<EDIT: Wow! I am so grateful for all of the vulnerable and insightful questions and comments that you all have shared. I have really enjoyed this AMA, answering questions about quarter-life and mid-life crises and reading any stories you have shared. I am going to try to answer many more questions over the next few days, but I wanted to provide some resources as I am wrapping up.

You can learn more about me at my website: https://www.betterbalancepsychology.com

Here are sites to help find a therapist: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us https://openpathcollective.org https://internationaltherapistdirectory.com

I also try to occasionally post helpful information on my Facebook page and Instagram: https://www.facebook.com/betterbalancepsychology @better_balance_psychology

Please feel free to reach out to me through my website if you have follow up questions about major life changes or would like a free consultation.

Again, thank you all for helping this be such a success and take good care of yourself! - Dr. Rachel>

I’m a licensed psychologist and business owner of an all-telehealth private practice. I am passionate about helping individuals navigate the stress, fear, and confusion that come up for them when they are questioning their status quo. This can look like trying to identify a college major, craving a new career path but not knowing where to start, or examining the pros and cons of a long-term relationship.

I specialize in helping people increase their clarity and confidence so that they can make the choice most aligned with their values, even if it’s a bold move. There is no greater feeling than the freedom, success, and contentment that you experience when living fulling aligned.

While I can’t provide therapy over reddit, I am happy to answer general questions about why change is hard, indecisiveness, stress, self-compassion, and identifying values.

Fun fact: If this wasn’t my day job and I wasn’t so gung-ho about counseling, I would be the founder of a big cat sanctuary. I absolutely love all things cats, especially the big ones!

My proof: [https://www.facebook.com/betterbalancepsychology/photos/a.112372093826251/332492315147560/](FB business page proof photo)

Disclaimer: This post is for educational and informational purposes only and not therapy or a substitute for therapy. If you're experiencing thoughts or impulses that put you or anyone else in danger, please contact the National Suicide Help Line at 1-800-273-8255 or go to your local emergency room.

EDIT 12:57PM CST: I'm loving all of these questions you all are asking! I am trying to get to them as fast as I can! Will be working on responding throughout the day! Keep them coming!

EDIT 3:23PM CST: Sorry folks, had to step away for a few hours. Back at commenting now!

Comments: 224 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

ohwait2snakes204 karma

How do you help people navigate the feeling that they have wasted their "potential" when it seems so many other people have accomplished more with their lives, and in less time? Thanks in advance!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul269 karma

Great question, and definitely an icky feeling for sure! I'm going to do my best to boil it down and not get on too many tangents here. There are a lot of different facets at work in this scenario including social comparison, grief (over what could have been, or what was), and even self-esteem.

So what I would do with this person is first assess the pros and cons of comparing themselves to others. The reality is that there are pros to social comparison (it pushes us forward, challenges us to keep bettering ourselves), but we need to recognize the cons of social comparison as well (never feeling good enough, imposter syndrome, like a failure). Sounds like the cons are outweighing the pros in this example in which case, let's reevaluate the decision to keep engaging in the behavior - at least at this frequency.

Second, I would encourage this person to spend time exploring and processing any grief feelings associated with not being who they thought they were going to be, wasting potential, living life wrong, etc. Grief is a sneaky thing and it definitely does not only show up in relation to the death of a loved one.

Third, I would suggest we work on increasing self-esteem and confidence by highlighting all of the human strengths, skills, and experiences this person does possess, ideally giving them increased confidence and strength to be who they are (or who they want to be) in this world. by trying things, getting experiences and "data" (feedback) on how they work out is how we can step into newer areas. We just have to be brave to take the first few steps.

And lastly, throughout the process I would be a gentle reminder that what we perceive is not always a reality. We are familiar with our deepest insecurities and challenges, but all we see from others is the mask they show to the world. That's not comparing apples to apples....be careful with this. This person may also have a confident "face" they show the world. We forget how we can come across to others.

Was that helpful? I wanted it to be honest and thorough, but not overwhelming!

CuriousGidge52 karma

Your response is amazing. I've saved it because your break-down and suggestions make so much sense and seem so practical. Sometimes you just need to hear it from someone who's not trapped in their own head.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul34 karma

100% agreed. When we're with us, we're too close. We need an outside perspective. I'm happy you found it helpful!

