Mid-life crisis: Seen the movie?

Mid-life crisis: Seen the movie?

Although may take middle age in stride, experiencing a mid-life crisis is fairly common among both women and men. For some, the problem is existential: acknowledging that life has reached the midpoint can engender complex self-questioning about the meaning of life and whether one’s true purpose has been fulfilled. Other may find the physical changes associated with getting older more daunting then the philosophical issues. Whether the trigger is graying hair, an expanding waistline, career dissatisfaction or relationship ennui, a mid-life crisis can be hard to deal with. Psychologists consider a mid-life crisis a time to take stock of one’s life. It can either be an opportunity for self-growth and positive change or for self-destructive actions and despair.

I wonder if Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ famous stages regarding the process of how people adjust to the prospect of dying are applicable to those in mid-life crises what movies might help them cope more effectively.

Denial

This is the time for self-delusional rationalizations such as “I’m getting better” and “50 is the new 30.” It’s also the time when one is most likely to try masking middle age with inappropriately youthful attire and hairstyles, as well as surgical interventions that are almost guaranteed to evoke whispered comments like “Who does she think she’s fooling?” My recommended movie for those needing to move on from this stage is “Sunset Boulevard.”

Anger

This is when coping poorly with getting older has some folks looking for someone or something to blame for their lives not exactly working out according to plan. Most of the time, it’s the spouse or the job that evokes ire for “making me old before my time” or “ruining my life.” It’s during this period that the “nuclear option” is at it’s highest risk for being selected or, in other words, blowing up one’s life. A great cathartic movie for those experiencing this stage is “Falling Down.”

Bargaining

“If only I could be young again, I would do it all differently” is the kind of do-over wishful thinking that typifies this stage. Movie that have a middle-aged character who magically gets to relieve their youth like “Peggy Sue Got Married,” might be especially appealing during this stage. After a screening of this flick, you may be more able to accept that you really can’t go back.

Depression

During this part of mid-life crises, sufferers are likely to be sighing a lot of forlornly reminiscing about their lost youth. Sulking in the bedroom and staring blankly up at the ceiling is common during this stage. Sometimes, these individuals take out their mid-life crises on themselves by their letting their grooming; excise and eating habits go completely down the drain. Perhaps, a showing of “Singin’ in the Rain” could help raise their spirits.

Acceptance

This is the chance to start growing old gracefully, accept the inevitable march of time and develop a new, more mature perspective on life. Of course, in South Florida, this is about as likely as snow on South Beach in July. But for those in the mood to watch one middle-aged gent work through his mid-life crisis and make a noble, accepting choice despite bitterly conflicted feelings, it might be worthwhile to give “Casablanca” a look.

If you want to avoid getting stuck in any of the stages prior to acceptance, consider the following suggestions:

  • Try to maintain your focus on the positive aspects of aging, such as growing in experience and wisdom.
  • Don’t buy into the notion that happiness is only for the young. Actually, it’s possible to be about equally happy at all ages.
  • Separate your self-esteem from aspects of life that are ultimately beyond your control, like the aging process.
  • Stay open-minded and take the time to acquire new skills. That’s probably what will truly keep you youthful.

I’m one of the lucky ones who have been spared the dreaded mid-life crises. Perhaps many years of training in the field of psychology have helped. Anyway, that’s what the guy who’s going to be doing my hair transplants thinks. He told me I can pick a movie to watch during the procedures to ease the pain. Any suggestions?

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