LIFESTYLE: Mid-life Crisis: The Pains We All Face, By Bisi Daniels

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Perhaps the ideal person in life is one who combines the energy of youth and wisdom of the aged, developed from piles of experience. Yes, you will say he is the one who knows God, but, of course, this ideal man would have known that without his creator, he is as good as nothing and headed for a regretful life.

A time comes in everyone’s life when he or she has to change course, redirect life, change priorities, and reorder values for better results. They call it mid-life crisis, because it often done after a bout of crisis, that leaves the individual taking a hard look at the life they are living; but it is not tied to any particular age.

Indeed, mid-life crisis is more a phenomenon of the wrong value system. It dawns upon the realization that one is adrift, without anchor, on the stormy seas of life. In that condition, it becomes obvious that any little shake could take one under; any current could carry one to undesirable places.

The term mid-life crisis was first coined in 1965 where early analysis suggested that it could happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 60, but it is now shown to start much earlier or later.

Occurrence

Although it is not synonymous with any particular age, experts have observed that approximately 10 per cent of individuals, the condition is most common from the ages of 41 through 60 (a large study in the 1990s found that the average age at onset of a self-described midlife crisis was 45).

But generally, it all starts when one assumes that their mid-life is about to be eventful, usually in a negative way, and potentially stressful. Psychologist Oliver Robinson’s research characterizes each decade of life by describing frequent occurrences or situations particular to those age periods. He describes that a crisis can begin in your early 20’s, when a person usually tries to map out their whole life. Moreover, the later age period, between 50 and 60, may be a time of illness or even the thought of death. Such a deadline may convince a middle-aged person that their life needs to be lived as expected.

Experts say individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

· — a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished

· — a fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues

· longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness

· need to spend more time alone or with certain peers

· — a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof

· — confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status

· — ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

Causes

Over the years, the following causes have been observed across cultures:

· Unhappiness with life and the lifestyle that may have provided them with happiness for many years.

· Boredom with people and things that may have been of interest to them before.

· Feeling a need for adventure and change.

· Questioning the choices, they have made in their lives and the validity of decisions they made years before.

· Confusion about who they are and where they are going.

· Unable to make decisions about where they want to go with their life.

· Doubt that they ever loved their spouse and resentment over the marriage.

· A desire for a new and passionate, intimate relationship.

External Factors

Most people who have a difficult time during midlife and go into crisis mode do so because of external factors. They may be experiencing stress in their life that makes the transition more difficult or they may have childhood issue that were never dealt with that come to the surface during this time. Some external factors that may cause this time in life to be problematic are:

Debt is always a destabilizer. Finding yourself middle aged, in debt and facing retirement can add stress to an already stressful time in life. A normal reaction would be to seek help from a debt management company or consolidate your loans.

The death of a parent or family member can cause grief, which is difficult enough to come to terms with, without having to also cope with the feelings of a midlife transition. Put the loss of a loved one with the feelings that accompany midlife and the whole process becomes bewildering and overwhelming.

Whether there are external factors that make the process more difficult or not, there is an internal process that is gone through. If a person lacks understanding of the process, he may find himself making irrational decisions he may later regret such as leaving a job, divorcing his spouse and throwing away the security that he built during the first part of his life.

It has also been observed from studies that the phenomenon could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets arising from the following:

Differences between Male and Female Midlife Crisis:

Mid-life crisis can affect men and women differently because their stressors differ. It lasts about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. Experts have found the following other differences:

Men:

Men go through midlife crisis because they reach a certain age and realize that life is passing them by. Commonly, men in midlife crisis become afraid of:

· the changes that come with aging.

· of becoming ill.

· of becoming less attractive to the opposite sex.

· not attaining goals they have set for themselves.

· dying.

· never feeling sexual passion again.

· afraid their choice in wife was a mistake.

Women:

Women, on the other hand, are thrust into midlife crisis because they reach a certain age and find they finally have the opportunity to do all the things in life they have put off while caring for a family.

· A woman’s children are grown and all of a sudden, she has the opportunity to do all those things she put off while being a mother.

· She and her husband have both worked hard, are now financially secure and she views this security as her opportunity to explore all those things she has put on the backburner.

· She goes through menopause, which means both biological and psychological changes. The psychological changes a woman experiences at menopause can cause her to question how she has lived her life and whether she should make changes to the way she lives.

· She experiences empty nest syndrome and is left with no direction or feelings of uselessness. Children leaving home can often push a woman into crisis and cause her to change course drastically.

· If she married young and had children early she may feel a fervent need to recapture her youth by going out to bars, changing the way she dresses and regressing in maturity.

TO BE CONTINUED….


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