The second half of life is different. In the first half, most people strive to become productive, independent and respected members of the society. By the middle of life, many individuals are conscious that life does not last forever. This may lead individuals to prize every day and to seek the very most they can get out of every bit of living.
In the second half of life, starting at mid-life, the focus often becomes very individual. What, at this stage in life, is meaningful to me? The concern is not so much to please others, or to gain their respect, as it is to be true to oneself.
The Feelings and Concerns of the Second Half of Life
Midlife transition and the second half of life may bring many feelings, which sometimes conflict. To the midlife individual, caught up in the routine of work, family and possibly elder care, life may seem joyless and flavourless. Professional roles, perhaps once hard fought for, can now seem routine, stale and even meaningless. In our world, older individuals may feel that work is much more demanding than they would wish.
Similarly, key relationships may become problematic, seem to offer little, and even get in the way. Sometimes for the first time in their lives, individuals may seriously ask themselves whether a relationship can be made to work, or whether they need to leave it. This is the very stuff of midlife transition — or even midlife crisis.
Midlife often brings complex, conflicting emotions. On the one hand, there may be strong regret, and wondering, “Has it all been worth it?” Simultaneously, the individual may wonder, “What do I want to do, or to be, for the rest of my life?” Often, creative desires emerge or re-emerge, and a hunger for new, or quality, experiences. There may also be anxiety about the future, a sense of time’s limitation, and perhaps a feeling of urgency.
Midlife individuals often yearn to get past stuckness, and to get clarity about the nature of their own personal direction in life. They may move toward an increasing acceptance of life as it is, while finding meaning through rich experiences, valuable relationships, and living out values that are fundamental to their natures. Individuals yearn to live in possibility, and the discovery that life still has much for them. They hope to find a way through life’s obstacles, to meaning.
When guided by a therapist who respectfully listens to a person’s real story and individual journey, depth psychotherapy can be of great benefit in the midlife transition and the second half of life.