thing! Things fall out of my mind all the time. I can’t multi-task like I used to, nor can I pack as much into a day like I used to. My concentration and focus is not as good, and I need lists and reminders these days. It’s quite an adjustment because I used to be a powerhouse multi-tasker and so organised and productive!
I totally agree Min about friendships being quality over quantity. I’m so happy to hear that women are really getting the message about reaching Midlife and viewing it as their time. I’m struggling at the moment with trying to fit everything in that I want to do and again not letting the blogging take over. I love this series and I should read the book as well although I’m in my Sizzling Sixties now! have a great week. xx
I struggle to fit everything in that I’d like to do too Sue. I’m also careful to not let blogging consume all my time – which is why I post less often now than I used to. I’m happy to see women seeing midlife as their time too – they deserve it! xo
I do think I’m a little more assertive, or at least willing to speak up for what I want. It’s a nice change!!
Yay for assertiveness!! 🙂 xo
Fascinating read, Min. I’ve noticed some changes in myself and this discussion was very helpful in explaining some of the why. I also think life experience and perhaps the role of being responsible for others in either a caring or parenting role helps trigger this change towards more assertiveness.
I totally agree that being responsible for others does encourage assertiveness. When I become a parent I became my children’s advocate, particularly during their school years. Being an advocate for my kids assisted in having more confidence to speak up for myself later in life when I returned to work etc. xo
Everything you wrote there is what I’ve been experiencing over the last few years Min. I’ve learned to stop automatically putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own, I’m learning to say No, I’m letting go of friendships where I do all the work, I don’t even take responsibility for my adult kids anymore – their decisions and their consequences (no disasters so far!) Now I focus more on myself and my husband and life is sweet.
Yay – it’s a fabulous place to be isn’t it?! 🙂
I hear you Min. I’ve recently learned to put myself first and take time out for self-care, as I found myself feeling burnt out and resentful when everyone else came before me. Our children are in their final years at school and we are now actively encouraging their independence so that they’re ready to step out into the big, wide world in the coming years. While I love them deeply, I’m happy for them to take care of themselves most of the time! 🙂 x #TeamLovinLife
It took a major burn out to make me realise where I was going wrong Lyndall. It’s wonderful to be a priority to myself nowadays! 🙂 xo
Min I had to read this again because I love your response so much – I could have written it myself. I keep thinking about all the time I spent worrying about other people and situations, when I could have been focusing on what I felt was important. Well it’s never too late and I’m so glad I didn’t leave it until I was 80 to figure this stuff out!
Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
I was exactly the same Leanne…always considering others first and too bad about myself. I did myself and others no favours by doing this. Glad I’ve finally figured this out too! xo
I hadn’t thought about it before, but you might be on to something here. I probably wasn’t ready to have my own business before now.
They say everything happens when its meant to! It’s so interesting how hormones control the human body. I think they could’ve been quite a lot kinder to women when dishing out hormones though! Nevertheless, I’m loving finally prioritising myself, feeling more assertive and not saying yes to everything in order to please others all the time. 🙂
I have always been pretty assertive and now that the kidults are so independent I just automatically have time to say yes to anything I want to do, being single helps with that though too, as I don’t have to consider a partners preferred choice in how time is spent.
I wish I had always been assertive. I was meek and mild and a people pleaser in my younger days. Not now though! lol
I completely relate to everything you have said. Honestly you could have been explaining myself! My children and husband, I fear, are a little baffled that I don’t always put them first now although they are a kind and loving bunch. It’s just what they are used to. I can relate to the feeling that you may be losing your filter somewhat. I can’t believe how bold I’ve got over recent years! I really enjoyed this post, thank you x
So glad you enjoyed the post and can related to it Maria! It’s kinda shocking but great at the same time to have become bolder! 😉 xo
Such an interesting post. Now I know how I used to feel as I once did – all those bloomin’ hormones! Ha! I’m still very much invested in my kidults lives and do tend to put them first but I enjoy that and we are such a small little nuclear family us Castros in Aus, that in a way we depend on each other a lot. I’m the same as you with friends though, quality over quantity and not willing to give up precious time on relationships that are too hard or don’t work.
Yes – those bloomin’ hormones!! I’m still very much invested in my kidults lives too but I pay more attention to myself and my own needs too now whereas once I neglected myself way too much. I see time as precious now too Jo. 🙂 xo
This is so true Min! I have also experienced a shift especially in my tolerance levels and picking my friends. All my family live away from me so I enjoy them from a distance. Great thought provoking and honest post, loved it!
Thanks Debbie – so glad you enjoyed the post and can relate!
Min this is such a great post and so true. Life becomes far too short to meet everyone’s expectations. I am always reminded of the in flight recommendation to fit your own oxygen mask first. Such good advice!
Such a great analogy Jan and very true – take care of yourself first so that you are then in a much better position to help others!
Oh yes I’m definitely a lot more assertive now that I’m older and wiser. I never knew hormones were responsible for this change however, I thought I was just becoming wiser! I agree with everything you say here Min, I’m so much more my own person nowadays. I don’t tolerate fools and I certainly have learnt to say no a lot more frequently.
