What Is A Paradigm Shift? 3 real life examples

paradigm shift

Hello there. Come on in thanks for stopping by. So I hear you are interested in the What is a Paradigm Shift?. I am going to share with you three of the most life changing paradigm shifts I have personally experienced. They change for everyone but the theme I want to illustrate here is the alignment of paradigm shifts and life stages.

I strongly believe that we live life in the following general stages

  • 0-13 Nurturing stage
  • 13-20 Weening stage
  • 20-30 Learning stage
  • 30-40 Doing stage
  • 50-60 Embracing stage
  • 60-70 Reminiscing stage

The peculiar thing about this concept is that you have to go through some pretty major changes in attitude and mindset to make a clean break from one life stage into the next successfully. That is when a paradigm shift comes in handy.

Next I want to quickly detail the nature of these three paradigm shifts. Remember for something to be considered a paradigm shift it has to completing change you entire framework of reality and make you see it through an entirely new lens. Paradigm shifts cannot be undone and when they do happen you typically only have two choices

  1. Find a bigger and more restrictive paradigm to replace it with, or
  2. Open up your eyes to life with a bit more uncertainly but a lot more choices.

Example #1 – Cast Off by mother (teens)

Just like the majority of people these days my parents are separated. Back in those days it was a lot bigger deal and certainly not considered normal activity. When considering the young man (or girl) you shouldn’t find it hard to believe that the strongest paradigm in life (thing that you take for granted) is that a mother will care for and nurture you. It is something strongly drilled into us from day 1 but it is also something that we innately and instinctively taken for granted and rely on to survive those formative years. My mother decided to leave our family when I was in high school. The paradigm shift in this example is that a huge chunk of my sense of self identity and moral value jumped into a completely different direction.

So how do you come to terms with such a shift? The common emotions that quickly follow align with betrayal, hurt, rejection, loss, grief – those sorts of negative emotions. If you are not careful these emotions can take hold and turn into depression or anxiety but they are natural and they are necessary. They get you through to the next stage which is redefining yourself and redefining a new framework for a new reality. Obviously there is no two personalities the same and no two personal reality frameworks are the same so all the external help in the world will only build new paradigms for you.


Example #2 – Death of last childhood confidant (early 30s)

paradigm shiftAs you get older one thing you will find is that the bonds you make with friends as a child and teenager are a truckload stronger than the friends you make as an adult. At some point in time you will bury a last childhood friend and have to face the new reality that now no one alive really and truly understands your past or your origins anymore. I found this a really big deal when it happened to me. It brought about a whole new feeling of vulnerability and exposure but it also created feelings of distance and separation from the surrounding people. Of course just as above the immediate reactions of grief, loss and hurt lead into a period of having to redefine yourself and a life aspirations without that future a thought was paved out for you in stone. The death of any close family members or friends will bring about mandatory paradigm shifts but often they as they happen more and more they become more temporary (if you let them).

Back to the discussion on the life stages you may not have ever heard this point before but there is something quite profound that happens to and changes the majority of people in their late 20s to prepare them for their 30s. Ever heard of the forever 27 club? For the mere mortals among it the paradigm shift is more likely to be something along the lines of:

  • graduating from the learning stage of a career and gaining enough experience to really start out on your own
  • move out of parent home & buy your own
  • marriage and commitment

Example #3 – Breakup/Divorce/Separation with kids (early 40s)

Another reality shattering moment in time came at the time of a marriage breakdown. Again everything planned for the future, every sense of present reality and all the untruth from the past came crashing down to shift every perception I had. Up is no longer up. Down is no longer down & I found myself no longer the person I thought I was (husband, father, provider and carer). It is amazing and very powerful how your entire identity and your entirely perception of the world can be pulled out from under you overnight. This is the power of a major paradigm shift.

married-abyssI had been through a dozen or so of the major paradigm shift by now but this one for me was the accumulation of all the others stacked on top of each other. For me the previous deaths were easier to deal with because they had ceremonial actions to perform hence a pathway to follow.

Additionally, I would like to mention that Andropause is real and that even without a breakdown in a relationship some of the bigger changes to a man’s biology happen around the age of 40. Feel free to ask your questions in the comment area below.

Voluntary Paradigm Shifts vs Involuntary

Thanks for persisting this long. I hope you found the discussion useful. The three example above were all occurrences when paradigm shift involuntarily happened to me. They all brought about great stages of personal growth which is why some people go around searching for ways to voluntarily bring about such paradigm shifts. Ancient cultures used initiation ceremonies to instigate such shift in a boy’s life around the age of 15. Girls naturally experience such paradigm shifts through the birth process. Of course those ancient customs have been lost to us and the next biological shift in men happens around the age of 40 (that’s when our testosterone lowers enough for us to start thinking above the waistline again).


18 Replies to “What Is A Paradigm Shift? 3 real life examples”

  1. Hi thanks for the article. I would probably agree with your paradigm shift model with the different stages through life. Significant life events such as losses or unexpected events such as sudden deterioration in health I think can also cause a major shift to occur. I think this could also occur for positive life events as well such as becoming a parent after giving up hope of fathering a child.

  2. This is a concise and thorough article and I must say this is a must for all parents to check through. I am not a marriage counsellor but I would never support in form of divorce irregardless of what happened because it will tell on the children. My Mother and Father got separated while I was 7 years of age. I never tasted the benefit of parenthood; I don’t know how it feels been taking care of by your parent. It affected my life so much to the extent that my siblings and I lived a wayward life before getting it straight. 