PhanesDionysus35 karma

I was a heroin addict for 5 years. Screwed up my college classes was goin for chemistry. Though I did not achieve the career I was shooting for, it seems it was almost better that way. I learned a lot about people and myself. How to deal with my dark side and my intense emotions, things I see other people older than me struggle with regularly. Im alot more aware of others and less easily distracted by pleasure though I can still get caught up in it. My focus and determination have never been so well trained. Ill have 2 years clean in August.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul8 karma

Wow!! What a phenomenal story and outlook! Kudos to you! May you stay strong! Onward and upward!

ohwait2snakes18 karma

That was a great answer. Thank you. I struggle with this often, and I'm bookmarking this comment to remind myself of a few points you brought up. I especially found your 3rd point helpful. Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul15 karma

I'm so happy to hear! I know I'm biased, but I always recommend getting a counselor to assist with these things. When we are with ourselves all the time and "too close", it's sometimes hard to get accurate perspective on what our strengths and skills are.

nxdark-23 karma

What a bunch of horse shit. This is all fluff and doesn't solve the root cause of the problem.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul9 karma

I'm interested in your perspective. Could you share more with me what you mean by not solving the root cause of the problem?

Meem014 karma

I watch this psychiatrist on twitch / YouTube, he actually started from a reddit AMA similar to this, often talks about these "wasted potential" / "fallen behind" situations, in fact here's an interview from this week on that topic if you're interested.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

Oh fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this resource! What have you found most helpful from him?

Meem011 karma

Lots of things really! I had seen four therapists on my own with not a lot of improvement, but then I started watching his content and I think it kind of let me "hold a mirror" up to myself, and with my current and fifth therapist I've been making way more improvement.

I was able to identify unhelpful patterns in myself by seeing them in others, for example focusing too much on the rationalized narratives I had created rather than the raw underlying feelings.

Also seeing the pattern of "traumatic experience -> adaptive protective mechanism -> mechanism becomes maladaptive and holds us back" in so many different forms from such a wide variety of people, with similar or completely opposite experiences to my own, allowed me to recognize a number of different instances of that in myself.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul10 karma

Such powerful stuff here, /u/Meem0. I'm so happy you are able to continue working on yourself! Thank you for sharing!

Ringsofthekings7 karma

I resonate with this comment so much.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul5 karma

Aww, shoot! I'm sorry to hear! Please be sure to check out my response to /u/ohwait2snakes above and feel free to ask any others you may have!

Roland_T_Flakfeizer42 karma

I have to imagine it is fairly common for people going through a midlife crisis to have become burnt out on their current career path and wanting to start over with something new. What's your best piece of advice for someone going through that transition?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul38 karma

YES! Oh so true! Your insight makes me wonder if you have personal or professional experience with this?

What I would say regarding my best piece of advice depends on where the person is at on their journey. If they are still questioning if they want to try something new, or don't know what that would be, first it's important to explore the pros/cons of change, process some logistics with various options, and asses personal values, strengths, interests, and options. If they know they are done with their current job and have an idea of what they want to do next, then it sounds more like developing a plan and executing it. There are likely going to be a mix of emotions involved, so my piece of advice here is going to encourage them to be open to anything and everything that comes up. Excitement, fear, joy, sadness...all of these are valid!

Roland_T_Flakfeizer8 karma

Oh you don't want to delve too deeply into my personal experience, gotta leave time for you to answer other's questions. What would you say is the greatest challenge during a career shift?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul13 karma

Fair enough. Good boundary!

This is not going to be a helpful answer to your question, but it depends. It depends on the person, their goals, their resources, their limitation including time and finances, their support people, the job market - the list goes on and on. Probably not the answer you were hoping for but still true nonetheless!

DrMorganLevy31 karma

What are your thoughts on the role that perfectionism plays when going through these life changes?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul49 karma

Wow, phenomenal question! Thanks for asking! I see perfectionism mainly playing a role in "picking the "right" career at the "right" time in the "right" place, etc. This pressure of being perfect, and making a linear line from point A to point B can actually be so overwhelming and paralyzing for people that they shut down and do nothing. And then they beat themselves up for not doing anything, and the cycle continues.

perfectionism -> overwhelm / paralysis -> inaction, resulting in feeling crappy about oneself

Another thing to think about here is that inaction is actually an option. It's just probably not the one people want. It keeps people stuck and unclear or unsure on how or when or where to continue moving forward. By taking some of the pressure off so as to not be perfect and make perfect decisions, they will likely be able to move forward at a faster pace and get to their destination quicker, whatever that means for them.

