How to help a friend going through a midlife crisis

Is your friend going through a midlife crisis? Our expert shares some tips on how to best support a loved one who is going through a confusing period in his or her life.

By Kait Fowlie

How to help a friend going through a midlife crisis
©iStockphoto.com/Joshua Hodge Photography
If someone you love starts behaving out of character during midlife, it might come as a shock. While you may be worried about your friend, a change in character may just mean the individual is embracing a forgotten part of his or her personality.

To learn more about midlife crises we turned to Jeff Richardson, founder and director of The Centre for Midlife Renewal. "What often happens at midlife is that parts of ourselves that were set aside or ignored in our twenties and thirties start to clamour for more attention. Rediscovering them and finding ways to bring them into our lives can take time, patience and self-trust," he explains.

Being supportive of your friend or loved one will help them achieve the patience and self-trust they need to understand their new emotions. Here are some ways you can help.

1. Recognize the signs of change
One common characteristic of a midlife crisis is a drastic departure from usual behaviour and activities.

"At one end of the spectrum, the individual might appear depressed: lacking energy, uninterested in things that he or she usually enjoys, unmotivated and unwilling to do much about it," says Richardson. "At the other end of the spectrum, the person might be devoting considerable time and money to new or previously minor activities."

If your friend's new attitude seems harmful or risky, bring it up with her. Talking about changes you've noticed will let your friend know that you're there for her if need be.

2. Don't judge
In order for your friend to feel comfortable speaking with you about her feelings, she must feel safe and secure. "Try not to label or judge your friend's behaviour," says Richardson. "If you truly care, keep an open heart and an open mind, and be sincerely curious."

Richardson suggests letting your friend know that you've noticed she's been going out more often than she used to or that she's engaging in activities that are out of character, and asking what brought on the sudden shift. It's possible to ask questions without being pushy or judgmental.

Page 1 of 2 -- If you're friend is going through a midlife crisis, find out why it's best not to assume he or she needs an intervention on page 2.


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