How To Avoid Resentment in a Midlife Crisis
Dear Selfless Esteem,
I’m having a midlife crisis. Due to a few life circumstances, I’m not where I thought I’d be. Even worse, I had followed my family and others’ advice but now I find myself disappointed and starting over. How do I successfully do that and deal with resentment?
Dear Starting Over,
Wow, starting over sounds so frustrating. An analogy would be you compete in the Ironman, and then someone tells you at the finish line that you have to do it again. 😫
Let’s look at the components of your letter: 1) You are midlife, and you feel disappointed because you’re not where you thought you’d be due to a few life circumstances. 2) You want to know how to start over without feeling resentful toward the people, who gave you bad advice.
Now let’s address each component.
You are midlife, and you feel disappointed because you are not where you thought you’d be due to a few life circumstances. I guess you are referring to the typical goals of a certain career, marital status and children.
How can you be so sure you want this thing that you don’t have? Looking back in your life, aren’t there things you thought you wanted but later realized that you don’t want them? Additionally, I suspect that you’ve been idealizing how great this thing would have been. The problem is that the more you ruminate on an unrealistic fantasy, the more disappointed you will be.
Or maybe you are realistic and certain about what you wanted. God doesn’t passively watch and say, “Tsk, Tsk. That’s too bad.” Instead, He brings some good out of the situation (Romans 8:28).
What is something you have as a result of not getting the other thing? Is it certain people in your life, opportunities, freedom, personal growth, wisdom, or more compassion for others? Focus on any good outcome (Philippians 4:8). Otherwise, you will continue to feel upset.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you should bury your anger and disappointment. Use a healthy outlet for expressing those feelings. The following are suggestions:
- Find a competent therapist, who is a good listener and can provide a different perspective. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”
- Express your thoughts and feelings to God, who is a “refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
- Journal. Externalizing thoughts and feelings by putting them on paper can be a source of comfort.
If a resentful thought pops in your mind anytime day or night, pause it until therapy, prayer, or journaling time. In the meantime, resume your thoughts of gratitude.
How to Avoid Resentment
You stated you want to know how to start over without feeling resentful toward the people, who gave you bad advice. Was every single piece of advice from those people bad?
Close friends and family members usually give a mixed bag of advice: some good tips and some not-so-good tips. Why? Because people are not perfectly all-knowing. Be grateful for any good tips and any good influence they had on you. Furthermore, if they had good intentions with the not-so-good tips, then this could reduce your resentment towards them.
Here’s the bottom line: you have no chance of avoiding resentment if you are fixated on what you don’t have. At some point, you have to let it go because our lives are not about getting what we want. Our lives are about loving and serving God and each other. (Deuteronomy 6:5; John 15:12).
My dear reader, that’s the essence of Selfless Esteem. For details, see the post “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self Esteem.” As a result, you will experience freedom. ٩(˘◡˘)۶
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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