The mid-life crisis syndrome has been of interest to me for as long as I can remember. In this article, I would like to examine the core of a mid-life crisis. A mid-life crisis is a theory founded by Elliott Jaques in 1965. A mid-life crisis can affect people between the ages of 40-60 but can also occur earlier or later in life. A mid-life crisis is a period of self doubt, self evaluation, and transitions. This period can be brought on by a major life-changing event, death of a loved one, stress, or depression.
A mid-life crisis motivates people to want to make significant changes in their life, whether that be career, marriage, spirituality or love. While Jaques, Carl Jung, and Erik Erickson are not directly linked, their views do parallel each other. They all believe that there is a point, usually in the middle years, where people go through self reflection and reassessment.
Many people realize that they can no longer live the status quo they call their daily lives. People are often stuck in a daily routine that inhibits the spiritual nature of self. Look at your life. Is it a routine? Do you get up around the same time every morning, tend to children, eat breakfast, drive in traffic, go to work for 8-12 hours to basically do the same thing day after day, drive home in traffic, eat dinner, communicate with family, and go to bed, only to have the same day repeated again and again? The 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, was an over-dramatization of the everyday life of many people.
We all have a gypsy spirit in us. Our ancestors were travelers and nomads. Our spirit is naturally free but we are trapped in a physical body that puts paying bills and living a mundane life above all. Our first step towards domestication came when we settled into villages. Our next step came when mortgages and building community roots became the focus. Greed and the ever quest for financial freedom became the nail in the coffin for many people. We are living in a society that promotes lack, yet we yearn for more. This yearning drives us to work long meaningless hours, while the unconscious collective thought patterns of lack keep us unknowingly in the prison state of mundane routine. In this prison state, we trap our spirit. Then something happens in our life that causes us enough discomfort that we begin to hear the small voice of our spirit. Our spirit is telling us that we are not living the life we should be living. Our spirit tells us there is more and we are more.
Unfortunately, people often misunderstand this message and go on to seek faster cars, plastic surgery, or another person to have a chaotic romance with. While there is nothing wrong with buying a new car, correcting things in you that you do not like, or entering into a new relationship, these must be done in combination with the spirit. Will these things help you to achieve what and who you are supposed to become? Will these things help transform you or will they just be things to distract you and eventually make you feel just as empty?
A midlife crisis can be the catalyst to move you closer towards whom you really are and your divine purpose for being here. Or a mid-life crisis can lead you into more chaos and loneliness, eventually leading to what I call the Dark Night of the Soul. Often, an uncomfortable or painful situation appears in our lives in order for us to awaken and see that we need a change. It is important that we make these changes with responsibility, love, and focusing on the greater good as we pursue our spiritual needs.
Instead of looking at a mid-life crisis as a negative time, see the beauty and gift in being able to hear the voice of your spirit that you have long ignored. A mid-life crisis does not have to signify an ending. Let this time signify a transformation and a doorway that opens to unlimited possibilities of happiness and truth in spirit.