What Is Midlife Crisis?
Midlife is a natural maturing process that occurs between 35 to 50. Physical and mental changes do occur in midlife, but it’s the drive for a personal rebalancing of power that makes this a colorful time of life. Midlife alters a person’s perspective in life and this pushes the need to change one’s lifestyle. People associate the more drastic lifestyle modifications as a classic midlife crisis. My working experience reveals that roughly 15 percent of people in midlife go through a classic midlife crisis.
Let’s start with the 35 signs of midlife crisis. We will then teach you to use your challenges as fuel to shift the experience from crisis to midlife transformation.
What are the Signs of a Midlife Crisis?
The truest indicators are the signs that illustrate drastic lifestyle changes in a person’s life. Most typically, it will be friends and co-workers who will diagnose the midlife crisis before the person in crisis will even realize it.
The Top Ten Signs of Midlife Crisis
Midlife often changes how a person works. It’s very common to have the desire to quit your job, even if it is a good job.
Resisting midlife change undercuts a person’s energy. Over time a person in midlife will have bouts of depression because they are resisting activities they truly want to start.
A midlife person will seek or investigating religions, churches, or philosophies for inspiration and answers in life. In midlife, the motion of your life doesn’t make sense anymore. This will manifest in a feeling of missing spirit. Spirit represents the motion of life! This means people will explore religion for clues about what is missing in their spirit.
Drastic Changes in Personal Habits
Activities which used to bring pleasure now are boring to a midlife person. A person in midlife will find themselves unable to complete or concentrate on tasks that used to be easy.
Changing Your Look
A person in midlife crisis will focus on improving their physical image in life. It’s common for a midlife person to buy new clothes, go to the gym, get more haircuts and take more time to look good.
People in midlife have a deep desire to flee to a better place. They don’t always know where, but it will be a desire to go somewhere new. Initially, a person will try to go on longer, more distant vacations, find retreats, or look for work in exotic new locations.
People in midlife will have a deep desire or obsession to get into physical shape. When I went through midlife, I learned Kung Fu, Jiu-Jitsu, Yoga, Qi-Gong, biked everywhere, improved my diet, and got in amazing shape. Midlife is a time of coming back into your power and people express that by getting in shape.
Resisting change causes people to be irritable or lash out in anger at anything, holding them back in life.
Family & Relationship Problems
Many people in midlife will pull away from their families. A person in midlife will often feel trapped within current family obligations. Be careful how you work with a partner in midlife crisis because midlife stirs up old problems and releases pent up judgments. If you are finding you’re constantly fighting with your partner, even over little things, then chances are you are experiencing midlife relationship conflict.
If you feel your partner is having a midlife crisis, then immediately read our guide on working with your midlife crisis partner! We save many relationships that would break apart from midlife. It’s critical you approach the situation carefully as most of the traditional advice makes everything far worse for your relationship.
A person can look into the mirror and no longer recognize themselves in life. You know it’s you, but it isn’t the “you” that you hold in your mind.
These signs of a midlife crisis are based on my professional work directly helping thousands of people within a midlife crisis. Even if you have most of the signs listed here, don’t panic. Midlife is a time of life to work with the changes to become the person you dream of being.
Julie, and I will patiently walk you through the process to improve your life.
Additional Symptoms of Midlife Crisis
The following is a list of symptoms that illustrate how defining a midlife crisis is relative to the person experiencing the changes.
- The desire for physical -Free Flowing- movement (Running, Biking, Dance, Fast red sports cars, Skydiving, etc.).
- Exploring new musical tastes.
- Excessively looking back to one’s childhood.
- Hanging out with a different generation, as their energy and ideas stimulate you.
- Doing things that get you into trouble when it surprises everyone as being out of character.
- Sudden desire to learn how to play an instrument.
- A sudden interest in drawing, painting, writing books or poetry.
- Shifting sleep patterns (Typically to less).
- Thinking about death, wondering about the nature of death.
- Changes to the balance of vitamins you take. Or taking dietary supplements for the purposes of extending life.
- Extreme changes to what you eat.
- Hair changes. (Natural shifts in thickness, luster, color or assisted changes in dying hair suddenly or shaving your head bald)
- A desire to surround yourself with different settings.