It seems counterintuitive, but as someone so eloquently said once (don't ask me who, IDK) - "focus on progress, not perfection".

gimpleg26 karma

Have you seen an uptick with young adults feeling lost and experiencing "quarter-life" crises in the wake of the pandemic? What advice do you have for them?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul51 karma

Unfortunately, yes, I have. I would even say perhaps before the pandemic, but that of course didn't help. A really generic response, and one that is way easier said than done, is take the pressure off. I would love to see young adults and their parents take a little bit of pressure off of "what do you want to do when you grow up and decide that right now at age 18". I feel like we put a lot of pressure on kids to get on "the right path right away", even before college, and that just is not helping anything. I want to see young adults explore different jobs/careers/the world and try new things. See what they are good at, what they like, and what brings them joy. This might sound counterintuitive (our society does not applaud time for play), but I honestly believe it is MORE efficient in the long run because they likely will find a path that is a good fit for them and one that they will be happy with in the long run.

Do you have personal or professional experience with this unfortunate uptick as well?

gimpleg10 karma

Thanks for the reply. I don't envy people coming out of school right now, with so much uncertainty with regards to real estate/home ownership and the future of work. I'm optimistic that there will be a silver lining in the form of lasting policies of remote work and flexible hours, but the cynic in me says this will be a repeat of the great recession, where corporations use it as an excuse to stagnate wages long after the effects on the economy of the pandemic have worn off. It probably depends where you live.

Professionally I have been extremely fortunate and the pandemic has strengthened my career and my certainty around it. Personally, though, I have struggled a lot with the isolation, and went through a breakup midway through the pandemic. I've gone to therapy (CBT) and have been taking an SSRI to deal with anxiety, which has helped somewhat. It's been a lonely period of self-discovery, where I'm realizing that I'm not the introverted type I used to think I was, so now I'm trying very hard to seek new experiences and form connections with people because my social circle is pretty lacking.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

I share a lot of your concerns and hope with as the world recovers from the pandemic. I wish you well on your therapy journey! Sounds like you are on the right path for you!

imk24 karma

I am 52. Until I turned 50 I never had a problem with anxiety and now I do. Is that something that you have seen?

I would think that I would be less anxious, if anything, since I am okay financially and my daughter has left the house and has a successful career. Everything seems like it should be fine but I am more pathetic than ever.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul42 karma

Yes, this is unfortunately (or fortunately?) a common experience. As much as I hear that you think you "should be fine" - and you are it seems, just to be clear - mid-life anxiety seemingly increases due to increases in existential awareness as we age. Many people, like yourself who are empty-nesters, question "now what?" You're established in your career, have the finances down, your daughter is raised...what's next? Anything? What am I supposed to do the rest of my life? Is this it? This can be a legitimately terrifying and anxiety-producing stage of life! So please, be kind to yourself. You are not "pathetic". You are trying to figure out your next goal and your second half of life purpose! This won't happen overnight.

snip_snap9 karma

This right here. I'm in the same boat and it sucks

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul7 karma

Please see my response to /u/imk above. I hope that fits for you, too! It is a scary and stressful time!

suburbanoutrage20 karma

What do you recommend for people who struggle finding their passion? I'm 36 and I have never had any idea what I want to do with my life

SelectOnion22 karma

Hey, I don't think you need to have a passion, it's absolutely fine to be who you are and not having any clearly defined passion doesn't make you worse.The idea of "do what you're passionate about" sure sounds cool and is prevalent these days but I feel like people often use it to attach their identity to something and get validation from others. Are you really looking for passion or it's a synonym for happiness? Passion doesn't equal happiness and if you're looking for happiness then you sure won't find it anywhere. I know it might sound corny or cliche or as if I read too much of Alan Watts, but the point I'm trying to make is that we're all going in circles, looking for things, jobs, people, passions, activities that we think will make us happy and we always end up disappointed. It seems like nothing external can make us happy or satisfy us before we're satisfied with anything that we already are and have. I know that this mindset did a lot of good to me. Hopefully, I gave you some food for thought. Worst case scenario this whole posts sounds patronizing, but my itentions were good ;) All the best!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul7 karma

Couldn't agree more!! Great food for thought! Thanks so much for sharing!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul17 karma

Thank you so much for being willing to share this. I know you are not alone in this situation. I admit, this is a tough scenario and makes me cranky about perhaps crappy guidance you had (or didn't have) in the past. However, I also will say, that even with the best of guidance, we struggle as a society to expose our youth to all of the possibilities. Its endless. I also will counter and say...I'm not sure if everyone has a passion or needs one or maybe they more than one. Perhaps you are one of those people who are so go-with-the-flow that identifying one thing seems impossible. So first of all, I would challenge you to embrace this part of yourself because it certainly isn't everyone's strength! And secondly, what does the term "passion" mean to you? I think it's such a loaded word. I fear that maybe it's bringing about shame to you that you can't identify your passion so something is wrong with you. That's crap. Everyone is different with their levels of enthusiasm about all things, including work and play. Or are there only certain things you feel you can be passionate about? Nope. If you are a D&D lover, rock and mineral enthusiast, or medical researcher. There is space and a community for you.

