MANAGING MID-LIFE CRISIS
"Is that all there is?" If that's
your theme song, then you may be experiencing a mid-life crisis.
You may feel that your job has lost its challenge, your spouse
really has nothing new to say and you are going nowhere fast.
These feelings are all normal as you pass into middle age. How
can you cope?
After the turbulent years of your teens, you
emerged as a young adult ready to take on the world. You went to
school or got special training. You went on to find a job and
worked with zest at your job as you moved up the ladder. Along
came a mate and excitedly you learned about love and commitment.
Then you experienced the sometimes exhausting phase of babies and
found most days different and full.
At middle-age, you have finally reached a
stable state at home and work where you can enjoy the fruits of
your labor but you find you are bored, restless or depressed. You
job is routine and probably the one from which you will retire.
There are few surprises in your life with your mate. Even sex has
lost its appeal.
Erik Erikson says the challenge of the middle
years is to bring the parts of your life to a meaningful whole.
You have a strong feeling of wanting to live a life that matters
and leaves something for future generations. Preventing
stagnation and boredom is paramount. You feel the pressure that
half of your life is gone and what have you really done? All of
your chances to count for something are shrinking. That's why you
feel your life is at a roadblock.
Physical and Emotional
Body changes begin to appear. Skin flaps
appear, body parts thicken and the hair is receding as fast as it
is graying. The dieting and exercise of younger years doesn't
work the same magic. You are forced to face your body's aging
process and your own mortality. You came to middle-age with high
ideals and now disillusionment reigns. Great disappointment can
be followed by depression and feelings of low self-esteem. You
feel out of control and confused.
What to Do
Despite the upheaval of this stage, most adults
weather the storm without major disruption. The goal of this
stage is to use your maturity and experience to redefine your
goals. You can make them more realistic and doable. You may need
to go back to school, change jobs, take a long vacation,
rediscover your marriage, leave homemaking and find work or
develop new interests or hobbies. You can purposefully try to
delete some of the boring routines that have bogged you down. Use
your gift of creativity to add some sparkle to your home and job.
You will find your own special niche so you can get that zest
back into your life.
When to Seek Help
Because of coming up against so many
disappointments, many adults try to fill their emptiness with
thrills. They could find a younger mate or be promiscuous, waste
money on frills such as sports cars they can't afford,
overindulge in alcohol and other drugs or risk death by taking up
dangerous hobbies. These substitutes generally don't work and
lead to worse situations. Another way of coping would be to give
up, indulge in self-hate and fall into a deep depression. In
either case you could benefit from professional help. You will
find that the small pleasures in life will add up to a meaningful
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