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Menopause Makeover: It's All in Your Mindset
Unlocking the power of your mindset to transform your menopause experience.
Over time I have come to believe less and less that biology is destiny. It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mindset about our physical limits. ~ Ellen Langer1
I've always been a firm believer in the power of mindset. Our beliefs and attitudes shape our reality, and as I entered menopause, I realized that this pivotal phase in my life was no exception to this rule.
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Whether I embrace aging and specifically menopause with curiosity and agency or succumb to outdated stereotypes is entirely a matter of mindset. My mindset.
This is not Your Mother's Menopause!
For too long, women have carried the burden of outdated terms like "the change” or “The Dangerous Age", phrases loaded with connotations of decline and struggle. But what if we shifted our perspective? What if menopause was seen as a celebration of a new chapter ripe with wisdom, experience, and the freedom to be our authentic selves?
Breaking Free from Outdated Beliefs
One of the most damaging beliefs that society has perpetuated is the notion that after the age of 50, women transition from being sexy and sassy to frumpy and grumpy. It's time to challenge these stereotypes and rewrite our narrative. What if we adopted the belief that, like a fine wine, women get better with age?
It's not only possible; it's happening, and I am living proof.
My Personal Journey
Perimenopause and menopause weren’t kind to me. The worst of it occurred in early post menopause and lasted for a tough four years. I felt like a mess both physically and mentally. I was dealing with extra pounds, aching joints, and constant exhaustion. On top of that, my mind felt all foggy, and I couldn't seem to focus or think clearly. Worst of all, I felt alone in my struggles.
Then, I stumbled upon a surprising fact: women can spend more than half of their lives dealing with menopausal symptoms on average. That really woke me up. I knew I had to take charge of my health, but it wasn't just about changing my lifestyle or habits. It had to start with a shift in my mindset – my beliefs about menopause and getting older.
To start feeling better, I decided to “reset my mindset” and get on with the business of living my life!
What is a Mindset?
Carole Dweck2, a renowned psychologist, introduced the concept of mindsets as a way to understand how our beliefs about our abilities and traits shape our behavior and outcomes.
According to Dweck’s research, there are two primary types of mindsets: fixed and growth.
Living with Fixed Menopause Mindsets
A "fixed mindset" is like thinking your abilities, smarts, and personality are set in stone and can't be changed. People with this mindset usually steer clear of tough stuff, give up quick, think trying hard is pointless and don't listen to feedback. Here are examples of how a fixed mindset may apply to menopause.
5 Fixed Menopause Mindsets
1. The Menopause Curse: Thinking that menopause is like some dark spell that only brings misery and that there's absolutely nothing good about it.
2. Accepting the Decline: Believing that when menopause hits, you're pretty much doomed to feel worse physically and mentally, and there's no way around it.
3. Resistance to Change: Stubbornly refusing to make any changes to your lifestyle to deal with menopause symptoms, thinking it's just a regular part of getting older.
4. Give me the Meds: Putting all your faith in medicine to handle menopause symptoms and not even considering other options like lifestyle tweaks or natural supplements.
5. The Stigma: Seeing menopause as some kind of taboo topic, never talking about it openly, and feeling awkward or ashamed about seeking help or information for this totally natural phase of life.
Thriving with Growth Menopause Mindsets
Now, a "growth mindset" is more like believing your abilities and smarts can grow if you put in the effort. Folks with a growth mindset welcome challenges, keep going even when it's tough, see effort as a way to get better and learn from feedback and advice. Here are examples of how a growth mindset may apply to menopause.
5 Growth Menopause Mindsets
Embracing Change: Seeing menopause as a natural part of life's journey and embracing it as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation.
Knowledge is Power: Actively digging into info about menopause, what you can expect, and how to handle it, and being open to trying out different things.
Lifestyle Tweaks: Being up for making positive changes, like getting into healthier eating habits, starting a workout routine, or giving meditation a shot to boost both your body and mind during menopause.
Lean on Your Team: Believing in the power of support from friends, family, or fellow menopausal warriors, and not being shy about sharing experiences, advice, and a good laugh or two.
Embracing the Suck: Looking at menopause-related challenges as opportunities to grow and become more resilient, knowing that even when things get tough, you're gaining wisdom and a deeper understanding of yourself.
Changing from Fixed to Growth
Changing your mindset from fixed to growth is a process that requires effort self-awareness and agency.
1. Self-awareness: Begin by recognizing your fixed beliefs. Pay attention to when you avoid challenges. Acknowledge these moments without judgment.
2. Challenge Fixed Beliefs: Actively challenge these fixed beliefs. When you catch yourself thinking, "I can't do this," reframe it as, "I can't do this YET." This small shift in language can make a world of difference.
3. Play at the Edges: Seek out challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. Embracing challenges and getting into action is a powerful way to develop a growth mindset.
4. Learn from Setbacks: Instead of seeing failures as dead ends, view them as opportunities for growth and learning. Analyze what went wrong and how you can improve next time.
5. Cultivate Persistence: Developing a growth mindset requires consistency and persistence. Keep practicing and remind yourself that growth takes time.
It’s a matter of mindset!
Menopause is not a decline but an opportunity for growth and transformation. It all begins with our mindset. By understanding the difference between fixed and growth mindsets and actively working to shift our beliefs, we can navigate this life stage with strength, resilience, and a sense of celebration.
As Steven Kotler writes in Gnar Country, “Aging is a fact of life. Old is a mindset.”3
Embrace your menopause journey with the belief that, like fine wine, you're getting better with time.
Cara Bradley is a Menopause Performance Coach, wellness entrepreneur and author. She is the founder of Menopause Inc. providing workplace programming for high performing women.
Ellen Langer, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Carole Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Random House, 2007)
Steven Kotler, Gnar Country: Growing Old. Staying Rad (Harper Wave, 2023