mid-life crisis!

BBC Radio Bristol asked me to visit the studio to talk about ‘midlife crisis’ today. This came about because of a study recently published in the Lancet by Dr Alexander Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh and others.

The international team studied the wellbeing and happiness of great apes and discovered that there is a correlation between what happens in these chimps and orangutans and in human beings – the so-called ‘midlife crisis’. This is illustrated by a ‘U-shape curve’ where wellbeing is high in youth, falls to a low in midlife and rises again in later life.

The term ‘midlife crisis’ was coined by Elliott Jacques in 1965. He used it to describe the period between 40 and 60 when there is, allegedly, dramatic self doubt by some individuals. This can be manifested by boredom and unhappiness and can lead to dramatic life changes.

This time of life also coincides with menopause in women and andropause in men, so there are hormonal reasons why people may feel that they are having a crisis.

This led me, inevitably, to consider whether I had such a crisis, considering I have hit the big six-oh! and I realise that, like life itself, nothing is ever simple. At the time of my perimenopause and menopause I was living with a Narcissistic man who gave me no support and selfishly drained me of my life force. Now that I have successfully transitioned into being free from him, recognising his pathology, and am working with women experiencing similar difficulties, I am happier than I have ever been. So on that basis I think, yes, that I had a midlife crisis and, like the chimps, I am experiencing more wellbeing now I am older!

So, having got that over with, what can I suggest to people to help them deal with such midlife crisis?

Well, firstly, lighten up! Think about some apposite quotes:

Oscar Wilde “Youth is wasted on the young”

Dorothy Parker “People ought to be one of two things: young or dead”

Carl Jung “The greatest potential for growth and self-realisation exists in the second half of life”

George Eliot “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”

–          And my favourite:

“Make the time you’ve got left count”

To help you with a midlife crisis:

Remember the alternative – you are alive!

Plan for the future

Be more present – practice meditation and Mindfulness

Look after your mind, body and spirit

Commit to yourself and your own wellbeing

Chose to spend as much time as possible with people around whom you feel good about yourself

Recognise and avoid energy vampires

Practice Acceptance

Accept change

Walk a lot

Remember that ‘success’ is not defined by money or a big house

Practise kindness

Learn new skills: Tolstoy learned to ride a bike at 67!