I also would encourage you to reflect on what brings you joy? What excites you? What could you talk about for hours unprompted? What could you keep learning about? What skills do you have? Start inward, and then work outward to the job descriptions / titles (not the other way around). We have this backwards in our society.

RestinNeo6 karma

I am not qualified to answer but I would like to chime in for a bit . I think you have the answers to the questions already. Sit with yourself and ask yourself what do I enjoy doing ? What am I good at ? . The more I sit with myself and ask myself these questions the more I realized I already knew the answer to my questions . Just needed to ask the right questions. Hopefully this can help you in some way , shape or form . Good luck !

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

Fantastic questions to ask and reflect on!

EmFan199919 karma

I’m 37 F. Dream job. Financially secure. Own a house, car, have savings etc. Single. No kids. No further career aspirations. What shall I do with the rest of my life? I’d say this is a 3rd of life crisis as I’m not middle aged yet haha.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul3 karma

Are you happy? Do you know what brings you joy and/or do you have time to do it? What's your life purpose or what do you want a living legacy to be? What means a lot to you?

...start asking those deep questions and living that life journey baby! It's a ride! :) Also, major kudos for already achieving what you have! You got surviving down...time to thrive! Enjoy!

carsonwl18 karma

What are some common causes that you’ve found lead to someone having a crisis?

Also, what seems to be the most common healthy and unhealthy ways people try to handle these events?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul23 karma

I'm thrilled with this question! Thanks for asking!

I would say that the broad-based common themes that lead to a crisis include traumatic events, 'aha' moments, burn-out, and age-related milestones. How these themes play out in an individual's life and what one experiences for stressors can vary person to person, but these are the general themes.

Like you already alluded to, you're keenly aware that there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to cope. Before I delve into that, I do want to say that even if deemed "unhealthy", I firmly believe that an attempt to cope is still an attempt to cope. I truly believe that as humans we do the best we can with what we got at a given time. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Common ways to healthfully cope basically include finding support and a confidant (spouse, parent, friend, counselor). There is power in talking through what we're struggling with and being reminded that we are not "crazy" for experiencing what we are. It's also helpful to gain additional perspectives and have a more objective view of what might be going on. I'll add one caveat - if you leave these conversations feeling crappier than when you went in, that's not your person to talk to! Open communication with others around your needs and wants, and an appropriate amount of time for a notice of departure from a job also are likely going to benefit you. Your future self will thank your current self for taking the high road even when you don't want to!

On the other hand, I would advise against any rash decisions, especially with finances (unless you can afford it). Also, be wary of the use of substances to numb or lessen one's distress. That might be bringing on a different problem later.

I_tote_my_goats1 karma

Do you have any articles or resources on this comment about not using substances to numb? I have a loved one going down this path following a difficult divorce, and wish I could gently support, nonjudmentally.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul2 karma

Addiction is not an area of specialty, but honestly I would try searching Al-anon or ACoA websites for resources and suggestions (or at least a place to start)! Best of luck! It is hard seeing our loved ones struggle!

celtic188816 karma

I am in my 50s and I have come to the realization that I've really accomplished everything I wanted to do in a career and am looking to retire. We have enough money saved up that we should be able to do it. I'm so burned out on working in general that even an easy, well paying job that I can thrive in makes me dread coming into work every day. (sorry everyone it took a long time to get to this spot)

Everyone, including my wife, thinks I'm crazy for wanting to get out of the rat race.

Am I wrong here? My grandparents all retired in their 50s

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul6 karma

Not wrong! If you can afford to and you want to - do it. It sounds like it's aligned for you! The only things that would give me pause would be 1) can you financially afford to do this (which you already thought about) and 2) now what? Volunteer? Hobbies? School? We all need purpose to our day even though that comes in many ways. Without purpose...we can feel lost and become depressed and I don't want that for you.

Happy retirement!

