“Midlife crisis.” When I hear those 2 words, images of gray haired men driving new sports cars and divorcing their wives of 30 years for a sexy young thing spring to mind. Many people think that only men go through a midlife crisis, when the truth is, women do too. The difference is in why and how each gender handles it.
I guess it’s a matter of opinion whether having a midlife crisis is a good or bad thing. For those who become depressed and feel the need to trash their existing life, it truly can be a crisis. There are also many people who begin to think about what remains undone and what valuable contributions they are making to their communities or the world. These people are the same age as those in crisis, but they go through more of a midlife reassessment and transition. It’s smoother and not nearly as difficult.
So why the difference? If you’ve been able to have your personal needs met and have lived your life with purpose, you are much more likely to have an easier time when you look at a calendar and discover you’re turning 50.
Men who have spent their whole lives working hard, and have spent all of their off time with their families are much more likely to experience a crisis than those who have pursued interests that are outside of their immediate circle and obligations. Men experience a midlife crisis when the realization hits them that time is passing them by and they haven’t derived a lot of personal satisfaction from life. They often fear:
- Getting older (losing their virility) and becoming unattractive
- Becoming ill and not being able to do the things they’ve wanted to do but haven’t
- Not meeting the goals they had set for themselves earlier in life
- Fear of dying
Many men seem to handle their fears externally, sometimes feeling the need to make major changes in their lives that will make them feel alive and younger again.
Women also go through the same kind of feelings as men, but most seem to handle it differently. Women tend to become very introspective and turn inward vs. outward for the answers. Sure, there are women who leave long-term marriages when going through this period, but many more seek to find the answers by reinventing themselves from the inside out vs. the outside in. Common signs of midlife transition in women include:
- Deciding to have a makeover or reach a decision to start moving and get healthy at 50
- Assessing whether the relationship with their partner or spouse makes them happy and is what they really want
- Search for that “something missing” in their life; doing the introspective work to decide what it is that brings them joy
- Realizing that time is not infinite and therefore they create space for the people and things they love
Thanks to better education, better jobs and handling a wider variety of life’s challenges along the way, going through midlife offers the chance for women to deepen their experiences and have a say in how the remainder of their lives are lived.
This time in our lives can have either a positive or negative outcome, depending on how we look at midlife. It’s a wonderful opportunity for growth and change if looked at positively. For those who struggle and tend to see life as a glass half-empty adventure, it’s bound to be a much bumpier ride!
Life coaching provides people with help to look at their lives from a 360 degree view, assessing what is and isn’t working and then creating a vision for the future and an action plan to attain it. Please contact me if I can help.