Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reading Signals

Ever since childhood, other people have considered me to be sensitive to the feelings of others. When it came to interpreting what was going on emotionally with people around me, I seemed able to recognize what went unseen by most others.

When my uncle and his wife were reaching the point of divorce, I was the first person to read their emotions. Although I was about 11 at the time, I recognized that my aunt was "acting strange" and mentioned the fact to my mother. Our family saw my uncle and his family only every couple of months since they lived several hours away. But I had always felt close to them and I was the daughter my aunt never had. She doted a bit and usually brought me a treat when they came to visit. However, on this one occasion, I could tell that something was wrong. A few weeks later they went their separate ways and that was the last time I ever saw her.

It's not that I am psychic or possess rare or unusual powers. There are some people who are simply more attune to the behavior by people and animals. Kindred spirits or such, I guess, and I must fall into that group.

Seems like when our lives are busy with careers and daily demands, we run around busily somewhat like chickens with their heads cut off. During such frenzied times, we are less likely to pick up on the "signals," which are bouncing around us all the time. But when we are relaxed, on vacation or otherwise engaged in quiet pursuits, there is less static in the air. Our antenna begin to retrieve a few of the vibes that are being transmitted.

Retirement brings a much longer period of relaxation. It creates the perfect atmosphere in which to intercept vibes. And, unfortunately, by the time we reach retirement, much of this atmosphere is negative in nature.

Baby Boomers who have retired seem to worry incessantly about nearly everything. Many mature folks express concerns about their appearance. We may not feel as confident at 65 as we did at 45. We may be carrying a bit more weight than a few years earlier. Certain parts of our anatomy may have changed in appearance. It takes longer to glue ourselves together than previously.

People might tell us that we look good -- all things considered -- but what really matters is how each of us feels about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves is directly related to the signals we have received.

Perhaps this phenomenon of receiving less-than-desired signals can account for a variety of mid-life adjustments. Whether we call them mid-life crises or mid-life crazies, the fact is that many people suddenly become aware that they might be missing a lot of life.

Close friends may suddenly seem absorbed with their own personal problems -- aging parents, neglectful spouses, foolish adult children who are creating their own problems. Problems may seem magnified by the fact that they at last have adequate time to become overly-fixated on mundane issues. These perpetual worriers project such unending anxiety that their family can have a hard time listening to the analysis of every worry. The family becomes less attentive which in turn causes additional problems.

Spouses cannot bear to hear a constant rehash of anxiety from his/her partner. Each spouse may have some of the same concerns about similar issues, perhaps in addition to harboring unshared concerns about health issues. In some instances, these moments of stress may erupt into a midlife divorce. It happens all the time.

If someone you know and care about seems inclined to fix everyone else's problems, try to gently bring this to their attention. They need to stop tending to every other garden and look after their own. Weeds will grow without proper maintenance.

Retirement should be a joyous experience, a time to enjoy life, not to be spent worrying every minute of every day about problems which are truly private and should be resolved in private.

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