Snaeblooc13 karma

My wife is a social worker in crisis having a crisis. She was a vet tech (where she adopted our beloved massive floofy cat) when she decided to follow in her late mother's footsteps and peruse her other great passion of helping people. She got her LMSW at UT Austin and is now having a very hard time finding work that offers supervision toward an LCSW, or really any work that she isn't either over or under qualified for. Currently she works for a crisis hotline. The job is rewarding but incredibly stressful and she feels stuck there. Any tips for her to keep moving forward or get out of a slump?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul15 karma

Ugh...finding a supervisor can be a TOUGH position to be in. If she can't find a position that offers supervision as part of the job, could she hire an external supervisor? I'm not 100% sure how that works for social work, each field is different. And of course, each state is different, too. Not helpful I know. Her experience at the crisis line is likely helping her resume if nothing else and will be fantastic job experience for future positions. Can this count as hours by chance?

For what it's worth, this is a normal annoyance and frustration for this time in her licensing / career. I literally made a paper chain for each week I had remaining at a crappy job (but they provided supervision). Just remember, this is not permanent. She is not stuck. There is more on the other side! Hold the hope!

Hug your floofy cat for me! :)

IndigoMoonscape10 karma

Do you see a lot of stay at home parents in your line of work? What advice have you given to them about fending off the negative sterotypes they face and guilt over "giving up" on a career/education? The amount of comments from people (even family members) I get about how I'm wasting my potential can be disheartening, despite loving this time i get to spend with my child and the support role I play for my family unit in our home.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul15 karma

I wouldn't say I see "a lot" of stay at home parents, but I do see some.

First of all, thank you for being willing to share and ask this because, unfortunately, I am aware of how painful these comments can be. At the risk of sounding rude, I would first ask you to do some reflection - are you actually as OK with your decision as you think you are? I'm only asking this because sometimes we are more sensitive to comments when we secretly agree with them. If you are in fact great with your decision, then 1) it's frankly not up to anyone else to decide how you live your life and 2) it sounds like you may benefit from setting some boundaries with others, especially those close to you, asserting yourself saying something like "when you say x, I feel y. Can you please stop saying x?" Or "I would prefer you support me in my decision in xyz ways". These people may not even be aware of how they are making you feel. I'm guessing the intention is good in that they care about you and want you to be happy. Sometimes the intent doesn't match the impact, though. I also would encourage you to find fellow stay at home parents. These are going to be "your people" who "get it" and that just is going to be worth its weight in gold to have.

In my humble opinion, our society does a crap job at recognizing how hard parenting is and that it actually is a job 24/7 with no sick days, maybe 1-3 vacation days, and longer work hours than 9-5. Defining success for you and your family is up to you. Sending positive vibes and strength your way! Thank you for taking such good care of your family!

IndigoMoonscape3 karma

Thank you for your thoughtful reply! Something you said that I would like to ask you a little more about if you have time- how do I go about creating successful boundaries? When people do not accept your boundaries (tell you that you're being too sensitive, or that they are the way they are) and they are close family members, is there another communication tactic I can try or do I just have to accept it?

kittanjaan7 karma

Hi! This is something I’ve been working on for years and feel happy about my progress. Here I would ask — what’s a third option? Trying new tactics doesn’t typically work with dismissive people, and I don’t want that for you re “just accepting it.” Is there a third option? There might be many if you do an internet search of “how to set boundaries” or “how to deal with toxic family members.” I tried a mix of many different approaches until I found something good for me. My experience is that I had to become about 5x more confident in myself and my choices — boundaries are about keeping stuff out, but that is much easier when you are crystal clear on what you want to keep IN. At that point, other people’s opinions just become little obstacles to gracefully dance around. I found people stopped having opinions, or I stopped caring as much, when I was completely satisfied with my life, from the inside. And I don’t want to misrepresent what “completely satisfied” means … we are always growing and evolving, but at least I reached a point where, as Doc pointed out, there wasn’t a loud part of me that secretly wondered if the naysayers around me were right.

IndigoMoonscape2 karma

Lots for me to consider here, I appreciate it!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul7 karma

You don't need me here - /u/kittanjaan has got you covered! The only two things I would add is 1) asserting boundaries is hard. And it's not like you draw your line once. You draw it again, and again, and again in the same context, but also in difference contexts. If it "doesn't work" in one setting, that doesn't mean it doesn't work. And this is because of addition number 2: people get used to us acting and behaving in certain ways. So if all of a sudden you start drawing boundaries with them, there is gonna be a little pushback. That might come in the sense of "I am who I am" or "stop being so sensitive". These are actually attempts to prevent THEM from feeling uncomfortable because even in a small way you blew their mind a little bit just now because you don't usually act that way and they are ready for things to go back to status quo. Over time and repetition, they will get used to the new confident, assertive you! :)

thismightbelong10 karma

Do you get a lot of RuPaul jokes?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul5 karma

Can't say I've had one yet. But there is a first time for everything!

