You wake up one day, and you're just not happy.
You're unfulfilled, dissatisfied, depressed, and you don't know why.
Feelings of dread, worthlessness, or even panic set in.
You can’t pinpoint the reasons you’re feeling this way, but you know that it’s consuming your soul.
Those are some of the signs that you may be dealing with a midlife challenge or in the beginning stages of a midlife crisis.
Not understanding why we feel the way we feel can be frustrating and confusing. But, perhaps, not knowing why is actually coming from DENIAL. Maybe, on some level, you’re refusing to believe that:
- You’re getting older. You don’t look or feel as good as you used to. Your body isn’t as spry as it once was. You are considering plastic surgery, extreme dieting, or buying clothes that are too young for you. (Maybe you’re thinking these things about your significant other and yourself.)
- Your children aren’t little anymore. They are growing into young adults, much to your dismay. Where did the time go? And to top it all off, you’ve got a teenager who is rebellious, super moody, or struggling with school or life. You make attempts to connect with your child, but he or she rejects you. (sigh)
- Your marriage or relationship is suffering. You’re attracted to other men or women. You fight with your loved one often. Sex isn’t what it used to be (or at all). Things that were once adorable about him/her are now annoying and irritating.
- You’re dissatisfied with your job. You hate walking into that place, so you are often late or leave work early. Your coworkers drive you crazy. You’re not doing your job well because you just don’t care anymore. You really wish you had followed your dreams.
Do any of the above scenarios sound like you or someone you know? Those situations are just some of the “denials" that can lead to a midlife crisis.
Denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to stressful situations. You're trying to protect yourself by refusing to accept the truth about something that's happening in your life.
Refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong is a way of dealing with emotional strife, stress, anxiety, painful thoughts, and negative information. It’s true that we may need some time to process and absorb what’s happening and come to grips with the challenges ahead. But staying in denial for too long can interfere with your ability to handle those challenges and prevent you from taking action.
If you feel you are in denial and you are stuck, try these strategies:
- Honestly examine your fears surrounding the situation
- Think about the worst case scenario of not taking action
- Allow yourself to express your feelings and emotions fully
- Try to identify your limiting beliefs about your circumstances
- Open up to a trusted friend, loved one, or qualified coach
Recognizing and accepting the challenges of midlife can be shocking and uncomfortable at first. You may feel sad, confused, or really, really angry. One thing to realize is that keeping it all to yourself can lead to volcanic blowups, overindulgence, and irresponsible, impulsive behavior.
Of all the recommendations above, I wholeheartedly suggest that you get support. Open up to someone you trust before you do something unseemly or unbecoming of the wise, wonderful person that you truly are!
And if you’ve already gone through this stage and have some suggestions, please let us know in the comments section below. Be well.