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Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

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Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

Many people experience a midlife crisis, so a midlife crisis in men is not uncommon. If you think you’re in the middle of one, it’s important to know that it’s never too late to start creating the kind of life that you want. Once you learn how to recognize the signs of a midlife crisis, you’ll be on the road to healing in no time.

So many of us slog through each day, only to look around and realize that we’ve been letting life pass us by.

If this is you, use this as a guide, and with any luck, you’ll begin to see the midlife crisis in men for what it really is: an opportunity.

Note that this is a midlife crisis guide for men, if you’re looking for a guide for women, check out this article instead.

What Exactly Is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis is generally defined as a transition of identity and self-confidence that occurs in a middle-aged person (typically 45 to 64 years old). This psychological “crisis” is fueled by events that bring to light a person’s age, inevitable mortality, and perhaps a lack of notable accomplishments in adult life. Hence, midlife crises in men are very similar to midlife crises in women.

Not surprisingly, people can then experience depression, anxiety, and the desire to make significant life changes.

Incidentally, the term “midlife crisis” was coined by Canadian psychoanalyst and social scientist, Elliott Jaques, in 1957. (Funny enough, Jaques also coined the term “corporate culture.”)[1]

But recent studies have shown that most middle-aged people don’t actually experience a midlife crisis. In fact, some have questioned if the midlife crisis even exists.

However, for many of us, the midlife crisis is all too real.

Signs of a Midlife Crisis in Men

The midlife crisis for men can materialize in a number of ways. Some of the most common are found below:

  • Mood swings: Those experiencing a midlife crisis can seem highly temperamental, becoming angry or irritable with family members without justification.
  • Depression and anxiety: A midlife crisis can undoubtedly cause one to feel sad, restless, or just plain miserable.
  • Sleeplessness or oversleeping: Depression, anxiety, and a constantly spinning mind can greatly affect one’s sleeping habits.
  • An obsession with appearances: Those going through a midlife crisis often feel the need to remain attractive to others.
  • Increased consumption of drugs or alcohol: Middle-aged adults may turn to drugs or alcohol to mask their feelings.
  • Feeling stuck in a rut: Those going through a midlife crisis often feel like they’re stuck—in a bad job, a bad marriage, a bad situation—with no way out.
  • Thoughts of death or dying: A midlife crisis can cause people to think obsessively about their own mortality.

Other signs of a midlife crisis include: impulsive decision-making, having an affair, replacing old friends with younger friends, assigning blame to others, and extreme boredom[2].

Take a look at this chart to see how many of these signs are you experiencing[3]:

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chart about midlife crisis in men and women

    Why a Midlife Crisis Happens

    It bears repeating that recent studies seem to reject the idea that most adults go through a midlife crisis. Researchers believe that personality type and a history of psychological issues predispose some people to the traditional midlife crisis[4].

    Of course, common day-to-day stressors can pile up, causing middle-aged adults to believe they are having a crisis. Midlife crises in men may sometimes be just midlife stressors[5].

    Additionally, many middle-aged adults experience life events that can lead to prolonged depression or psychological distress. Psychologists often attribute the phenomenon to aging itself, the aging or death of one’s parents, the maturation of one’s children, spousal relationships (or lack thereof) and career (or lack thereof).

    How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis

    If you believe you’re having a midlife crisis, if you feel stuck, or if you’re experiencing trouble with your mental health

    , I’d like to assure you once again that you’re not alone. A midlife crisis in men and women is normal.

    Try following some of the steps below to help you learn how to deal with a midlife crisis and get yourself back on track toward a life you enjoy living:

    1. Decide

    Someone once said that “the first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you’re not going to stay where you are.” And, I couldn’t agree more. This is truly where the work begins.

    I began to experience a shift only after I made the decision—no, the unbreakable promise to myself—that I was going to change my life. And no matter how much you’re suffering, you can make yourself the same promise.

    2. Stop the Search for Happiness

    As humans, we spend our lives trying desperately to find happiness, and yet we don’t even know what it is.

    We can’t explain, describe, or define it; we just know that we want it because it’ll make everything peachy. Time and time again, though, studies have shown that our never-ending quest for happiness is quite often the very thing that screws us up.

    Trying to find happiness is a futile effort, likely to exacerbate the “crisis” you’re having. Stop the search for happiness and start taking action steps toward creating the life you want. When you do, you won’t need to find happiness. Eventually, happiness will find you.

    3. Meditate

    What I used to dismiss as new age nonsense has positively changed my life in more ways than I thought possible. Meditation has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve focus and concentration, increase self-awareness, and promote better physical health. It is a great way to help ease the midlife crisis in men.

    And, for me, it’s the only activity that effectively tames my “monkey mind,” or what neuroscientists have recently named the default mode network (DMN)[6].

