How to Enjoy Your Midlife Crisis
So you feel stuck and like nothing goes your way. You worry that the best years of your life are over. You look back and toss the memories, some exiting and some just plain care-free, and you wonder, will you ever have another chance to relive your past, to be as spirited and soulful as you once were.
I understand you completely. You are not alone. In every adult woman’s and man’s life there will be a turning point. It is not always defined by their age. But it just happens, that it is most likely to occur around us turning 40, or 50 if you are a man. Many report experiencing having the midlife crisis in their thirties, and some in their 60-s. The general feeling is a fear that life will never be the same again.
Many of my clients when I ask them what do they want to get out of coaching, say, “I just want my old self back”. They tell me about their level of energy just a few years back, how busy and successful they were, how attractive and confident. They could take on the world. They could accomplish anything. They felt they have time. Now they feel tired, frustrated, often envious of they younger peers, like to complain and feel like they are constantly competing against time.
As the midlife crisis progresses what happens next is that they would make the last attempt to breakthrough and go for what they feel they are missing out on. They have the makeover, learn everything about the positive attitude, join social groups, start dating again, and try project kind of care-free attitude, they think, would separate them from the other mid-lifers. We’ve seen and, perhaps, experienced this phase ourselves. We would remember how highs would be replaced by the lows of dissatisfaction from feeling like a fraud. Fake it until you make it doesn’t work, when you are a responsible mature adult. You just can not replace what you feel inside by acting like you don’t care.
On the contrary, because we had reached midlife we have a chance to see life and ourselves for what it is. We have an urge to go deeper, look beyond surface. For us it is not just about showing others how well we did, but it’s mainly about how well we feel about it.
Midlife is time of re-evaluation. Bit by bit we want to see the value in everything we’ve done over our life time. Often we feel regret for lost time, relationships and opportunities. Often we blame ourselves for not doing it right, for failing, for blowing it all together. More often than not we would justify all of that with circumstances. Life happened, we can all relate to that.
What is left for us to do? Our biggest fear is that life had stopped for us. Boring is the scariest word. No, we are not ready to be boring, balanced and peaceful. We still want to do and be something! But what can we be and what can we do? All we had been and done feels boring and overworked. It just doesn’t have the same attraction.
Midlife crisis and identity crisis go hand in hand. Some times, and statists show that this is about 95% of us, actually, can not re-live what we had again. More than half of the marriages had ended, we accumulated a long list of things we have to take care of, including our own children, ailing parents, and many material possession. Going back is not an option.
So when you are experiencing your midlife crisis, the first thing is to see whether you are standing next to a beautiful house you want to continue living in, maintaining it and making some great additions. Or whether you are observing the ruins, that can be partly rebuilt. Or whether you are looking at the burned down to the bitter end house of which nothing can be saved. Is there a foundation left? Or this, too, needs to be put together brick by brick, perhaps, in the foreign land, that is more fertile and user friendly.
If you own the beautiful house, congratulations. You can stop reading this article. You are one of the lucky ones.
The rest of us can benefit from these three tips on how to enjoy your midlife crisis.
Tip number one: let yourself fully morn what you have lost and feel gratitude for what you have achieved.
This part is called: validation. When I begin working with a new client this the first thing we do. We don’t miss taking account of anything, the good the bad and the ugly.
The tendency is usually focus on the losses and forget the gain. Because we tried to save the face, we had been posting inspirational quotes and some smily selfies on Facebook. The more we tried to keep our pain a secret, the more, when we had been left alone, we were caught up in self-criticism and negativity. Our psyche was balancing out the outer and inner inputs. So with validating yourself, you will bring that balance onto the surface, letting it empower you, instead of making you feel like you whole public life was a pretense.
Validation is a quiet process. What you know about yourself is for you only. As soon as you start sharing, you may fall into danger of telling a story, not the whole truth. The point of this exercise is to be truthful with yourself. One day, when time is right, and there will be any need for it, you can tell or write your story, make it an entraining read. But not yet. Let yourself really see your life and yourself in that life. Write about it in your own secret journal. It will do you a lot of good. Relief, gratitude, appreciation for your strength, is something to expect to feel after doing this exercise.
Tip number two: ask yourself, what have you learned?
One of the sad truths of life is that if we don’t learn our life lessons we will keep repeating them over and over. I don’t need to remind you about the strangest patterns, you notice, your life goes through. The only chance to get out of the vicious, or less than inspiring circle, is to find the nuggets of wisdom in your situation. What was that ex or that redundancy all about? What did you discover about yourself? What do you know and own now because of that?
Again, the best way to approach this exercise is to write a list of happenings in your life and then write the life lesson against each of them. You’ll be surprised how wise you are. Also, feeling grateful for having been given a chance to learn and grow is not an uncommon feeling gained after this exercise.
Tip number three: Dare to dream!
I know, I know, it is scary. All your life you had been playing it half way, trying to protect yourself from criticism and disappointment. But here is another truth about life: you get what you ask for! We are amazingly capable and also powerful beings. Once we know what we want our mind begins to do what it meant to do. Your mind will figure out how to get there the best way possible. I want to add some mystery to it and say, your life itself will figure it out and you will feel guided and supported on your quest. But you do need to have a quest. Dwelling on regrets is not something to look forward to in another decade or so. Why not do it? What is stopping you? How to overcome your blocks? All of those questions can be addressed after you established what is it you truly want from your life.
Now what else you would want to know about enjoying your midlife crisis, or better, your midlife transformation?
You don’t have to do it alone. Like I mentioned, most of us had been there and done that, the hard way. It doesn’t need to be the same for you. I know, that you had been searching for pain relief for some time already. You probably read every article and even done some on-line courses and such, to begin your midlife journey. But there’s more to transformation then just reading the right books, or even hanging out with likeminded people. At some point you have to decide whether you are serious about living your life to the full. Are you ready to take yourself, your life seriously?
If your answer is yes, even if you have doubts whether you are worth it, or whether it is going to work, I invite you to get support. And not just any support, but a professional support. From somebody who is fully qualified and experienced in helping people to enjoy their midlife transformations. Invest in yourself.