Midlife crisis or opportunity?

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
• In the midst of our struggle to find out who we are, there are infinite possibilities for beauty and hope and wonder and love. – Mandy Hale

The term “midlife crisis” clearly suggests a problem – a big problem. A crisis, after all, implies calamity. Generally, it is used to describe a situation in which an individual in midlife begins to change. Perhaps they are no longer happy and have begun to question what they are doing with their life.

It is often assumed the person is reacting to the aging process and trying to be young again. They may seem restless and want to try new things. They might start a new physical activity, take up a new area of study, attend workshops, explore spirituality or even develop new friendships.

What is usually happening is that the person is becoming conscious about his or her life. There may be an awareness that, for as long as they can remember, they have lived life according to the expectations of others or their own expectation of what they ought to be doing.

Indeed, they may feel unsatisfied, bored or even depressed. Life is half over and the life they are living seems to be lacking something. What is missing is growth; they have stopped growing. Now, it must be said that some people are fine with this. They like the security of the familiar and do not welcome change.

Within some, however, is what I like to call a “cosmic time-release capsule.” The soul has come here to express its uniqueness and individuality and suddenly realizes it has not yet done all it came here to do. It is like a wake-up call that says time is running out so it is time to start living life as an expression of who you are at the core of your being.

Often, it is not clear who is at that core; the process is about discovering that. Some see it as a search for their purpose. Interestingly, it is not that different than the process of moving from childhood to adulthood. Both are times of exploration and discovery. They are also times of making our own decisions and choosing what we really want to do.

This is a time of tremendous opportunity and creativity. This kind of growth should not be stunted. Where the “crisis” comes in is when those close to the person are unsettled or even threatened by the changes. They may be critical or challenge the new path.

There are no easy answers for this. In truth, it may be the changes will take the loved one away. The best course and the most loving one is to respect and honour the changes and to be supportive and interested. Celebrate the growth and undertake some growing of your own.

To try to stop it or control it is like a child trapping a butterfly in a bottle. You might be able to keep it alive and close to you, but capturing that beauty has only made you a witness to its suffering.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

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