A Midlife crisis is inevitable, caused by stress and all downhill from here! Three things people assume about a midlife crisis which are wrong.
Many people think all midlife crises are the same -people freak out, buy a flash car and have an affair – but the midlife crisis experience is so personal and different for everyone. Here I will tackle 3 main myths surrounding the midlife crisis and help to set the record straight.
How Can We Busting Midlife Crisis Myths?
A midlife crisis is inevitable
A midlife crisis isn’t inevitable even though research suggests that in midlife most of us will experience a happiness slump. To thrive in midlife, you will need to live your life according to your current values and many people don’t stop to consider what their values actually are. Many midlifers (people aged 40-60 yearsare stuck in careers which no longer suit them or align with the sort of work they would value doing, they can feel personally compromised.
Research suggests that people who change careers in their 20s and 30s stand a better chance of not experiencing a midlife crisis. In my experience changing or refining the career you chose when you left school or University in line with the person you are in your 30s and 40s and beyond can support your wellbeing, stave off a horrible sense of being lost and can bring new purpose into your working life.
Similarly at midlife, many people are fearful of change and find themselves staying in relationships that are no longer satisfying and are based on status, money, and social expectation rather than shared emotional experiences, love, understanding and authenticity. Facing your fears and working on unsatisfactory aspects of your relationship or deciding to change relationships to allow yourself to take some time out for you, can be truly beneficial.
A fulfilling life with meaning and purpose in your midlife years rarely happens by accident, you need to be making conscious decisions and choices that support your wellbeing and are rooted in the present and resonate with your values nowrather than outdated decisions made at a younger age when you were less experienced about how the world and relationships work.
A midlife crisis is caused by stress
Stress doesn’t cause a midlife crisis. Many midlifers actually cope pretty well with everyday stress as many have developed life skills and resilience over the years that can help them cope and rise to new challenges and also at this age many people are more in control of their life than they have ever been. A midlife crisis tends to be triggered by a profound loss. A profound loss is loss of something a person had invested in. That investment might be made up of time, money or love.
For some, the loss will be pinpointable and very apparent such as a bereavement, relationship breakdown or a change in domestic circumstances – the devastation felt by these sorts of losses can be colossal and shake your very foundations opening up questions about life, the universe and everything.
For others the loss might be more subtle but no less impactful such as loss of status (at home or work), loss of interest, loss of libido or loss of health and can make you question, well…. life generally! It is how you cope with this loss that will determine whether you experience a midlife crisis or as it can often be known – an existential crisis.
An existential crisis is often experienced when we struggle to find meaning and purpose in life and a profound loss can often strip us of these valuable assets. If you can recalibrate your life and process and incorporate the loss and search for new ways to live a life with meaning, then you can continue living purposefully.
All downhill from here
Absolutely not! Many people in midlife can go on to lead happy fulfilling lives, but this does not happen by accident. Often the first part of life is spent finding our place in the world and how we fit in. However, the second half is about finding a world that fits around us and compliments our current world view.
People change significantly during the life cycle how they want to spend their time, maybe they want to drink less, spend less time with certain people such as friends they might have grown up with but now have different values and ideas about what quality time looks like. Perhaps career choices made in early life are no longer fulfilling, perhaps you want a different kind of intimate relationship that is based on emotional understanding and mutual interests.
To be happy in midlife it is essential to increase your self-awareness, throw off old habits and obligations that no longer support your well-being, and take action to create a life that aligns with who you are now – then you can lead a happy contented and exhilarating life -a life worth living!
Follow me @themidlifecrisisdoctor or visit www.drjuliehannan.com tips on how to make midlife choices that will bring you joy and vitality!
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