NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Monday, September 14, 2015

Midlife Transitions: Reassessing Your Life - Part 1

In a prior article, Living Authentically - Aligned With Your Values, I discussed that people come to therapy because they're living lives that aren't aligned with their core values.  In this article, I'm focusing on a particular time in life, midlife, when people often reassess their lives and discover that they're not living the life that they want to live, and they're faced with the challenge of making changes so that they'll lead a more fulfilling life (see my article: Making Changes).

Midlife Change

Some people refer to this stage in life as "a midlife crisis" and for many people it does feel like a crisis, but not everyone responds to it in that way.

For many people, midlife, roughly defined from about age 40-60+, is viewed as a transitional time to assess how they're living their life now and how they want to live the rest of their life, especially if they're unhappy with where they are now (see my article: Navigating Life's Transitions)

Defining Midlife Transition
Let's start by defining what we mean by this transitional time in midlife, which can include:
  • Questioning the meaning of life
  • Questioning how you've been living your life and major decisions you've made in the past, which could include relationships, career and other major life decisions
  • Questioning your faith/religion or lack of faith/religion
  • Being preoccupied about aging and death
  • Feeling confused about how you see yourself, others, and life in general
  • Feeling bored and dissatisfied with life as it is now, including relationships, career, and overall lifestyle
  • Feeling a general sense of restlessness
  • Feeling a yearning to do something new and different
  • Daydreaming about living a different kind of life, possibly in a different place with different people
  • Feeling generally irritable and anger, which is not part of how you usually feel
  • Noticing age-related changes in your body, including weight gain, hair loss, wrinkles, menopausal symptoms and other age-related changes
  • Feeling less attractive
  • Feeling a loss of confidence
  • Acting out with alcohol, drugs, gambling, overspending, food or with a sexual affair
  • Lack of libido with your partner or spouse
  • Feeling nostalgic for a time when you were younger
  • Daydreaming about "the one who got away" (a former romantic interest)
  • And other related reactions

Not everyone who has some of the experiences listed above is going through a midlife crisis.
Much will depend on how you respond to the need for change.

Some people experience it as exhilarating and filled with new possibilities.

Other people respond with fear (see my articles: Fear of Change and Making Changes Within Yourself to Live the Life You Want).

Why Do People Go Through Midlife Transition?
Going through a midlife transition is a natural part of being human.

For some people, it occurs because of a major change in their lives or a major change in someone close to them, which could include:
  • Losing a job
  • Coping with a major illness
  • Coping with a problem with a spouse or partner, including infidelity or other forms of betrayal
  • Going through a divorce or breakup of a relationship
  • Death of a parent or sibling
  • Death of a spouse or significant other
  • Death of a child
  • Losing a close friend
  • Considering reconciling a relationship with a parent, sibling or former lover or friend
  • Shocking personal news 
  • Financial crisis
  • Other major losses or changes
For other people, it comes naturally at a certain age or time in life when they're faced with the reality of their own mortality.

Realizing that time is precious, they question how they want to spend the rest of their life so that they don't look back with regret about what they "could've" or "would've" done and didn't do.

Even though going through a midlife transition can be challenging and confusing, the alternative, which  would be living life in a mindless way without taking time to reassess your life, is more challenging in the long run and can lead to regret in old age without recourse for change at that point (see my article: Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone).

I'll continue this discussion in my next article with a scenario that illustrates some of the points that I've made in this article (see Part 2 of this topic).

Getting Help in Therapy
A midlife transition is usually a process.  It's not a change that's usually made in a day or a week.  It often occurs in stages and it's a normal part of life (see my article: Being Open to New Possibilities).

If you're struggling with midlife questions and issues, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional who can help you to navigate through this challenging time.

Rather than struggling on your own, a licensed psychotherapist can help to facilitate this process by assessing your life so far, where you are, where you'd like to be, what you would need to do to get there and how to overcome the emotional blocks that might get in the way of your taking action.

With help, you could be navigate through this change and lead the life that you want to live.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many individuals and couples going through a midlife transition.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.