Counseling Corner: Not just age brings on mid-life crisis

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Not just age brings on mid-life crisis

American Counseling Association

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

Although experts say that mid-life 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.

Mid-life period isnít necessarily just calendar-based. Often, itís 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 ó buying that sports car, for example.

Alfred Adler, a major counseling influence, emphasized mid-life is a period when itís 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 arenít going to make you younger or even appear younger.

The real ďneedĒ of this period is to accept mid-life as a normal part of life, and to see it as an opportunity where you can use the experience and wisdom youíve gained to make a difference in peopleís lives and to contribute to society.

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

Itís also a good time to begin exploring activities to help you feel healthy and relaxed. Starting or maintaining an exercise regime, for example, wonít make you 21 again, but is a means of making the best of where you actually are in life.

Mid-life 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 mid-life has brought.

Mid-life is only a crisis for someone unable to accept the changes maturing brought. When handled correctly, mid-life 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. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit www.counseling.org.

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