ARE YOU HAVING A MIDLIFE CRISIS?

A Midlife Crisis is sparked by, “an emotional reaction to the realisation that life has time limits.

INTRO

My lovely husband Ross wrote a guest post for my Social Saturday series in July titled Silence, Solitude, Simplicity and Surrender. His thoughts were appreciated by those who read the post and I saw a couple of other short articles he'd written and posted to Facebook and thought I'd share one today and the other next Thursday. They relate to Midlife and the concept of a "Midlife Crisis" - something I don't feel like I've had, but it's definitely an issue for a lot of us in the 50+ age range. 

So, here's Ross's thoughts on having a Midlife Crisis.

WHAT IS A "MIDLIFE CRISIS"?

Since I’ve been accused of having had more than one, it may be worthwhile considering what, exactly, a mid-life crisis is. Is it even a real thing?

In an article published in The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors’ June 2018 ‘In Brief’ e-magazine the author noted the term “midlife crisis” was first coined in 1965 when life expectancy was a smidgin under 68 years, which meant mid life was pre-40s!

But the time of mid-life is heading north; now men typically experience it around 45 to 50, while women reach it earlier, between 35 and 40. But it’s the ‘crisis’ bit we’re really interested in. That can come any time after a person establishes their adult life structure: that is, they have a partner, a career, possibly children, and a comfortable home.


WHAT TRIGGERS A MIDLIFE CRISIS?

Janis Morris, a Texas-based psychologist, suggests the crisis is sparked by, “an emotional reaction to the realisation that life has time limits. It involves anxiety or fear that the ways we have spent our time, along with the choices we have made, are not important enough, enjoyable enough, or consistent with some ideal sense of self.”

A mid-life crisis can be triggered by a sense of panic that our unmet needs will remain unmet. Keep in mind, having a mid-life crisis is only for the privileged. If you’re using all your energy just to survive, having an existential melt-down is a long way down the ‘to-do’ list.


A mid-life crisis can be triggered by a sense of panic that our unmet needs will remain unmet.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Could you (or your parent/partner/friend) be in the throes of a defining mid-life moment? Here are the typical symptoms:

1. Asking deep, probing questions. Am I on the right track? Why am I doing what I do? Is there more?

2. Feeling apathetic or like life is “blah.” Feeling stuck in a routine. Somewhere, the fun got lost.

3. There is success, but not satisfaction. I may be great at what I do, but the passion for doing it has faded.

4. There is a strong desire to leave a legacy. I want to build into something that will outlast me. I want to give back into something, somehow.

5. An overwhelming sense of loss. My best years have already been lived, and my dreams will not be coming true. I find I don’t have a goal anymore.

6. Making rash decisions or changes. Yes, this is where the sexy red sports car, the mistress or toy boy all get their cue. I fantasize about leaving the annoying job/family/community and living out my days on a sun-drenched tropical island. (It’s worth considering what the unmet desires behind this day-dream might be).


Midlife Crisis - where I fantasize about leaving the annoying job/family/community and living out my days on a sun-drenched tropical island.

7. Leaving stagnant or stifling relationships. I start thinking the issue isn’t with me, but with someone else; so I bail out to go searching for a more fulfilling partnership or the mythical ‘soul-mate.’

8. More concern or less concern about appearance. I either surrender to the inevitable slide into invisibility or I redouble my efforts to fight the greying hair, sagging skin and work to maintain physical strength and mental vigour.

9. Watching the clock. Feeling overcome that as time marches on my options are diminishing. Life is no longer an unbounded adventure, and I’d better hurry if I want to out run the sense it’s already too late.

10. Lost sense of purpose or meaning. The most disturbing symptom of all: I lose my sense of worth. I want to know I can still make a difference, that I’m still relevant and significant – aren’t I?



WHAT TO DO

But a mid-life crisis doesn’t have to be a mid-life crash and burn, there are healthy ways to get a better handle on this season of life. Let’s think about that next week.

a mid-life crisis doesn’t have to be a mid-life crash and burn

(And you can see the In Brief article Here)


WHAT ABOUT YOU?

When I read the list under "What to Look For" I was a little bemused to see that I've actually encountered some of these myself (so much for thinking I hadn't had a crisis!) Did you notice any and if you did, how are you handling them?

A Midlife Crisis is sparked by, “an emotional reaction to the realisation that life has time limits.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional nor am I providing medical guidance. This post should not be taken as specific health advice. It’s a post that relates only to my own health.  If you have similar issues, I'd advise you to speak to your own Doctor or health professional.