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    Your DMN is most active when you aren’t focused on anything in particular, and your mind is wandering from thought to thought. At best, these thoughts can be inspired and entertaining. But when you’re in the throes of a personal crisis, these thoughts can be destructive.

    Meditation has a quieting effect and significantly decreases activity in the DMN. And when the mind does start to wander, those who regularly meditate are much better at snapping out of it.

    Try this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime, and experience its benefits.

    4. Develop an Abundance Mindset

    For years, I operated from a scarcity mindset. I was angry that all the world’s goodies seemed to go to everyone else. I wondered why those around me were getting recognized, getting rich, getting a nice partner, and I wasn’t.

    Maybe, I thought, there’s just not enough to go around. Of course, this kind of thinking isn’t just debilitating; it’s downright inaccurate.

    The world, in fact, is a place of abundance with limitless opportunities. Remind yourself of this every day, regardless of your age. Open yourself up to all that the world has to offer.

    5. Practice Gratitude

    Before you go to bed at night, think of five things for which you are grateful. Better yet, write them down. These can be common, everyday occurrences, like seeing a beautiful sunset, learning something new, or hearing your favorite song on the radio.

    As Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, wrote,

    “Gratitude is, first and foremost, a way of seeing that alters our gaze.”

    Need a little inspiration on how to practice gratitude? Here are 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

    6. Pursue Your Passions

    Another helpful thing to help ease the midlife crisis in men is to pursue passions.

    Certainly, if you’re having a midlife crisis, it might seem hard to feel passionate about anything, but you can reinvigorate your spirit with a remarkably simple activity.

    Think about what you love doing or what you loved doing when you were a kid. Think about how you might spend your time if you had the financial abundance to do anything. Think about those you admire, those whose careers you wish you had.

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    Whatever your passions are, pursue them wholeheartedly. If you’re not sure what your passion is, check out this guide.

    7. Exercise

    Exercise is, by far, the most widely recommended way to stave off negative feelings and gain perspective. But you don’t need to go to the gym to get exercise.

    You can do yoga, play badminton, or jump on a trampoline. You can go swimming or dancing or hiking or biking. You can hula hoop with your kids or practice Kung Fu.

    You can clean your garage, pull weeds in your garden, or take a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Just do something physical, and you only need to do it for 30 minutes three or four times a week.

    8. Set Goals

    Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish in the next year, in the next five years, and the next ten years. Talk to a coach or someone you love about your goals, and work out a plan to achieve them.

    Learn to use SMART goals to achieve what you want: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life.

    9. Stay off Social Media

    I can’t think of anything worse for a fragile human psyche than social media. It’s no secret that using social media can lead to depression, anxiety, envy, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and all kinds of other problems.

    One study found, specifically, that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[7].

    It’s also a colossal waste of time. Imagine what you could accomplish in your own life during the hours you spend scrolling through the highlight reels from the lives of others. If you want to survive a midlife crisis in men, get off social media.

    10. Laugh as Much as Humanly Possible

    Whoever coined the phrase “laughter is the best medicine” was really onto something. Studies show that laughter releases endorphins, activates neurotransmitter serotonin, relieves physical tension and stress, boosts the immune system, and protects the heart[8].

    If you’re having a midlife crisis, you might be wondering if you’ll ever experience laughter again. That’s why you need to seek it out.

    Before I go to bed, I watch ten minutes of stand-up comedy. I read funny books, see funny movies and spend as much time as I can with ridiculously funny people.

    Make a conscious effort to integrate laughter into your daily routine. You’ll be tickled you did.

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    11. Think of Your Life as a Party

    The fact that you’re alive isn’t just a cause for celebration, it’s a miracle—so improbable that if you try to comprehend it, your mind will almost certainly turn to mush.

    Dr. Ali Binazir, a wicked smart Harvard grad and the author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, actually crunched the numbers, demonstrating that the probability of your dad meeting your mom was one in 20,000, the probability of your dad dating your mom was one in 2,000, and the probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg was one in 400 quadrillion.

    And that’s just the beginning.

    Your grandparents, great grandparents, and everyone before them—going back millions of years to the first Homo sapiens—had to meet and have children. In the end, explains Binazir, the probability of you being born was one in 10, followed by 2,685,000 zeroes.

    Tragically, so many of us never truly appreciate what it means to be alive. We succumb to our fears, give up on our dreams, and tolerate the intolerable. We get into bad jobs, bad relationships, and bad situations, allowing others to treat us poorly.

    Think of your life as a party and remember: life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured.

    Besides, it’s never too late to live the life you desire!

