What Is Midlife Crisis?
Midlife crisis is an unfortunate label applied to those working through the midlife transitional times of their life. It’s a natural maturing process that roughly 1/3 of adults go through. Yet, some souls in desperation to change can overreact with their changes. Think of midlife as the time of life when a person is trying to become the inner person they always yearned to be in life. You can approach midlife gracefully. However, it’s relatively common for people to make drastic changes without full consideration of the ramifications of their actions and hence, the term midlife crisis. A little help goes a long way to solve the challenges that arise in midlife change.
It’s a time of life to help people work with change and not resist personal growth.
Midlife Crisis is About Transformation
The impact of a midlife crisis can touch every aspect of a person’s life. A Personal Tao is a comprehensive midlife guide with 300 web pages and videos to solve relationship challenges, improve your life, and understand every part of your midlife experience.
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
- Desiring to quit a good job.
- Unexplained bouts of depression when doing tasks that used to make you happy.
- Changing or investigating religions, churches or philosophies.
- Change of habits. Activities which used to bring pleasure now are boring. Unable to complete or concentrate on tasks that used to be easy.
- Excessively buying new clothes and taking more time to look good.
- Wanting to run away to somewhere new.
- A desire or obsession to get into physical shape.
- Irritability or unexpected anger.
- Leaving (Mentally or Physically) family or feeling trapped in current family relationships.
- Looking into the mirror and you no longer recognize yourself.
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.
The most important truth is that this event doesn’t need to be a crisis. Midlife is a time of life to embrace change to become the person you dream of being.
Don’t let this be a fear-driven event! Julie, and I will patiently walk you through the process to find answers.
Additional 25 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. People are taught this is a myth or a bad time, or know someone who did crazy things. Here is a truth I know for a fact: It’s an amazing pivot point of life you can use to make your life better. The signs of midlife crisis don’t define the midlife crisis; rather, your actions will define your experience.
While some people do make a mess of midlife, I know from personal experience, and from helping so many people, it’s the most amazing opportunity to rebalance your life. With help, it’s possible to turn around the problems you face into a better life.
Many people at this moment of life will also refuse to see this time as a crisis. More power to you! Work hard to improve your life but take care not to do too much damage that you have to fix later in life.
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 people will not end up in a place that genuinely matches where they were hoping to go. Around a quarter of these people will repeat the crisis seven years later without help.
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 the midlife change process will flow. The simple reason for this vast difference comes down to the many traps, social issues, and distractions that exist for the average person.
Working With Midlife Crisis
A midlife crisis is the attempt to restart life to better fit a person’s heart.
- Many times a person in midlife crisis will act confused, have anxiety, or be lost while trying to sort out the contradictions they feel and now have in their life.
- Also, many times a person is trying to improve their life while not understanding why they are acting in the manner they are.
- It is common to have major disruption and disconnects within your relationships during midlife.
This mixture of conscious to unconscious actions often makes a person in midlife crisis unpredictable. This also leads to the most dangerous midlife crisis symptom of denial. Confronting a person in the initial stages of midlife crisis will often invoke and reinforce strong statements of denial since some of their actions are unconscious.
Most often, a midlife crisis is defined well into the process of change. People miss the initial subtle internal midlife transformation shifts that do occur. As a result, the process usually only becomes visible after a drastic shift that screams a crisis. However, the process has started long before the visible midlife crisis symptoms appear. It’s possible to aid a person to discover how to define life to fit better to what makes them content and happy.
Care does need to be taken as often a person in midlife crisis will feel trapped and in a corner without options.
If your partner is expressing many of the signs of a midlife crisis, then start with: Helping Your Partner In 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, this represents a time of life when a person is looking for an education 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.
People may resist change as they age, but everyone does evolve within their life as they get older. The truest resolution to a midlife crisis is learning to embrace the facts of one’s change and investigate methods of transformation.
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 it will become even more intense.
Modern culture doesn’t quite know what to make of our midlife time of change. Since not everyone experiences the same degree of change, some in modern culture deny this crisis happens. Anyone who has gone through the experience will deeply confirm it’s a real event. If you are at the point where you feel confused, your choices seem to make others unhappy, and denial is making your life worse, then get help! I help hundreds of people every year, and as a result, I know it’s real, and the process I teach works quickly and gracefully.
Another problem is that modern western lifestyles are based on chasing dollars and goals rather than supporting your truth. People are so focused looking forward to their incomes and the next paycheck that they forget or feel they cannot afford to embrace living to their true internal personal needs in the now. Sadly this way of looking at the problem regarding finance only also means just doing nothing, and that only promotes 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. Find solace in those that don’t limit your transformation by their judgments. Many times people in midlife crisis seek solitude to more easily avoid judgment from others. I know from personal experience you can find answers that gracefully work. This isn’t easy, and this is always an educational process. Finding guidance can make this process more graceful by showing ways to work around the common pitfalls. Don’t look for help that tries to define you, rather look for help that helps you avoid common mistakes! 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.
Partners of Crisis
We must also consider the partners of those experiencing a midlife crisis. Some of the signs that midlife crisis partners often exhibit are:
- Becoming more judgmental
- Unable to communicate smoothly with each other.
- Ignoring there is a problem at all and thinking it will all go away with only patience
- And usually 1/4th of the symptoms that the person in midlife crisis is experiencing
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.
As stated earlier: becoming judgmental or patiently waiting for things to resolve only reinforce the problems of crisis. Understand that the process of change is often as hard for the partner as it’s for the person experiencing a midlife crisis. Partners often find themselves confused and even worse getting left behind as the person in crisis sometimes goes running off to search for freedom that eludes their capacity to define. Crisis often forces partners to become more judgmental as they look for answers, and this further drives a wedge between the partners.
