The Conflict

Most of my clients talk to me about one or more of the feelings outlined below. They are trapped in their own heads, bound up by fear, overburdened with responsibility, and feeling guilty and frustrated for not being able to think and plan their own way out of their current situation. They never feel present or at peace, and are unable to take a moment to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Consider which of the following describe you:

Unhappy with your career:

You used to be ambitious and innovative. Now, you hate your job, feel too old to move and are unfulfilled, but are too blocked and scared to control your own future. This article will help you discover what’s happened and why, and what you can do about it.

Anxious and overwhelmed:

On edge and struggling, you feel stuck, flat and lost. Sometimes a new bag, holiday or house will quell the fear, but it always comes back. You’re a go-getting over-achiever; impatient about your inability to change your life for the better. In this article, you’ll uncover the fears, doubt and insecurities that are holding you back and will quickly, effectively and pragmatically set you on a new path.

Unfulfilled and empty:

You wake up feeling there must be more to life than this but think you’ve left it too late to fulfil your potential. Work consumes your time and energy: you’re 100 per cent responsibility and 0 per cent contentment. Reading this article will give you clarity about what you want, so you can have the impact and make the contribution that you dream of.


You’ve worked hard to achieve the career, relationship, maybe children, and the lifestyle you’ve always wanted. You just don’t want it any more. You feel that you should be happy, and you try to be grateful and enjoy the fruits of your hard work, but you can’t. Reading this article you will identify what you want in your life from now on and ensure you get it.

The conflict

Everything you are feeling is absolutely normal. Everything you are struggling with and feel hopeless about is a part of human psychological development. Psychologists refer to it as individuation (Carl Jung) or self-actualization (Abraham Maslow). Whatever you want to call it, it amounts to the same thing: a drive or need to become our true selves – who we truly are when we are performing at our full potential, and using our own natural set of talents and abilities versus what we have been told or ‘conditioned’ to believe.

‘A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.’


Jung believed that it’s a natural drive within us – to want more meaning in life; Maslow believed it is a need that develops once our material needs have been met, when we naturally want to have more meaning and purpose in our lives. I believe it’s a mixture of both – both a natural drive and something that happens when you have all of the things you’ve been striving for.

Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

how to deal with internal conflict

This illustrates his idea that we all have certain basic needs, and fulfilling these helps us to thrive. He groups them into five levels; you have to fulfil the needs of one level before you can move up to the next. The problem comes when the life we have, the life we have created and built for ourselves doesn’t actually fit who we truly are – i.e. our natural talents and abilities. This is because up until a certain point (usually around the age of 35), we have designed our lives based on what we have been told we should be doing, can’t do, or on only what is possible for us to do in life (in order to earn a living, support ourselves etc.).

This is all perfectly normal: we learn the ‘rules of life’ from who or what we see around us – parents, teachers, sometimes religion, society in general – but all of these have just been following the ‘rules’ that have been passed down to them.

We follow these dictates in order to belong, to fit in, and to survive in the world as we know it.

So, we enter careers that we have been led to believe are right for us, follow a path that has been laid out in front of us as ‘the way’, and even choose partners based on what we learn about relationships from our parents. This is where the conflict or ‘midlife crisis’ comes in.

The conflict happens when we find ourselves stuck between two worlds: the life we have created, but which no longer seems to fit or bring us any joy (let alone passion); and the yearning we have within us to actually follow our true path and calling in life – basically be who we were always meant to be. If you don’t know or understand what’s going on beneath the surface, this is the point at which a sense or feeling of ‘crisis’ occurs.

This is when you see people trying to ‘fix’ themselves to make themselves feel better, or trying to suppress their feelings of confusion and malaise by external means.

This is the time at which people typically move house or area, leave their long-term partners (and yes often have affairs with a younger/more successful/better-looking version of their partner), or dive further into their careers – all in the hope that they might regain that sense of satisfaction and joy they once felt.

This is when we see the cliché of the middle-aged man buying a sports car or a motorbike, or suddenly taking up cycling (equipped of course with the latest bike and all the skin-tight cycling outfits). Men will strive to appear more youthful or more adventurous or to look as if they are ‘achieving’ something – all to make themselves feel better about their lives. Women will often begin to question their work and personal achievements, and start thinking about different ways of earning a living – typically starting businesses of their own or ‘portfolio careers’.

Women have more financial freedom now than ever before and are therefore much less likely to ‘put up and shut up’ than previous generations.

Statistics show that today’s women are now less financially dependent on their partners, and are able to afford the kinds of life changes that were once only available to men (about 25 per cent of wives today earn more than their husbands).

Women are also now almost as likely as men to have affairs, and two out of every three divorces are now initiated by women. So when faced with the question, ‘How do you really want your life to be?’, women are now much more likely to make a radical change and move on

Need help redesigning your life + career? There are a few ways I can do that
    • To get clear on what you do and don’t want in your life + career moving forward, get my book Change Your Life in 5 for free now (just pay P+P). Click here
    • Ready to get unstuck in just one hour – and moving forward into the next phase of your life? Book a power-hour Reset Session with me now click here
    • If you’re ready to do more in-depth or longer-term work on redesigning your life + career, I’ve opened up a few slots for working with me 1-1. Book your free Discovery Call with me by clicking here and find out how I can help.
    • If you are interested in Leadership (including remote leadership) + Executive Coaching for you or your team, find out more about my unique Conscious Leader programme by clicking here

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