Modern Society & Midlife Crisis
Working with thousands of students over twenty years has led to some unexpected insights and truths about society.
Here is a partial list of points to consider:
- The experience of how midlife crisis unfolds changes from society to society.
- Society is a living organism that reacts to keep itself alive.
- A midlife crisis does put more exceptional individuals into conflict with their culture.
- When individuals push too hard against culture, the culture pushes back to suppress that individual.
- Cultures do evolve scripts for dealing with a midlife crisis. Many midlife scripts are geared to rechannel the midlife event to the benefit of the culture in power.
- Midlife Crisis is a natural point for an organism to change from being a mature reproductive individual to becoming an elder individual.
- A society, as a living being, can experience a midlife crisis!
- A partner’s midlife crisis quickly becomes your midlife crisis. My experience has shown this fun fact also scales up to society. This means: a society’s midlife crisis quickly becomes its member’s midlife crisis.
We can apply the lessons from how a person experience’s a midlife crisis, to learn more about what our culture is going to do within this time of crisis.
Let’s focus on the practical aspects of how to deal with a society that is in a midlife crisis!
Crisis is Contagious
Why does it matter our culture is going through a midlife crisis? A culture is a reflection of its people and people are a reflection of their culture. This becomes a very simple spiritual math equation which states: our culture’s midlife crisis becomes our own crisis!
The average person doesn’t deal well with crisis. The average person ignores crisis and lets damage build up into additional crises. It’s impossible to heal a midlife crisis that generates permanent damage. When a society is in crisis, people actually often unconsciously reinforce the crisis. Why? Because people don’t like to change. Yes, 9 times out of 10, a crisis death spiral only happens when people do nothing and resist change.
Yes, we are now within a time of change. To resist that change, by default: mean to break in the future.
Recognize our society is trying to change, trying to become a more mature culture, but that only happens if we mature as individuals.
Instead of trying to stay the same. Ask now: what is it time to become?
The next few years are all about change, but at some point, you won’t have the luxury to be proactive in your own change process due to events getting bigger and bigger than a normal person’s life.
You can get ahead of future shock.
If you think you can’t be proactive now, then how are you going to fix up your life when the culture is breaking down around you?
Kick it into gear now! Change into the person you want to be!
If you stay the same now, you only reinforce the very things you see breaking down around you now.
The Midlife Crisis of America
Starting in 2011, I got a spike of people in their twenties coming to me worried about midlife crisis. It was very unusual since they weren’t in a midlife crisis, and yet they had many of the symptoms of a midlife crisis. Since a person is a reflection of the culture they live in, a culture in midlife crisis would force the feelings of crisis to ripple down to the people. The solution was to teach the younger souls how to live outside of mainstream society and reinforce their own strengths and lifestyles. For more information about this refer to our quarterlife crisis articles.
Another interesting truth: different segments of the US population reflected the social crisis at different times and in different ways. I remember watching the American Tea party movement in 2009. It was an unusual political movement that had many midlife crisis markers baked into the movement itself.
I bring up the Tea Party and Quarterlife crisis to show that a midlife crisis in society isn’t a single thread-like process like a personal midlife crisis. Crisis in society impacts various members of society differently based on how each group expresses their power.
Society changes slowly through its many groups, where different segments of the population are reacting to the crisis at different times, and in different ways. By 2012, social stress was impacting my students so severely that I ended up writing the Changing World handbook teaching how to adapt to the social crises unfolding in the world.
Society changes slower than people realize. A surface-level change can happen rapidly, but deeper change for a social system takes decades and even centuries to manifest. Change is measured by decades in society compared to months for an individual. While people go thru a midlife crisis over a period of 2-5 years, society itself could take several generations to process the ramifications of a midlife crisis. I could make the claim that Jesus went through a midlife crisis 2000 years ago and then look at how Roman culture went through hundreds of years of social change & upheavals based on the results of his midlife transformation.
My opinion is that America started a midlife crisis in the ’60s but it was rapidly suppressed by the leadership by the mid-’70s. I use the financial crisis of 2007/8 as the visible starting point for the second stage of America’s current midlife crisis.
I work in 15 cultures and help students relocate around the world, so this means I have been tracking crises at a global level for 25 years. From my data, the conclusion is that climate change kicks into high gear by 2027. Impacts from climate change will cause the way people change their lifestyles to shift dramatically. I suspect the crisis of climate change will magnify the problems of our social midlife crisis and the two processes will merge together.