- Keep re-asking yourself: “Where am I going with my life?”
- Restarting things, which you dropped 20 years earlier.
- It feels good to get hurt.
- Upset at where society is going. Experience a desire to change the world for the better.
- Feeling trapped or tied down by fiscal responsibilities.
- A desire to teach others or become a healer.
- Change in allergies.
- Desiring a simple life.
- Playing again just to play!
- Getting fixated on new “wonder” solutions to problems.
- Recently experiencing something extremely stressful. Stress can trigger a Midlife transformation. Some examples include: Changing Jobs, Divorce, Death of someone close, Chemical/Toxic exposure upon the body or experiencing a major illness.
- Someone unexpectedly exclaims: “You are going through a midlife crisis!”
After reviewing the signs of a midlife crisis, many people are shocked that they show many of the midlife crisis signs. While some people do make a mess of midlife, I know from personal experience helping so many people, it’s the most amazing opportunity to rebalance your life. With guidance, it’s possible to turn all the problems you face into a better life. The signs of midlife crisis don’t define the midlife crisis; rather, your actions will define your experience.
How Long Does a Midlife Crisis Last?
Without help, it takes 2 to 3 years. Usually, a person will work through many false starts and painful side trips before they settle down in their life. Roughly a third of these midlifers will end up unhappy dealing with repercussions of their choices. A good portion of these people will repeat the crisis seven years later if they don’t correctly rebalance their life.
With teaching and patient guidance, a midlife crisis can be resolved over six months to two years.
Expert assistance is the most significant factor in how fast and successful the midlife change process will flow. The simple reason for this vast difference comes down to the many traps, social issues, and distractions that lead the average person to make detrimental lifestyle choices.
- Many times a person in midlife crisis will act confused, have anxiety and feel lost while trying to sort out the contradictions they feel and now have in their life.
- A person is often trying to improve their life while not understanding why they feel the need for their actions.
- Confusion is made worse by major disruptions within your relationship during midlife.
This mixture of conscious to unconscious actions often makes a midlife crisis unpredictable. Confronting a person in the initial stages of a midlife crisis will invoke and reinforce strong statements of denial since some of their actions are unconscious.
If your partner is expressing many of the signs of a midlife crisis, then start with: Helping Your Partner In Midlife Crisis.
Is Midlife Crisis Real?
Having worked with thousands of people, I know it’s very real, very predictable, and very normal. Recent data confirms midlife crisis peaks around the age of 47.
Midlife crisis is not a modern problem. Taoism has been working with midlife awakening for several thousand years. What is modern, is the concept that people control their entire life. When midlife crisis rolls along, awakening a person’s instincts to change, initiating actions that defy their control, it shakes apart a personal view of being in control of everything in one’s life.
As an adult begins to make mistakes, there is no social forgiveness towards a midlifer in their actions. Judgment and blame only force a person in midlife crisis to feel trapped and in a corner without options. If you are at the point where you feel confused and your choices are making things worse then get help! I help hundreds of people every year, and the process I teach works quickly and gracefully.
If you are a partner or married to someone in midlife crisis, you should also read our midlife marriage support article to help give you important insights for how to communicate with your spouse.
Know that the worse response to a midlife crisis is to act in a judgmental manner.
Judgment will always aggravate a person in a midlife transformation into running away straight into facing a larger midlife crisis.
Handling the Symptoms of Midlife Crisis
Experiencing a midlife crisis is not about curing a set of symptoms. In other words, this isn’t something you go to a doctor for a treatment to cure; rather, midlife represents the time when a person is looking for an education and actions to expand their life.
A midlife transition is about shifting your lifestyle to better match where the person’s spirit yearns to be. A midlife crisis is a very natural biological and psychological process of a person maturing. While some of the symptoms might indicate a process opposite of maturing: at times, a person needs to step back to move forward. Midlifers need to learn how to play again since play is indeed a form of education.
To do nothing is to let midlife crisis decide how you change.
Crisis still invokes change, but it’s an external change that a person no longer can control and often breaks those around us in the bargain. To deny a midlife crisis is the same as doing nothing and makes your crisis even more intense.
