How to Deal with Midlife Crisis?
Let’s start with the eight steps to dealing with a midlife crisis.
You cannot rush this process; real physical and psychological changes are in play in your midlife transition. Patience gives you the time you need to let everything come together in your life transformation. It takes the body and mind two years at least to sort out these changes. Be patient with yourself.
Exercise helps all the physical and mind base changes move along. Exercise is a critical part of your midlife transformation. Without exercise, your process will take longer, and a person tends to become depressed in their life. Depression will derail a midlife transformation to become a midlife crisis.
Be aware, take time to understand how you are connected to everything around you. A midlife crisis can be a very proactive and reactive time in a person’s life. This means people tend to push in larger sweeping actions. Without awareness, overly large life changes will have many unforeseen consequences for a person’s life. Part of midlife is to pause and take time to consider all your connections in life so you can better make choices to rebalance your life’s balance of connection. Learning meditation and how to expand your awareness will make your midlife transition a much smoother experience.
Release measurements that have limited your life.
Many people are in the wrong place in their life because outside judgments have limited their options in life. This the time to release the traps of judgment and take actions based on your needs rather than being restricted by what other people let you do.
Find a guide who has been through the process. This can be very helpful to avoid the common mistakes and traps that people follow at this stage of life. You can read all the material you like, but the process is very gritty and dynamic. Having a trusted teacher to ask advice from is an invaluable resource at this time.
Take the time to do new things and grow! If you don’t experiment in life, you won’t find better options for life that you want to embrace. Everyone in midlife crisis wants to run away from their old life, very few people know their destination. As a result people gravitate towards destinations that look the opposite of their previous life. It turns out the new destination you are seeking is often one you have to create and play is the starting step of creation.
Make it Your Own
This is all about coming into your essence, so take time to make it your own. To make midlife your own, means you have to hold your power. MIdlife for women and minorities is a challenge because of extra pressure to conform to social norms. Men tend to have more freedom to break free, so you find men more focusing on this step and ignoring the other steps.
You are not alone, treat others around you with respect and kindness. Then as you grow, others will return that respect and kindness.
Take the time to live your life and learn Kind-Fu.
You have lived for over 35 years now: you have made mistakes, you have learned many lessons, you have experienced many deep events. Midlife transition is a chance to review your life, pause for a moment, and then integrate the lessons you have experienced to date.
Some paths are more graceful than others, some paths lead to greater heights to view more of what is around us, and some paths are more painful: so many possible paths.
What is Midlife Crisis?
Midlife is when your body, mind, and spirit are all are trying to mature into a healthy and independent person. A midlife crisis arises when a person rejects either personal change or essential parts of their pre-midlife situation. People often try to avoid midlife change, but avoiding your change can promote a deeper crisis.
The sad truth is: many people don’t know what they want to be or often force themselves to be something different than their essence.
Modern society encourages people to break themselves rather than grow constructively in life. Midlife transition is a natural part of life. It takes several years for it to fully complete. The process doesn’t have to be a crisis, but many people do make it a crisis: by forcing it or rushing into it all too fast.
From all the stories from what people do, it may seem to be an experience to avoid, but avoiding your nature promotes a deeper crisis later.
What is it? It’s a time when your body, mind, and spirit are all are trying to mature into a strong integrated independent person. If you approach this time without judgment, with patience, practicing awareness, and taking time to grow, to your heart: it can be the most wonderful time in a person’s life also.
However, the experience is never easy. It’s a challenging time, but well worth investing yourself into, since the return is: being yourself more truly.
How Long is a Midlife Crisis?
The more a person resists their midlife crisis: the longer it takes.
With expert guidance, a midlife crisis can resolve over 1 to 2 years. Otherwise, it tends to process over 2-3 years in a series of cycles. The speed depends on if a person finds something that matches to their heart and how others in their life help them grow.
When a person doesn’t change after three to five years, they become a slightly worn-out version of their old self again.
Of course, many variations to this exist. The timing depends on if a person finds something that matches to their heart and how others in their life help them grow.
