A coach who works with this issue offers advice on how to make it a productive and positive time.
“Midlife crisis can lend you wings” says Tristan de Feuilhade, who works as a midlife coach. Here he offers some advice on the issues proper to this stage in life that can help you better prepare for it and render it more productive.
How do we realize that we’re dealing with a midlife crisis?
Tristan de Feuilhade: A painful sense of dissatisfaction takes over the 40-somethings when they begin asking themselves existential questions about the significance of their work, their value system and their life as a whole. The crisis is often born out of difficulties at home or at work. For example, the lack of further professional perspective or gaining weight — these tale-tale signs that make one realize that they’re getting old. The older we become, the more we are aware how precious life is.
Does everyone undergo a midlife crisis?
TF: No, it is not inevitable. It’s generally experienced by those whose vision of what life is all about clashes with the actual life they’re leading. Some try to compensate for this with material goods and social status. But there are those who want more.
Are people who believe in God better at dealing with midlife crisis?
TF: Faith gives sense to their lives. When the center of gravity is your heart, you stay focused no matter what life has reserved for you. But when you gravitate toward external things, like money, professional career or physical appearance, sooner or later, your life comes crushing down on you.
What kind of advice can you offer?
TF: When faced with these existential questions, there is a great temptation to avoid them in becoming hyperactive. Many are those who derail their lives and let it all go to hell: their families and their careers. What I advise them to do is to stop, take a step back and examine their situation. It’s time to ask a question: “Am I on the right path?” and imagine a different scenario.
So, is the coach someone who invites people to change their outlook on life?
TF: We must learn how to let go of old objectives and find new goals, how to open up to other possibilities. It’s key in rediscovering desire and determination. The coach can help a person find them. In taking constructively, he can reignite a positive dynamic so necessary for success. Whenever I meet someone, I am always interested in their potential. In addition, the coach can provide a method for how to sort things out and make the right choice. Every precipitous decision is a risky one. The midlife coaching consists in temporizing, formulating, and analyzing. There is a radical change, like leaving a job to volunteer at an association, and less drastic one, like switching to a new position within the same company.
What are the changes once we’ve gone through the middle age crisis?
TF: You come out different, much wiser. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Nietzsche. Forty is the age when you can afford to let go of things. You become more self-sufficient and may want to reexamine your life. If you’ve got nothing to lose, you can only win. At the very least, the midlife crisis may be inspirational and offer a chance to make one’s dreams come true.
Interview by Stéphanie Combe
10 Reasons to love being middle aged