I grew up in the midst of mental illness, addiction, & big secrets. Half of my family ended up in prison and the fallout continues to this day. – Kevin Dahlstrom
I grew up in the midst of mental illness, addiction, & big secrets. Half of my family ended up in prison and the fallout continues to this day. I’m not special—we’ve all known hardship & some of you endured much worse so maybe you can relate to my story…
Oprah says we should “turn our wounds into weapons” & that’s exactly what I did. I developed a sensitive BS-detector, a high tolerance for pain, & a relentless drive to win. Those weapons served me well—I rapidly checked all the boxes that define success in our society. But…
…the wounds remained. For a long time I was a duck on a pond, gliding gracefully when viewed from above but paddling like mad below the surface. To the outside world I was winning but inside I was an actor playing the role of some guy I didn’t recognize.
👺Most of us think of a “mid-life crisis” as a period of change, becoming a different person. But Carl Jung said it’s exactly the opposite—mid-life is when the masks we wear come off & we become our true self. Masks help us survive—even thrive—but conceal our true nature.
💡This was a pivotal insight for me. My awakening came around age 45 & rock climbing was a catalyst in discovering my true nature. The business world, which for many of us is the primary source of identity, is a world of masks…
…we do things & become people that are not our true nature, usually without realizing it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—wearing masks is part of functioning in society. But it’s also a slippery slope—over time you can confuse the masks for your true self.
For me climbing—both the activity & the community—felt authentic & pure. It provided desperately needed perspective, opening my eyes to some hard truths about myself and what success really means.
This is why I preach about being multi-dimensional. Most of us don’t even even realize we’re wearing masks until we observe our lives from a different angle. Sadly, many people live their entire life without gaining that perspective.
Here’s why it’s important to recognize when you’re wearing masks: The masks *will* eventually come off and the later it happens (and the less prepared you are) the uglier it is. This is when the stereotypical things we associate with mid-life crisis happen…
…buying fancy sports cars, abandoning close relationships, trying to recapture youth… …as we struggle to rediscover our true selves. It’s a bait & switch on your family, & friends—from their perspective you’ve changed but from yours you’ve become your true self.
When my masks came off I did some things I’m not proud of but also made some difficult but necessary changes. I set boundaries on unhealthy relationships, moved to a more inspiring place, and walked away from “golden handcuffs” (riches attached to an unfulfilling career path).
You can imagine that this sort of reboot is tough on a marriage & my wife gets huge credit for being a rock. These are things I wish I’d have done 10 years earlier. That’s why I’m sharing my story—in the hope that it helps at least 1 person.