Don’t worry about the time frame and start living your life now.
No perfect path exists in crisis. Yes, some roads are quicker than others to avoid problems. Some routes might be slower and yet lead you to greater heights of accomplishment. Generally speaking, the faster you force the process, the more painful it becomes. The problem is we think in terms of months for what should take years. Then factor in that our actions happen in increments of days, and it’s tough to see how those days add up to those years we need to mature within.
What qualifies a path as good or bad: ends up being what you will be proud to embrace as your own. Just remember our human nature requires at least two years to make the change deep enough to make our own.
What are the Stages of Midlife Crisis
The Four Stages of Midlife Crisis
- Healing the body. (Resolving physical problems)
- Clearing the mind. (Changing your story)
- Finding a new direction. (Releasing what is holding you back)
- Becoming whole. (Building a better life)
We are a combination of Body/Mind/Spirit. A midlife transformation touches all three of these aspects of life. As a result, a person will work through each as a separate set of steps. The actual midlife transition process is a back and forth experience working on these aspects of life. The order of these four stages will vary from person to person.
As an example:
A person might take time to relax their mind, only to discover it’s time to get in better physical shape. It turns out meditation can be hard on the body and requires a person to be in good physical shape. So a person will then get into an exercise frenzy only to have their mind shift to be in a different place. So a person circles back around to take time and re-adjust their mental concepts. Midlife creates a process of going back and forth between the various aspects of healing life.
As a result, we encourage our students to work on several things at once. A midlife transition is a time where people seek practices to help balance their life.
The final stage of midlife transformation is when all four aspects (Mind / Body and Soul / Spirit ) blend into a single harmonious being again. While many names exist for this final point, I call and teach it as complete acceptance.
What happens when you are shifting and your “till death do you part” partner is just stuck and hardening?
They are just grumpy and have a way of making me feel guilty alot of the time.
They are using judgment to force you to their path. In the end, this only leads to conflict and crisis.
But they are my sidekick, we’ve created this life together, kids, lifestyle, everything.
What you were and what you might be: can be two vastly different things.
Your partner wants the old you, that’s who they married, and you are growing into a new you. Because of the shifting personalities, this quickly becomes a case by case process to fit the circumstances of the various personalities involved in the transformation.
I’m feeling guilty for my change. They know me as nobody else does, but then they don’t try to understand my true soul.
They know the old you like no one else. They’re clueless about the new you. Revealing the “new you” will cause conflict in the relationship due to their judgment that you should only be the “old you”.
For you not to grow into something new, means to die a spiritual death. And a spiritual death translates into a person wasting away in a slow and painful physical death later. I had this happen to me, it’s a very painful process, and one I don’t recommend other people following.
I’m afraid that if I don’t find a way to bring our hearts really together, they will keep pulling apart. I really wish that I could share my change.
This journey can only be shared if they also open up to change themselves. The harder truth is you are the last person in the world who can help them in that journey. Attempts to help them along will only hasten judgment, conflict, and then finally, crisis.
The choices ahead are many, but doing nothing will ensure a crisis. Continuing to only move ahead on your own also normally breaks the marriage due to the increasingly harsh judgments. Worse, you can’t help them move ahead, because that isn’t your choice at all: it’s their choice. Any tinkering upon them from you will just backfire unless timed perfectly with the natural changing points in their life.
Here is the basic answer:
Live your life, go out, practice new hobbies, play, and explore life. Continue to get in shape and live better. Don’t worry about what might happen. Instead, improve and live your life one day at a time. In this manner, you will evolve within your solution.
Just because right now there are no solutions doesn’t mean you won’t walk and grow your way into a solution and a better life later.
Always remember you are not alone. You can continue to ask and work with me to get some guidance along the way. As you have seen sometimes, an outside view is what it takes again to see your own heart fully again.
Sincerely and best wishes
To everyone reading this, please note:
No one single answer fits all cases; instead, live your life the best you can and evolve towards the answer. When I work with a person, it’s always a case by case to process find the path that best fits their life with kindness.
