The developmental tasks of menopause move you closer to becoming more mature, courageous, and wise.
Menopause is a time not only of multidimensional transformation but also of significant developmental tasks. Developmental tasks are simply the accommodations we need to make in order to facilitate further growth. At certain points in life, our psyches begin signaling that things need to change, and either we accommodate to make way for the new and to grow or we resist change and stagnate.
Each stage of life has its own set of developmental tasks. For instance, babies face the developmental tasks of learning to crawl, walk, and talk. Adolescents face the tasks of individuating from family and finding their identity. Young adulthood is a time for establishing intimacy, independence, and a career.
Menopause offers its own unique set of developmental tasks. Sue Monk Kidd describes midlife as a time of “developmental transitions.” These transitions “are like the tapered neck of an hour glass—difficult but necessary passages that we have to navigate in order to emerge into the next era of life.”
I offer Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause as a guide for claiming the opportunities for transformation during menopause. In this transforming season, you will face seven developmental tasks:
- Uncovering the repressed and hidden parts of your life
- Getting in touch with your anger
- Recovering your authentic self
- Living in expanded time
- Claiming your spiritual freedom
- Embracing a holy vision (calling)
- Returning to your courageous dragon self
I refer to these developmental tasks as gifts because each task, once accomplished, moves you closer to becoming more mature, courageous, and wise.
Each gift (developmental task) opens the door for others to follow. For instance, the gift of uncovering sets the stage for you to claim the gift of anger. The gift of anger makes it easier to identify your authentic self. The gift of the authentic self makes it easier to move into a world of expanded time. The gift of expanded time opens the way for the gift of spiritual freedom. After finding the gift of spiritual freedom, you will be ready to embrace a holy vision—calling—for the second half of life. All these gifts make way for you to enter the dragon’s den, where you can find your dragon self and claim your gift of courage.
You may be one of those lucky women who breeze through menopause without some of the more distressing symptoms. It is still important for you to achieve menopause’s developmental tasks. Successful achievement of these tasks means you will be more fully able to face the challenges of the second half of life.
One of the strengths of human development is its fluidity. If we miss critical developmental windows or fully achieving some of life’s developmental tasks, we can always return to those issues. If you are a woman past the age of menopause, there is still time to revisit the opportunities hidden in this phase of life.
Being past menopause will make achieving the tasks more difficult because your body was primed for transformation during menopause. But don’t despair; you can still take advantage of the gifts of menopause!
Content taken from Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause by Cheryl Bridges Johns, ©2020. Used by permission of Brazos Press.