    Final Thoughts

    No matter what age you are, every day provides a new opportunity to do something new:

    • Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart when he was 44.
    • Ray Kroc bought the first McDonald’s just after his 50th birthday.
    • Rodney Dangerfield was 46 when he got his big break on the Ed Sullivan Show.
    • Harland Sanders was dead broke at 65. Then, he sold the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
    • And Charles Darwin published On the Age of Species at age 50.

    We can’t stop the inevitable. We’re all going to die. The question is: what are you going to do while you’re alive?

    Life is precious. A midlife crisis in men isn’t the end.

    Take a minute to examine what’s really going on, and you may find it’s not really a crisis at all. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s the perfect time to create the life you’ve always wanted. No excuses.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Zach Vessels via unsplash.com

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    Tony Endelman

    Certified life coach, certified relationship coach, heartbreak recovery expert and internet entrepreneur

    Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

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    Last Updated on November 30, 2021

    Confused About Life? Try These 4 Things to Find Clarity

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    Confused About Life? Try These 4 Things to Find Clarity

    Life is a mystery. We all know that. There are parts where the light at the end of the tunnel is clearly visible, but there are also parts where feel extremely confused about life.

    It’s pretty normal to go through these highs and lows. Everyone experiences them, yet only a few speak up about it. So, if you’ve been feeling lost in the maze of life recently, don’t worry, because you’re not alone.

    Luckily, since a lot of people have already gone through this before you, the key to unlocking this grave matter has been found!

    Why Have I Become So Confused About Life?

    Life is like an amusement part. Sometimes, you try a ride that will take you up to the sky. Other times, it brings you back to the ground. If you feel like life is a bumpy ride most days, you are probably questioning why you have become so confused about life.

    So what’s going on? Why do you feel this way?

    One of the major reasons why you may feel like this is because you don’t have time to enjoy your passions.

    If you’re passionate about your career, that’s amazing. However, it may not be an outlet where you can exercise your creativity. If you’re too busy with your job and other daily routines, you’ll eventually feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

    Aside from that, you may have also become detached from your purpose. It’s hard to see where you want yourself to end up in the future if you have a shallow idea of what your motivations are.

    Third, you may feel confused about life because you’re alone. Even though you’re always with people, there may be a lack of substantial and genuine support around you. Building vital connections with other people is a must.

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    Finally, you may be facing cognitive overload. This affects people of all ages. You may have so much stuff on your plate that you feel overloaded and feel out of control. Because of this, you need to find time to offload your current load.

    How to Overcome Confusion and Find Joy in Life

    You don’t have to be making any more bad decisions due to your confusion. Instead, try out 4 simple things to find clarity.

    These things will pull you out of the swamp of confusion and place you on clear, dry land.

    “Good. Be confused. Confusion is where inspiration comes from.” –– Robyn Mundell

    1. Don’t Panic

    When most people feel mental fog starts creeping in, they panic. While it’s human nature to get anxious about feeling like you’re not in control of your life, remember that this is just temporary.

    Do not run away from the situation. This temporary solution will only make your problem worse. Instead, reassure yourself that you can get through this. Try to think of a hard situation you have handled before and remember how you powered through it.

    It’s absolutely normal to feel like you’re making wrong decisions about your life, but when you fill your mind with negative thoughts, you will begin questioning your ability to overcome challenges. You may even become irrational and make wrong decisions.

    As much as you can, be conscious about the way you talk to yourself when you are feeling lost or when you make wrong decisions. By practicing positive self-talk despite your confusion, you can feel more control of your life.

    2. Discover Your Direction in a Confused Life

    The first of the three things you need to sort is your life’s direction.

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    We all are living this life with a deep purpose. There’s a reason why we’re here. Whether you believe in a religion or not, every scientific and religious belief tells us the same thing.

    No matter how small or big your life’s purpose is, everything you do in life is connected to it. So, if you can figure it out and follow the right path deliberately, your feelings of being confused about life will be diminished. You will know that every step you take is meaningful because it’s leading you to where you’re supposed to be.

    To be honest, finding the direction of your life isn’t the easiest thing. It is a long journey, to say the least. However, if one stays consistently motivated to get an answer, the answer will present itself.

    Your life’s direction isn’t written in a secret book, nor is it enclosed in a buried treasure box. It’s closer to you than anything else in this world. The answer that you need is right inside you. That is why it’s so hard to get it out. Since it’s always been inside you, you have to struggle with your own self to bring it out.

    But once again, the key is saved because millions before you have already experienced this journey. They succeeded, and so can you.

    How To Bring Your Life’s Meaning to the Surface

    To find the solution to your confusing life, all you have to do is interrogate yourself. Ask yourself the following questions, test your memory, listen to your intuition, and let clarity find its way to you.

