A midlife crisis is generally defined as a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals.

The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s advancing age, inevitable mortality, and possible lack of accomplishments in life.

This can produce feelings of intense depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety or the desire to achieve youthfulness. Some individuals may make drastic changes to their current lifestyle. They may experience, boredom, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status. They may also experience a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof. Some people may feel a deep sense of remorse for goals that have not been accomplished or may feel an ambition to right any missteps they feel they have taken earlier in life.

Alternatively, Brene Brown describes this time of life as an “unraveling.” Bree Emery growth in northern colorado

“Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling.”

Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. All this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

Brene references the “coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt.” 

Although these coping mechanisms were developed early in our life as a form of protection, they can often become barriers, later in life, when they are overgeneralized.  Since most people are unaware of these coping mechanisms, I will often get questions from clients regarding patterns in their lives that they struggle to understand.  Engaging in the therapeutic process allows them to learn what is happening and to heal the things that are needed to find freedom to move forward into the remaining chapters of their lives. 

Bree Emery individual counselingValue’s Clarification is an approach that helps clients clarify their goals, priorities and values, make decisions, and implement changes in their lives. 

This is why I prefer to use the term midlife values clarification in lieu of a midlife crisis. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that I mentioned earlier, and also happen to be in the midlife age group, you would likely benefit from some time to work through this intense assessment of your life, and find hope, in clarifying any changes that you would like to make to reach your full potential and live the life you want to be living.

I offer value’s clarification, trauma-focused therapy, EMDR, and cognitive behavioral therapy to help client’s move out of coping and into the lives they truly want to be living.