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36 comments

  1. I had what I call my midlife crisis at 40. There was an absolute feeling of is this all there is? I was successful, earning good money, on a corporate track, seeminly had it all worked out. Is this all there is? I hit 40 and decided that although I would be continuing to earn my money in a corporate role I was no longer going to play that role or push to climb that ladder. I was no longer going to be defined by what I earnt and what title I had. I took up astrology, started writing, let my hair grow for the first time in my life, got a tattooo, lost 15kgs very quickly & pretty much changed who I had been. Those couple ofyears put me on the path I'm on today. I'm much more me than I was when I was playing that role and I was fortunate in that my husband stood back and waited for the restlessness to finish churning through my system. We had another change 2 years ago in which everything was uprooted. He was the instigator of that one but his "crisis" was much calmer and less restless than mine had been - the effects though were just as transformational.

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    1. That was really interesting Jo (I learn more about you every time you comment!) I like the idea that midlife crisis can be a really positive event in your life - it might not seem so at the time, but when we look back we see it as a catalyst for good things. I love that you kept the bits you liked and changed the rest to make your life more authentically "you" - and that your husband managed to do it well too!
      It's such a shame that marriages implode at a time when they could be taken to the next level with a bit of grace and space :)

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  2. I don't think I've had a midlife crisis (a bit beyond that now :) ) but I do recognize a few of the signs. For instance, I do think about leaving a legacy. We don't have children (a natural legacy) but there are other ways to do this. We have set up our trust to benefit causes we support and that feels good. Deep, probing questions too... I think it's always good to ask those. Great article, I look forward to your next one!

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    1. I don't think I have had a true one either Janis, but I've certainly had a few moments where life has smacked me over the back of the head and I've made changes as a result. Learning to let go of adult children and realizing that they aren't going to be a big part of my life was a hard one - they are too busy leading their own busy lives to be giving me more than a snippet here and there.
      I also changed jobs and the field I worked in at 50 and that was a big leap for me - but I'm so glad I did - and I started blogging - another great choice :)

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  3. I have had a few midlife crises -- and feel another coming on! Very interesting post!

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    1. I've had a few small ones too Janet - and I'm sure there's more in my future!

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  4. I've probably had my midlife crisis and am still having it. I think I went straight from teenage crisis to mommy crisis, to midlife crisis. This is a great article and I can't believe you kept us hanging. Do we really have to wait till next week to get the solutions? Great images too :)

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    1. I think life often feels like we're lurching from one crisis to the next Kalpanaa - and I'm hoping next week's article will give us a little bit of direction for future hits! And thanks for your lovely compliment about my images xx

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this Ross and Leanne. I don't think that I have experienced a mid-life crisis. But it is completely possible that I have, and just didn't recognize it as such. Question #1 on your list is a favourite of mine! :) Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. I didn't think I'd had one either Donna, but when I read the list there were a few things on there that I could tick - so maybe I just exist in a general crisis situation and don't know it :)

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  6. I think that is a fabulous description of what Midlife Crisis is all about and yes I think I've been having one for years. I've been on a journey of trying to rediscover who I am and what I like to do. I have felt a sense of panic as the realisation that time is marching on (speedily!) and I would like to spend the time I have left being happy and enjoying my existance and feeling like I've served a purpose. The realisation of time stopping for no-one and that we all die has hit hard since losing my Dad. I haven't made any drastic moves or changes but I certainly am reassessing things and doing a lot of deep thinking and adjusting my priorities. Fantastic subject Leanne and Ross - thank you! #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I don't think that midlife crises are necessarily bad things Min - sometimes it's good for us to take stock, maybe react, change direction, discard stuff that no longer fits, and generally re-orient ourselves. Major life upheavals tend to precipitate our thinking thought don't they?

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  7. I had my "crisis" when my father passed away, when I was 40. I think it had more to do with his sudden death than a chronological number. It was like the scales fell from my eyes and I could see that my marriage/life with my husband was never going to be what I needed/deserved - When he wouldn't let me grieve and made my dad's death all about HIM instead, I finally saw my husband for who he truly was, instead of my idealized version of him. So, after begging him to go to counselling and work on the marriage (to no avail - everything was my fault he said, as he was "the perfect husband"), I had no choice but to take action, to save my own life. I'm happy I did it - I had to, but have lots of regrets for the pain caused to my loved ones, including even him. All part of life, I guess.

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    1. Isn't it interesting how one upheaval facilitates another Deb? I think we look at those we love and expect more of them when we're going through grief and pain - when they don't step up it definitely causes a re-think. I'm sorry your ex proved to be a lot less than he should have at a crucial time in your life x

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  8. If those are the typical symptoms, I'm in the midst of one right now! Looking forward to part 2 of this series! I need it.

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    1. I felt the same way Pat - "no I'm not in a crisis" - answered the questions and ticked several and had to re-define my idea of what a midlife crisis was. I think it's a time for turning points and re-thinking our priorities and if that's a crisis, then I'm okay with it.

