The stereotype about a midlife crisis is when a person reaches approximately middle age and goes a bit nuts:
A married man buys an extravagant sports car and runs off with his secretary to an extended vacation in Italy; a divorced woman quits her job and becomes a sushi chef despite no previous affinity for sushi.
When does a midlife crisis happen? It happens around middle age, but that varies from person to person.
Whenever a mid-life crisis does hit you, you’ll find that it’s more intense than past periods and has you questioning everything about yourself, your life, your identity and your future.
It’s far from easy, because many things you may have once taken for granted are now being reconsidered…
A midlife crisis is not for the faint of heart
As Justin Brown talks about in his recent video, he’s now going through a midlife crisis at age 41 and feeling the crisis of reaching a crossroads in life.
He’s beginning to rethink what he wants out of life, the legacy he’ll leave and his own mortality.
These are heavy subjects! But they’re ones we all face eventually.
The truth is that a midlife crisis doesn’t happen at an exact age, but it does happen at a certain stage of your life when all of the following is occurring:
Your body’s getting tired and hurting more
First off is that a midlife crisis is when you feel your body getting older.
You can no longer just “wing it” and run for an hour or two and get up early the next morning without stiffness.
You find yourself losing your breath more quickly and strained muscles taking longer to recover.
Treating yourself as an endlessly renewable resource is no longer an option, and eating and drinking whatever you want is also a thing of the past.
You’re aging, like it or not, and when you have a midlife crisis you can feel that aging in your bones.
Which leads me to the next aspect of a midlife crisis…
You’re becoming more aware of mortality and death
When you feel your body aging and the aches and pains last longer, you can’t help but focus a bit more on mortality.
Our time here is limited, and our physical vessel will eventually return to the ground.
It’s an intense fact to think about, but it’s often part of a midlife crisis.
I remember being intensely anxious about death as a teenager, with extreme anxiety about how death was possible at any moment.
The Buddha was said to have seen all life “on fire” after experiencing the reality of earthly death and the temporary nature of life.
But the difference in a midlife crisis is that this is no longer primarily an existential fear or focus: you can feel the reality of aging and mortality in how you’re getting more tired and slowing down (as well as the growing number of candles on your birthday cake).
You’re questioning whether you’re truly living your values and on the right career path
A midlife crisis will have you questioning whether you’re on the right path.
This questioning happens throughout life, especially for highly introspective people.
But at the point that you have a midlife crisis it becomes more pressing:
“Am I really living according to my deepest-held values?”
“Is my career really making the difference I want it to?”
“Will I really be leaving a legacy I can be proud of when I’m gone?”
These aren’t questions you take lightly now, either.
At the point when you have a midlife crisis, you won’t take anything other than the unadulterated truth, and you’re ready to make big changes if necessary.
Which brings me to the next point about ensuring you are living your purpose in the most effective and empowering way possible…
Finding your purpose
So how are you supposed to find your purpose?
Most of our ancestors lived in societies and tribes where there were rites of initiation, vision quests, religious and spiritual traditions and ways to find your path.
But much of that eroded after the Industrial Revolution and the rise of individualism.
For many of us, finding our purpose isn’t something we feel called to do by praying to a deity or relying on family tradition and outside advice…
So we turn to things like New Age spirituality, visualization and art, seeking inspiration and answers in what we experience and feel.
Yet all too often it still doesn’t work.
That’s because most of us are trying to find our purpose in life in exactly the wrong way!
In his free masterclass on the strange new (actually old!) way of finding your purpose, Justin Brown explains how conventional self-help gets it wrong and how the ancient shamanic teachings he learned from the shaman Rudá Iandê in Brazil…
You’re more anxious and worried about the state of the world
When you’re having a midlife crisis you also become much more aware of the problems in the world.
Not only is it a time for you to reevaluate your mission and your actions in life, it’s a time when you’ll find yourself thinking a lot about where all of humanity is headed.
Are you part of the solution to problems humanity faces or part of the problem?
Many of us are a bit of both!
A bit of crisis wants more dedication, more purity, to connect up with others who can share in your mission and also feel the same burning fire to make a difference.
Global pollution and climate devastation, unnecessary wars full of bloodshed, exploitative economic models, the double edged sword of technological progress with its many advantages and dangers…
Where do you stand on that?
Who will stand with you?
You often feel more lonely and question your romantic future
A midlife crisis makes you realize how lonely you are and focuses you in on questions of your own individuality.
If you’re still single you’ll find yourself wondering if it’s time to settle down and have a family…
If you’ve had a family or often been in relationships, you’re likely to find yourself craving more freedom and wondering about the path not taken.
There is no formula for a midlife crisis because it hits everyone differently and it doesn’t depend on external circumstances.
Whichever situation you’re in, you’ll find yourself reevaluating and wondering whether it’s really where you’re meant to be, or whether part of your potential is being lost if you continue on your current social or romantic path.
You’re ready to tackle the future and this crisis without running from it
The midlife crisis can be devastating.
I’ve seen friends whose families were ripped apart by one of their parents having a midlife crisis.
At the same time, I know others whose families were strengthened, and have friends who went through empowering career and personal transformations as a result of reevaluating the path they were on.
It wasn’t even always about changing their path, so much as understanding more about where they were heading in life and why that was important to them.
The good thing about a midlife crisis is that you’ve reached an age where you’re more willing and able to face some of these difficult and confusing questions and be honest about them without jumping right away to conclusions.
This can be a time to reflect and remain open to the insecurity you’re feeling instead of running from it or repressing it.
This midlife crisis can be meaningful and productive in reorienting you on the life you want to build and who you might want to build it with.
Reflection, followed by action is the way to go: making choices we previously might not have known how to make or stick with.
As Justin says, “I have a deeper understanding of what really and I feel more confident in my ability to make the right choices for myself…
“I’m feeling a lot of uncertainty about many things, but this uncertainty contributes to a sense of possibility.”