We are all familiar with the idea of a mid-life crisis as a time in our lives when we realise life is finite and seek to reassess our situation. The phenomenon is very under-researched despite the fact that it is very widespread. It’s often those who objectively have the least reason to be unhappy (good job, happy family, wealthy etc.) that are hit the hardest. Feelings of ungratefulness, guilt and disappointment about their own dissatisfaction become part of a vicious cycle and sometimes lead to resentment in others.
Although not always the case, a mid-life crisis is often triggered by a stressful situation such as redundancy, a younger colleague beating us to a promotion, divorce, illness, loss of a loved one or empty nest syndrome. Whatever the cause, there are a few telltale signs that can be indicative of a mid-life crisis.
Obsessively comparing yourself to others – a new work colleague or friend may trigger thoughts of resentment causing you to question your own self-worth or abilities.
More questions than answers – a feeling of uncertainty about yourself and your own life and having more questions than answers. “Is this all there is?” “What am I doing?” “Who am I?”
Spending money – large purchases of pleasure items including motor bikes, cars or jewellery. Trying to regain youthful excitement through spending.
Change in appearance – taking a new interest in physical activity or healthy eating with a focus on physical appearance. Considering plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures.
Drastic change of career – dissatisfaction from a career you used to enjoy and feeling that you want to make a drastic change.
Separation from yourself – looking in the mirror and feeling that you don’t recognise yourself anymore. Feeling separated from your loved ones or life.
Depression and loss of interest – feeling depressed or disinterested in things which previously gave you pleasure.
Feeling trapped or tied down – feeling that your current circumstances have you trapped or resenting your marriage or family for tying you down.
Rebelling – unusual behaviour such as staying out late, partying, breaking rules or being unfaithful.
Focus on death – you might have become more occupied with the idea of death perhaps looking into new religions or reading more obituaries.
Help for a Mid-Life Crisis
A mid-life crisis is usually a person’s attempt to realign their life to better fit their values and desires. Due to the commitments we often have by this age, it can be difficult to resolve these conflicts or make changes to ease the contradictions we feel. However, when handled well, the experience can yield positive change and happiness.
During a mid-life crisis there are a number of conscious and unconscious forces affecting our well-being and behaviour. Most of the negative feelings brought on by a mid-life crisis come from acting without fully knowing why, the reaction of others to our changing behaviour or from denying ourselves the time and space to explore these feelings.
I can help you discover how you can better align your life with what makes you content and happy. If you feel trapped or weighed down by your current situation, let me help you explore your options.