Am I having a midlife crisis?
Am I having a midlife crisis? Yes, perhaps.
This is a question I often get asked by clients. People always assume if someone quits work suddenly, buys a motorbike or flashy car or has an affair that they are having a midlife crisis – but what is actually happening? Research of the experience of midlifers is surprisingly sparse considering there are so many of us!
Often what’s actually happening in midlife is people have a sense that something is off, out of kilter – not quite right with their life. There can also be an increased sense of mortality, a feeling that time is running out and that you haven’t achieved all the goals you should have at this juncture in your life and surely by now you should have all your sh*t together, but you haven’t!
A midlife crisis is an existential crisis, for many people it will be particularly rooted in or around their identity and it can be common in people aged between 35-70 years though the majority of people affected tend to be aged between 40 and 60 years old.
There is substantial evidence that there is a decline in life satisfaction and happiness in midlife. The extent to which it affects individuals can naturally differ as it’s a very personal experience. People can enter into a stage of intense existential reappraisal which evokes turbulent struggles within the self and with the external world.
You can have the lifestyle you chose for yourself, the friends you gravitated towards, the job you got excited about and interviewed for – you may feel that you chose this life but somehow it no longer suits you- not now – it’s not quite right and you’re bored and it’s not enough…anymore.
The sense of fulfillment and pride you might have once gained from your life has disappeared or is fading and it’s hard to work out how this happened – did you change or did the world change around you? Either way, there is a misfit – a bad fit and it feels pretty rubbish. And yes, this is the life you were working towards, but now you’re here it all seems a bit blah, dull, grey, all a bit samey and uninspiring.
But you can turn this around. A meaningful life at midlife rarely happens by chance. Conscious informed choices can steer you towards well-being as you live the second half of your life differently to the first half.
To successfully transition through midlife, it is necessary to reassess your life. Many of the lives midlifers are living are based on decisions about the type of partner they want, career, house, family, and lifestyle choices made at a younger age – usually late teens, early twenties. But in realty as we change from 20 to 40 and then into our 50s and 60s our ideas of what success, well-being, life looks like can change too, yet so many people fail to consciously reassess life goals that were made so long ago at a time when they didn’t have a full experience of the world and how they fit into it.
When you find your life is misaligned according to your current values, passions, ideas, and morals you need to stop, consider, and recalibrate your life and renew these old choices to align yourself in the present. Follow me @themidlifecrisisdoctor or visit www.drjuliehannan.com for advice and tips on how to live a happy midlife.
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