Every now and then you meet people who seem to be at their wits' end. Some young, some midlife and others older, they all seem to arrive at a point where they seriously question their identities and goals in life. People will label this state as 'midlife crisis', 'burnout', 'bore-out' or any other reference that may serve a desired outcome.
Here is what happens most of the time. If you are aware of what I am going to describe below, you are half way in avoiding these crisis. If you consciously practice your awareness of the mechanism you are about to discover, you will see your level of happiness, coherence and alignment rise considerably.
1. Where it all starts going potentially wrong
Even without consciously thinking about it, we all know that the place and time we were born, has a determinate influence on us. On a macro scale there is a difference in being born in Namibia versus being born in Brussels. Zooming in, it makes a difference whether you are born in a city or in the countryside, in a rich family or a poor one, in a liberal, social or other family, in the 50s, 60s 70s or later. We all agree on this. Place and time determine what impulses mold our young brains and hearts.
2. What we do and are not allowed to do
So there we are, growing up in a world filled with examples and role models telling us what to do, think, how to do it, how to behave and certainly what NOT to do. Most of us abide by the instructions. Some of us revolt and are labeled 'difficult child' or hyper sensitive or whatever. But hey, we're only children, we have no opinion, we have to learn and listen and follow, don't we?
3. What we learn and use
While growing up, our role models not only tell us what we can and cannot do, they also largely influence how we do things. Where and when we were born and our parents/role models determine what schools we go to, what hobbies we can or cannot enjoy. They often choke our dreams and force us into certain directions. We are growing up and are unconsciously unaware of so many things. We look for certainties and accept what our surroundings tell us. How many of you wanted to study something and had your parents laughing your dreams away, telling you there would be no future in your choices...?
4. What matters to us
By the time we grow up (if we ever do so), we have been mostly molded by people and opinions around us. We feel good and think it's OK. Fortunately for most of us, it is OK :). We have copied values and beliefs from our role models and from other influencers related to where and when we were born. I think we all know for ourselves what values and beliefs I am talking about.
Question: have we become who we really are (read: were at the start)? I mean, we all start with a number of skills, talents, ambitions and passions. Look at the average child and you can see what they would become without external limitations... Through out our lives we constantly move from being unconsciously incompetent in an area to unconsciously competent. To what extent have you chosen your areas? And in how many fields are you still unconsciously or consciously incompetent and what will you do about this today that will make the difference in the future?
How far are you from what and who you really want to be? And while you have been molded for so many years, have you ever found time and space to think about what your higher goal in life is? Why are you here? What is your mission? Just sit out your time, trying to please the powerful around you? Or is there more?
That is when the light goes out. The very moment you truly realize you have been a puppet on your parents', bosses', spouses' and even your own (not 100% genuine) strings.
6. What's next?
Now is the time to define what you really really really want in this life. If money, society, and external pressure or relations did not matter, what is it you would really want to contribute to this world?
When you have the answer, ask yourself who you'd be while contributing? What would matter to you and what would no longer be important? What beliefs would you subscribe to and which beliefs would you throw away? What new skills would be useful and what old skills ready to dispose of? Hey, and what would you do. Would you still behave in the same way? And would it be in the same environment?
A fascinating journey it is. I have not been in a real crisis fortunately. It is probably thanks to the fact that I have grown up in an environment allowing me to be myself, choosing my choices and live with the consequences of the choices. It is a journey, however, a journey of consciously assuring alignment and coherence. If 'crisis' is the moment you become consciously incompetent in an area and you invest in becoming consciously competent, I am in a permanent crisis. And I love it!
Enjoy the trip!