Thursday, November 12, 2009

Transitioning through Life’s Phases: Midlife Crisis

This was the Daily Om from a day or two ago.

I'm 42 years young, which means - as a man in this country - I am entering midlife. According to the prevailing wisdom, I should be expecting a crisis sometime soon. Men, the story goes, do not handle well the realization that they are aging and are no longer young. So, maybe I'll get a red sports car, or a 20 year old blond girlfriend.

Or not.

I actually had my crisis already, in my 30's (when I left Seattle for my proverbial 40 days in the desert), so I should not have too much to worry about. Besides, I have never been more happy than I am right now. And, really, I sill look like I'm in my early 30's anyway.

But, seriously, we all face transitions and life crises at some point or another. How we deal with them determines whether we grow from them or allow them to damage us. This little article suggests that we might want to look within for guidance when these challenges come our way, rather than allow baseless cultural biases to determine how we feel about ourselves.

Transitioning through Life’s Phases
Midlife Crisis

In our youth-oriented culture, the process of aging is not honored as it once was. There have been societies that looked to those who were older for leadership, understanding that their life experiences must have brought some wisdom with them. Our society tends to put more value on looking youthful, so when the time comes that we don’t look, move, or feel the way we once did, this causes a sudden jolt to our perception of ourselves. We can look at this shift as a crisis and fight against change, or we can take the opportunity to transition smoothly to a new phase of life.

We spend our youth learning who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing. As we set and reach our goals, it is easy to identify ourselves by our roles. At some point we may feel very comfortable in the idea that we have a complete understanding of ourselves. This is, inevitably, when things change and we get to see ourselves from a new perspective. Those who have reached their goals may wonder where to go from there, feeling uncomfortable with the new choice of parts to play. Others may have to let go of an identity that was built around a goal that was not reached and decide from what foundation to rebuild. Although it can be challenging to shift into a new expression of self, we may find that we’re better suited for this fresh path of self-discovery and the new perspective it brings.

Whether we find ourselves facing a midlife crisis or any life transition, we can take the time to get in touch with our inner selves. From the unchanging spirit within us, we can accept and embrace the changes that come with the human experience. Examining where we’ve been and what we’ve learned can point in the direction of all that we would like to do now and in the future. When we anchor our identity in our spiritual nature, we understand that physical change does not change who we are, but only offers another perspective from which to experience, understand, and celebrate life.

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