Most of us are fully aware when we are confronted with a life crisis. Whether it is a quarter- or mid- or late-life crisis, we know when it hits us. If you are getting divorced, moving house, having a baby, retiring, being made redundant, suffering from an illness, undergoing an operation, have an empty nest or have lost someone you love, you know you are going through a life crisis.
Some life crises and transitions can be so insidious that you are not necessarily aware of it, especially not in the early stages. Maybe you are stuck in a job you hate, or living in a house that suffocates you, or trapped in a relationship that is strangling you. Or maybe it feels as if time is running out: you always wanted to write a book, travel the world, go back to school to finish your degree, live in the south of France or start your own business, and you have noticed that you have less and less time, energy, and enthusiasm left.
On your horizon, a life crisis is looming. Either you instigate the change, or the change might be forced upon you. For example, you might get fired from that job you hate because you are not working as hard as you should.
How can you be sure that you are in the early stages of a Life Crisis? Here are a few possible indications:
- You feel overwhelmed by self-doubt. You have lost faith in your own abilities. You feel tired all the time, everything is just too much effort.
- You feel uncertain and insecure. You are questioning your convictions, and you are no longer sure of what you want or where you want to go from here. The future looks bleak.
- You feel discontented, sometimes even depresse,d and you don’t know why. Every day feels the same as the previous one: mediocre and mundane. Nothing gives you joy anymore.
- You question your values and beliefs, your interpretation of situations and experiences. What was crucially important in the past now seem to have lost its meaning. Your priorities are changing.
- You are neglecting self-care – not sleeping enough, eating too much/unhealthily/not enough, smoking/drinking too much, not getting enough exercise, etc.
All of us, in the last 2 years, have had to face a life crisis of substantial proportions: a pandemic that not only threatened our very lives but also the way we live our lives. We were forced to change, to adapt, to accept without having a say in what was happening to us. A good number of us were catapulted directly into the middle of the worst life crisis we have ever experienced. Many of us have still not been able to process the crisis and complete the change. We are still suffering from many of the symptoms I mentioned above.
If you find yourself in this situation, if you feel completely overwhelmed, then it’s best to get professional help. Consult your primary health care provider and get expert advice. If you are coping, but just need a bit of extra assistance, one of the best ways to cope with a life crisis or life transition, is to start journalling daily.
I have had to cope with more than my fair share of life transitions, and journaling has been invaluable to me.
Over time, it will help you get clarity about what it is that is making you feel so out of sorts. Journalling, putting your thoughts down onto paper, gets these thoughts out of your head, where they are causing discontent, insecurity, and self-doubt, and so enables you to look at your thoughts and feelings more objectively.
Ask yourself a series of questions: What am I thinking or feeling? Why am I thinking or feeling like this? Why am I thinking or feeling this now? What can I do to cope with this situation? How have I coped with similar situations in the past? Do I need support? Would it help to talk to a friend about this?
If you feel the need to get away from it all, even just for a few days, you are welcome to join us on a life transition retreat. My guests walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and as thousands of people before them, get clarity while they walk in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked this path since the 12th century.
If you are going through a midlife crisis, you are welcome to join us on a Midlife Renaissance Retreat.