    Thanks for this eye opener.  I learnt alot from it

    1. cheers Ola.  

      What made you jump back on track again? Usually people answer marriage, near death experience or god?

  3. Hi Remy, came across your website, and the content interests me. just like you mentioned, Resilience is a powerful attribute. None of us is immune to life challenges, and tough times does not last, but tough people do. I feel your pain; casting off by a mother is a greater pain than the death of a childhood friend. Talking about the paradigm shifts and the three examples you mentioned, all those things are part of life, however, one has to be resilient and strong when dealing with life challenges. 

    1. thanks Tolu,

      Have you notice how some people relish in life’s challenges and some people are easily defeated by them?

      I am afraid there is a lot more snowflakes around than resilience and not a lot of quality role models for people to learn from.

      I hope artilcl’s such as these can inspire even one person to make a positive change. Then a hundred monkeys can follow.

  4. Hi Remy, we all experience different paradigm shifts and I quite agree with you that it cannot be undone. The examples you gave as your major paradigm shift depicts major experiences people are passing through, especially the number experience you had.

    For me, my major paradigm shift, was the death of my elder brother years ago, it shattered my dream and made me see life in another perspective. I feel your pain in example 3 you gave, but we all have a way of responding to situation, and I believe with time, you will overcome that stage.

    Thanks for explaining different between involuntary and voluntary paradigm shifts.

    1. thanks Grace, sorry for you loss.

      life lessons such as these were once passed on from society elders or grandparents to teenagers.  Wouldn’t it be nice if our children had a head-start, knew what was coming their way in life and were equipped with tools to conquer.

      It really annoys when I see people attribute absolutely no value at all to the value of a complete family unit – that is one with mother, father, children and grandparents.

  5. Hello Remy, I sympathize with you on your loses but we all know that whatever doesn’t kill will only make you better. 

    And from your life experiences you’ve allowed yourself to evolve with the tides, not letting life dictate life for you, I think that’s commendable. 

    I think I’m going through a paradigm shift right now. Although it’s not sudden or as painful as the abandonment of a mother, the death of a childhood confidant or the divorce of a spouse, but it’s a paradigm shift all the same. In fact, it’s still in the process. And I hope I come out stronger, like you did. 

    1. don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it Peace.  Those people who have a spiritual outlet tend to do better.

  6. Thanks for writing out this lovely article and I must say its a must for everyone to read and digest.i would accept the paradigm shift stages like you mention in the article 

    some life event like death of family member might bring paradigm shift as its unexpected .marriage breakup happens in the ages you mention 40s,its another shift that entirely happens. I gained some understanding about paradigm shift in life. Thanks for the review. 

    1. thanks adam,

      I wasn’t too sure about the age of divorce thing but the more research I do the more accurate it becomes.

      good luck bro.

  7. Hi I like the article you wrote. I myself have had a lot of paradigm shifts. I have been married for 38 years have 1 step daughter and 2 daughters with my wife. I have 4 grandchildren. My farther passed on when I was 16 and within 7 years after that I had to brothers that passed away. 3 years ago my mother passed away. So I am not sure how many shifts that alone would count for. Then to add all the natural shifts that come in your life. I find this ti be a very interesting topic. So how many shifts at my age of 56 would you say I have most likely had?

    1. Sorry for your loss Bill.  The good news Bill is that everything that has happened in the past already happened and you don’t need to go through it again.  

      I find that mindfulness training and living in the moment really helps me eradicate all the negative memories from poisoning the moment.  

       As long as you are standing on your own two legs and facing the day head on you with a little bit of hope are leading the group. 

      If you can teach your kids and step-kids a thing or two: improving their life your hurdles have been turned into launch-pads.

  8. This article about what is paradigm shift is a great and a well informative article. From the post, I see that paradigm shift is more of morals and letting go, the old perception of you as you grow older in life and encountering more and less challenging things, and embracing a totally new one. I think paradigm shift must definitely occur in a persons life for him or her to be more positive in life and to move forward. So, I think it’s inevitable 

    1. Unfortunately the opposite is also more likely to happen Barry.  The bulk of middle age men or women (and i am by no means special when it comes to statistics) who experience such dramatic life events tend to begin a downward spiral and continue on that trajectory.

      These are the men (and women) who need a helping hand.  They won’t ask for it.  It almost needs to be forced on them. The massive network of women’s shelters and associated welfare systems is a good start, but where do the men go?  Every man for them self doesn’t work out too well if you are the one in the dumpster?

  9. Hi Remy – I agree that “life events” can certainly create paradigm shifts. We sometimes do not have control over the events or experiences that enter our lives but I believe that we do have control on how we “respond” to the external circumstances. Sometimes life can shake our confidence and influence our self-identity but if we remain true to ourselves and maintain a positive attitude we can grow from our trials and tribulations. I like your attitude about choosing to grow from your challenges and not allowing them to defeat you. Great attitude!! 

    1. thanks Jeff.  

      There is a lot of power in being able to control your perceptions and reactions.  I see a lot of younger people who don’t even have a self identity instead relying on a group identity for validation.

      Have a good day jeff and hope to see you back mate.

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