2 Feb 2023

When Everything is Not Enough

When Everything is Not Enough

Have you reached a stage in your life where you find it harder to motivate yourself, get out of bed and carry on doing the things you need to do? You berate yourself for having these thoughts, because on paper you have made a success of your life and should be out there living it. Yet you experience an overriding sense that this isn’t where you ‘should’ be, it isn’t where you belong and a quiet terror that whispers, ‘Is this all there is?’

Your peers may say maybe you are depressed or exhausted and in need of a good holiday – a change in scenery – but underneath it all you can feel an underlying sense that something is out of kilter.

As a psychologist specialising in working with clients in midlife, I find it fairly common to be questioning the current status quo. The experience of midlife crisis is however probably one of the most underestimated, unrecognised and most ridiculed experience, and seems to evoke a less-than-empathic response from others – particularly our peers. You may have the external signs of what many would define as ‘success’, being financial security, a big house, nice car, and a successful career. However, they aren’t happy and that in itself is provocative to others, I mean after all how can you complain when you seem to have everything and more?

The midlife situation is difficult to understand because it’s not necessarily logical. The midlife crisis is an emotional response to an existential issue – a feeling of a loss of fulfilment, often triggered by a profound sense loss and a reminder of our own mortality, and in this fast-paced world we live in we may struggle to gather the enthusiasm to start something new or see something through till the end with all the other responsibilities already seemingly loaded on us.

You may question your relationship with your partner or whether your career is where you want it to be. You may feel burnt out and like you need a change. Or you may just feel like you no longer fit into your life, or your life doesn’t seem to fit you anymore.

The sense of fulfilment and pride you might have once gained from your life has disappeared or is fading and it’s difficult to work out how this happened. Did you change or did the world around you change? Either way it’s an uncomfortable fit, as although this is the life you were working towards, now that you’re here, it all seems a bit blah.

Left unaddressed, midlife crises can be simply devastating, not only for the individual but for their career and family and friends. Slumping into a midlife malaise at a time when you might have a mortgage, work or family responsibilities, aging parents, or be in the midst of a divorce, redundancy or bereavement, is the last thing you need!

This is not however the end of the road and you can turn this around and find that sense of fulfilment again. With some adjustments and the understanding that you need to reassess your life goals and what success means to us moving forward, you will find yourself able to make different decisions based on the way forward, not the past.

Join the conversation on Facebook for support from others who are experiencing their own version of midlife or follow me @themidlifecrisisdoctor for more advice on understanding the midlife crisis.