This is a book that was recommended to me a few years ago. It’s by James Hollis, is rooted in Jungian psychology, and has the tagline “from misery to meaning in midlife“. Sounds a bundle of fun, I know!
It’s not a very long book, but it’s packed with insight for anyone who thinks they might be having a mid-life crisis and I’ve recommended it to friends, family and clients.
One of the main aspects is the split of adulthood into two parts, before and after the dark days spent in the Middle Passage.
During the First Adulthood we tend to live our lives as we think we ‘should’ based on what we learned from our parents and other key figures in our lives but which, to quote Hollis: “... is a provisional existence, lacking the depth and uniqueness which makes that person truly an individual.”
The Middle Passage represents the disruption that is the mid-life crisis which causes us to re-examine our lives and ask: ‘Who am I apart from my history and the roles I have played?’ and to pay attention to the less developed parts of ourselves – which may well have been neglected over the years. It’s where we let go of “… the assumption that if we act correctly, if we are of good heart and good intentions, things will work out.”
Having navigated this passage, you’ll be glad to hear that things often get better – with the prospect of entering Second Adulthood knowing ourselves better, living life more authentically – and with more meaning, meaning that makes sense to us as a person, and expresses our own individuality.