You may be in your mid to late 40’s. You have a partner, kids, a successful career, big house and a dog. But the big 5-0 is looming before you and the weight of all the responsibilities on your should is crushing you like a tent on truck. And to top it off, you don’t really feel the appreciation for it all.
There are days you want to escape it all, the thought of running or disappearing may even be playing on your mind. But you’re a responsible guy – a husband and father for goodness sake – you can’t just leave it all behind.
Instead, to ease the burden, you find ways to release the stress. You go and buy yourself a hot and sporty car that you take out on the weekends and drive just a little too fast. Or you stop in at a bar after work for a quick drink. A beautiful woman smiles at you from across the room and you wonder if it’s possible to feel attractive to women anymore. You may even act on the desire or leave the bar alone, feeling guilty about even having that thought. Maybe you start coming home late from work just so you don’t have to face the hum-drum life that awaits you there. It’s possible you start drinking a little too much or even dabble in recreational drugs.
Midlife crisis is a call for rediscovering who you are, for exploring your desires, wishes, hope and dreams. The very time in your life that you feel the most beaten down is actually your true self sending you a life line.
Reacting to midlife crisis in the ways I described earlier has a very high price, not only financially but emotionally and physically as well. And the sad thing is that it doesn’t make your situation any better, most often it makes them worse, catapulting you and those you love into more pain.
There is a better way to deal with midlife crisis, one that can keep everything you cherish intact. It takes three basic steps – steps that I use when working with my clients:
- Examine your belief system
Enter into self-discovery, looking at your belief system, questioning what beliefs still make sense, which work for you now and which do not. Create a belief system that is more in line with who you want to be. Beliefs are set in place by the age four or five years old and people often never review them over the course of their lifetime. That would be like wearing the same T-shirt you wore when you were five! Chances are it doesn’t fit you anymore and doesn’t feel good either.
- Let go of old suppressed emotions
This is a tough one for men to do but it is so freeing that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Old “stuff” is constantly trying to find its way to the surface. It can be triggered at the most inopportune time clouding your judgment with the influence of past wounds or negative experiences. Accepting, expressing and letting go of old pain in a safe environment allows you to see and reason from a place of clarity. And as a bonus you feel healthier in mind, body and spirit.
Learn to communicate in a new and different way. Communication is the basis of all our relationships. Learning to be honest, to recognize the real issue, speak about it and making the effort to be intimate in your conversations with the people who are important in your life will allow you to cultivate stronger bonds with those you love and create a support system that you trust.
Three steps can take you through midlife crisis without damaging what you’ve worked so hard to build over the years. It takes courage to accept that it’s time to make changes, to see help if you need it and to give yourself some space to feel vulnerable. But if you do take that courageous step you might just find yourself looking forward to turning 50!
With love and kindness