Don’t try to force the answer to be what you expect. Let yourself change happen one day at a time until you find the solution that fits your life.
The basic steps of falling apart in a crisis.
Step1) Since you don’t fit in anymore. This feels like a smackdown from the outside world. This is also the most painful part since this process often strips away, almost everything you used to value. The harder you hold on to attachments, the more painful the process a person goes through in release. This can get so extreme that a person can feel agitated to the point that their own body doesn’t seem to fit themselves anymore.
This is letting go of the past.
Some people never let go of the past, defining themselves purely to past events.
Step 2) You finally figure out what happened (so you think). You release in a series of steps to simplify your life, each release feeling like you finally found your answer. But then a person falls back to depression within a few months after realizing that the same old feelings are coming back.
This means most people misjudge when they hit bottom since three stages usually exist to this step!
* Letting go of expectations of who you are.
* Letting go of the future.
Many people cling to their issues to give themselves form and shape. They cling to defining themselves now by thinking they know how their future looks. Often by mimicking others who seem to have it right. This is a trap; you can never truly define yourself by another person’s example of how you might be.
Step 3) You let go of letting go.
This is releasing into the moment and moving with your life rather than against it.
Step 3 is the hardest to do. It’s the point you can laugh at yourself honestly; you smile at your mistakes.
This bottoming is the starting point for personal self-acceptance. Learn to let your form / shape freely flow with life.
Power and money
We base so much of our self worth on our projected power or how much money is made (money is a form of power).
The trouble is 99% of people truly only have a very small buffer of savings or cash flow. At most, the average person is only a few paychecks away from losing their self-worth.
That’s why Step One can be so long and hard of a process. It takes a while to resettle into a new framework that you can truly find balance and self-worth again.
In Taoism, we teach the truth about acceptance and how you don’t base your worth upon outside measures such as wealth or social pressures. But for many people, when they lose their outside measuring sticks of value, it takes years to re-learn a new system of faith to help oneself grow again.
As a teacher, I help a person re-sync, not in terms of outside measures, but within the power of being yourself. This is why, as a counselor of midlife crisis, I can be so effective. I help a person reduce the time spent in steps 1 and 2 and to assist a person manage their process so as they release; they release in a kind manner. This means helping a person sort out what has true value to their heart.
You would be surprised, but many people in midlife transition often get a strong desire to become healers or help others. Many people become a healer because they’re seeking change within their own life.
But here is one truth:
No matter how many other people you are kind to, no matter how many people you might save or help discover “harmony” it won’t balance nor resolve your midlife transformation.
The problem is that: a consumer lifestyle lends itself to the consumption of change. Strangely healing others, can become an empty process of consumption of helping other people heal. This is the same problem of those who get addicted to trying to convert other people to their religion. Many people in midlife crisis also get addicted to trying to convert other people to their solutions. This ends up being an empty solution of consumption, that always leaves the seeker hungry for more. The true healing process is one of being whole, not consumption (that makes you feel full): a fine difference and one very hard for people to sort out initially in their midlife crisis process.
So to those in transformation, I make sure they understand this truth before they go out to help others.
We work over the phone and also offer couple retreats!
This is a common question, a common test, a common situation where the past comes back to now. It might be a chance to repair something broken. It often becomes a situation to break apart from your life now. So many possibilities: some good and some bad.
So ask yourself:
- Do you wish to reconnect with this person? Wishes are fantasy and are not a foundation for a new life.
- Do you yearn to reconnect to this person? Then there might be lessons to learn, but consider the costs to your current life. Reconnect only if you need to use this as the crowbar to change your life now. Try to explore this when it’s possible to have a new friendship without judgment with this person. For example: cleanly separate from your marriage first, if you are in a bad marriage. Most people cannot reconnect to their past without judgment. So use great care; otherwise, old judgments will create new problems to work upon.
- Do you want to leave the past behind you? Then tell them to leave the past as the past.
People at midlife crisis often look to the past for answers; they often try to correct mistakes they made, not understanding you must leave the past mistakes “as is” to learn from and then change how you live now with new people and relationships. These past lessons improve our current relationships when embracing the lessons and changes for the better.
