Midlife & Other Life Crises


Harry Dowling: Surrey Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Great Bookham, Leatherhead near Dorking, Cobham, Epsom, Esher, Fetcham, Effingham, Horsley, Clandon, Ripley, Send, Woking, Ashtead, Stoke d’Abernon, Guildford & Horsham

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Midlife & Other Life Crises

Life may pass smoothly as if according to plan but eventually a crisis arises. Sometimes it is clearly an outside event which has derailed us or turned our world upside-down. At other times it seems that something within us has collapsed. In either case we become unsure of ourselves, old certainties become doubtful, old values and meanings appear empty.

John in Dorking has a responsible job and has a history of success, moving with apparent ease from university into a chosen career with regular promotions. He appears to have everything he wants and has worked for. But he cannot ignore now a growing sense of emptiness and disappointment.

Jane in Cobham has worked hard at various jobs, changing these and leaving them to devote herself full-time to the household, as the needs of her family dictated. But now there is a nagging feeling that she has lived for others and not for herself.

Michael in Epsom has buried himself in his work as a technician, seemingly with little recognition or appreciation but has been sustained by his pride in being useful and efficient. The recent loss of his job has led him to believe that he has been discarded, to taste the shame of no longer being useful, and doubting that he will ever be able to climb out of the pit of his anger and despair.

Can the Crisis Serve a Purpose?

These and similar events, within us and without, do not have to hit us only in midlife. They can arrive at any time. The teenager may undergo a similar turmoil, and the newly retired, unprepared for a life without the status of work and position. They test us and demand from us an adequate response. It is as if the crisis itself had a purpose. We are required to examine ourselves and the worlds we have made for ourselves, to reorientate ourselves towards new goals, purposes and values.

Where Do We Find the Answers?

It is no accident that one of the largest sections in bookshops is devoted to popular psychology, popular spirituality and self-help. Many of us are questioning our lives, our goals and our values. Will we find the answers to our deepest questions in these books? Perhaps. At least we will find food for thought. But there is a danger that we will see in the author a guru to take the painful burden from us, instead of accepting the need to create our own solutions. In assuming that a guru knows better, we devalue and undermine our own efforts to master the crisis. In the final analysis our own solution to our own individual crisis must be the product of our own labours.

Is Self-Help Possible?

So should you re-examine yourself and your world entirely on your own? It is possible to do this yourself, as long as you can find or create a crisis-free, calm centre within yourself in order to carry out the work. For some it will be necessary to find a counsellor, a psychotherapist, a priest, an imam, a rabbi or other spiritual guide who can help create this calm space for reflexion. But here too you will fail in your efforts if you place your helper in a superior position, expecting him to make your choices for you. It must always be you making use of help, rather than clinging to your helper like a drowning man.

Surrey Counselling & Psychotherapy as Help in a Crisis

When you know that you cannot deal with the crisis entirely on your own, or with the help of your family and friends, then you know that it is time to seek psychotherapy or counselling help. You will find more about the help that I offer and how to contact me on my home page Surrey Counselling & Psychotherapy

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Photo of Harry Dowling who provides Counselling in Surrey

Harry Dowling
Adlerian Psychotherapist