Know that the worse thing a person can do is to act in a judgmental manner.
Judgment will always aggravate a person in a midlife transformation into running away straight into facing a full-blown midlife crisis.
Be open-minded when working with someone in a midlife crisis.
By nature of a relationship, partners reflect each other. When one person is in midlife crisis, that midlife crisis is often psychologically contagious to partners. As a result, partners are often a few steps earlier in the process, and this can allow the partner to approach their mid-life process more openly regarding transformation. Since usually, they are looking for answers to help their partner, partners often use those very same solutions to help themselves unconsciously. Three times out of four it’s the partner who I first assist as they are usually the first person to contact me for help. Help a person earlier in their process helps speed the process of transformation since they have to recover from fewer mistakes. At this stage, people are all too eager to avoid the problems they see from the other person in midlife crisis.
We work over the phone 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?
- What age does midlife crisis typically begin?
- 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 duality of transformation. Putting to words the frustration a person feels in change.
- How to reveal the new side of your life. The attraction of new relationships and friends.
- What happens in the body during a midlife crisis.
- How to re-balance out your life in midlife transformation. A person going through a midlife crisis is not crazy!
- How to remove conflict from your life in midlife crisis. Expanding life options.
- Dealing with midlife crisis frustrations. How to talk with others.
- Dealing with depression from a midlife crisis. Discovering how to pace yourself and play in transformation.
- I want to run away! How to stay true to oneself rather than run away.
- Releasing with grace. How long does Mid Life Transformation take?
- Speeding up a Mid Life Transformation.
- I can’t stop myself! How do I move ahead in a better manner?
- Expanding your awareness to more efficiently move ahead in your transformation.
- Don’t repress, rather learn how to release.
- The next steps to your Mid Life Transformation.
Turning Crisis Around
Here is a list of teachings to guide your midlife crisis. If you understand these truths, it then becomes possible to grow through a crisis with grace.
It’s a time of change. Many people hurt themselves and those they love by resisting the signs of midlife change. Holding onto the past will tear a person and family apart during a time of change. Often the pain of resisting change causes people to revert to old habits. A midlife transformation is not a sure thing. Human nature desiring comfort and the social pressure resisting change are powerful forces shaping a person’s life. The majority of people going through midlife change fail for these and other reasons. Move in your life! A midlife transformation can be the most beautiful and amazing time in a person’s experience when flowing with change and the support of others. Or it can be a nightmare of confusion mixed to the actions of people actively hindering your path. When facing such a nightmare, most people embrace past comforts to resist the transformation and re-transform back into an image of their old life. The direction of change isn’t always forward; a midlife transition is often experienced stumbling backward.
A time to experiment with new perspectives.
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.
This is a time to reconnect to the freedom of a child. A midlife transition can resemble the time of being a child when you had to learn everything newly. 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.
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 often a person will toss away a bit more than they bargained for.
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 options to create space and avoid a messy divorce.
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.
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. Other aspects might be very apparent in the aches and pains of an aging body. 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. Another aspect of helping a person create a full life transformation is to help reveal the missing parts of their life. We are each a combination of Mind, Body, and Spirit, yet so many people concentrate on only one part of the Mind or Body or Spirit at the exclusion of the other parts. Midlife transformation is a time to fill and strengthen all the missing parts of a person’s life.
A life transformation is a process that spans time. Another misunderstanding about this process is thinking that this is a relatively quick event of a few months. In fact, even the term “Midlife Crisis” gives the impression of a single sudden event to overcome. It’s not. The midlife transition process is often a series of events that span over 2 to 3 years to manifest gracefully. 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. A large amount of outside pressure exists to make this the case. The power of our mind is very strong, and the capability to suppress or even deny change is a very strong human trait.
Some people don’t experience a midlife crisis. A few souls balance and flow through life in such a way to seemingly never go through a midlife crisis. Humanity is a spectrum of experience. 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.
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. As such we each change over time. Over time; 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. To do so places false fulfillment into one’s life direction. 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 actual baseline driving need of the midlife transformation) is the process of connecting to a larger universe. As a result, we seek a bridge to connect to the larger universe. Try not to place a practice your practice directly to 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.
I must stress this use of the general term of “practice’ for all of these reasons. Every person will assemble their blend of practices to support the movement of their life. Any training is a merely a guiding form to aid in the movement of your life.
Finding Your Truth
People will seek answers and go thru many materials seeking truth in midlife transition. Within every writing and teaching exists both truth and falsehood. Due to unique perceptions of each person: the balance of truth and falsehood shifts for each person.
Be open to your midlife changes. We can learn from all practices; it becomes possible to discover truth and perspective from surprising places that will support your nature. I watch many people complain about not having resources or a teacher nearby to help in the navigation through a midlife crisis. In reality, it’s possible to find answers and teachers everywhere. During years of midlife crisis an open approach to exploring life, allows you to find an answer more quickly and thoroughly. During the time of re-defining oneself, everything is open for consideration.
Determining when Midlife Crisis is Over
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 judgments, 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 for most people.
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. The very nature of the signs of midlife crisis shows us this is a process of change. Denying change is what brings about the crisis you are in or feel is looming ahead of you. Holding on to old answers gives life no space to grow into something new, the very thing a midlife transformation is all about.
To preserve the aspects of what you love most often means to release and switch around quite a bit in your life to open space for the path of discovering positive transformation. 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 in awareness itself is the change people need!
Often pausing means to stop the actions which were fostering the crisis. As a result, Pause isn’t to do nothing; pause is an active process of examining potentials and considering which options 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 as a technique of pause to 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 a person basic information to work with, enough, so you have a chance to encourage the process towards transformation. If you have questions, 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. Since I guide a person to grow to their essence rather than chasing expectations. The solution is about getting a new perspective 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.