No one in my family has had a midlife crisis but I see them all around me as people in their 40's begin to question their priorities and structures of their lives. They can be incredibly disruptive and painful not only to the person going through it but to those around them. Many assume they are inevitable but they don't have to be.
A midlife crisis, it turns out, is like an earthquake. An earthquake is caused by the release of years of tension between two tectonic plates. It builds and builds until it suddenly and violently releases and creates massive damage.
Similarly, a midlife crisis is caused by the building tension between the tectonic plates in our lives - our authentic-self (values, purpose, etc.) and our rationalized-self (ego, identity, fear, etc.). Over time they build up tension until we can no longer hold them together and we are forced to reconcile them. But with 20+ years of tension built up they can be incredibly painful and disruptive.
The key to avoiding these personal earthquakes is to release the tension building in our lives between our tectonic plates. Members of my family have avoided a midlife crisis by having a mini-crisis every year (if not every day). They release the tension and don't let it build up. They create tiny and undisruptive tremors to ensure they are aligning their authentic-self with their actions in the world.
By releasing the tension regularly, it isn't disruptive or painful. It becomes empowering and constructive.
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