Chances are a friend from the past is trying to redefine themselves, thinking idealistically to the past because you touched their heart deeply. They often are trying to reconnect to the heart and don’t understand that memories are merely stories that should guide a person to a future. Don’t fall in the trap of trying to repair a past misstep that cannot be retraced to create a new future. We all must move ahead in life, not behind.
Here is one possible answer you can use:
Thank you for reminding me of fond memories. I am now a person far different, and I’m not the person of those past dreams. I wish you great joy in finding new life, but every-time you think of reconnecting with me is one step you are taking away from your future and life to be. I cannot reconnect with you simply because I have moved on to places new and with joy. Re-entering my life now would disrupt my life in ways I know and accept are not for me. Accept it’s time for you to do the same. If you cannot embrace this request allowing me space to live my live as is now, only confirms I am correct within my misgivings about reconnecting with you now. In time, I might be open to reconnecting, but here and now, isn’t that time for me. Respect that now or in the future lose me as a friend… leaving you only memories of the past, as flowers once picked and then thrown upon gravestones of those past gone.
In the end, always use your own words from your heart and be true to your heart.
Just because nine times out of ten, you should not revisit the past: Still means one time out of ten, a person will find something precious from the past to enliven their life now. In the end, the only right answer is the one you make work and your own.
In a midlife transition, exercise is a very important part of the growth. There is quite a bit going on with your body and mind. Exercise helps it all come together.
I highly recommend finding a Qi Gong teacher or DVD. Qi Gong is an excellent exercise set to help people re-balance their energy and is an extremely powerful exercise set to help resolve depression. Even when having physical issues, Qi Gong is also very gentle to the body (more so than Indian Yoga), and it will help you rebalance your body in terms of the physical issues you have had to work with. Qi-Gong has been shown to help reduce pain and also improve flexibility, while also balancing out body chemistry
Qi Gong also has visualization exercises to help keep the mind fresh and exploring, even if your motion and resources are limiting you from going elsewhere.
Also: Make your life about now. It’s time to begin learning something unexpected, something undefined, something with the greatest potential of all: your own life on your terms!
If you are feeling drained or in depression, it means that your current actions are working against you still. So take a little time to re-shift those actions into new ones. For the next few months, work at this a day at a time, go out, do some physical activities again, be aware, begin extending yourself in simple ways at first.
A midlife crisis is about regaining your power! Embrace actions that empower you, and you will discover your depression will melt away.
Don’t focus on what is ahead, live your life actively, one day at a time. Begin poking about with ideas and smaller experiments to test the waters for various ideas as they come to mind.
It’s a very common situation in midlife transition to feel trapped in a job. Of course, you don’t have to be in a midlife crisis to feel trapped in a job either. Finding a job that fits one’s soul isn’t easy especially since most people only work to make money rather than trying to work in harmony with their essence. (The two are not exclusive.)
I teach techniques to help people in transformation learn within their current job how to change their lifestyle. In your current job situation, there are lessons to learn, which if learned makes it more possible to :
- Extend how long you are at the current job without driving yourself insane
- Learn the lessons needed so you don’t repeat the mistakes of this job within your next job.
- Begin retraining yourself while in the current job to begin creating the next job that does fit to your essence.
It’s possible to turn the work into a monastic experience
I wrote a little about my personal experience of working at a soul-grinding job in the Personal Tao book. This will help give you a new perspective.
Use your current job as much as possible to work upon your issues in a way, that when you leave, your next job will be more successful.
Counseling has its place and time in helping a person heal. A person can go into counseling for years and not get help in their midlife transformation. Sometimes we don’t need counseling; rather we need a teacher.
What I write here is a starter kit. People then often come to me, and I help them not as a counselor, but as a teacher. The thing is, it does take a special type of teacher to help a person thru this stage: the process mixes in teaching, a touch of counseling, removing judgment, wisdom, and intuition.