Good-of-Rome9 karma

What's the most reckless thing you've seen a person do during a crisis? I had a "now or never" moment a fre years ago and sold everything and hit the road with only my car and a fee pairs of clothes. Eventually became homeless and then got out of that downward spiral a few months later. 7/10 learned a lot and had some good times.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul1 karma

Reckless is really only to be defined by that person, because what I would consider reckless, another might crave. So there is that. But yes, I would encourage people to think before acting rashly especially as it pertain to jobs and finances (only because that can provide security) just to avoid unintentionally making matters worse for themselves on the other side (whatever that means). For you, though, you still speak highly of your time which is so cool! What is one big thing you learned about yourself on that journey?

nicole919948 karma

Do you have any advice for someone who has been let go from jobs multiple times for not learning fast enough? It has completely devastated me each time and now I don’t have the confidence to look for jobs in the field I went to school for so I’m just at a job I’m unhappy at right now.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul6 karma

Oh crap. I'm so sorry to hear this! And no doubt you've been devastated by this in the past! I think to thoroughly answer this, it would depend on what are you struggling with, are there any real life disabilities with these struggles, are there any supports/accommodations for these concerns in the jobs you want, and - not really related - is it even legal to fire you for this reason? I'm not sure... I would look to see if this "learning fast enough" is necessary to all similar jobs in the field you want? Or unique to certain companies or roles. You definitely deserve to be happier than just working at any old job.

Mrsrightnyc7 karma

For women, do you have any advice for how to navigate wanting to become a mom with balancing a growing career and the fear that in order to give life to another you have to sacrifice you own dreams?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul5 karma

You hit me in the heart right here. Beautiful and raw question.

The only piece of advice I would say is be careful of the confines of black-and-white thinking. We all get stuck here sometimes - it's common - the reality, though, is that life is rarely black-or-white. It's gray. It's messy. It's confusing. It's uncomfortable. You do not have to give up a career to be a wonderful mom. But by taking both on (heck even if you didn't), there are gonna be some days where you are better than others at balancing everything. Balls are gonna get dropped from time to time in both domains, the fulcrum of the balance is going to shift. That's you doing your best. And that's going to have to be good enough. There literally is nothing else you can do. Here is where self-compassion lies and I strongly suggest you become your own best friend.

Wishing you well on this journey! It's gonna be a fun (and hard) and full of successes and memories!

throwawayunicorn1216 karma

Do you have any tips of what you can do when your brain isn't being very nice to you?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul16 karma

Ha, I love how you asked this! Yes! Be meaner back! Say wtf brain?! No, just kidding. That's not helpful.

In all seriousness, there is a ratio that's needed here. For every negative or not nice thought, you need five positives. It's annoying why this ratio is so unbalanced, but the science behind it boils down to survival and remembering negative events more readily is an important way to protect us. I'd say that you already have a one up on the majority of people in that you are aware it is happening. We can't change anything if we don't know it's happening. So catch it, correct it, but correct it with the ratio. (Also correct it with meaningful and true aspects about yourself). This will decrease in frequency the more you practice. Best of luck!

patient_trader_11016 karma

I think the crisis is mostly knowing that the end is near. How should people deal with or accept the inevitable?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

I would respectfully argue that a crisis CAN be about existentialism, but doesn't have to be. It could just be about big changes or milestones. There no doubt are a lot of emotions that come up and a lot that needs to be explored and processed before acceptance is found. Some struggle with this more than others.

CaptainSeagul6 karma

Do you believe your job is more about helping people or just helping people feel good about themselves?

I ask this genuinely as my last experience with a therapist made me feel like it was the latter.

Krissy_loo2 karma

What's the difference?

CaptainSeagul1 karma

From a behavioral point of view it doesn't matter I suppose.

But all that does is mask problems.

Krissy_loo6 karma

I politely disagree.

So much psychological pain comes from the disappointment between our expectations and the reality of a situation. A therapist who helps you regain a sense of control, purpose, and helps you reset those problematic expectations will likely be a therapist who helps your self esteem increase.

Ethical therapists aren't there to tell you what to do/how to fix your problems - the change has to come from the client.

