Whether you are a man or a woman, the feelings that come with midlife crisis can be similar. Disillusionment, doubt, unhappiness, restlessness and disappointment are some of the common characteristics. Many people report a kind of uneasiness that they just can’t name.

As the baby-boom generation (those born between 1945 and 1965) has come of age, it’s as if, at best, having a midlife crisis has become fashionable. At worst, it’s an excuse for irresponsible and possibly destructive behavior.

Because baby boomers tend to reach success at an earlier age than their parents, midlife crisis can hit earlier as well.

Crisis and Opportunity

The Chinese symbol for crisis means both danger and opportunity. A midlife crisis represents both danger and opportunity for the people who experience one. Let’s take a look at both of these possibilities.


Remember the old sci-fi series Lost in Space? Whenever danger was approaching, the robot would wave his arms and shout, “Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson!” From what I’ve seen happen to many people, that’s what needs to be shouted at people hitting a midlife crisis.

Here’s a list of some of the dangers:

If you try to resolve a midlife crisis with the traditional little red sports car and 22-year-old new partner, you may wind up in a small, one-bedroom apartment with huge alimony and child-support payments.

You may start to believe that everything you are feeling is real. It’s like the story about the Room of 10,000 Demons, first told to me by Bill 0’Hanlon, writer and hypnotherapist.

When you walk into the Room of 10,000 Demons, you will see all your worst fears and nightmares played out as if they were real. When you walk in, the door closes behind you, and there is no handle on the inside of the door. If you can make it to the other side, to the door leading out, you will reach nirvana.

Once inside, you get two important instructions. The first is that no matter what you see, hear or feel, it’s not real; it’s merely a product of your own mind. The second instruction is that no matter what you see, hear or feel, keep your feet moving. Eventually, you will make it to the other side.

And, as we can glean from this story, you may start to believe that you have to act on everything you feel.


The opportunities available in a midlife crisis can be very useful. A midlife crisis can be a time of evaluation and soul-searching and not necessarily a time of self-absorption.

In the movie Look Who’s Talking, one character tells a woman, whom he has gotten pregnant and is abandoning, that his therapist says he is going through a selfish phase. Now that’s self-absorption!


Not only is a period of evaluation and soul-searching a good thing – it can and should be done much more often than just at midlife.

Some useful questions

• Where did I expect to be by this time in my life?

• How is my life different from and how is it similar to my expectations?

• What promises to myself and others have I kept or broken?

• What do I need to do to keep the promises I made to myself and others?

• Where do I want to be one year from now? In five years? In 10 years? In 20-plus years? (This implies that there is a whole lot of life left.)

• What will I need to do to get there? Answer those questions honestly, and turn a midlife crisis into a midlife opportunity.

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