The Art of Self-Acceptance: A Midlife Guide to Self-Compassion for Public Sector Women - Wildflower Fire Coaching
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Midlife can be a challenging time for many women. As we enter our 40s and 50s, our bodies change, our family dynamics might shift as kids leave home or relationships change, and we may face new challenges in our careers or relationships. Working in the public sector has probably never been so hard, rising demand, reducing resources and supporting staff in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

The strategies that we may have used when we were younger, the resilience, the ability to just crack on, the burning the candle at every end, can feel untenable in midlife. The armour that we may have very comfortably worn for years can feel restrictive and ill fitting for the person we want to be at this stage in our lives and careers.

It can come as a shock that we might not want to just carry on doing the same things or being the same person. A growing awareness of having had more years than are to come can lead to a reckoning, a wonder if this is it. Add to this a realisation that a big, brilliant job might have been the goal to now, but the cost of that big, brilliant job may be one that in midlife just isn’t worth having. Not in the way that you might have managed previously. As I said, a time of reckoning.

During this life stage, practicing self-compassion can provide emotional comfort and support. It’s vital to have a collective around you that can offer support, but also that you are able to give yourself a break, love and be gentle with yourself, even if it feels a bit strange to start with!

Here are some tips for midlife women looking to increase their self-compassion:

Focus on self-kindness. Many midlife women are used to putting others first – caring for children, partners, parents, etc. Being the font of all knowledge and answerer of all the questions at work! Maybe even the matriarch, looking after all the people and thinking of all the things. Check in with yourself. Does any of this resonate? Make an effort to treat yourself with the same empathy, care, and understanding you would offer to a good friend. Speak to yourself with a gentle, supportive inner voice.

Release judgment. Remember that nobody cares. In a good way! Refrain from being overly self-critical about your perceived flaws or mistakes. We all make errors; we are all human beings and what matters is how we recover. Release any shame or harsh judgment, and remember that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. Beautifully flawed as we all are. Perfection is unattainable and who wants to work with emotional robots anyway?

Recognise your struggles are universal. When you feel alone, inadequate or deficient in some way, remember that these are common experiences. Many women grapple with similar self-doubts and struggles at this stage of life. Your feelings are normal – you are not alone. Find a collective, a safe place, even if it’s one or two people, or an online space where you can share and feel heard.

Identify sources of emotional nourishment. Determine what people, places, activities, and thought patterns comfort and replenish you. Make time for those vital self-care practices, whether it’s a chat with a supportive friend, a walk outdoors, reading an inspirational book, or doing yoga. Tune in to any unhealthy coping strategies and think about how they are serving you, what the “cost” is of that extra glass of wine or social media binge.

Acknowledge your accomplishments. We can be a bit rubbish at seeing and celebrating our wins sometimes. We’ve earnt our wisdom but midlife women often minimise their achievements in family life, career, community work, and other domains. Make a list of your accomplishments great and small. Feel proud of all you’ve achieved thus far.

Show yourself the same gentle understanding you would extend to others going through a challenging time. With compassion for yourself, you can navigate midlife transitions with a little more ease and grace as well as showing others that there is a different way ❤️

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