Midlife, COVID-19 and Climate Change Crises: What Are We Learning?

Jett Psaris, PhD has written the most beautiful book I know about midlife crisis: Hidden Blessings: Midlife Crisis as A Spiritual Awakening. It is a book I recommend often to clients needing guidance in that stage of life. In it she writes:

“Some experience their entry points into midlife as maximally disturbing, with overwhelming levels of stress and fear. They cannot believe this is happening to them: they feel incredulous. Sometimes they notice impaired judgment, confusion, and agitation [… ]. Not knowing what the midlife passage is about, most of us redouble our efforts to get back on track, resume our lives, move past the obstacle at hand, and do something -anything- to return to the predictability, control, and pleasures of normal life. Many of us resist the invitation to step away from our familiar lives because we don’t appreciate that the challenges we are facing are a call to transform. Instead we search for ways to overcome each challenge as we have in the past so we can resume traveling on a familiar track at familiar speeds. But the midlife passage will not be dismissed. We do not overcome it; it overcomes us.”

Sound familiar? Do you recognize yourself or our leaders in the above description? It makes sense because COVID-19 and midlife crises are both existential crises. So is the climate emergency. While COVID-19 took us by surprise and has been very fast moving, the climate crisis is on a different timescale. Entering midlife too can be dramatic or gradual, but whatever the nature of the entry point, it communicates that our current life streams are drying up (Psaris).

So, what if the Coronavirus pandemic and the climate change crises were entry points into a transformational midlife passage for the world? a signal that the Earth’s life streams are drying up? A wake-up call? What if, instead of rushing back to the old “normal,” we took the time to look at the opportunities, the hidden blessings that COVID-19 has brought us? What if we reflected on what we have learned from this situation, on a personal, professional and societal level?

This is what I would like to invite you into while we are slowly re-opening our world, while there is still an opportunity to continue to adopt some of the changes we have made that are good for our well-being and for the well-being of our planet. Maybe it’s driving or flying less? Maybe it’s working from home more often? Maybe it’s having family dinners on a more regular basis? Or spending more time in Nature listening to birdsong? Or gardening? Or cooking fresh meals from locally sourced products? Maybe it’s keeping this rediscovered hobby of sewing to make your own garments and reduce consumerism? Maybe it’s connecting with your neighbors more regularly and creating a supportive community?
Below you will find a series of questions for your self-reflection.

If I have learned anything from my own and from guiding others through theirs, a midlife crisis is an opportunity for renewal out of which we come out living in a more fulfilling, authentic, connected and aligned way with the life force around us. So let’s step out and renew our life streams and the ones of the planet!

Self-Reflection

1. What new routines that sustain your well-being, the well-being of your family, workplace, community and the one of the planet did you adopt during COVID-19? List as many as possible per category.

2. Which of these routines do you want to bring into the future? List at least one per category. Make it a SMART goal. (SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)

3. Which practices that do not sustain your well-being, the well-being of your family, workplace and of the planet do you want to stop?

4. What else did you learn during these times that you want to continue to bring forward?

5. What capacity did you develop during this pandemic that you can carry forward?

6. Which capacity do you need to start or continue developing to better ride the next crisis?

Anne-Marie is an Integral Coach offering life, nature, and climate-change coaching programs. More information and writing can be found on her website.


Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

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