Male, 40 and stuck? That will be a mid-life crisis then...
When men have a mid life crisis it can feel like a bolt out of the blue. They often don't see it coming. Yet it's brought their world to a screeching halt. A mid-life crisis can be ignored but it's unlikely to go away.
Feelings of alienation set in. Men become a stranger to themselves. Making decisions can seem hard. Not so long ago they regarded themselves as leaders, decision makers, go-getters.
They work hard to keep the smiley face in place. The swagger. The big smile. They may convince other people what a great life they have. But it's harder to fool themselves. They yearn to be on own. They blow hot and cold. They are difficult to be around. They may find solace in drink, drugs, sex. Whatever it takes to kill the pain they are in.
In my practice, I meet many men who are at this stage. They feel stuck. They are unsure how to proceed.
So therapy offers precious time to reflect and ask some key questions:
- Why is it, despite all my achievements, I still feel a failure?
- Why don't I feel supported by my friends when I have so many to choose from?
- Why do I feel so distant and disappointed in my marriage when it was all I ever wanted?
Men in therapy often discover that they are disappointed in themselves. This is often the case when others do not live up to our expectations. We feel let down. We need to remember that these are our expectations and therefore, we need to own them.
Clients can then ask themselves some more questions about expectations:
- Are these expectations what I want, are they what I need?
- Are they weighing me down?
- Am I tired of carrying them?
They may try to keep getting back on that pedestal as they strive to live up to unrealistic expectations they have set themselves. Unless they take a good look at themselves they are doomed to keep falling off.
So, as men go through the mid-crisis, they can learn to choose whether to stay where they think others want them to be or take the journey where they want to be.