Menopause can get in the way of how we see ourselves. Our personal identity is made up of a number of things – our name, age, profession, to name a few. But really it is anything and everything that makes us who we are.
There are times in life when the way we perceive ourselves changes, for better or worse. Maybe after an illness or relationship breakdown, or career change, marriage or parenthood.
And menopause can be one of these times for women, with some finding their own personal identity is really rocked by the physical and psychological changes they’re experiencing.
Finding ourselves and staying there
If you haven’t already heard the song from the film The Greatest Showman, then take a moment to look at the YouTube version recorded in the studio at the first run-through to get the production green-lit.
If ever there was an identity statement, this is one with bells on! It’s easy to understand why it has become an anthem to accompany your energetic self bursting out into the world.
Sung by Keala Settle, who plays the bearded lady, she offers a personal, passionate and incredibly emotive performance in the recording studio. There is no acting here. Just an unstoppable outpouring of truthful core identity.
Where does menopause fit into this? Well, in my role as executive coach, leadership mentor and life transitions coach, I have often worked with women who hold a belief that work colleagues will “think I am a menopausal woman”.
Once I hear any form of identity statement, especially one that is limiting in its acceptance that we are all so much more than the part in focus at that precise moment in time, I become curious.
What do I mean by that? Let me introduce you to one of the most powerful models that a coach can have in their knowledge base: the Logical Levels model. This comes from Robert Dilts and is based on the original work of Gregory Bateson.
The model includes six levels, and through these, we are able to consider and reflect how aligned we are with our reason for being and our true self.
The Logical Levels:
- Mission. What is your life in service of? What are your dreams and ambitions, what will be your legacy?
- Identity. Who are you? All the parts!
- Beliefs and Values. What is important to you? What do you value? What beliefs support your mission? Why do some of your beliefs get in the way of your mission?
- Skills and Capabilities. What skills and capabilities do you have now? Which ones will you consider or would like to develop for your future?
- Behaviour. What will you do as the person you really are with your eye on your mission?
- Environment. Where will you be? Get a real sense of how the environment around you will be as you focus on your mission.
Redefining ourselves during menopause
For example, a female client may tell me: “I don’t want to be known as a menopausal woman. I know I am forgetful, I am slower than I used to be because I am tired all the time, I suffer from really uncomfortable temperature variations and I just don’t think I am any good at my job anymore.”
Within that statement there are beliefs being driven by the assumed identity. A menopausal woman and in turn this identity is spawning other limiting beliefs (forgetful, slow, no longer any good at the job).
Negative beliefs about our skills and capabilities can lead to different behaviours, which in turn have an impact on the environment in which this woman works and lives.
Supporting her to reconnect to her Mission level it is possible, through mental imagery, for her to re-awaken her dreams, aspirations and purpose for being. From here, she can zoom out from the spot she’s in and picture herself in the future, leading a fulfilling and achievable life.
If you allow your identity to become defined by a natural biological process that you are going through or, even worse, allow someone else to define your identity by their perceptions of what is happening with you, then you might have to wait a long time to let out a joyful, impulsive and gloriously vibrant rendition of This is Me!
Do watch and catch yourself if you say: “I couldn’t sing like that”. That, of course is only a belief. You might not have the skills and capabilities just yet but if you want to make a difference in the world your voice alone will do. It doesn’t have to be to operatic standard. Just let it be heard.
I dare you! Play the song and stand in front of the mirror and let rip. You won’t regret it.
Because above all else, you are you, menopause does not have to get in the way of that.