By Dr Demartini – human behaviourist and founder of The Demartini Institute.
There may be a certain stereotype that springs to mind when you think ‘midlife crisis’, possibly involving working out, fast cars and a search for unsuitable partners…
But this needn’t be the case at all, according to author and human behaviour specialist Dr John Demartini.
For some people, life is a series of routine and expected actions and instructions given by other people: first your mother and father, then your preacher and teacher. Even as an adult, you may feel subject to the whims of your social network behaviours, conventions or traditions.
So tightly interwoven is your relationship with these conscious or unconscious authority figures, that you come to depend on them and fear their loss.
And that is precisely what can happen when some people hit their forties
Until then, they have been largely subordinate to these key individuals, allowing them to inject their own values into their lives. Suddenly, in late adulthood, they start thinking for themselves.
Freud referred to this internalisation of another’s values in your life, and the consequent desire to conform, as ‘superego’, noting that the phenomenon is all about fitting in.
And fitting in is important – or, at least, it used to be at the stage in our evolution when being left out of the clan, rather than fitting in, meant certain death. In today’s world, however, it inevitably raises conflict with the innate desire to express individuality.
The fact that this desire strikes around middle age is particularly interesting…
The fact that this desire strikes around middle age is particularly interesting, because this is the age those people we once considered authorities were at the time we made ourselves subordinate. And so we realise that we want to think for ourselves and be free of their form of so-called moral responsibility.
Those who transcend the herd emerge as autonomous beings with the courage to be themselves
While this phase may be painful on several levels, it has advantages too
Those who transcend the herd emerge as autonomous beings with the courage to be themselves.
I saw this for myself while hosting my signature seminar programmes the Breakthrough Experience. One of the attendees was a severely overweight man who was suffering from hypertension and depression.
His wife had recently left him, he was in debt, he had been rejected socially and his children wanted nothing to do with him – a state of affairs which had been set in motion after his father’s death.
While he maintained that he was a victim of his history, and said that his life had collapsed after his father died because he had spent a lifetime trying to please him, I pointed out that he had, in fact, become free – free of a life and a marriage that he didn’t want.
Following this insight, he got rid of his suits, moved states, got a new job, and reconnected with his kids on a new level – actions that were made possible because he let go of the identity that had been built around trying to fit in, rather than being his own authority.
Sometimes we wake up and wonder how we got to the place in which we find ourselves, and what we really want
I, too, have experienced this – one day, I found myself standing under a shower on Cardiff Beach and comparing the life I was living to the one I had when I was a carefree 14-year-old. I saw that I had tried to fit into the American Dream.
Not too long after that, I made some shifts, letting go of the things I had been programmed to do. I started living my life by design, rather than default.
These realisations come at different times for everyone, because people gain independence at varying rates
But it’s important to understand that there is no midlife crisis without a midlife blessing. Each new situation comes with a different set of pains and pleasures.
Rather than comparing your daily actions to someone else’s dreams, compare them to what most authentically inspires you. This will be the foundation for a life that’s as rewarding as it is fulfilling. To access more of Dr Demartini’s teachings, visit www.drdemartini.com