Dealing With Mid-Life Crisis

Dealing with mid-life crisis might not be easy. But here are 6 ways to deal with it and sail smoothly from someone who has already done it.

Dealing with mid-life crisis might not be easy. But here are 6 ways to deal with it and sail smoothly from someone who has already done it.
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”- Carl Jung

We have read many a times about how our lives are divided into various stages of childhood, teenage years, early adulthood, late adulthood and old age. We believe that as we are journeying through these stages, not only do our bodies grow, but our mind, our intelligence matures too with age and experience. So, the logical conclusion would be that the older we get, the more mature and clear we should be. But does that happen?

Are there times when you feel like you are losing faith and control over the ‘logical’ part of your mind? Do you go through phases of almost insane illogical thoughts over which you seem to have no control? Does it scare you even more because you know that this ‘new you’ would not be acceptable to your family or to your society? Does it make you stop and wonder what is going on with you? Does it make you think that you don’t even know yourself anymore and wonder who the real you is and why are all these thoughts emerging all of a sudden, when in reality you probably have quite a nice life going on? Does it make you feel that there is ‘something’ out there for you which will add more meaning to your life, but you have no clue what that ‘something’ is? Does it make you think that, that ‘something’ better happen quick or else you are going to lose your mind?

When you have these or million more questions constantly playing havoc with your mind, at the end of which you have no answers,  you, my friend, are experiencing the quintessential, ‘Mid Life Crisis.’

‘Mid-life crisis’ term was coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques, defining it famously as a time when adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time is left in their life.

This term was coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques, defining it famously as a time when adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time is left in their life. It has been an acceptable fact to believe that this ‘crisis’ gets triggered at some significant change in your life; a loss of job, or loss of a partner or a parent, or children growing up and leaving home, or that phase in life when you realize that you have lost interest in the job that you have been doing for years now. It has been known to hit men in their 40s-50s, while women have been known to have it earlier, between 35-44 years of age.Mid-life crisis has always been perceived as a negative emotion. It has a social stigma associated with it, of making one believe that they are not perfect; in fact they are far from it. Nobody in our society will dare to confess that his or her partner is going through a mid-life crisis, because that generally translates down to that, the person is doing crazy things like suddenly losing large amounts of weight, wearing younger age-inappropriate clothes, partying a lot more, wanting to buy a new bike or a sports car, or, the most damaging of them all, on the look out to having affairs to add some spice and excitement into their lives.

But does this experience have to be so negative, so drastic? Can it be used for ones’ growth in a positive way, to help pave a smoother path for the later years in life? I believe the answer is a very emphatic ‘Yes,’ if only we understand why do these emotions arise at this phase in life.

When we are going through the phase of early childhood, our thoughts, our dreams have no limitations whatsoever! We can conquer the world; we can become an astronaut, a doctor, a painter, a dancer, or even a bus driver, and that too, all at once! The sky is the limit to the possibilities to this tender mind. And then we grow a bit more.

By the time we hit teenage years, we still believe that we can do it all, but by then the limitations, the boundaries, the constraints and restraints of society start to set in.

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By the time we hit teenage years, we still believe that we can do it all, but by then the limitations, the boundaries, the constraints and restraints of society start to set in and to be able to live in this society, we teach ourselves to give up a few dreams and manage to hold on to the ones that really matter to us.
By the time early adulthood comes around, we have been very firmly taught and have made it our own deep learned behavior that if you do good to others, good will be done to you and you will find happiness in the process. We learn to suppress a large extent of our wants and wishes, for the betterment of, maybe, that one partner or our family, or on the larger extent, for the betterment of the society. We live through our 20s and 30s mainly ‘serving’ others and end up convincing ourselves that we are getting happiness in the process. We live through this time working hard to make our own mark in this world, to make our own family, to keep our growing family safe and healthy and happy; we basically live through this time to only ‘give.’
But as we come to our mid-30s to early 40s, the veil of illusion starts to fade. We begin to realize that in spite of  ‘giving’ everything that you possess towards your own family or extended families or friends, in spite of having lived a good ethical model life, in spite of having been good towards the society and having lived within its confines and limitations, you not only do not possess the promised happiness, but in fact feel far away from it! That is when self-doubt starts to set in. One starts to question his/her entire way of life because, truth be told, ‘I was promised and made to believe that if I am good, I shall find happiness,’ but that is not the case. The ensuing battle that begins in such a person’s mind is the ‘Mid-Life Crisis.’I do not believe that this experience is about one’s mortality. In fact, this experience is a wake-up call for all of us to finally realize how tilted the scales have become and to work towards finding that balance for ourselves, to enable us to find some real peace and happiness.