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  9. I have gone big on the midlife crisis...things I cannot write here..or anywhere in public :) but I think I'm coming out of the other side and most of my sanity is intact, even if some relationships are not. What a learning curve! I'm stronger and I like myself more and I'm really not taking any shit for the second half lol :)

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    1. Wow!! Now I'm really curious! The blogger in me thinks "there's a lot of blog posts in your comment" which shows how far down the blogging rabbit hole I've gone! I hope all the pain and adjustment has been worthwhile and I'm glad you're finding a new direction and things are looking up. And I agree about not taking s**t from anyone anymore!

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  10. I may have had many. Although I think maybe "crisis" might be a strong word for the decision to make a change.
    :) gwingal

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    1. I think it's a case of different definitions for different people Nikki, but Midlife certainly brings some changes with it - maybe not to crisis point for a lot of us, but definitely new directions :)

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  11. Huh. I've never had this. I know there was a time when I felt snowed under by diapers, kids and 'motherhood'. But never lost my sense of purpose or needed to re-discover myself. I guess I've been lucky!

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    1. Diane you are one of the most balanced people I know (and one of the busiest!) I don't think you've slowed down long enough for a midlife crisis to catch up with you!

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  12. Not so much a crisis but I have noticed renewed passion to act on some of the points you've outlined in your list, Leanne. I'm seeing the changes I'm making in my life as ways to live my best life in the time that I have and to be happy and content in my skin.

    SSG xxx

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    1. I think that's what Midlife is all about SSG - discarding (unraveling) the dross and picking out what is genuinely worth working with and moving forward with a sense of being more authentic and living our best lives - time keeps getting shorter!

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  13. Interesting points. I'm a big fan of asking the "deep probing questions" and hope I will continue to do so!!
    I'll be keen to read your follow-up post, Ross!

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    1. Ross and I enjoy thrashing through a few deep questions every now and then Sue - I think it's good to question stuff and not just take things on face value or to keep doing life a certain way because that's the way it's always been done. New and fresh and with a purpose is what Midlife is all about for me.

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  14. OMG, Leanne, I may be on the fringe of most of these, yikes! I guess that is why I started blogging a few months ago, nothing like shaking things up with a self-inflicted learning curve to jostle the brain and senses into reality, right? LOL! Great post, more to think on for an even keel. Thank you.

    Lori Jo - 50 With Flair

    www.50withflair.com

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    1. I think having small midlife crises is actually good for us Lori Jo - we tend to try something new and that gets our brains revved and ready for the next adventure. Blogging was one of the best things I ever did in response to a bit of a Midlife Meltdown :)

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  15. I have experienced a number of mid life crisis. I had my first one when I was only in my early thirties and went back to school to get my nursing degree. My first husband wasn't on board with me spreading my wings and growing. Now at 68 I am fairly settled.

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    1. It's such a shame when husbands don't get on board with their wives stretching their wings and encourage their growth. A woman who is fulfilled and whose brain is active must ultimately make a more interesting life partner. His loss I would say!

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  16. Hi Leanne and Ross! After reading your post and everyone's comments I am thinking that it is best to stay in a relatively minor form of mid-life crisis forever--especially if it triggers constant personal growth and evolution. Far too often people get stuck and then spend their lives in "quiet desperation." Perhaps we shouldn't call them "crisis" because that implies something negative? Maybe a better term would be trigger points? Okay, you can see where my mind is going this morning. I'm off now to see what "trigger points" pop up for me today. ~Kathy

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    1. I'm with you on the "trigger points" idea Kathy - it's the whole concept of a midlife crisis not being a bad thing if we approach it in the right way. It can be a time of growth rather than a time of despair - we just need to be proactive don't we?

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  17. Hi Leanne, I never had a midlife crisis in fact, it was such a new adventure for me and I would say I'm more comfortable in who I am now than ever before. I get your point about having a midlife crisis as a wake up call to try new things. My crisis came when I retired as I had lost my purpose but starting to blog certainly helped me and also the wonderful women I have connected with. x

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    1. I'm a bit the same way Sue - I can't pinpoint a particular "crisis" as such, but I think some of those points in the post have applied to me at various stages over the last decade or so - I guess that's what helps us to continue to reinvent ourselves and not become stagnant.

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  18. I've always thought of the mid-life crisis as a time people go crazy and do things they wouldn't normally do. But #2 strikes a cord with me - I've felt that way for a couple of years now! Thanks for sharing with us at The Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

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  19. I don't quite know if I've had a crisis as such but I have asked myself some of these questions, especially #1 over thee past few years. It's such a thought provoking post Leanne and Ross, thanks for sharing your insights.

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