Another problem is that modern western lifestyles are based on chasing dollars. People are so focused looking to their incomes and the next paycheck that they feel they cannot afford to embrace living to their true personal needs in the now. Sadly this way of looking at the problem regarding finance only means just doing nothing and expands the crisis into happening anyway!
Understand: It’s far cheaper to address and educate oneself in this process than it’s to pay the longer term consequences of letting it become a full-fledged crisis.
One of the most difficult symptoms to resolve is the fact that those experiencing midlife crisis often feel separated, misunderstood, and alone.
A bigger truth when in midlife crisis is that you don’t have to be alone. Many times people in midlife crisis seek solitude to more easily avoid judgment from others. The trouble is the pressing feelings of being alone, and the need to make this process personal often makes it all the more difficult to find outside help.
Don’t look for help that tries to define you, rather look for help that helps you avoid the common mistakes!
We work over the phone, internet and also offer midlife retreats!
Midlife Crisis Video: Understanding Midlife
If you need help right away, you can start here with this 30-minute introduction to midlife crisis video.
Growing Beyond Midlife Crisis
Learn how to regain control of your life. This 30-minute video covers:
- What is Midlife Crisis?
- A deeper explanation of a midlife crisis. Don’t get trapped by the word “Crisis”.
- Explaining the natural life cycles we all live through.
- The psychological aspects of a midlife crisis.
- The attraction of new relationships and friends.
- How to remove conflict from your life in midlife crisis.
- Dealing with midlife crisis frustrations. How to talk with others.
- I want to run away! How to stay true to oneself rather than run away.
- Speeding up a Mid Life Transformation.
- The next steps to your Mid Life Transformation.
10 Midlife Crisis Truths
Here are ten steps to guide your midlife crisis. If you understand these truths, it then becomes possible to grow through a crisis with grace.
Don't Be Alone in Crisis
Don’t Fear Mistakes
Midlife transformation represents a restarting of life. A person moving down this path will not have the experience to do everything perfectly. As a result, people make many mistakes as they experiment around with new ideas and actions. As long as you are willing to learn from your mistakes, those mistakes can help you grow.
Another misunderstanding about this process is thinking that this is a relatively quick event of a few months. It’s not. The midlife transition process is often a series of events that span over 2 to 3 years. Some people even go longer, allowing their full transformation to take 5 to 8 years to become a master at a skill or attain a larger goal. Many people do suppress the midlife transition to appear as a fling. Understand that the more you try to speed your way through a crisis, the longer it will take due to the greater number of mistakes you will make by speeding up your process.
Avoid Peer Pressure
Society is not supportive of true change. It’s not in the interest of society to encourage life change. From a basic viewpoint, midlife transition disrupts people and resources from flowing smoothly. Also, people going through a midlife transformation have tendencies to want to change society. Society will resist such changes itself: firstly by encouraging people not to change, secondly by helping people to stay the same and finally by the alienation of those who disrupt the norms of society.
Midlife is a time to simplify. With so many changes happening, a person often simplifies their life to help figure out what’s important to them. During the process of simplification, a person will often toss away a bit more than they bargained for at the start of the process.
Rebalance Your Relationships
Midlife is when people shift their relationships. People often use relationships to crutch their life. The trouble is when changing, a person will discover that the crutches no longer fit or are painful to wear. As a result, relationships can be tossed to the side during this process of change.
Often relationships break during a midlife crisis. Why? Simply because the partner isn’t at a point of changing themselves, or they are changing in a different direction with different needs. Partners are often in conflict since they may not want changes to occur. The statement often heard is: “you are not the man I married” This phrase illustrates how deeply a midlife crisis can change a person. The extra strain of one person needing change, while the other person holds back, is enough to break many relationships. Even if the relationship doesn’t break, many people end up unhappy when partners don’t sufficiently support the requirements of a new balance. Instead, discover how to re-balance your relationship to have graceful marriage options that create space and avoid a messy divorce.
Exercise and Evolve
You are within a time of Mental, Physical, and Spiritual evolution. One myth of the midlife crisis is it’s only in the mind. A midlife change occurs within a very real physical transition time point in the human body. It’s a very similar experience as a teenager switching from a child’s body to an adult. Surprisingly western culture doesn’t have a term for the physical changes as not everyone experiences it quite the same way or same time point. While it frequently starts around 37 to 42 years of age, it can happen later in life. Also, many aspects of the physical midlife changes are subtle shifts in hormones, physical condition, and attributes.
