19 Nov “Midlife Crisis Or Midlife Mind Reset?” By Darcenia Teasdale
Last December, aged 45, I performed in pantomime for the first time – I danced and sang in a variety of costumes as a villager, Pearly Queen, sailor, and servant, and relished living the dream in twenty sell out shows, This year, one of my highlights was giving a Pride flag to Harry Styles to wave on stage at Genting Arena.
Am I having a midlife crisis or fulfilling unrealised goals?
Attending festivals and pop concerts to apparently reclaim our youth, taking up marathon running or getting a tattoo in our forties are all allegedly symptoms or behaviours of the “midlife crisis”. The term strikes up the visuals of men running off with younger women, riding motorbikes or flashy sports cars like they are part of the Top Gear team, and long term employees leaving their company jobs and pensions to start up a business. In the media and society as a whole, the individual defined as having a midlife crisis is often ridiculed.
In 1965, the Canadian psychoanalyst and psychologist Elliott Jaques coined the now much clichéd term “midlife crisis” as part of his research interviewing successful people who suffered a dip or depression and feelings of dissatisfaction around the age 40-50. He identified these high achievers were having a midlife crisis due to “unrealised goals, lack of self-determination or physical changes.”
When we established our career and personal goals as teens and in our early twenties, we were highly influenced by family, cultural and generational factors, and essentially living someone else’s script. Our circumstances, priorities, values – even our politics can be completely different at the mid-stage of life.
As Carl Jung said “We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning: for what was great in the morning will be little at the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”
Our values, goals, priorities, thoughts, attitudes and behaviour change with our life experiences. Different challenges spark new thought processes, altered plans and even different comfort zones.
Marian Keyes wrote sensitively about a couple dealing with the midlife crisis together in her novel The Break. She said: “I wanted to write a book about a couple: a man who has had two big losses and he’s suddenly re-evaluating everything. But I think that nobody really goes through a midlife crisis without experiencing real despair. Real fear, and real soul-searching about ‘what have you done with your life’.”
This soul-searching or identity re-evaluation and reconsidering of our values are experiences a number of my female friends and I are sharing. Although each of us has faced up to a crisis within our midlife, we have also, as individuals, faced up to personal life-changing challenges such as the passing away of our parents, illness, redundancy and marital issues. The impact empowered each of us to re-evaluate our priorities, values, achievements, and life balance to establish new goals and Life Plans.
The Midlife Crisis can become your Midlife Mind Reset
By acknowledging we are dissatisfied with areas in our life or feel we have not accomplished all our dreams, we can take action to re-establish our mindset. Jung believed this “afternoon of life” as a period vital to human development, to evaluate, to learn, and gain new skills with life’s insight. He even thought we should pursue university again in our forties.
The “midlife crisis” provides us with the opportunity to set new goals, consider creative changes, try new hobbies or sports, and yes, regain that feeling of youth by attending festivals or pursuing a trek for charity. We can look back to our Advance Toolkit:
- Take the time to evaluate your Life List and affirmations. Prioritise the areas on your Life List where you feel dissatisfied.
- Set your new SMART goals and write new affirmations.
- Establish new daily habits to work towards your goals.
By taking the time and energy to evaluate and plan we can manoeuvre ourselves out of a midlife dip and find creative change and greater satisfaction in life.