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Counseling Corner: It’s not just age that brings on that midlife crisis

American Counseling Association | 5/14/2018, 6 p.m.
Have you reached midlife yet? It’s a simple question, but a difficult one to answer. Adolescents may see midlife beginning ...
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American Counseling Association

Have you reached midlife yet? It’s a simple question, but a difficult one to answer. Adolescents may see midlife beginning at 30. Adults in their 40s may view 50 or 60 as when midlife begins.

Although experts say that midlife is usually somewhere between 35 and 65, age is only part of the equation. More important are the feelings you have of moving between youth and your senior years, and what you do with those emotions.

Midlife period isn’t necessarily just calendar-based. Often, it’s more seeing you no longer look or feel as youthful and energetic as you once did. That realization can lead some people to start taking action to make them appear younger – buying a sports car, for example.

Alfred Adler, a major counseling influence, emphasized midlife is a period when it’s important to separate wants from needs. That can help simplify life and keep you from chasing shiny new objects in a midlife crisis that really aren’t going to make you younger or even appear younger.

The real “need” of this period is to accept midlife as a normal part of life, and to see it as an opportunity where you can use the experience and wisdom you’ve gained to make a difference in people’s lives and to contribute to society.

So while you might buy that sports car, there are better ways to make midlife produce positive results. Start with making a list of lessons you’ve learned since adolescence and examine how this knowledge has served you and helped enrich your life and the lives of others.

It’s also a good time to begin exploring activities to help you feel healthy and relaxed. Starting or maintaining an exercise regime, for example, won’t make you 21 again, but is a means of making the best of where you actually are in life.

Midlife is also an excellent time to examine your life goals. Maybe you want to think about a career move or to consider social or relationship changes. It may be a time to talk with a professional counselor if you find that you need guidance in understanding the changes midlife has brought.

Midlife is only a crisis for someone unable to accept the changes maturing brought. When handled correctly, midlife can be an opportunity to explore who you are and what goals you want to achieve as your life moves forward.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be sent to acacorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.