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Surviving your mid-life crisis

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something rather magical happens between the ages of 45 and 55. It may even happen earlier or later. It is the time when you suddenly realize that you are dissatisfied with the direction of your life. Unfortunately, to find the answer to their dissatisfaction, some choose to wander away from their relationships. For others, there may be an increased dread of going to work and a longing for the end of the week when you can finally get away from the prison that your occupation has begun. These are signs that you are ready for a significant awakening in your life.

When this happens, we look for other people or activities that help us renew the excitement with which we once viewed life. We try to re-kindle passion, start attending reunions, and begin fondly remembering what it felt like to be a kid. Yes, for many of us, we literally begin a “second childhood.”

When this happened to me, without any previous mention of my aviation interests to my long-term wife, I suddenly expressed an interest in learning how to fly helicopters. Well, several (tens of) thousands of dollars later, I finally received my private pilot license. In some ways, this was how I became a child again. However, this was not the only thing that I did.

Those who know my past are aware of the many fields that I’ve worked in. Occupations like working in corrections, law enforcement, real estate, investments, insurance, college-level teaching, and the military are just a partial sample of my previous endeavors. (Believe it or not, I even was once voluntarily trained how to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with a nuclear bomb strapped to my shins.) It wasn’t until my early-to-mid forties – just before I stared my helicopter pilot training – that I gravitated toward psychology, coaching, and hypnotherapy.

After talking to Fran O’Reilly, one of my students who is a therapist and coach in Dublin, Ireland, I realized that I’ve always known my true passion. Fran says that your true passion begins emerging during your early childhood. For me, it was probably the desire to leap tall buildings with a single bound or lead the romantic life of Texas cowboy on a cattle drive. Of course, any adult attempting to advise me at that time would have told me that my superhero and cowpoke urges where mere fantasies. They said that I needed to grow up. I did and regretted it for my decades to come. Yet, now that I look at my mid-life crisis, I did learn how to fly over tall buildings in a single engine helicopter, find near “super hero” qualities in my therapy clients, and learned that my rather provocative theories about the mind have made me somewhat of a maverick cowboy. So, in retrospect, I see a lot of wisdom in Fran’s arguments.

My previous guests on It’s Your Life have talked about finding one’s true essence as a way of escaping the pain and disappointments that they faced. What they appeared to be saying is that by getting in touch with your essence, you find the inner wisdom. What I am delving out of Fran’s comments is that this wisdom is very much a child-like dimension that can be found in each and every one of us. Indeed, in each of us the innocence of our youth may give us a true indication of the direction in life on which we should focus. This reminds me of a Bible verse when regarding children Jesus said, “Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to these.” The problem is that for too many of us, we spend a lifetime getting in our own way. Just maybe we need to step back and led our child-like qualities emerge so our mid-life is not a crisis but an awakening.

You may listen to my interview with Fran O’Reilly at 9 a.m., July 6, 2012, on WDNG.net or locally on AM 14.50.






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