The Chronicles of Midlife Unravelling Foretold!

Chronicles of Midlife Unravelling

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If your perfectly tranquil Sunday afternoon has ever been ruined by comprehensive midlife unraveling, you are not alone.

Aging and midlife crisis goes hand-in-hand. Being in the late 40s or early 50s does not only imply the accelerating mechanism of aging but the psychologically induced occasional midlife crisis that comes along simultaneously.

Midlife crisis stems from the strive to share insights based on the diverse parameters used to scrutinize people around us. We, as independent bodies of society, share insights based on diverse experiences with or without stigma. As people tend to age, they begin to retrospect the ‘best years’ of their lives that are left behind as they transcend into the other sphere of life. As the evergreen mounts of midlife begin to unravel, people are left with no choices but to move forward and contemplate. And sometimes there is nothing much to look forward to but long, unhappening days knitted with a (seemingly) purposeless existence—all leading to the slow decline of the body as well as the mind.

The Two Halves of Life

Famous philosopher Carl Jung once quoted, “One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” It was in 1931 that Jung proposed the notion of ‘the two halves of life’ that suggests a concept which goes deeper than our level of comprehension.

Apparently, humans spend the first half of their lives chasing and accomplishing their dreams and live through the second half apprehending the purpose of their existence. The grey line that segregates the two halves is the seasonal existentialism that comes knocking at our doorsteps without any prior notice.

Jung’s notion of ‘the two halves of life’ came much before the popular physician and psychoanalyst Elliot Jaques coined a terminology to the phrase. Jaques put forth the term ‘midlife crisis’ (that was later found out to be semi-autobiographical) in 1965 after noticing significant changes in one of his middle-aged clients. His article on the topic (published when Jacques himself was in his late 40s) also covered his awareness of his own limitations and mortality. As per Jacques’s philosophy, the midlife crisis induces depressive feelings, anguish and loss related to the approaching end of life. He also established that it often involved a loss of creativity and confidence.

In layman’s language, midlife crisis is a ‘phase’ where people could be expected to undergo a depressive period of several days, months or years during their midlife. Midlife Crisis begins with a period of ‘soul-seeking’, followed by existential concerns and then coming to terms with the realization that life has taken a different shape. Thus begins the journey to being on the brink of the much-dreaded midlife crisis. The various shifts that follow this new phase in life can result in some complex emotions.

Midlife—(Not) Aging Like Fine Wine

According to Jonathan Rauch, “Midlife is, for many people, a time of recalibration, when they begin to evaluate their lives less in terms of social competition and more in terms of social connectedness.”

Midlife is a combination of sadness and powerlessness, blended with hopelessness. Fortunately, the notion that “this is all there is” can give way to “life isn’t at all bad” as more middle-aged people embrace what can be a fulfilling period in their lives. Middle-aged people often undergo significant changes in their relationships, jobs, health and their appearance. New roles and responsibilities, not to mention changes in career, family life, and health, can create a perception of middle age before reaching that momentous birthday: the big 4-0.

Feelings of existential are very common in individuals hailing from any age group, however, but only about 10 to 20 percent of people actually face some kind of crisis in middle age. Experts mostly consider the “midlife crisis” a cultural phenomenon, a Western myth fueled by tired media tropes. Midlife Crisis is not just another instance of midlife existentialism. There is more than what meets the eye. Following are some signs and symptoms of midlife crisis:

  • Engaging in high-consequence activities, including gambling, affairs, and substance use
  • Making significant life changes (career, relationships, material possessions, to name a few)
  • Irritability, agitation, outbursts, spontaneity, and isolation
  • Placing a newfound focus on health and appearance
  • Feeling of competitiveness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns

The Professional Nadir

In 2008, the economistsDavid Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald found that self-reported life satisfaction takes the form of a gently curving U, beginning high in youth, bottoming out in our mid-40s, and then recovering as we get older. The pattern is robust around the world, affecting both men and women. And it persists when we correct for other variables, such as parenthood.

Professional midlife crisis is a common phenomenon—particularly for people working with stagnant career lives—and a common experience with leaders. Leaders are entrusted with high-performing roles and responsibilities of leading, making lasting and impactful changes, and ensuring consistent success. While helping the world navigate through reckless changes, leaders also channelize through the rapid changes occurring in their individual lives. The abrupt realization of not being the smartest person in the room, using reading glasses, struggling with maintaining fitness pace, and many more, can be existentially agonizing. The disappointment, disillusion, pessimism and despair can be crushing.

Executive Midlife Unravelling

Midlife crisis can become a daunting task. The absence of previously ushering adrenaline and the loud cheers during maximized accomplishments can induce consistency and help steer away motivation in life.

Jumping into action and making dramatic life or career changes that haven’t been properly planned can do more harm than good. There are various ways for an optimum midlife unravelling and a smart navigation through it to brighter days. Following are 5 ways that can help with navigating midlife crisis:

  • Connecting with your higher self

A midlife crisis begins with questioning the purpose of life, existence and actions. If you feel like questioning the meaning and purpose of everything, take a deep sigh and connect with your higher self, while resonating with your beliefs and long-term passion. Formulating a positive vision and introspecing it will help analyze the current situation in a better manner.

  • Exploring various realms

Prolonged monotony can contribute to dissatisfaction with life and work. If you feel imprisoned in a spirraling cage, try inculcating a new activity or exploring a new genre. The desire to learn new things or reengage with old passions emerges and joy seems to reappear from nowhere.

Exploring various segments and areas will help accentuate professional as well as personal life.

  • Channelizing Inner Emotions

Midlife crisis gives rise to various complicated emotions. Hence, writing down your emotions and being vocal about inner thoughts can help navigate your emotions. This also helps clarify the origin of these emotions and learn whether they are within your control or not. Then, reality-check your answers. Often, we have a couple of facts, and we create a whole story around them.

  • Burning Bright Burning Out

Burnout and exhaustion are the typical symptoms and side-effects of a midlife crisis. Hence, it is wiseable to seek healthy lifestyle habits and be mindful of your regular activities. Adopting healthy eating habits, sleep patterns, and other forms of lifestyle choices can help reverberate good vibes and energy.

  • Seeking Inspiration

Habitually repeating safe and reliable processes over the years is a common trap for professionals, leading to a lack of inspiration. Reconnecting to the higher purpose of the work is the first step to seeking intact enthusiasm.

The Ultimate Midlife Unravelling

Midlife Unravelling is the beautiful version of the saying “get yourself together” through every passing second of a midlife crisis. Everyone undergoes a transitional phase of stress and existentialism at some point in their lives—both personally and professionally. It is a part of life that we can steer through with a little guidance and determination. But when the bad times seem never-ending and you are continuously filled with doubts and disappointment, it might be a ‘crisis’.

People spend most of their lives pursuing perfection, expertise and experience, while simultaneously craving for comfort, self-expressive benefits and emotional security. They do not fancy uncertainty and self-doubts, a common companion during the beginner phase. People adore the adrenalin rush that ushers them through every accomplishment and they despise stagnancy. Hence, they seldom acknowledge or even attribute the benefits of re-engineering their innovative selves and focus on personal innovation.

“A crisis of any kind can seem as an invincible hurdle, but with the right strategies in mind, you can come out with flying colors and an upgraded version of yourself.”

Also Read: The Top 10 Inspiring Business Leaders To Watch In 2022

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