Midlife crisis – Disaster or Opportunity? Choice is yours

midlife cisis

Many men go through a phase when they take a hard look at the life they’re living. For some people, this part of life’s journey can be a time of despair, a time of disillusionment, emotional breakdown and depression. During middle age, most people re-evaluate their lives and review their ambitions. They may question their accomplishments and contemplate the approach of their own deaths. They think they could be happier, and if they need to make a big change, they feel the urge to do it soon. Men in crisis often obsess about big questions like, ‘Does my life matter?’ These thoughts can trigger a midlife crisis.

During this period, middle aged adults may become predictably unpredictable. Some people call this transition a dark night of the soul. However, by realizing we’re in this phase and then making wise choices, we can steer ourselves out of a midlife crisis and into a happier life.

Middle age is not the beginning of decline, but a time to reach for the highest in ourselves. Middle age is a pause to re-examine what we have done and what we will do in the future. This is the time to give birth to our power. – Frank Natale

Why do people get gloomy in middle age? What exactly constitutes a midlife crisis?

Why does this happen, and what can we do about it? A midlife crisis is often a period of dramatic self-doubt during middle age. It may occur as people sense the passing of their youthful energy, and feel the reality of approaching the old age. It’s typically the time when we realize we cannot achieve all the goals we had when we were young.

For most of the people mid-life can be a time of regret. People in their 40s often hit a ceiling in their jobs and sense, they will rise no further. For women who have spent a long time outside the workforce to raise children, this may be the time they try to re-enter and find that their skills are out-of-date. Some people encounter serious health issues in their 40s for the first time, and many experience the pressure of being in the ‘sandwich generation.’ They’re forced to take care of aging parents while their children are not yet wholly on their own.

How to spot a Midlife Crisis? How to know you are a victim?

A true midlife crisis usually involves changing your entire life in a hurry, says Calvin Colarusso, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego. More often, men go through a midlife process in which they make smaller changes over time. There may be strong desires to significantly change everyday life, such as a career change, a marriage change, expensive purchases, or physical appearance. Some people have huge desires for intimate or sexual affairs, or to fall in love again. More or less every man goes through a period of transition, introspection, depression or perhaps a desperate last spate of bravado and risk-taking.

Solutions for middle age behaviors – From Midlife Crisis to Peaceful Maturity

Acknowledgment is the first step in resolving most psychological dilemmas – identifying and clearly understanding the challenge being faced, that we have hit an unexpected turning point, that we need to think and feel before making the next step.

One key to deal with the mid-life blues is to look beyond them. The statistics indicate that things will get better. One needs to recalculate their own goals. One need to drop goals that are now unreachable, but new goals need not be diminished versions of those old ones. People who successfully deal with this part of life find new activities that satisfy their current needs rather than what they wanted to do in their 20s.

A midlife crisis can lead to growth or destruction of men. One can look for the causes of unhappiness, then make thoughtful decisions to address them – that’s growth. On the other hand, making impulsive decisions, like trading in our family life for a relationship with a younger partner or buying a car we can’t afford, leads to destruction.

Everyone is more likely to experience some extent of a midlife crisis, but what is most crucial is to be aware, accept and be willing to stay in control in life. One can navigate the crisis without letting it costs us too much emotionally. Here are a few tips to help you conquer the crisis:

  • Just because you feel like you have to escape your home, job, or marriage doesn’t mean you have to actually do it, remember that your feelings aren’t commands. These feelings may indeed point to problems that need solving. But they may also fade or change over time.
  • Take time to be grateful for the good part of your life, the part of your life that makes you feel happy. Take a moment to remind yourself how lucky you are for the life you have and the joy your family and friends fill your life with.
  • Before you make major decisions, discuss them with someone whose advice you’ll trust. A friend or a mental health professional can give you another opinion on whether you’re making wise choices.
  • Ask yourself whether your wishes are realistic. Just make sure your new goals are practical and within your grasp.
  • You may not need to blow up your life to be happy, even if it needs to be dismantled, then doing so thoughtfully will be less destructive to the people around you.
  • Avoid withdrawing into isolation. Manage any hyperactive and irritable reactions. Avoid aggressive or self-harm. Let your lower sex drive lead in increased intimacy, rather than to frustration. This is a dangerous time if you respond with despair and anger, or if you make hasty life-changing decisions.
  • Begin a regular meditation or ‘mindfulness’ practice. As little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can have a positive impact on your health. It increases self-awareness and puts you in touch with feelings that may otherwise be ignored or denied.

However, If a blue mood persists for several weeks, seek professional help from a mental health professional. You can speak confidentially with a professional who can guide you in making a plan to find happiness and satisfaction again.

Do you want to overcome the midlife crisis period? Do you want to change your habits and build a happier life? Do you want to start life again? Yes of course, you can. With positive approach one can definitely survive this gloomy phase of life. Just to remember that the happiness curve is ‘U’ shaped – what goes down will come back up; for every dark night, there is a brighter day. Your goal should be to come through middle life as a better man; it’s very important to think in terms of wisdom, not of failure.

Kakoli Mahanta

A post graduate in Economics, Kakoli Partha Mahanta worked for corporate finance sector for about 7 years. Mother of a cute 2 year baby girl, Kakoli is currently located in Bangalore, India, flourishing her writing skill.

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3 Responses

  1. evans says:

    If ex spouse is in seven year relationship with the alienator still claims to love her as they do lots of fun things together but abuses her emotionally both seeing a psychologist. If his fog clears, will he still put alienator on a pedestal.

  2. kakoli says:

    Thanks Dr.Chowdhury

  3. Dr S S Chowdhury says:

    Great and thoughtful highly relevant article on mid life crisis by Kakoli…it can serve as a mould for a treatise on a subject which is not studied as extensively as geriatric crisis or juvenile/adolescent problems