Written by Dr. Jim Manganiello

MIDLIFE IS A CROSSROADS—NOT A CRISIS Part two © Manganiello—all rights reserved 2003

In last month’s Part one of this article we learned that midlife is not a crisis; it’s a crossroads ofrepparttar soul. One road leads to what I callrepparttar 126237 “not-such-a-good-life” andrepparttar 126238 other to The Good Life.

The road torepparttar 126239 Good Life requires that we recognize and honor our soul’s call torepparttar 126240 Heart—to our innermost identity. To respond to this call, we must getrepparttar 126241 knowledge andrepparttar 126242 tools to free ourselves from a conditioned identity that limits us to yesterday’s vision of who we are and that limits our vision of what our life can be.

If we fail to understand and properly negotiate midlife territory, we might become rigid and inflexible in an attempt to hold on tightly to what was. This can result in a narrowing and constricting of our lives as we forfeitrepparttar 126243 opportunity to claim powerful options for growth that emerge during midlife.

We also can fail to properly negotiate midlife territory if we impulsively react torepparttar 126244 chaos and confusion it brings by making changes that we don't understand or that we’re not prepared for. We might, for example, prematurely change jobs, leave a relationship, make risky investments, or embrace some glitzy philosophy in a not too well thought out gesture to make change. Too often this reactive approach leaves us washed up on a psychological shore that is empty of any depth or meaning.

Our surface identity seeks to find and cling to some sense of certainty that could keep it secure and safe. We could say that when it travels, our surface identity likes to have an itinerary clearly and precisely mapped out. It does not like surprises. It even avoidsrepparttar 126245 scenic routes so that it can stay onrepparttar 126246 main road where everything is predictable.

Midlife can be a time when our old maps for life do not fitrepparttar 126247 territory that we find ourselves in.

As Dante put it in his Inferno,

Midway this way of life we're bound upon, I woke to find myself in a dark wood, Whererepparttar 126248 right road was wholly lost and gone.

Circumstances that can make us intensely aware of midlife turmoil are both internal and external. The external ones include realities such asrepparttar 126249 physical evidence of our aging,repparttar 126250 death of our parents, our children leavingrepparttar 126251 nest andrepparttar 126252 closer view of our own death onrepparttar 126253 visible horizon. These situations are depressing in that they tend to put us face to face with an existence that contradictsrepparttar 126254 stance of our youthful heroism, a heroism that always imagined that we could have our own way in this life.

Our heroic ego also finds itself assaulted fromrepparttar 126255 inside. The solid ground that our self-image seemed to stand on begins to crack. We find ourselves experiencing a discrepancy between who we thought we were and who we actually are now. To make matters worse, whilerepparttar 126256 person we thought we were seems to be dissolving,repparttar 126257 person we hoped we weren't begins to show up more and more. This clash of images can leave us feeling sad, depressed, stressed out and very alone. We might feel a sense of profound loss that we cannot really explain to ourselves.

The forces that accompany midlife can push us deeply into our fear. But if we can open whatrepparttar 126258 great spiritual traditions callrepparttar 126259 Eye ofrepparttar 126260 Heart, we can seerepparttar 126261 real nature of our fear. Behind our fear is an immense sadness that is an expression of a tender Heart. This tender heart can become an important source of compassion and concern for others as well as of awe and wonder aboutrepparttar 126262 mystery of life. When we connect with our tender Heart, we no longer have to be embarrassed about who we are.

There is an art and science to making a midlife transformation. First we need to recognize thatrepparttar 126263 turmoil we feel represents life working on us rather than evidence that we are weird, sick or other than we should be. This turmoil is reallyrepparttar 126264 call ofrepparttar 126265 Heart to create a life that’s an adventure of love, courage and wisdom. Then we need reliable knowledge andrepparttar 126266 tools to put that knowledge to work.

As we give up our limited ideas of who we are and what we "should" be, we can then become sensitive to a kind of inner guidance. Our psyche, at first, frightens us by shaking up our world entirely. It then stimulates us by pointing to some of life's most interesting possibilities. It gets out attention by making us see that our skin is too small for who we really are. Seeing this, we can begin to revision our lives as a creative adventure that is pulled by our dreams and visions and not merely pushed from behind by our past conditioned fears.

After many years of study and work inrepparttar 126267 best ofrepparttar 126268 western and eastern psychological, spiritual and well-being traditions, I createdrepparttar 126269 Good Life Process™, a life enhancement practice that brings together ancient wisdom and cutting edge knowledge. The Process is a powerful tool for negotiating midlife change and for creating a life that can be well lived, loved and understood.

© Manganiello—all rights reserved 2003

Midlife is a Crossroads, Not a Crisis

Written by Dr. Jim Manganiello

MIDLIFE IS A CROSSROADS—NOT A CRISIS Part one © Manganiello—all rights reserved 2003

The common notion of "midlife crisis" refers torepparttar feelings of stress, chaos and disequilibrium that typically accompany this special stage in our lives.

The turmoil of midlife usually enters into our consciousness as anxiety over who we are. It is better to think of midlife as a psychological and spiritual time rather than a biological one. Some people enter this important stage at 30 others at 70.

The key to transforming midlife stress into depth and meaning is to understand that midlife is not a crisis at all—it’s a crossroads ofrepparttar 126236 soul, a crossroads that’s too often misunderstood and unacknowledged.

During adolescence we go through a development change called puberty, a change that’s clearly recognized because it’s physical and so visible. At midlife we go through an even more powerful developmental stage, but it’s primarily an inner one. Because this stage isn’t visible, it often goes unrecognized and unacknowledged for what it truly is.

At midlife our soul thrusts an important question at us: Will we come home to our deeper identity and liverepparttar 126237 second half of our lives asrepparttar 126238 real thing or as a dress rehearsal? Midlife chaos comes as a result of our soul’s efforts to liberate us from a conditioned identity that’s too small for who we truly are.

During midlife we encounter a natural movement from within ourselves to leave our surface identity and journey to our innermost identity—the Heart. This movement often meets with strong resistance from internal forces that naturally seek safety by maintainingrepparttar 126239 status quo. These forces need to be educated to seerepparttar 126240 big picture so they can become allies in helping us to grow and Craftrepparttar 126241 Good Life.

Midlife changes require us to leave known for foreign territory. They can be a changes filled with doubt and fear. They involve experiences of turmoil and inner stretching that, if negotiated properly, can yield something of enduring value. It’s as if our identity loses its solid ground while we are in movement between different possibilities within ourselves.

During midlife confusion we occupy a psychological location that is like being on a suspension bridge. Any emotional upheaval is like a strong wind that can leave us feeling out of control asrepparttar 126242 familiar images that have defined us inrepparttar 126243 past no longer seem fixed, stable and reliable.

If we resist change and rigidly hold on to our old self-image, we runrepparttar 126244 risk of livingrepparttar 126245 second half of our lives confined to an identity that has trouble taking advantage of life's deeper opportunities. We can then develop a kind of chronic dread about having to face growing old and inevitably having to die. This dread steals life’s bright colors and makes it something that we merely endure rather than live with any vibrancy or passion.

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