2 Schools of Thought 1. Crisis: catastrophe, disaster, predicament
2. Crisis: turning point, to sift or decide
Oh it's alot of both. Here's why and how you can use each definition to move out of it.
1. When the midlife crisis is a catastrophe
There's even subset A and B to this:
A. This internal catastrophe of not feeling like yourself. Living on autopilot. Not enjoying life. Awful. Just awful.
B. The external mess that happens when you don't do the work to work through this in the healthiest way. Things that cause the catastrophe here are things like infidelity, substance abuse, over spending/eating, shutting down, giving up on working with integrity. We've all seen the collateral damage of an unexamined life.
I think we'd all agree that both of these circumstances would qualify as "crisis".
I believe the term around this season of life became known as “crisis” because of its ripple effects. Consider your younger years, before you “settled down“. I’m talking, as a kid to teenager to a young adult. Any change you made was acceptable, exciting, understandable, necessary. Shoot, change was encouraged!
You changed schools, probably a couple times in your whole education season. Made new friends, that’s fine. Maybe moved to a new city or two for the adventure. Tried a couple hobbies; some sucked, some stuck. Got a job, got a new job, looked for a different job. Changed your college major. Tried a new haircut, or the new trend in clothes. Committed to a significant other and then maybe another till you found the “right one”.
All this in the name of what? To arrive at some quality or stage of doneness?!
Of course not! We are beings that are constantly evolving, developing, changing.
So back to the future of now, you have a “stable” job or career, probably a committed relationship, maybe children, or family who rely on you. You may have developed relationships within your hobbies and extracurricular activities. You have likely developed habits, and a history and consistency in organizations or your church, where people now have expectations and needs of you.
Any change you make now, has those damn ripple effects. It doesn’t affect just you now. It affects aaaaallllll these other people and aspects of life.
Crisis for me. Crisis for them. It becomes a crisis for the individual going through it, not only because of all the dreary symptoms experienced described above. But also with a host of meta-emotions and feelings that come from having those original feelings. Stay with me here.
Now, because I had all of those feelings of discontent in basically every area of my life, other feelings pile on top of that. Things like… guilt, shame, embarrassment, doubt, fear, then doubly trapped again under that pile of feelings. I mean, how selfish and stupid could I be to have any issues with this good life? Who was I to want anything more? Sound familiar?
Crisis - 1. Me - 0.
Ok. So, what if I embrace that change is not a bad thing and I go all in for the reconstruction, and start making changes?
Well, now welcome crisis to All The Others in your life. Now they are put in a position to change too!
Now, any change we want to make has a ripple effect to all that stability we worked so hard to create. Your home body husband didn’t sign up to partner with a road tripper. Your coworkers are comfortable with how you fit in and don’t want to adjust to your new role in another company. Your mom doesn’t want to sit across from you and your new tattoo at Thanksgiving dinner. You starting to get the picture?
The glorious changes you want to make to bring joy and color into your life, now require the request of the others in your life to adjust, without their permission or original intention.
But does that make it any less valid or necessary?
The simple answer is no.
That doesn’t make it an easy answer. But if you can get to that realization, that your change and reconstruction is vital to put the life back in your life, then you and everyone around you will be dealing with a more authentic you. And that act alone gives permission to the others in your life to do the same, to live authentically and honestly and freely. All evolving and growing and living with all the mess and magic that entails.
2. When crisis is your turning point
There is a great definition of crisis that is completely appropriate here.
crisis: to sift, decide, a turning point
Now, we can let the painful crisis symptoms above inform your turning point crisis.
You can now begin to sift through the things that you don’t want, or don’t serve your life anymore. Shift and sift to decide on what you do want, and make a turning point in life to create whatever next freaking awesome season you want to create!
Now with all this information and bona fide wisdom, you can begin moving forward with intentional steps, learn things you need to learn to empower you where you need.
Do you want to learn a new skill or enjoy a new hobby?
Do you need to learn how to set boundaries and ask for what you want?
Do you need time for yourself and learn how to rest and put balance back in your life?
From here, your next season is open and chockablock full of opportunities!
Where are you in all this? You don't have to answer for me. But if you got this far, my guess is you really should look at answering that for yourself. Your life depends on it.
One last examination of this crisis diagnosis, Part 3...The AGE. What actually constitutes the "mid" in the midlife crisis? Why it's easy to ignore the signs because "I'm too young!"
And if you just landed on this blog, be sure to read Part 1 of 3.