Midlife Crisis – What Are the Signs?
By: David Lechnyr, LCSW
We all have heard about someone having a midlife crisis. Yet we rarely recognize it when it happens to us. Early in our life, we have many hopes and desires about how we want our lives to turn out. We sometimes plan, or just live, expecting that someday we will arrive and have it. Unfortunately, we often live our life as such a fast pace that we end up in crisis.
Midlife Crisis in Action
By the time we arrive at adulthood, we desire to experience it all. At first, we experience the fun of arriving at adulthood, wanting to live life to the fullest. As we get busy, we often lose sight of our goals and feel trapped by our many obligations and responsibilities. Life gets busy as we move through each day, week, month and year. Many times we even lose sight of what it is that we are after in life in our mad rush to make it all happen. This is when the roots of a midlife crisis begin to appear.
By living life at such a busy and fast pace, we tend to avoid really thinking about where we are at in life. We just move forward, day by day, doing what is necessary until one day we are forced by some life situation to pay attention to the conditions of our how we really feel inside.
When this happens, we find ourselves in the mid-life questions wondering what life is all about. When we go through this midlife crisis, we start to ask the question of, “is this all there is,” “what is the meaning of life,” “how much time do we have left in life,” and “what do I want to do with the rest of my life.”
Many times we don’t take the time to ask ourselves questions about life and where we are in life. Sometimes this is because we don’t know how to ask the question, or we’re afraid to know the answers. This is probably the most difficult decision (aka, the “midlife crisis”) we have had to face at this point in our lives because we fear answering it.
At the same time, this very fear is the one that must drive us forward to ask the question that we avoid asking. To ask this question, you need to take time to seriously consider the real meaning behind what it is that you have to ask yourself about your life. It is a serious question, because it is central to what must be directing your life. We can avoid it, put it off, try to deny it, but the question will continue to “rumble under the surface of one’s existence” until it is asked, faced, and answered.
The Real Question
The real question we need to ask ourselves is, “How long has it been since I have had joy in my life?” It is important that you take time to ponder this question and to think about how you would answer it. The reason for it is that there are more questions that you have to answer after you have taken the time to think this through and answer it. So, it is critical that you seriously stop, take time, and think about what it is that you have wanted in life to avoid this crisis.
The reason you have to do this is because this is a question that is central to your life. It is a question that relates to what makes you happy, sad, interested, or lost in life. It is a question that is central to how you relate to others and the basis of the “meaning that you receive, and most importantly give, in relationships. These questions happen in the midlife of our existence, and they beg to be answered.
The Next Question
Once you have had time to think about the issues of “how long it has been…,” then you have to move on to the second, and more important, question: “How do I bring the joy back into my life?” This is an “action question” that requires that you “shift, refocus, and move in a more purposeful direction.” It is a “spiritual question that reaches to the very core of your existence and what it is that you “really” want to accomplish in life. It requires that thinking, taking time to meditate, and time to “know” what it is that you “have to do to make sure that joy is back in your life.”
This may take some searching and a new spiritual journey where one asks the question of, “What is really important in my life?” We have to ask ourselves, “What are the pictures, memories, and experiences that we want to take with us when our life’s journey is over?” We also have to reach out to the others in our life and share our questioning with them, asking how this search for joy can be shared together. Who we do it with is both important and yet not that important.
What is important is that we reach out in a central and meaningful way where we really share, rather than embrace our midlife crisis with chaos and continue to run and search for superficial solutions and answers. The answers are in the simple things in life. To find the answers, it is important that each of us return to asking what those basic things are for us in life. Most of the time these things are right in front of us, knowing what, and who, it is in life that need to pay attention to, and have been ignoring, in life.
The Next Step
As one contemplates life, it’s meaning, and what needs to be done next in one’s journey through life, the important step that needs to happen next is realizing that all the “rush, push, achieving, taking, and trying to “get it all” is not really that important.
What is important is “this moment and finding the moments to take the time to “enjoy and experience. If you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived. Your goal is to “try and to live.” It is to understand your responsibilities to “your spiritual journey” in life and how everyone in your life “fits into that journey.” Ask what the plan for your life is, and then ask yourself, “Have I been listening?” Cherish these encounters while you enjoy the experience of living and feeling the good feelings of the present experiences.
Then your job is to thank those experiences, those people, those challenges, and those memories that have filled your life. This helps to release the creative part of your life and allows you to bring true joy into your life.
One can continue to run, rush, keep busy, have affairs, use chemicals, or do whatever it takes to “block one’s awareness” about the “underlying emotions” that one is struggling with that helps to define one’s spiritual journey. However, that would be a very sad commentary about one’s journey through life. Take the time to ask, seek, listen, feel and experience the present moment, which is the only existence that we have.
Photo Credit: Pixabay/MihaiParaschiv