Why a mid-life crisis is not necessarily a bad thing
The idea of a 'life crisis' has been dragged through mud with the media constantly presenting a not-so-attractive version of it with runaway spouses, broken families, impulse buying convertibles and over-the-top gym regimes that all eventually fail to fill that void in people's lives. Well, we're here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way...
In reality, a life crisis is a period where you start to question yourself and your surroundings. It is an important phase of your life as it is a period of self-rediscovery. When you are having a life crisis, you may be preoccupied with questions such as “Why am I doing this?” “Is this all there is in life?”. You may even feel dissatisfied with your 'perfect' life, career and family.
But a life crisis doesn’t have to be a crisis at all, if you manage it right. Here are a few tips that might help:
You know if you are going through a life crisis, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Start comparing yourself to some of your more successful friends
- May be more self conscious and increasingly regretful for things you may not have done
- Feel discontentment with your life, people, things that have provided fulfillment for a long time
- Actively thinking about doing something completely different
- Questioning decisions made years earlier
- Questioning yourself/feeling confused about who you are or where your life is going
- Feeling increasingly irritable or experiencing persisting sadness
- Consuming more alcohol or food, or developing other compulsions
While this is not an exhaustive list, the main element of a life crisis is a strong desire to reassess your current situation; that is why it is more accurate to associate the life crisis to a psychological experience other than an age specific or chronological event (‘midlife crisis’).
By destigmatising a life crisis you are reducing the power this feeling has over you. To do this you need to challenge the view that you have no right to be unhappy.
It is perfectly normal to re-assess your priorities in life, to question yourself and your life's purpose. It's perfectly normal to admit that you do not know who you are and to look for answers in your life. A life crisis is a period of change, where you get the opportunity to reinvent and better yourself, so it shouldn’t be looked at as a burden or a handicap; but when handled right should leave you a better and stronger person.
Be glad to be unhappy
If you are going through a life crisis, you are probably dissatisfied with things in your life that have provided fulfillment in the past.
Being dissatisfied is a great thing because it gets you to grow as a person and achieve more. Everything we have achieved in life so far is because somebody has been dissatisfied. Think back to the days before the invention of the light bulb; people were using candles or oil lamps for light but for one man that was not enough. Thomas Edison was dissatisfied with the oil lamp and that’s how the light bulb came about.
At the same time, you should be grateful and happy for everything you have. As a matter of fact, being grateful and practicing gratitude daily is proven to not only help us realize what we have, but it also strengthens relationships, reduces stress, makes us happier and puts situations into perspective.
Rewrite your reality
If you are going through a life crisis, the most important thing is to deal with your emotions and consider your options. This is a period of self-reflection and rediscovery, so it is important that you do take the time to reflect on your current situation and understand your area(s) of dissatisfaction.
Thomas Edison has famously said that: “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think”.
This is a decisive period of your life, so you want to be part of this five percent of people who really think and take the time to constructively think of what you have achieved so far and what you would like to do next.
“What do I feel I should have done by this time in my life? Is this realistic?”
“Is there something more important and fulfilling that that I want to focus on now?
“What do I really want more of in my life?“
“Where do I want to be in 5 years from now?”
Once you understand what area(s) of you life you want to change, draw a clear map of what it is you want your new life to look like and how you plan to get there.
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Sophia Fromell is the Founder of Ithaca Life and is a certified Life Coach with a degree in Life Coaching Skills and Practice from Newcastle College, UK and a member of The International Coach Federation (ICF). The views expressed in her columns do not necessarily reflect those of Esquire or Hearst International