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul10 karma

I'm going to jump in on this, too. I absolutely agree with you /u/Krissy_loo. But I also understand where the confusion may come from /u/CaptainSeagul.

In my opinion, I would say that my job is about helping people. What I would add, is that as a therapist, I can only go as deep or as fast as the client is willing to go. I also can't read minds, so if I'm not working on the things that are most pressing and just "masking" the symptoms, that isn't helpful at all. I'm not saying that this was on you entirely in your past experience, it very well could have been a poor therapist-client fit or they were lacking expertise/experience. Last add, by helping people, even at the surface or the deep level, I think this does result in helping them feel good about themselves, more confident, and more secure.

Great clarifying question!

whomba5 karma


My wife has never had a career - she's had part time jobs at stores and groceries but never a career. She got her masters in a field which she hates and just barely finished her degree.

We moved cross country for my work - and she was going to start fresh. Then she ended up getting pregnant (I got her pregnant? We got pregnant? whatever...). After doing some searching we decided while getting a job was possible, financially it didn't make sense due to child care (her points not mine) so she would be a stay at home mom.

Punch line is that it's been 6 years with no work. And with no prior career 'to go back to' She has no idea what she wants to do with her life or even where to start (insert depression here)

The question

  1. What are some good first steps to take to find a career at late 30s?
  2. What appear to be some good first steps, but actually aren't good / aren't useful.

Thanks in advance!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul6 karma

Thank you so much for sharing! You and your wife are not alone in this situation! First, regardless of age, I would say that we all need to start this journey looking inward, not outward. Look at likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, things that light you up, values, etc...this is not what society says - they say look at job descriptions and titles. But actually the other way around is more helpful. Take YOUR list and compare it to the descriptions you see in job postings. (Don't start by reading job postings and weigh in blindly). Also, if something doesn't seem like it exists as a thing, I bet either it is, or it CAN be. We are getting more and more creative as far as what a job/career looks like there has to be something your wife will be good at and enjoy! It's likely not going to be a straight path (so just take that pressure off right now), but you and she will figure it out as long as she wants to and starts exploring! Imperfect action! Best of luck!

Mystic_Dawn5 karma

I've always been sort of confused with what a mid-life crisis means. I'm only 25 so maybe that's why but I don't really understand it. Like I couldn't ever picture myself going through a "mid-life crisis", simply because I'm confident enough in myself to be comfortable and sensible with whatever I want to do in life. The way I understand it is someone making a drastic change in their life whether through an activity, the way they live their life, or even the way they look that isn't the same as before. But what makes it different to define it as a quarter/mid life crisis and someone just wanting to experience something new?

So I think my question is what defines a quarter/mid life crisis and better yet, how would you even know you're going through one? Does it also have consequences or harmful affects depending on the situation?

I apologise that's a lot but I'd just like to understand, thanks!

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul8 karma

Oooooo this is a good one. I'm actually trying to figure out what angle to respond to because I honestly don't think I have THE answer. The answers I have come up with are generic sounding including "it depends on the person" and "you'll just know". Super helpful, right? Ha! But I really think you are on the money as far as what or how it looks, but perhaps add the element of shock or surprise its happening (instead of desiring it to happen). That can cause additional confusion and questioning. Heck, even wanting something new or different can cause confusion for some people, which can lead to anxious spiraling. The reason they are called quarter and mid-life crises is because these are common periods of time where people struggle due to major life adjustments (e.g., kids born, kids grown, start a career, bored with career). But of course you can have issues (or no issues) at any point. Also, not everyone is destined to experience these. They kind of have a mind of their own! Was that kinda helpful?

NoYgrittesOlly4 karma

Hi, big fan! Anyway, if it isn’t too personal, have you ever had a quarter/mid/late life crisis, and if so, how did you end up working through it?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul6 karma

Nah, I'm an open book. I don't think mine constitutes as a full blown quarter life crisis, but it rocked me enough that I feel I'm good for a while. Probably not surprising here, I am a big fan of personal therapy so I used that resource as well as career counseling resources so as to learn more about options I had available to me. Lots of time was spent being honest with myself and looking at the good, bad, and ugly of various options. I wouldn't trade it for anything today, though, because it made me who I am. (Also, hindsight is 20/20)

ktv133 karma

I’m in academia since a decade but not able to land one of these coveted permanent positions. So I’m considering leaving. But somehow I’m almost paralyzed of thinking about leaving and my life without the goal of making it in academia. It’s my dream since I can remember and just thinking of leaving makes me feel like a failure. I’m the type A person who rarely fails and I just can’t handle the thought. 😬

How do I overcome this paralysis? How do you find out what you want to do after one thing you truly love didn’t pan out?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

Oh goodness, I can't even imagine how hard it is to find an academic position! I bet you are stressed and no doubt questioning your future in the field!

