As lockdown continues, and we face another few months of life without access to our traditional gym settings, I have been inundated with questions regarding training strategies that can be implemented at home.
We tend to imagine something catastrophic or even ridiculous when we talk about midlife crisis. Probably some cliche images of sports cars and love affairs appear up in our mind we think about it. So let us talk about it, and start by asking if it is even a real thing.
According to Wikipedia "A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45 to 65 years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person's growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly lack of accomplishments in life." This phenomenon has been described and researched by many significant psychologists, including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Erik Erikson.
From experience with my clients, I have noticed that the midlife crisis occurs as early as age 37 and into the 50s, and it can equally happen to men and women. This period of life is often a time for reflection, and self-awareness, time for thinking and feeling. I would like to suggest you look at it from a different angle while we examine why this happens to us.
Roughly during the first 20 years of your life, you have been doing what your parents told you. You went to a school, had holidays, friendships, hobbies all according to your family values, which is absolutely normal. As a child, we unconsciously try to copy our parents as a programmed survival defence mechanism, so they would "accept" us and provide love, care and food. That is why it is expected that we take our family values and do not question them.
During the next 20-40 years, we are still on the same track of what our parents and society taught us. For example, you need to finish school, then go to university, meet a partner, get a job, buy a house, create family, have children and so on. While you are doing all that, there is not that much time left for reflecting and self-actualisation. During this period, you are simply fulfilling what you have been programmed to do during your childhood. I do not mean this in a negative way; we are just working towards what we believe will be a happy life.
Then at some point around our late-thirties, the big questions start hitting us: Is that what I want? Have I achieved enough? Am I deviating from my family values? Those are the mid-life crisis questions. At that time, people re-evaluate their priorities, goals and life overall, often questioning their values, careers, and relationships.
Simultaneously we might also experience an unsettling urge for a change, a feeling of frustration, of being stuck, and ageing. Some people create significant changes in their lives in an attempt to regain a sense of self. The good news is that you are not alone.
I have been working with many different clients going through this journey and trying to make sense of it. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, confused and scared during this time. In my practice, we take a positive approach to a midlife crisis. I firmly believe that a crisis presents an opportunity for a new beginning. Just imagine you give yourself another chance of being who you want to be but in a more mature way. A crisis is a way to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Just think of the situation at work, for example, where you regularly receive a good salary, used to the workload, people around you, but you feel bored and stagnated. It takes enormous strength to take yourself out of a comfortable, safe position voluntarily. But also imagine a scenario when you are in that comfortable, but boring job and suddenly you are made redundant. This can be a crisis, but also the opportunity to look for a job you actually like, and even to rethink your career and its current path.
The risk that we have to be aware of is getting stuck in this stage for a long time, feeling depressed, having low energy and the lack of mental resources to deal with it. I would like to ask you to please take care of yourself, as only you know when the situation is out of control, and you need professional help to make the best out of the crisis.
I suggest you look at a midlife crisis as a beautiful stage in your life, and the opportunity to find yourself. Just consider for a second, how young and knowledgeable you are now and use all that to your strength. You have already achieved so much! You still have another 30 years or so of exciting life where you can do anything you want: change career fall in love, move to another country, get a hobby, take care of your body. It can be terrifying, and at times you might need professional help to deal with it, but it is also a new thrilling chapter!
This is an incredibly stressful and unpredictable time for all us at the moment. It is okay to feel a roller coaster of mixed emotions as we face the uncertainty and unpredictability this pandemic brings.
Looking back at 2020 I don’t believe anyone could have predicted just how challenging the year would be and how it would take all of our collective resilience and flexibility to try and navigate it as best we can.
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