Predictions and Actions
- Society will not adapt to crisis fast enough to change in a manner to stop the next series of crisis ahead. So don’t wait for modern society to save you, it’s too busy in midlife denial trying to pretend it has everything under control.
- Each year will ramp up! Current year events will test people more than the previous year. By 2027 everyone will be saying: “Wasn’t 2020 cute, we had no idea that 2020 was our warning to change!”.
- People change faster than society, so use that to your advantage. Work on improving your life/lifestyle and get ahead of social problems.
- Shift / evolve your work options in order to adapt to the changing work realities. I’m assisting people to shift their jobs right now more than ever and I don’t see this fact slowing down.
- It’s too late to change after a collapse or system failure. Instead of waiting for society to clean up its mess, it’s better to learn & adapt to each year’s crisis. Be ready to evolve against the challenges given to us each year. The world will never go back to pre-2020 standards.
- The years 2021 and 2022 are going to be relatively quiet compared to the years ahead. These are going to be the years to get ahead of the times. REMEMBER, doing nothing only means the bigger crises ahead will push you into survival mode rather than you thriving against each successive social change.
- If you want to travel, 2022 through 2024 will be the best years for global travel. After 2024, climate change and other social issues will constrict travel more and more over time. COVID in 2019 started this process of travel constriction.
- Climate change by 2027 will force people to live more locally. Make sure you relocate to the location you can really call home and begin reinforcing your local community long before 2027. I’m seeing this already in 2020, some of the better places I help my students relocate to are being taken off the table as options.
A little help goes a long way in solving relationship problems.
Signposts for a Cultural Midlife Crisis
America is showing the signs of a midlife crisis. The signs won’t match to what we experience in midlife as individuals, but we will see similarities in drastic lifestyle changes and the challenge to reconcile what America was compared to what America will be in 15 years.
What are the symptoms of a cultural midlife crisis?
- Groups in the culture will become polarized and unable to reconcile differences between themselves.
- People in power will act to limit and belittle those coming into power.
- There will be a revisiting of old conflicts and a re-writing of history.
- Excessive & public police brutality.
- People who were quiet will now stand up to express their power.
- Power blocks will shift and get redefined
- Outsiders won’t be able to recognize the embattled culture.
- Outsiders will release old commitments and ties.
- Outsiders will be highly critical of the culture, trying to push the culture back into its older forms.
- The country will enact irresponsible financial measures.
- The country will pursue vanity projects & extreme nationalism
- Rational discourse is gone.
How to Transform Society
If America is experiencing a midlife crisis, what can you or I do to turn cultural crisis into cultural reform? How can we help our culture improve and change over time?
Resolving a cultural midlife crisis is like trying to stop a moving train. The motion of cultural events are larger than any single person. The polarization of viewpoints and heavy judgments in play cause all discussions to go straight to conflict. This means the more you try to help, the more you will get exposed to conflict. Yet if you do nothing, then everything falls apart.
Here are several layers of response to America’s midlife crisis.
- Work on yourself to improve your strength, health, integrity, and support network. The entire Personal Tao website is dedicated to self-improvement. The difference you make in our culture is proportional to the integrity you can hold for yourself. People respect integrity! Respect is a foundation you can leverage into building new structures that can then change the culture around you.
- Don’t resist change, be proactive in changing how you live.
- Don’t force your change on others. With the culture in crisis, people won’t react with reason but rather fight out of the need to survive.
- Be kind. Build relationships based on kindness. A community-based in kindness will support each other.
- Ironically many of the teachings here on helping a midlife partner work as a template on how to work with others and cultural institutions.
- Buy time. Cultural change is slow. People are fast. Timing is everything in crisis management. The change you want to happen will occur much more slowly than you wish. So buy time to make the distance.
- Be strategic. While we want to buy time, because of climate change, we only have limited time. This means over the next 7 years you have to be more careful to map out a road ahead.
- Don’t lose hope or push fear. While we cannot build utopia, we can build a better country together. The key word is together. Fear breaks people apart, hope brings people together.
- Get involved with local communities that match your ideals and be proactive in supporting local communities.
- At key pivot points, standout, speak up, be loud and make your voice heard. Each person will have different points of time to standup. But if you never stand up, then you are doing nothing and nothing happens. Practice standing up in small things and then build up your power to stand up at other times in life.
Please share your ideas and experience in the comments below.
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