One part of helping a person transverse a midlife change is to establish a new set of physical practices to help the body transition. This time is a nice opportunity to take up yoga, Qi Gong, change diets, martial arts, or even something as simple as a jogging practice to stimulate the midlife transformation process.
It is acceptable to act young again!
People starting a midlife transition will, at times, act like a child again as they’re picking up where they left off from their childhood. Buried issues often mean the resurfacing of problems and dramas, which were hidden as a child. This can confuse an adult when sorting out their thoughts and needs in life. Part of the process shifting a midlife crisis into a full life transformation is learning to play again and resolve childhood issues.
Not everyone goes through a midlife crisis in the same way. The whole process is dependent upon many variables such as culture, support of friends and family, how a person lives life itself, health and so many other factors. A life transformation isn’t a time of judgment or comparing your own experience to others. Midlife transition is a time of acceptance and learning to flow with your life, body, mind, and spirit to live as completely to your nature as possible. In the American culture where so many are taught to be someone else from childhood, to chase an American dream of wealth: a midlife crisis is a relatively common event, as many spend time not being themselves.
Learn New Skills
While all practices have benefits, not all practices will match to your nature. A person needs to sample practices “openly’ and keep the ones that “feel’ right. In this way, you will learn many unexpected truths while also learning the practices that fit your life. A person should never force nor expect a practice to work perfectly; instead, this is a process of experimentation until it clicks together, and you find that practice right for your growth.
- Life is about change. Overtime, personal practices have to shift to meet your needs. As a result, a person in midlife transition drifts through many practices. Practices you did in your earlier life will fade, and you will be energized by a whole new set of ideas and routines.
- No one practice can be perfect, so do not invest your meaning into the training itself. Practice doesn’t full-fill the emptiness in life, but at first, it often feels like it does. Fulfillment of our meaning, (usually this is the baseline driving need of the midlife transformation) is the process of connecting to a larger universe. Try not to place a practice directly into your heart; set the connections to the larger world into the heart. In this manner, you won’t be devastated when shifting from an older practice to a newer practice.
Every person will assemble a unique mix of practices to support the movement of their life.
People will seek answers and go through many materials seeking new truths for their life. Within every writing and teaching exists both truth and falsehood. Due to the unique perceptions of each person: the balance of truth and falsehood shifts for each person.
We can learn from all practices; it becomes possible to discover truth and perspective from surprising places that will support your nature. During a midlife crisis, an open approach to exploring life, allows you to find an answer more quickly and thoroughly.
When is Midlife Crisis Done?
The simple test is this:
When you can laugh at the experience and accept yourself.
Or put in another way:
When feeling an overwhelming but complete acceptance of your own life, consistently from moment to moment.
As a teacher, I show my students how to find this path. I know from experience this is something most people spend their entire lifetime trying to embrace. Kindness teaches a person not to focus on the turmoil you feel but to release false goals, bad stories, and then proactively live your life. Letting go is part of acceptance. In a goal-based society, letting go of wrongful stories is the hardest part of the healing process.
Getting Midlife Crisis Help
If this MLC guide resonates with you, then it means: it’s time to change routines and shift how you move in the world. Change isn’t easy, and the prospects of change often paralyze the strongest person. Ironically when this is the case, then the solution is often to take a simple retreat to pause and to reflect on one’s life.
Sometimes to pause is the change people need!
To pause isn’t to do nothing; pause is an active process of examining options and considering what actions would fit best in life! People often need to be taught how to pause, and this is why those in midlife crisis often seek to learn meditation to pause and help them find peace in their situation.
This is a time of choice, the choice of crisis or transformation. To do nothing is to pick crisis. To do nothing is to continue living life to the past choices that led everything to this crisis you face. In these articles, I give enough information to help your process of transformation. If you have specific questions about your situation, then it’s a simple matter to contact me to ask a question.
Every student I work with ends up in a place they want to be. The solution is to encourage actions that channel the crisis energy into constructive processes. Sometimes just asking a question is enough of an action to resolve a seemingly impossible crisis into a process of growth that truly transforms everything.