Handling the Mid-Life Crisis

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

What Is a Mid Life Crisis?
What Is a Mid Life Crisis?

During middle adult hood, our bodies change physically. We may lose our reproductive capacity; we start having new responsibilities that many include caring for young children and older parents. We may lose our hair or have a little extra flab. We may have to take on new responsibilities at work. Many people start to panic and feel they have to reevaluate their life, job and family critically and make changes while there is still time to do it, because they start realizing they are aging. Jaques coined the term ‘mid life crisis’ to describe the crisis that occurs when people stop thinking about their life in terms of things that happen since they were born. Instead people have a tendency to start thinking about how much longer they plan to live.

Arnold Kruger suggests the mid-life crisis fits into the DSM-III-R criteria for an ‘adjustment disorder’. During this time people have difficulty reacting to specific events that may include becoming a parent or not reaching their occupational goals. Too many people get caught up in numbers and statistics, like finding the right time to marry or have children, retire and engage in more leisure activities.

Personal Growth and Mid Life

All of us are familiar with the term “midlife crisis.” We may laugh and picture in our heads a 40-year-old man with four children going out to buy a shiny new red Porsche or some other toy. A midlife crisis is more than that however, and it is a reality for many people. A mid-life crisis can occur at any time, whether you are in your 30s, 40s, and 50s or beyond. It’s a time when you stop looking forward to ordinary activities and suddenly feel bored with everything. That may include your career, your personal life and even your free time activities.

Many people feel the solution to this is engaging in various stimulating or dangerous behaviors or buying something new to make them feel excited again. However this if anything is just a temporary fix to the midlife crisis. It’s important you understand that this transitional period is a normal part of life and getting older. Some people seek out the help of a psychotherapist during this time to help them deal with conflicting emotions, and to perhaps prevent them from radical changes that might destroy an otherwise happy life. Many events can trigger a mid-life crisis. Debt is one problem facing many people in their mid life that can result in a midlife crisis. The death of a parent is a common cause or a midlife crisis, as is other significant changes in life, including parenting.

Developing Your Inner Child

Most of us have an inner child. Your inner child may surface multiple times during your mid-life crisis. You may feel impulsive and dissatisfied with the ordinary life. Not sure if you might be going through a mid life crisis? Ask yourself the following:
  • Are you bored with your life?
  • Do you find your job mundane and constantly seek new ways to find a thrill on the job?
  • Are you bored with your personal or family life?
  • Do you feel like you are constantly searching for something to fulfill you?
  • Do you feel burdened and unchallenged?
  • Do you feel discontent with portions of your life even though they once made you happy?
  • Do you often feel adventurous and the need to try something very different?
  • Do you feel confused about the direction your life is going?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be experiencing a mid-life crisis. Now don’t panic. Just because you are having a mid-life crisis doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love your family, you or even job for that matter. You may need however to invest some time in yourself and start looking out for new possibilities in your life. You also need a reminder to look at the positive aspects of life. Here are some steps you can take to overcome a midlife crisis without doing something crazy.

1. List the things you still want to accomplish in life. Keep in mind the lifestyle you have should accommodate some of your dreams. Your lifestyle should also be realistic and include attainable goals.

2. Write down activities you can engage in that will help improve your life and reduce your boredom. Some activities should be weekly to help you remain stimulated.

3. Consider times in your life your felt positive. Write down what it was during that time that made you feel positive. List what makes you unhappy now, then list steps you can take to correct your unhappiness.

4. Take some time just for you, even if it means spending 10 minutes alone in the bathroom to meditate. We all need time to talk with our inner child every day.

5. Eat well and exercise. Diet and exercise play a key role in our mental health and activities.

6. Ask yourself whether you share the true you with others. If you don’t feel you do find way to express yourself.

7. Make a list of how people contribute to your life in a positive way. Remember that we are all here to learn from each other. Consider how each member of your family affects you and what you might learn from them.

8. Engage in activities that help you feel positive.

9. Seek out a support group or counselor to help you work through your feelings.
Remember, everyone goes through natural transitions as we age. A midlife crisis is nothing to be ashamed of. Consider it an opportunity to explore and grow as an adult. You should have fun exploring and re-exploring your life in new ways. And remember, don’t trap yourself into the thinking that you can’t, because you can do anything you set your mind to. Everyone deserves abundance. Take charge of your life and take action to grow spiritually and emotionally.