I never knew hormones contributed to becoming more assertive and outspoken either! I say no a lot more too. Time is precious I have learnt and I think we have a right to choose how we’d like to spend it. xo
I’ve had a big brain shift this year. My word of the year is “light” and I am shedding a lot of stuff that I do. Just yesterday I officially withdrew from a volunteer role I’ve had for 8 years. Big step for me. Big brain shift. #teamlovinlife
Good for you Leanne! I hope you’re feeling lighter already. xo
Hi Min, very interesting, so that’s what happened when I turned 50! I was always the shy one, never give my opinion, in school never raised my hand even if I knew the answer. Then I turned 50….a complete shift for me. I speak my mind. One day I was in a store and waiting in line to pay. When it came to my turn, the girl behind the counter completely ignored me and asked the man behind me what she could do for him! Well she got an earful from me… I’m not invisible anymore and I love to speak up.
I was very quiet and shy at school too Lise (some people today would be shocked to hear that lol). My school report cards always said “Marguerite is very quiet … she could contribute more in class … etc”. It’s a very different story these days. So glad you spoke up at the store. No-one should feel invisible!! xo
Hi Min, I always enjoy this series and yes it took me well into my 50s to have the mindshift. I still struggle at times not to want to be everything to everyone but I am much better than I used to be. I love the term ‘self-investment’ and it is so true that we need to invest in ourselves because we are valuable. Thank you for sharing with us at Midlife Share the Love Party and I will share on social media. Have a beautiful day! #MLSTL
Thanks Sue! I have my struggles too but am pleased I’m finally getting some ‘me time’. We deserve some self investment after all the years of giving and caring for others. xo
Right there with you, girl! Your post parallels mine in amazing ways, basically I am “over it” in so many ways, haha! Enjoyed your post, sharing now. My blog is just 5 weeks old today, a joy to find Leanne and her supportiveness. This is my first ever linking party, check me out, thanks!:
Lori Jo – http://www.50withflair.com
Pleased to meet you Lori Jo. You’re right – our posts are very similar in subject matter! I’ve visited and left a comment. Welcome to the blogging world. I hope you love it like I do. I’ve been blogging since September 2012!
So good to re-visit this post Min and to read that you are putting your needs first. Go girl!! Great example of how to live YOUR life now.
Thank you Denyse. I don’t always put my needs ‘first’ but I certainly put my needs up there as a priority whereas once I rarely ever did. xo
Kidults! Love it! It is a perfect word.
It works quite well doesn’t it? Still our kids … but they’re adults = kidults! 🙂
Hi Min, fascinating series you’re doing! What resonated most with me was the comment about having less tolerance for the “overly negative and draining or critical”. Yup! The rest is not so much me… I’ve never had the strong maternal element, and was known pretty much as the “tell it like it is” person at work. (also called the b–ch quite often). I’ve never been the meek one. But I can definitely understand how this might be the case for others.
But I also love the “If I don’t agree, I say so; If I don’t want to, I say so; If I’d prefer something else, I say so; If I don’t want to go, I don’t go”… that is how I’m trying to live this part of my life. Not because I’m switching from focus on others in a nurturing way, but because I’m leaving behind the expectations from a work and being the “strong business woman” which brings its own set of “should”.
looking forward to more in the series! Visiting from MLSTL
Thanks Pat – I’m glad there was quite a bit that you could resonate with, even though you’ve not got the strong maternal element that I have. I’m hopeless in that regard. It’s why I always have a dog – so I can let out that maternal, nurturing side (now my kids are grown). When I was young, I was pretty meek and mild and zipped my mouth. Not anymore! LOL
I am preparing for this and I can’t wait. I’m not quite there yet, my teens still need me, although less and less. Now the challenge is to download enough responsibility to them so they are capable when they launch. An it frees me up at the same time. Can’t wait, though for this next phase.
My kidults still need me now and then. I still have my boys living at home! The difference now though is that I have a lot more time and freedom to actually think about myself and what I would like to do or what I need to feel happier. It’s a wonderful time! You’ll love it! 🙂
Loving revisiting this post, I think it took me more years than you to ‘step into my power’ but I love being there now. Interesting to see how hormones affect our brains and emotions. Pinning this
It was a surprise to me too Jan about our hormones and the biological reasons for the shift in our mindset. So interesting! 🙂
I am still learning to put myself first … but I am determined to make this important mind-shift for the second half of life. GREAT encouraging post – thank you!
I, too, am becoming more assertive and better at self-care. Part of it is definitely life experience and mental maturity, but it is interesting to know that biology plays a role as well. I found your blog on #MLSTL!
Good to hear Christie. Yes it’s interesting to know about the biological reasons behind it too, isn’t it?! 🙂
I so agree now that I am older I do put myself first more and am much more outspoken. Life is too short at this stage to be messing with something I don’t want to do.
I think this is a great brain shift and I’m just peeved that it took so long!
Thanks Shelley – I guess we had some lessons to learn first?