I remember feeling really sad after my Dad retired. It wasn’t because ‘I’ was sad but I could plainly see that it was hard on my Dad. Men and Women often have emotions around retirement but they will experience it differently.
Most men will find ‘significance’ in the work that they do, in their jobs, and find their ‘identity’ through their work. For a lot of men, they have felt fear of judgment, and have had lots of pressure from peers, family, and often, themselves, to have the best job or make a great amount of money. In the past, men have typically made more money and have been the ‘providers’. So, what happens when the company that they work for wants them to retire and are pushed to retire early?
Being forced to retire early because of budget cuts, lay-offs, etc can be devastating. If you are aged 60 – 65 and you are laid off, or even in your 50’s, unexpectedly, it can be hard to bounce back from this. This is a major life change, with change comes loss and with loss of course comes grief. Grief has many complexities and symptoms that come with it. For example to name a few: Sadness, anger, fear, rage, isolation, lethargy, fatigue, and fear that things will never feel good again. For many years a man wakes up and has the same routine and all of a sudden he is retired early and finding another job at this age can be very difficult. Here are 3 signs to watch out for in men;
- Withdrawn – Men may feel guilt or shame around being forced into early retirement and even when it was not a forced retirement, men may become more withdrawn as they try to deal with the feelings of being retired. These signs may be subtle such as spending time on their own more often, sleeping more, not as communicative and not being aware of those around him.
- Digestive disruptions – feeling emotions such as guilt and shame, not feeling ‘good enough, can have major effects on our digestive system, but not only our digestive system, the stress of having to retire, unexpected or not, can trigger our trauma and we may jump into ‘survival stress’ and this leads to dysregulation. Esstentially, men easily can head to total ‘shutdown’ which leads to the body not functioning properly, including digestion which then leads to many other health issues.
- Social Relationship Decline – It starts with being somewhat withdrawn within the family but it often spreads into social isolation and disconnection. So men will stay away from friends, from the gym, from their circles that are usually their source of support and connection. Men may often have circles that include co-workers and now that they are no longer at work they will stay away from their circles and now lack support, they feel now less confident, less useful and unworthy.
Men don’t typically seek professional help and will most often be in denial that they are feeling depressed or cut off since being retired from their work. The key is for men, is to get them to sit down and reassess what they want. Being retired can be the best time of their life with more time now to interact with their friends, family, and other circles. It may be a difficult time for sure but once they can come to a realization that their lives are ‘just beginning’ rather than ‘ending’ they can start to put together a plan for what they would like to do to fill their time.
I worked with a client that had not only been retired from his job, but had lost his marriage as well and was at a complete loss as to what he might do now, and truly felt that it was the ‘end’ instead of the beginning. For this gentleman, it only took a little bit to have him completely turn around and see that he was still needed, useful and competent.
Retirement for sure can be a huge life change, but as well, can be one of the most amazing times of your life. Putting an “Action Plan” together, writing a Mission Statement for who and what you are going to commit to now moving forward, surrounding yourself with community, becoming a mentor, etc can be just as rewarding or even more than your career! I like to create a “Wheel of Possibilities” with clients as it helps them to get clarity on what their wants and needs are and sometimes, they need to be able to shift their mindset to see other possibilities. We all struggle with change and the loss of a career is so difficult but you do not have to be silent and suffer alone. Reach out to a friend, family doctor, or even a coach to help you navigate these new waters. Having support, or community and especially having a group of your peers that are going through the same thing, in your life will decrease depression, help you to build ‘new’ connections, and give you a new network of peers that are different than your coworkers, will help to empower you to take control of your new life and learn a different way of living.
Beginning March 13th, Joanne Hughes Coaching Presents “Circle of Possibilities” a Men’s Group Coaching that is for men aged 50 plus to learn to prepare for retirement, deal with the change of life retirement brings with it, change or relationship or just to learn new strategies to cope with change.
Circle of Possibilities
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