As you transition through life, you are making many changes and going through many different stages. With a life expectancy of 78 (five years longer for women), when you turn about 40, you are entering what is known as middle age. Everyone goes through this transition, but not everyone experiences the same thing. Often times, men, more than women, will feel the brunt of these changes at this mid-point in their lives.
When do the trials and tribulations of everyday life turn into a midlife crisis, and how do you know you are in it? Good question. It really depends on the degree to which you feel you can handle it. How deep is your inner dissatisfaction? How much has your self-esteem and confidence affected your ability to function? How often do you second-guess your choices? What's causing the confusion about who you are or where your life is going?
A true midlife crisis may take years to resolve, and you may feel helpless, disappointed, distressed, entrapped or even just bored. Sometimes you think it's easier to hold on to your "youth" and just ignore the changes. Getting past the crisis is difficult because it takes much insight, patience and strength to do something about it.
You may be aging, but it doesn't mean you're getting old. Midlife is an exciting time. According to Marianne Williamson, author of "The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife": "What we have called middle age need not be seen as a turning point to death. It can be seen as a magical turning point to life as we've never known it, if we allow ourselves the power of an independent imagination."
With children older or out of the house, you have the opportunity to spend time on things you most enjoy. Make it a fun time of your life. Even though the crisis is bound to transform you, you also will be transforming what it means to go through midlife. Therefore, set new goals and develop new hobbies.
See, explore and discover who you are now. It's a time for rebirth and renewal. Re-examine your past choices and commitments and revise them into an exciting and different journey ahead. Refocus your time and energy on doing new things that are more important to you, like going back to school or planning an adventurous vacation.
Here are some things you can ask yourself to be sure you are heading in the right direction:
* Are my thoughts directed on lifelong learning and personal growth?
* Can I maintain my sense of purpose and be driven to fulfill a certain goal or passion?
* Do I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I can learn from my mistakes?
* Do I believe that life is to be lived and that I am entitled to live it through fun and frivolity?
* Am I attuned to my body so that I practice healthy eating and exercise routines?
* Do I feel younger than my chronological age and enjoy being around people younger than I am?
* Can I rely on others to help me get through difficult times that are causing a lot of stress?
* Do I believe every year I am getting better and better?
* Am I able to enjoy a healthy and hearty sense of humor?
* Am I able to pace myself and find time to smell the roses?
When faced with approaching changes, you need to remind yourself of how well you've done before, handling previous crises.
You may think you don't have the strength or the endurance to deal with things this time, but you do. Part of the universal lesson in all this is knowing that you can handle almost anything and that things will get easier as time goes on.
It takes courage and work to face the changes at this stage of your life, but the ultimate result is something extraordinary.
You will find that the journey is wonderful and that it reveals a new expression of yourself that embraces your giant leap into living the rest of your life.