Men in Mid-Life have a choice- Mature or create a Crisis

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

The middle years of life create massive changes for men and women. Both go through a major shift physically, spiritually and psychologically. Women face more of a physical change as they go through menopause, while men face more of a psychological change during the time commonly referred to as the middle years, or simply, mid-life.

The Bridge of Mid-life is not always a crisis

Every man goes through a predictable series of physical and psychological changes. So it's helpful to view this process as a series of bridges that men have to cross at different stages of life, beginning in youth and going all the way to the senior adult years. All men will cross a bridge in the middle years of life, (somewhere in the 40’s or 50’s for most), but not all men will experience a crisis because of it.

This bridge is positioned halfway through life, so it’s a time to mature into more of an elder statesman, family patriarch or community leader. It is also a time that some men run from this bridge back into attempts at a second youth, or just decide to jump off the bridge of growing older into self-destructive behavior. This way they avoid taking on the additional responsibility of growing into another season of life with the greater expectations that usually comes when hair turns grey and one is considered old enough to finally have pulled their life together.

Expectations can be tough on a man and sometimes his fear of not measuring up can create impulsive decisions to escape the fear of failing. Every man has to face this bridge as a life passage and eventually must cross it; but not every man has to have a crisis. The reason it becomes a crisis is due to feeling overwhelmed by too many challenging factors without having enough support to cope.

Why Mid-Life becomes a Crisis

Here are some common reasons men crash their lives or create a crisis on the bridge called 'mid-life.'

-Stress and relationship pressure are at peak levels during a man's middle years due to the responsibilities of parenting teens on one side and beginning to care for aging parents on the other

- A man may be making more money than ever before, but it spends faster too, which creates huge worries or fights about money and the fear that he will eventually financially fail

- The massive responsibilities of the middle years can cause men to fantasize about running away from the harsh realities of their live today to swap with a younger man's life, which they wrongly believe will be easier than sorting through their own life. The old saying is still true- “the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but it still has to be watered.”

- We live in a youth oriented culture which places great value on the 'package' outside instead of the 'product' inside because an aging body or balding head is viewed as a weakness by some

- Some men focus on looking back to the simplicity of their youth, instead of developing the inner strength to look ahead past the pressures of today to face the rest of their life with boldness and confidence to make big decisions and then make those decisions work

Running away from reality

Some guys think about escaping pressure by getting a sports car, others about getting a ‘young babe' to sit next to them and still others chase mental fantasies of one day having enough cash to afford the car or the girlfriend, while knowing that if given the choice between these options, they probably would just take the money and be happy alone riding a bicycle.

Don't miss the fact that fantasies aren't real and time wasted on chasing a mirage is time and energy that never comes back. If a man is afraid to cross into the next logical stage of life he may choose to create a crisis to avoid aging, which will definitely complicate his life, but it won’t make him any younger. Reality eventually forces the decision that every man at some point has to decide to grow up.

How to cross the bridge with strength

Men can’t go it alone through the middle years and cross this bridge successfully. They need to stay close to a group of guys they can relate to, (through hobbies, sports, religious or charitable activities, accountability groups, professional and business networking groups, Master Mind or inner circle development groups). Half of a man’s anxiety and pressure can be relieved if he reaches out to plug into groups with other healthy men who are moving in the same direction. Watching others successfully cross that mid-life bridge gives him the courage to cross it with strength when his time comes.

The game of life isn't over at half-time, but play time is. That’s why so many men use the middle years as a chance to regroup and refocus on what matters most to them. This allows them to gain new confidence from beginning to live out what author Rick Warren calls, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’. The strength these men experience by not wasting time, energy and money chasing after mid-life fantasies gives them deeper spiritual and psychological power to accomplish greater success at an earlier age. This choice gives a tremendous advantage to men who view mid-life as just another bridge in a longer race called ‘life’. That’s why they eventually finish as men of strength and power instead of growing older, but never growing up.

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About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association who partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.

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