I happen to make my living teaching people how to transform gracefully and with kindness. You can find many paths for transformation. Many teachers exist, your teacher could be a river or the ocean or the city in its bustle. Not all teachers are human.
It isn’t as easy as finding a self self-help book where you find a recipe to figure out what type of person you are baking yourself to become. It’s a serious reinvention of one’s life and heart to finally transform into what a person dreams of being (and not daydreams in their mind) but in their heart.
The material here is a starting place. Many people come to me as a teacher for the next step. Also many, people after reading this material, discover the power of being free in their choices. Since now they realize this is a natural process and so then a person often starts exploring their life on their own.
Remember no “right” choices. “Right” choices are just judgment calls that limit your options. This is simply about how you decide to best move ahead with your life.
Some people come to me as a teacher, some go and play, some go and write, some go and hide, some go and… The choices are unlimited now.
Release judgment and decide what feels best for your heart for your path.
Typically it’s best not to say anything.
It’s best to help the person by not judging them and being open to new ideas. Being playful is the best path to explore one’s way out of a mid-life crisis. The only problem is that play often takes a person to places judged not appropriate by others.
Beware the minefield of judgment.
If you find yourself in conflict with the other person then it means they feel judged by something in their life.
If you don’t want to deal with another person’s mid-life crisis or if it makes you uncomfortable: another option is to walk away from it. Sometimes giving a person space is a gift in itself.
If your marriage is on a thread, then a thread is a very fragile thing indeed. Don’t put pressure on the marriage, since then it will break. Rather, focus on yourself first, focus on what you need to do to be strong, and make your personal development move ahead.
Then secondly, focus on your friendship with your partner and seeing what can be done that gives you each freedom enough to begin changing in your life, so that thread can begin to reweave into something stronger.
Learn more about rebalancing your relationship!
Your partner is running off to start a new life. The trouble is that their situation now reflects into your life, and now you are in crisis!
They have run away and made a choice; you have to deal with the repercussions, not in their life, but your own life! You are trying to find your answers, but you are doing this indirectly by trying to help your partner. Know this: attempting to help them, unless they are asking you for help, will create more conflict.
Don’t focus on how or why they ran away. Don’t focus on if they are acting immature or mature. The simple fact is they left, and that forces you into a bad situation. You will not agree with their choices, but you have to focus on yourself first.
You cannot live life for your partner. You can only control and live your own life!
Release the judgments that come from your situation. Judgment doesn’t do you any good; in fact, all judgments (good and bad) will only limit your options in how you can move ahead and create more conflict for your path.
It’s time to take control of your own life and release them. Until you release them, they will only drag you through the jungle and hell and then back again to repeat it all while chasing girls, baboons, booze, or anything else that catches their attention.
So understand: the time is now to sort out your options. To do your best to look for ways to begin moving out of the mess that has evolved over many years. The answer ahead of you will take time, patience, and the willingness to work on your own choices ahead of you. The longer/harder you try to help your partner, the deeper and messier the problems you will be dragged thru, which then only creates more problems in your own life to resolve.
Time to live your life. The only question is, what path do you want to take?
My opinion is the best path is the one where you walk with your own feet, and you control your destiny. Most people choose to be dragged all over hell and creation. You are leaving healers like myself tonnes of clean up work for later. You are already discovering this isn’t much fun. Keep in mind; they can always catch up to you if they decide later the jungle wasn’t the life for them.
Your partner is gone and if they come back as a true parent to your children is not predictable.
This isn’t about right or wrong, justice, morality or what happened in the past anymore. This isn’t about marriage anymore or even if he/she is a father/mother: by the very choices they made. This is all about how you handle and make your life better. Do what you need to do to grow, survive and help your children grow. It’s not your job/role to be the opposite role model either. It’s your job to be who you are for the children. The more you look at your partner’s poor choices as the source of the problems, even if true, the more you limit your future and harm your children into repeating the same mistakes made in this relationship.
Teach your children by how you handle this. Is this easy? No, and there aren’t simple answers that will make this easy for you.
