Individual Therapy & Dismantling the “Mid Life Crisis”
The term “mid life crisis” is a cliche in our society, which individual therapy must sometimes deconstruct. Don’t get me wrong: a tremendous amount does happen to us at midlife. But it isn’t usually the ridiculous caricature referred to in our society as a “mid life crisis.”
In that stereotype, the individual has a difficult period in the middle of life centering around regret for the passage of youth. As a result, he or she goes “off the rails” for a time, possibly years, and then gradually “comes back to normal”, once again accepting his or her lot in life.
But is that actually how it goes for people?
A “Mid Life Crisis” Isn’t Necessarily a Crisis
It’s far better to refer to a midlife transition. What the stereotype misses is that you don’t “come back to normal” from this process. Something deep and profound starts at midlife, and then keeps going on through the entire second half of life. And what starts might not be a crisis at all: it may just be a profound transformation, as an individual fundamentally re-evaluates his or her life.
Deconstructing the “Mid Life Crisis”
Articles abound now with titles like “10 Signs of a Mid Life Crisis”. Such lists miss the point that mid life transition is very individual indeed. There are no checklists that you can tick off to see if you “have it”, or “how you’re progressing”. It’s a very personal and individual search for what will last in life as youth and even mature adulthood give way to the older years: an individual answer to the question, “What really matters — to me?”
Midlife Transition, and Beyond
As the life journey progresses, a person’s values may start to be less conventional. While socially sanctioned goals for family, career and success may have held a lot of importance at earlier stages in life, the emphasis starts shifting to what it is that really matters to the individual.
Beyond the Security of False Identity
Conventional fixed, socially recognized identities seem to offer security. An identity like “I’m an accountant”, or, “I’m an athletic parent” gives the sense of permanence, and stability. But underneath, there is always the question, “Who am I, really?”, and the sense that there is a great deal more of me that I need to get to know. Often individual therapy is a key part of this journey, and this adventure, in the second half of life.