This experience need not be as drastic and as negative as it is always made out to be. To keep it positive, try the following steps:

Know your priorities for yourself and make a note

These should include first and foremost priorities about oneself: I wish to lose weight, I wish to have more time to pursue my hobbies, I wish to learn dancing, I wish to go on a solo-soul-searching trip etc. It could be anything! Even if it sounds silly, don’t judge, just make notes about what are your wishes. Then note down the priorities you feel towards your loved ones, a big part of which is your finances too.

Confess to yourself your true feelings about your close ones

May it be about ones’ parents, or extended families, or your spouse or children. Confessing to yourself what you truly feel (even if it is completely negative) is the first step towards mending what is wrong, what hasn’t been working for you. Have the strength and the perseverance to see yourself through these ‘repair jobs.’ Be vocal, be clear in setting certain limitations or in talking about how some limitations set on you are not working out for you anymore and what all needs to change.

Be honest to yourself about your marriage

By the time you come to this phase, you generally have some or the other resentment about your partner (which is absolutely normal). It is imperative at this time to understand your real feelings about them. Do you truly respect your partner? Do you still love them? Would you wish to work through this marriage all over again? Would you wish to continue being married? Clarity in these thoughts is going to give you a certain peace and strength to make things right again, because during this phase, the one boat that gets rocked the most is your marriage. If one partner is going through this crisis, the other partner is almost always feeling at a loss because of all the sudden changes in the other one. If both the partners are experiencing this together, then it is going to take all their possible energies to not let the boat capsize. But the key here is to be patient, to not criticize, to let go and just be there.

Make the physical changes with a positive attitude

The biggest benefit for people experiencing a mid-life crisis is the loss of  excessive weight and regaining back their original shapes. Unknowingly, they are setting up a perfect backdrop to ease their path into the ‘evening of life.’ It is a liberating feeling to know that there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, for yourself and also for the other’s too. A bit of self-pampering and dressing up and harmless flirting will do you a great deal of good than harm. The key point is to know and respect your own limits. And if you are honest with yourself about point no.3, that should not be a problem.

Stop chasing happiness

The more you try to understand this feeling and the more you chase it, the more elusive it becomes. As long as you strive and find within yourself that perfect balance between giving-and-taking, you will find yourself content and at peace. And then, maybe, just out of the blue, you might feel that small bubble of happiness in your heart.

Make a definitive action plan, with a deadline

Follow through with all your confessions and your feelings. Do not just put them on paper and stop right there. Have the strength and gather up your energies to make all those life-altering changes and enjoy the change and the positivity associated with it.

I have gone through this experience myself. While actually wading through the dark waters of negativity and self-doubt, it felt like there would be no end to these feelings; like I have forever lost the real me and am never going to be able to find myself again. But I persevered and gave it all I had (by myself and within myself) and now sitting on the other side of the fence I can look back and see that nothing much has changed in the world around me. I have just learned to look at things differently and deal with them in a fashion that is better suited for this grown-up me.

Going through a mid-life crisis has taught me that I cannot look at this ‘afternoon of my life’ with the same eyes that are accustomed to the tender light of the morning. Even though this light seems harsh at times, it is teaching me to close my eyes a bit and look within, to find my true self, which I’m sure is going to help me immensely as I slowly and steadily step towards the ‘evening of life.’ What a savior it has turned out to be! I feel better about myself, I feel healthier and most important of all, I feel in control. I wish and pray you do too.

First published here

Cover image via Shutterstock


About the Author

Mana B

A doctor by profession and a freelance editor/writer by choice, I have a dream of filling up one entire book shelf with the books written by me, and the with the ones I have read more...

4 Posts | 14,556 Views

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