    1. What Do You Enjoy the Most in Life?

    Currently, nothing is life might seem enjoyable, but look back. There are always certain things that your heart is in deeply. Make a list of the things that you have enjoyed the most in your life. It could be something as small as a 5-minute meditation session or a whole other state that you lived in.

    2. What Do You Hate to Do in Life?

    Just like some things come naturally to you, some you just naturally cannot enjoy, no matter how hard you try. You don’t necessarily have to be bad at these tasks, but you just don’t like doing them. These are definitely the things that are pulling you away from your life’s true direction.

    3. What Are Your Goals?

    Based on the things that you enjoy or don’t, you need to come up with some goals. You don’t know your life’s direction very clearly at this point. Hence, your goals don’t have to enforce a certain aim. Just think of the things you’d love to achieve in the longer run. Make a list of SMART goals with all of this knowledge in mind.

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    4. Is Your Current Lifestyle Allowing You to Reach Your Goals?

    Sit down with your list of goals. It’s time to contemplate. With an open mind, think about everything in your life that is helping you achieve your defined goals. Simultaneously, make a list of things that are pushing you away from them. You already know that whatever is diverging your path needs to be avoided.

    5. What Can You Control to Fulfill Your Dreams?

    Of the goals that you have, which ones can you achieve by changing parts of your life? Change things that are in your control if they help you reach your aims, dreams, and mental peace.

    For things that seem to be out of your control, just accept them[1]. This is a huge factor that causes confusion. Don’t struggle to change everything around you. Some things are out of your hands, and maybe it’s better that way.

    3. Figure out Your Ideal Career

    The next dilemma that makes your life confusing is regarding career choices. Of course, your well-being depends majorly on your source of income. Now, not only does everyone want a career that makes them wealthy, but they also want to enjoy it.

    People who are looking for a stable job, especially fresh graduates, are ones who experience this confusion in the worst possible way. However, some people who already have a well-paid job may also be unhappy with their career choice.

    Steps to Shortlist a Career Option

    There is a very simple, step-by-step process to help you figure out which career will be your ideal route. Keep in mind that more money doesn’t guarantee mental peace, and, similarly, a job that you enjoy may not pay as much as you want.

    1. List Your Skills and Qualifications

    Start with self-evaluation. There are two parts to this. The first is your qualifications, and the other is your skill set.

    Your qualifications are everything you’ve studied or learned. Include your educational background, majors, subjects, short courses, online seminars, and everything else that you’ve learned over the years.

    Next, you have your skills. Everything you’ve learned may not have translated into practicality. The things that you learned to do or know how to do from experimenting or experience all classify as your skills. Include every minute detail, even if it is something like making delicious pancakes.

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    The next step is to figure out which careers can use your skills[2]. So if you’re a great cook, you can teach it to other people, work in a restaurant, write a cookbook, etc.

    2. Take an Online Career Test

    It’s all right if you’re having a hard time putting 2 and 2 together. Matching your skills to a career may be hard for you. That is why there are so many online tests that help you put your finger on it.

    You can search online to get access to hundreds of quick tests that ask you a few questions. Based on your answers, they give you some options that you can consider. Look for the ones that jump out immediately, not necessarily the ones at the top of the list. If you feel good about one suggestion, follow that idea further.

    3. Look Through Job Options That Require Your Skills

    In today’s digital world, searching for jobs is way easier. You don’t have to go door-to-door and ask businesses what they require. Instead, look at the job descriptions that most businesses have posted on their websites. You should follow their social media, too.

    If you know of some online job portals, be sure to sign up. Look through the different job postings to figure out where your skills can come in handy. You are highly likely to find a suitable job in this way.

    4. Avoid Emotional Attachment If You’re Not Ready

    The last thing that may be causing confusion in your life is vagueness in terms of emotional commitments. Should you be romantically involved with someone? Is it time to get married? Should you stay single for a while?

    Some signs indicate your unpreparedness for a commitment. If you’re experiencing the opposite, you can go ahead and settle down with a person that you love.

    Here are some signs that you may not be ready for emotional commitment. If you identify with any of these, take some time to explore your own goals and direction before offering dedication to another human.

    • You can’t compromise, and things always have to be your way.
    • You can’t spend too much time with the same person because you get bored.
    • Sharing your personal space, time, and things is a big no for you.
    • Your shoulders are already burdened with one too many responsibilities related to career, family, education, etc.
    • Career-wise, you’re not where you want to be, and your attention and focus are on your career goals with no time for distractions.
    • You went through a bad breakup or heartbreak recently.

    Final Thoughts

    Life is complicated, and confusion is a natural result of that. Fortunately, moments of confusion, if worked through properly, often lead us to higher levels of clarity about our direction and purpose. Take the time to identify why you are confused about life and tackle them to get back on your desired path.

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    More Tips for Finding Clarity in Life

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com

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