As more and more people turn to therapy to help them make sense of their own personal life journey, the issues around life stage changes often crop up in the counselling room. We are all generally living longer, not necessarily keeping the same partner for life and are reassessing what it means to live in today’s busy world.
The mid-life crisis is a familiar concept, often stereotypically associated with the buying of a sports car, the quitting of a long-held job or the starting of something new, sometimes with the desire to escape or blot out the emotional and mental turmoil that can hit as we reach middle age. In my clinical experience, while not all clients are negatively affected by this life stage, for some it is a difficult period. Awareness of our own mortality, a realisation that some of the dreams of our youth may never be fulfilled and dissatisfaction with our current employment all seem to be frequently experienced features of this life phase.
If children have flown the nest, this can also add a sense of purposelessness where once there was utility. Clients can feel that they may have more yesterdays than tomorrows, and that what once was certain is now up in the air. Looking at a partner who is perhaps not the same person we promised our lives to all those many years ago can bring feelings of insecurity and restlessness. How can this maze be navigated?
Sowing The Seeds
Although some people wish to (and do) make changes to the way they are living their lives, often a chance to get it all off their chest and out in the open in a confidential, non-judgemental setting can bring relief and sows the seed of acceptance. I find that sessions spent with clients struggling to make sense of their past decisions and unsure of the road ahead can ultimately be very rewarding and satisfying for us both. Once the therapeutic relationship is established and the client has the chance to air their worries and fears, they often regain a sense of being master of their own ship and set a course more confidently into whatever the future holds for them.
Although nothing is guaranteed, if you have reached ‘middle age’ and have relished the rollercoaster journey of life up to the present day, what’s to say the second half can’t be equally as fulfilling? You may just need to give yourself time to look around, regroup and then refocus. We can’t change what has been and gone, but we can tackle head on what is to come!
[Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email. More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com]