I can’t give you magical answers; no one can. This is something you have to build and grow from your own heart. Even if your heart feels empty as if you have nothing, that isn’t true, you are alive, the heart beats, and you can step ahead, one action at a time.
I will say it over and over again because this is a key part of the process: stepping ahead one small step at a time. Doing your best to make it your life and a life worth living: so your children learn by your example how to live a full life. Never base your life on another person especially one in crisis. Otherwise, you are defined by crisis for your’s and your children’s future. Never move with hate, scorn, force or judgment in your actions or words. Otherwise, that is how children learn to live their own life by example.
Be strong and find your grace: it’s the only choice that works. And this approach is not dependent on your ex-partner.
Never blame mid-life crisis for the break up of a marriage. Some marriages just aren’t meant to be long-lasting. Many marriages that break up during a mid-life crisis break up due to other problems that slowly accumulated and were ignored over the years.
Love isn’t enough on its own to keep a marriage strong or to repair a marriage that has gone beyond a certain point of pain or broken.
Marriage requires commitment and patience to work alongside love to be complete. Marriage requires two people to complete, no matter how hard one person hangs on to prove otherwise. A marriage license is not enough to keep love alive nor prevent another from hurting themselves.
The choice is yours on how this now plays out: strive for grace rather than locking down into judgment in how things should be held. You can still love a person even if you release them from the marriage. Sometimes the deepest love is to release a person.
Be strong and don’t let another person drag you through their problems: to create deeper issues for you to grow out from.
There is a limit to how much a person can help another. Learning that balance between commitment and allowing a person to be free, to release them to find their path is one of the most difficult challenges in a mid-life crisis between partners.
Don’t blame yourself or midlife crisis as a problem. If you do this, you will only get stuck looking at your past and never move ahead to live free.
I have helped repair and fix many midlife marriages that people thought were broken by a mid-life crisis.
Saving a midlife marriage often requires creating space for each person to grow first. Then the second step is to create a new marriage after a midlifer resolves their personal issues.
Don’t skip straight to step two, otherwise, you will destroy your marriage.
It’s not that it is normal; rather, you are reaching a point where everything is close to breaking down. Once crisis reaches breakdown, especially nervous breakdown (which does happen), then it does take much longer to heal and recover.
People in midlife transition can have a nervous breakdown. When you force your transition into a crisis, that also increases your chances of having a nervous breakdown. If you feel like this now, it isn’t unreasonable to seek some help, if even to talk to someone to help you sort out options. Take the feeling as a warning sign to take better care of yourself.
The problem is that people can resist their change so much, that at times they break their own spirit and life in the attempt to not change. IN kindness, it’s important to work with your inner change rather than resist it.
Don’t wait for a breakdown to be your answer. Work to change. This is your life, and breaking down is a terrible answer to make your own.
A midlife crisis can feel crazy. However, it’s about becoming sane for the first time in many years, the sanity of living your own life, upon your terms.
In kindness we balance out the overall process and it’s balancing out kindness which is the hardest part of all in this process of change. Since so many people can try to force you to match to their needs or ideals of behavior. Then you will feel crazy since nothing makes sense anymore, because everyone thinks you are doing something wrong.
So no you are not crazy, but because you are changing: everyone, including yourself, might judge you that way. Sadly, once judged, it’s hard to remove that label that just got super glued to your forehead.
Understand that just because confrontation will make things worse, doesn’t automatically mean being nonconfrontational is the answer either! Nonconfrontational is not what your partner is asking for, nor will non-confrontation work consistently as an answer.
Your partner is asking for release. Release is a very active process. Until you release, you will be stuck with conflict in your own heart. Until you release: confrontation will be how they will react to any nonconfrontational approach. Look carefully at your words and search in your heart if you are still confronting your partner with judgment. Until you release judgment, you are part of the problem in the mid-life crisis.
It also means acting when required, with patience, allowing yourself to change, and working with those you love in a way they, too, can adjust to the new balances that are evolving.
Ask Midlife Transition Questions
Please feel welcomed and open to ask questions here if you have some.