The phrase "Midlife Crisis" has a bad connotation. We think about men getting fast expensive cars, fake hair and young lovers. Sure, this is true, but not necessarily the full picture. Of course, none of us would like to be associated with that silly behavior, yet we might be in a midlife crisis. In my experience, this might be wonderful. After having passed through it, I can tell you that it's full of gifts and blessings.
What's actually midlife crisis?
The dictionary says that midlife crisis is:
- a period of psychological stress occurring in middle age, thought to be triggered by a physical, occupational, or domestic event, as menopause, diminution of physical prowess, job loss, or departure of children from the home.
I like that definition. Midlife crisis is a moment in our life when we feel blue. It's not linked to a specific age. It can be triggered by external events: divorce, empty nest, being laid off or a full decade birthday. For some people the triggers come from within: boredom, or a feeling of plateauing.
Are you in a midlife crisis?
You might exhibit any of these symptoms,
- Panic about health problems
- Comparing yourself to others: body, homes, jobs…
- Obsessing about getting into shape
- Questioning if our true potential has been realized
- Thinking often about the meaning of life
- Buying expensive items on impulse
A powerful rule thumb that I like to use is,
- realizing you’ll never accomplish your dreams
- accomplishing your goals and asking yourself: is this all there is?
Midlife crisis arrived to my life when I was 36. At the top of my corporate career, one good Sunday the question “Is this all there is?” surprised me. My inner voices kept speaking: “The life that I live now doesn’t make me happy and I cannot explain it to myself anymore. I cannot keep pretending to be fine”. That day I stop pretending.
How does a midlife crisis become toxic?
A badly managed midlife crisis can cause tremendous damage in your life, your career and the people around you. It’s like fire on the exhaust pipe of a fast car. No matter how much you deny it, it’s there. If you don’t stop, acknowledge it and deal with it, it will burn your beautiful car.
I hear you! How can you deal with something that you don’t want to see? It’s almost mission impossible. Here you have some pointers. Consider honestly if you do any of the following,
- Do you blame others (your mom, partner, children, your employer, the government…) for what actually is your responsibility?
- Does your inner critic run your life? (thoughts like: I’m old, I’m fat, I’m stupid…)
- Do you want to deal with this alone? You don’t let other people in. You are strong and SHOULD deal with this by yourself.
- Do you anesthetize your feelings with different drugs? Just one more glass of wine or one more hour of work.
You are so strong! Yet you don't know why you feel so bad and worst you don't know what to do to get out of these feelings.
The Clarity Assessment will give you the most powerful next step to take.
(4 minutes - 7 questions - massive clarity)
Transform a midlife crisis into a portal of renewal
Social, economic and technological changes affect us. They are so huge and influential that are creating many life crises in each one of us. It’s predicted that millennials will change career 7 times. Will this generate 7 midlife crises? Just add to that menopause, passing of parents, divorce and more. How many crises will they have?
If you see it this way, the original meaning of midlife crisis changes. We cannot talk about the ONE midlife crisis. We need to consider that we are in a series of changes in our life. Instead of seeing them as crises, we can see them as growth opportunities. They are actually “stop signs” in our life, during which we can renew ourselves. They give us the opportunity to revisit our values and our vision of the future. We can learn the skills we need to deal with these recurrent opportunities.
When we take this stand, being in a midlife crisis is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. It becomes a moment of magic potential.
Just by changing our perspective on it automatically changes its nature. This is the magic of appreciation. It increases the value and the potential of this moment.
Top 2 midlife crisis advises
Please let me save you tears, years and dollars! If you are in a midlife crisis, please do follow these two advises.
- Do not make any major changes. This moment in life calls you to stay put. You are called reflect more and do less. Your values and vision of the future are in flux. Changing partner, career or city very likely will bring great disappointments in the future. Don’t move. Observe. Feel. Reflect.
- Ask for help. Help helps. A friend, a priest, a coach... Get out of your comfort zone and ask for help. When you have the courage to be vulnerable, you’ll be blessed with unexpected gifts. You’ll find friendship, wisdom and new doors.
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Back to you
Have you experienced a life crisis, a moment when all bets were off? Share with us what worked for you?
Feel free to share your wisdom in the comments below. Your words might be the wisdom others are needing.
Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing. This is the soul food that this community thrives on.
To your brilliance,