Some get through a mid-life crisis by having a tattoo, taking a younger lover, buying a Harley or bungee jumping. Can life and career coach Dr. John Demartini give High50's Eve Ahmed a better alternative?
As a 50-something, I'm very aware of the limited time left to achieve my goals. With my children leaving home this year, my mother's recent death, the menopause, and the invisibility throughout society that particularly affects middle-aged women, I have a sense that when it comes to my goals it's now or never.
Some get through the mid-life crisis (or the MLC as I call it) by having a tattoo, taking a younger lover, buying a Harley, or launching themselves into the air in a bungee jump. Although life is rushing by and I want to squeeze experience out of each fleeting moment, none of these coping mechanisms appeal.
So, I arranged to meet Dr. John Demartini, an American self-styled "human behavior specialist", who I thought could give me some guidance. He has a lot to say about life, love and everything else. His bio is also very extensive:
"Human behavior specialist, educator, business consultant and internationally published author: Dr. John Demartini travels 360 days a year to countries all over the globe, sharing his research. He is the author of 40 books published in 29 different languages. He has produced 60 CDs and DVDs. Each program is designed to assist people to activate leadership and empower themselves in all seven areas of their lives: financial, physical, mental, vocational, spiritual, family and social."
That's the blurb on the former chiropractor's own website. Although open-minded by nature, I'm wary of hyperbole. We're more phlegmatic on the side of the pond.
When I finally met Dr. Demartini, I was keen to find out where he stands on the so-called midlife crisis. Could he help me find alternative inspiration, or would his approach prove too pseudo-scientific new age-y for me? I sat down with him and asked him my most pressing questions.
Q. Why Does Reaching 50 Prove Challenging For Some People?
A. Too many of us go through life subordinate to others and suppressing who we really are. A child has its own values but, by the age of one, its parents have already given it their values. It is told "No, no, no, you can't do that." You please them because you don't want to lose them. It's true throughout life - you're subordinate to those you depend on, be it your mother, father, preacher, or teacher. At mid-life, it hits you: I have to do what's right for me. I cannot live in their shadows. We say, 'Enough is enough.'
Q. Can You Give An Example?
A. A husband at 50 may say he's has had enough of his job and is starting a new business. His wife instantly worries about income, peers and lifestyle. What if he doesn't succeed? She should instead ask, "How is this going to be a benefit, a blessing?"
Q. That's Easier Said Than Done, Isn't It?
A. We typically look back in time and say that, with hindsight, we're pleased something happened. We need to ask ourselves now, in the moment, instead of down the line, how a challenge will become an opportunity. You could downsize, travel or take new career paths, for example.
Q. Is It Easier For Some To Adapt Than Others?
A. If you're not doing what you love and loving what you do, then you won't handle change well. That underlying unfulfillment makes people seek immediate gratification. For a dopamine kick, they turn to alcohol, drugs, brands, or living vicariously through others.
Q. So How Can We See The Midlife Crisis As A Blessing Instead?
A. Practice, repetition, and ritual. Ensure that what you do daily has meaning. Ask: how specifically is what I perceive helping me to fulfill what is meaningful? It's not selfish, but wise and resilient. To play the role of victim is not healthy; so master your destiny.
Q. I Want To Be A TV Newsreader. But There Aren't Many Women My Age Reading The News, However Much I Determine To Master My Destiny.
A. Your goals need to be real, inspired and meaningful. What's to stop you setting up your own news show online?
Q. Isn't The Mid-Life Crisis A Rational Response To Creeping Mortality? After All, As A Society We Hardly Treat Older People With Respect.
A. Firstly, if you're living meaningfully, you won't fear death because you're grateful for what you have. Secondly, if older people are vital and inspired, then everyone will want to be around them. Otherwise they drain us. So get off your ass and do something that serves society, or people will put you out to pasture. The Queen still works her ass off!
So there you have it: positive thinking with a dash of hard-nosed realism. Apart from his slightly unexpected response that I set up my own online TV news show, I found Dr Demartini's message invigorating and thought-provoking.
Instead of seeing this period of life as crisis, I'll reframe it as blessing. After all, it's not called the 'change of life' for nothing.
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