A couple questions come up for me: do you need to overcome the paralysis or is it keeping you in the spot you need to be (AKA not leaving academia because you're not done trying yet)? How do you define success and failure? Does only a tenured position define success and completion of your dream? WHO are you trying to prove WHAT to and WHY?

I fully realize I answered your questions with more questions, and that may not be helpful, but hopefully they are worth a bit of reflection!?

Severe_Fox_24282 karma

Why is change difficult for some people but others embrace and/or push for change?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul4 karma

Wow. Great question! A few ideas come to mind including life experiences (especially if there are some negative) and personality differences, including extraversion/introversion, need for control, and need for novelty and adventure. Where do you fall (if you're comfortable answering)?

bbbbaconsizzle2 karma

How do you know when it becomes a midlife crisis vs just stressed with all that's going on?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul8 karma

Part of me wants to gently nudge and ask - does it matter what it's called or are these just semantics? Stress and crises are uncomfortable nonetheless and we all want to be done with that nonsense as soon as possible!

But as a possible answer to your question, I would say two ways to determine it's more likely a midlife crisis rather "just stress" include the chronic nature of such stress and the personal nature (it feels like an identity is threatened or needs to be determined). But again, I think it's all valid whether it is a "crisis" or not.

Great question! Thanks for asking!

myops_rock2 karma

What are the rates for telehealth sessions?

Do you find it harder to help people remotely than in person?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul7 karma

Awesome questions!

You will likely not see a difference in price for telehealth sessions compared to in-person sessions. The experience, knowledge, and expertise of the person you are talking to does not change, just the location. Now some insurance companies might reimburse less for these services, which is a point of contention in the field due to the above mentioned reasons, but as a consumer that really shouldn't affect you a ton unless your provider decides to move out-of-network due to this coverage difference.

Regarding differences in ability to help, that's a good ole therapist "it depends" answer. I would honestly say "yes" if the clientele is children or even teens and some young adults. It is just harder to engage with toys and keep attention through a screen. Some also find it challenging to do couples work online. But working with individual adults doing talk therapy virtually probably poses the same amount of benefits and challenges as in-person work does. Some protocols, specifically some trauma protocols, are also harder (but not impossible) to implement online. So I guess it depends on the age of the client and specialty of the clinician.

It's definitely not designed for everyone!

myops_rock2 karma

Thanks for the fast response!

Interesting about the rates. I’ve used telehealth to meet with a doctor during the pandemic. It worked great but we had the benefit of both an established in person relationship and no bad news. Discussing health can be very personal and emotional.

That being said, the convenience of sessions from home could also be a huge benefit for those in remote areas, with anxiety issues, a tight schedule, etc.

It’s great that you’ve found a way to help people like this. Your business picked up due to the pandemic?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul2 karma

Yes, I agree, mental health and physical health topics can be very vulnerable and emotional indeed. Having an established relationship prior to doing telehealth is a benefit, but it is not necessary. It's just that much more important to bring non-verbal communication/signals to the verbal realm. It can be as simple as pointing out that a client is shifting frequently in their chair, or gently asking if I'm seeing tears present.

You are right on the money with some of the benefits to telehealth! :)

And yes, my business did pick up in the midst of the pandemic, as did a lot of my colleagues. I get it, talk about major stress and adjustments, and threats to livelihood with job losses and other financial stressors. From a strictly business standpoint, I was one of the lucky ones whose business increased in the pandemic, but of course, I don't like the reason since that means more people were struggling. I have mixed feelings about it as you can probably tell.

Argo1472 karma

What recommendations do you have for people who are codependent and struggle with loss of relationships leading to a crisis?

Dr_Rachel_DuPaul3 karma

Since codependency is also a specialty area of mine, I wanted to respond here. I honestly don't think codependency as the "cause" of the crisis matters as far as how I would work with someone in the crisis. At least not right away. A crisis is still a crisis. However, codependency is definitely something I would want to work with that person on for future encounters so that it does not continue to be a cause of crises. That work would likely include some trauma processing and self-esteem/confidence work. I realize that didn't actually answer your question which asked for specific recommendations, but I don't think there is just a step-by-step guide to outline here. I think it's more of a process (go figure...I'm a therapist). I hope that was helpful at least somewhat!