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The gift of menopause

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The current attitudes toward the aging woman are largely diminishing, belittling or patronizing, as toxic to us as any environmental pollutants.

While men gain eminence as they age, women apparently lose their power and slip into greater irrelevance.

In fact, women become more powerful with age, but that power isn’t recognized.

The two of us think of menopause as the Great Awakener. It’s a call for you to wake up—both to who you truly are and to your responsibility for Life. It’s a personal initiation that also serves these times in which we’re living. Humanity is facing unprecedented pressures and challenges on many fronts: the very future of our planet is at stake. We need to rise to these challenges and bring new, creative responses to seemingly insurmountable problems.

Menopause itself is a huge transition—biologically, emotionally and spiritually. Because you step into an in-between world, in between identities, you don’t have the same everyday buffering or amouring with which you ordinarily define or protect yourself. It’s like shedding a layer of clothing, leaving you more exposed to the metaphorical elements. This is neither good nor bad—it’s simply the nature of change.

Your vulnerabilities are more exposed, and that includes those in your health. Stress and exhaustion, nutritional depletion, and a body overloaded with environmental pollutants all have a huge impact on your hormonal health, causing menopause symptoms.

No one person or solution will provide the answer; we’re all needed, in our singularity and diversity, to make a difference. In other words, you have an important part to play—big or small, public or private—a singular Calling with which you’ve come coded.

Stepping up to and fulfilling your Calling will demand something of you, and so you need to be prepared. And menopause is your ultimate preparation—it’s a profound initiation into your authority, purpose and leadership skill. Menopause mobilizes the singular genius of you to bring a positive influence to the planet, unleashing your personal agency and potency.

Menopause is a pause in normal life when you’re called to reflect on the life you’ve lived thus far. Your personal history comes back to bite you on the bum, asking to be tended to and healed. You’re confronted by your worst parts—not so that you can judge or fix them, but so that you can make peace with them, and with the complexity of being you. It’s a reckoning with yourself, your life situation and Life itself.

Ground rules for the initiation

When you go through an initiation—be it menstruation, becoming a mother, or menopause—the normal rules of life no longer apply. To accommodate the enormity of what you’re negotiating, the ground rules must be different. Your expectations of yourself have to drop, probably a lot.

During menopause you’re out of the pace of “normal life,” and you’re in a somewhat emotionally loaded, less resourced, physically demanding place. You’re likely to have less physical energy, feel more sensitive and have way less capacity for dealing with things.

You aren’t equipped for worldly stuff. But this state is part and parcel of the ingredients necessary for you to evolve into your new self. So, here are some ground rules to guide you:

  1. Strip back your life to the essentials. Seek cover. Hang low. So that you can tend to yourself.
  2. Slow right down. Do less, and do whatever you do more slowly. Take your time with things.
  3. Stop. Rest. Have periods of doing nothing.
  4. Carve out pockets of time alone. Be quiet with yourself.
  5. Create simple routines that nourish and hold you. Focus on the most straightforward daily tasks and keep the basic rhythm going. Having some daily work that you must turn up for isn’t necessarily bad—on the contrary, it can hold you—but you can’t be pushing yourself or driving new plans.
  6. Gather with like-minded folk. Be with people who are going through menopause or who get what you’re experiencing.
  7. Cut yourself as much slack as possible. Drop perfectionism and let yourself be below par (you can always return to your high standards later).
  8. Don’t make ambitious plans. Drop your goals for a while. The old “set a goal and push yourself toward it” won’t work now.
  9. Be flexible with yourself. Give yourself permission to change your plans at any time.
  10. Engage in pleasurable activities—find what brings you comfort, joy or satisfaction and do it. Try things like gardening, creating, baking, playing music or dancing.
  11. Never underestimate the power of small—nay, tiny—acts of self-care.

Hold tight to these ground rules. You are on the road to something bigger.

Your conscious menopause

This adventure of facing yourself is an invitation to give in to a new level of self-acceptance. A realization that you are okay. This influx of kindness toward yourself opens the possibility for you to become a channel for Love. It’s an upgrade in consciousness made possible by self-compassion and humility, moving you beyond egocentric priorities to serve Life. You’re inducted into a form of leadership that’s infused with love and wisdom—what we call Wise Power.

You can feel more connected to something greater, and more affected, touched and moved by life. Initially, this sensitivity can feel too much—overwhelming, even. But ultimately it’s central to a new iteration of you that’s emerging and the new leadership you’re stepping into.

Your Calling is your particular genius or the compilation of talents or gifts that you bring to the world, alongside your shortcomings and limits—this original combination of you. When you feel your Calling, you feel the rightness of who you are and the vital place or niche you occupy in the ecology of Life. You sense that who you are and what you offer are wanted.

A Calling is more than just being good at something. You may have many different skills, some or all of which will be crucial in serving your Calling but are not the Calling in and of themselves.

To state the obvious, your Calling calls you. It has a compelling quality. You might, for instance, be on another trajectory but find that something keeps nudging or interrupting the status quo.

When you experience menopause, you may or may not have a sense of your Calling or feel a deep purpose to your life. Either way, the initiation of menopause—if you rise to meet the challenge of it—will deliver you into a new awareness or relationship with your Calling.

Perhaps it will bring greater clarity, more refinement, and a more evolved understanding of what you’re about. Or possibly more charge behind the mission you already have. Maybe you’ll feel more up for the task and have a greater trust in who you are and your capacity.

For some, the Calling might not be a defined mission but more a sense of restedness and ease within oneself, a rightness with Life—as though all is okay and you’re in the right place doing the right thing, whatever that may be.

For some, the Calling can be very grand and dramatic in the way it announces itself. For others it’s a quiet, intimate unfolding, without any words to name it, emerging as you stay close to your day-to-day responsibilities. It makes itself known almost imperceptibly, and sometimes with hindsight.

The Calling can be a compelling presence, thought or feeling that won’t let you go. A sudden download that reorganizes your life in an instant, or something that just feels good and right to do.

Claiming full responsibility for who you are, fallibility and all, awakens you to a new level of authority—to an experience of yourself as sovereign.

Your new sovereign authority means freedom, and in stepping into this freedom, you also step into responsibility for cherishing all Life.

Excerpted from Wise Power: Discover the Liberating Power of Menopause to Awaken Authority, Purpose and Belonging by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer (Hay House, 2022).

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Article Topics: Menopause
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