Today, we’re focusing on two of everyone’s favorite topics: aging and mid-life crises. To make things even more fun, we’re going to play a round of “Fact or Fiction”; we’ll share a common belief about aging or mid-life crises and then clarify if it’s factual or fictional.
Everyone ages. Fact. As much as some of us may try to slow down the process, we do all age. This may seem like a funny thing to clarify, but many people struggle to accept that they will age and, ultimately, die. Confronting our mortality can be a scary thing, and it is believed by some to be a contributing factor to having a mid-life crisis (more on this soon). On the other hand, accepting that aging, the many changes that come with it, and death are all natural parts of life can help reduce their potential negative impacts on our mental health and wellbeing. That is not to say that this acceptance is easy to come to—but, it is possible.
Aging only involves declines in health and wellbeing. Fiction. It is true that we naturally experience declines in physical and cognitive heath as we age, but it is not all doom and gloom. With proper resources and support, we can often adapt to these changes as they come, leading to our continued learning and growth. It is also true that people often experience declines in mental health and wellbeing as they age, but they do not have to be drastic or occur early on in the aging process. A major factor in this is how people internally approach the aging process. For example: Do they accept aging, or are they in denial? Do they look back on their past with gratitude or regret? Do they see changes as opportunities or assaults? Of course, mindset is not the only factor that influences how we age, but it is the factor most within our control.
Everyone has a mid-life crisis. Fiction. Despite how often we may see it in tv and movies, most people do not experience a mid-life crisis. Many people do experience increased stress and/or decreased wellbeing around mid-life (ages 40-60), but these changes do not often reach “crisis” level. In fact, some studies estimate that as few as 10-20% of people report experiencing a mid-life crisis.
A mid-life crisis is a psychological diagnosis. Fiction. A Mid-life crisis involves reflection and inner turmoil about our identity, life choices, and mortality. Along with this comes behavior changes, such as a job change or a divorce, and negative feelings, such as confusion, regret, fear, and more. While it may sound like it has similarities to one, a mid-life crisis is not a diagnosable disorder. Actually, it’s more of a social and cultural phenomenon: many non-western cultures do not have an equivalent to the mid-life crisis, and as mentioned, most individuals do not experience one. That being said, mid-life crises can be very difficult and can lead to lasting negative impacts for those who experience them.
The only way to manage a mid-life crisis is to make a drastic change. Fiction. There are many possible ways to manage a mid-life crisis that are not as drastic as getting a divorce or new job, as mentioned. Beyond managing it, there are ways to grow from a mid-life crisis and lead a more fulfilling remainder of your life. Gratitude for the past and what we have learned and grown from in our lives is a solid piece of that puzzle. While that “attitude of gratitude” ebbs and flows, the more we tap into it, the more at peace we become with where we are in our lives in the current moment.
Learning how to accept, manage, and grow from all that comes with aging, including mid-life crises, is difficult for many of us, which is why it’s a common topic in therapy here at The Holding Space. If you find yourself struggling with aging or a mid-life crisis, contact us to see if one of our holistic psychotherapists is the right fit for your needs!