The Scariest Hallowe’en Ever

Some people say that they love to be scared silly. Are you one of those? Here’s a challenge: get quiet; go deep inside; look for what you’re most afraid of with your primary relationship; now look again and see if you can find what most scares you about the economy, your career, and your financial condition; finally, go looking for yourself as a really, really old man or woman. BOO! There’s scary for you! If you play those videos in your mind, you can’t close your eyes, you can’t turn it off, you can’t walk away, you can’t even just turn the lights on. So why not pretend that a costume-shop devil is the scariest thing in your world today?

Mastering the art of the midlife transition means focusing on what’s really going on inside you. It means fearlessly bringing all those bogey-men out into the sunlight and taking a serious look at them. It means acknowledging yourself as exactly who you are, where you are, and where you’re headed. It means taking responsibility for accepting yourself in your current condition, or for changing things so that your future will be different from your past. Nobody’s going to tell you the right thing to do (although very many people are going to try). The training wheels are off, and, regardless of how much good advice you’ve received, it’s time to steer your life on your own. Advice – even advice from acknowledged experts – always has one major drawback, you know: the advice-giver doesn’t have to live with the consequences: you do.

The more I’ve been able to delve into the deeper regions of the midlife transition to find the motivator that supplies all the necessary psychic energy to power midlife crises in both women and men, I keep coming up with the same inexhaustible and eternally-renewable energy source: fear. Because this primordial fear of losing out (. . . on what? on life? . . . ), most people would rather deal with fantasy horror, like slasher movies and the scare-yourself-silly Stephen King genre than get down there where the real threats to your relationships, your career, and your personal health and well-being lie.

I’m no psychologist (but I am a fairly astute observer), still, I wonder why it’s easier for some people (especially men) to deal with the grossest kinds of external threats than it is to sit down and tackle the real fears that are gnawing at your insides. Maybe it’s because you know that you can shut your eyes at any time, or walk out of the theater, or turn the TV off if it gets too intense. You can’t really do that with the monsters under the bed that have taken up residence in your subconscious mind. Isn’t it just like when you were a very little kid? The adults could come in and turn the light on; you could see that the monsters were gone from where you thought they were; and the second the lights went back off and the adult left the room, you’d know it: they’re back!


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