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Are You Having A Midlife Crisis? Mr. Free Spirit Explores This Topic

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Image by © Rick Gomez/Corbis

Mr. Free Spirit ends 2018 with a subject that will address men before and during that age of retirement.  Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Mr. Free Spirit has told you about the “UP” side of retirement, however some prerequisites loom in retirement, like a midlife crisis!  What is midlife crisis?  A midlife crisis is different things to many people!  Let’s talk about a midlife crisis for men.

Here is one definition of a midlife crisis from Wikipedia:

midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–??? years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of depression, remorse, and anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to current lifestyle.

The term was coined by Elliott Jaques in 1965. More modern research has shown this is not a phase that most middle-aged people experience, and some have questioned the existence of this phenomenon.

When it does occur, a midlife crisis is not actually experienced during the midpoint of one’s life, which for most average human lifespans would be after the age of 50.

Crisis vs. Stressors

Academic research since the 1980s rejects the notion of midlife crisis as a phase that most adults go through. Personality type and a history of psychological crisis are believed to predispose some people to this “traditional” midlife crisis.  People going through this suffer a variety of symptoms and exhibit a disparate range of behaviors.

It is important to understand the difference between a midlife crisis and a midlife stressor. Midlife is the time from years 45 to where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. However, many midlife stressors are often labeled as a midlife crisis.

Day-to-day stressors are likely to add up and be thought of as a crisis, but in reality, it is simply an “overload.”.[4] Both women and men often experience multiple stressors because of their simultaneous roles as wives/husbands, mothers/fathers, employees, daughters/sons, etc.

Many middle-aged adults experience major life events that can cause a period of psychological stress or depression, such as the death of a loved one, or a career setback. However, those events could have happened earlier or later in life, making them a “crisis,” but not necessarily a midlife one. In the same study, 15% of middle-aged adults experienced this type of midlife turmoil. Being of a lower educational status is related to feeling stressors to a greater degree than those of a higher education level during midlife.

Studies indicate that some cultures may be more sensitive to this phenomenon than others; one study found that there is little evidence that people undergo midlife crises in Japanese and Indian cultures, raising the question of whether a midlife crisis is mainly a cultural construct. The authors hypothesized that the “culture of youth” in Western societies accounts for the popularity of the midlife crisis concept there.

Researchers have found that midlife is often a time for reflection and reassessment, but this is not always accompanied by the psychological upheaval popularly associated with “midlife crisis. Those who made career or jobs changes early in life were less likely to experience a crisis in midlife.

The condition may occur from the ages of 45–?  Midlife crisis last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. A midlife crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

  • work or career(or lack thereof)
  • spousal relationships (or lack thereof)
  • maturation of children (or lack of children)
  • aging or death of parents
  • physical changes associated with aging

Midlife crisis can affect men and women differently because their stressors differ.

An American cultural stereotype of a man going through a midlife crisis may include the purchase of a luxury item such as an exotic car, or seeking intimacy with a younger woman. Some men seek younger women who are able to procreate, not necessarily with an intention to produce offspring. 

A man’s midlife crises is more likely to be caused by work issues, a woman’s crisis by personal evaluations of their roles. Even though there are differences between why men and women go through a midlife crisis, the emotions they both encounters can be intense.

One of the main characteristics of a midlife crisis perspective, is one assumes that their midlife is about to be eventful, usually in a negative way, and potentially stressful. Psychologist Oliver Robinson’s research characterizes each decade of life by describing frequent occurrences or situations particular to those age periods. He describes that a crisis can begin in a person’s early 20s, when they usually try to map out their whole life. Moreover, the later age period, between 50 and 60, may be a time of illness or even the thought of death. Such a deadline may convince a middle-aged person that their life needs to be lived as expected.[8]

Individuals experiencing a midlife crisis may feel:

  • a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • a fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life.

Mr. Free Spirit found out via some research technology of the 21st century has heightened midlife crisis to the point where everything is much easier with the use of the computer. However, keep in mind some men have no intentions of following through, they are just curious.

Once a man starts to satisfy his curiosity with the knowledge of his interest, he most often will never complete and/or follow through. However, a mate often becomes annoyed and seeks a permanent solution (i.e. divorce) for a temporary problem.

Empty nest syndrome may cause a man to deviate from logical thinking or wanting the children to leave home is equally as bad. Many men may want that exotic car but will only go as far as reviewing the price tag! That new-found young lady is just a dream. The grass may look greener on the other side, but the amount of water it takes to make it greener will wake up the dead. Boredom creates mental monsters, but realism sets in and the comforts of home and the bank account rains him back in.

What Causes a Midlife Crisis?

You can overcome a midlife crisis if you understand its causes.  First, people may face them because of external factors.

Unresolved issues are the next trigger. People may display odd behavior because they have unmet needs. They may feel that circumstances robbed them of chances in life because his family situation deprived him of a higher education.

Debt adds to this list of push factors. Being middle-aged and having huge mortgages to pay is frightening and stressful. It may make otherwise rational people walk away from family and other responsibilities.

Also, there is grief. Coping with the death of a loved one compounds a midlife crisis. The transition can become utterly bewildering.

Finally, those with self-esteem issues may find it hard to transit from young adulthood to midlife. They probably become distant because they have feelings of inadequacy.

What are the Signs of Midlife Crisis?

Does the shoe fit?

A midlife crisis can take many forms. It can represent danger, no matter how it shows itself. You can help a loved one survive it if you recognize its signs.

  1. Health Scares

First, people facing midlife crises may start worrying about their health. They may run to the nearest clinic at the slightest hint of an illness.

  1. Tough Questions

The next sign of a midlife crisis is the raising of tough questions. Because they are at life’s crossroads, people will start asking themselves ‘Who am I?

  1. Comparisons

And then, they will start to compare themselves with others. Depression may set in because they may resent that they are not as successful as others or a spouse are.

  1. Acknowledging Time

They will have, in addition, a sense of time flying. They may suddenly feel discouraged with their lives and routines.

  1. Focus on Appearance

People facing midlife crises may start feeling dissatisfied with their looks because they are conscious of growing older. The obsession may drive them to try numerous weight loss programs.  Also, older men and women may try to appear younger than they are. They may feel left behind, or that doing so is the only way to connect with their children. Women may start to dress younger than they are, while men may show off.

  1. Assigning Blame

People going through midlife crises may start to grouse over trivial matters because they feel confused about their lives. They indulge in petty grievances, like accusing spouses or friends of trying to malign or undermine them.

  1. Feeling Tied Down

Furthermore, people going through a midlife crisis may feel stuck in a rut, with no way to improve their situations. They believe that they have no options for a better future.

  1. Career Change

Moreover, those who have reached their middle years may feel that their jobs are dreary and want to change them. They may want to follow their passions and launch careers that they did not get a chance to before.

  1. Depression

Middle-aged persons may also experience depression because they realize that they are getting older. The thought of death may scare them.

  1. Having Affairs

Finally, people experiencing midlife crises may crave romantic attention. The boredom that sometimes accompanies years of marriage may overwhelm them and they may seek new partners.

Next month Mr. Free Spirit will fuse Midlife Crisis with Retirement relationships.

Mr. Free Spirit Out! (The past is not a place I want to visit!)

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