Healthy Beginnings

Gambling at Midlife


What really nourishes your soul?

For many people at midlife, especially those who are retired, gambling can be a seductive – and destructive – activity. The ending of a career, the death of a spouse or a change of roles within the family are life events that can lead to feelings of loss, sadness loneliness or anger. Many older people turn to gambling at these times for distraction, excitement, social interaction or just “something to do.”

For those drawn to it, it is likely the theme of gambling resonateswith their inner psychological process in a way it doesn’t for others.They are people who may need to take some risk in their life. Thisis part of why they are drawn to gamble. It is an outer, symbolicrepresentation of an inner psychological need.What nourishes your soul in your 50s, 60s and beyond is not thesame as what worked in your 20s and 30s.You’ve “been there, done that” and your psychological needs havechanged. In the first half of life, you must find your place in theworld, pursue a career, provide for yourself or perhaps start a family.But in life’s second half, your psyche pushes for a rounding out andcompletion of the personality.Spiritual concerns, such as reflection upon life and its purpose,often take on increased importance. A deepened and more vitalrelationship with the core of your personality is pressed for withgreater intensity.For many middle aged people, the unmet need that drivescompulsive gambling may be an inner hunger for a new viewpoint.When old ways of looking at life and relating to your inner self andGod have grown stale, you might take on a new perspective. To letgo of the familiar, to see and perceive in new ways, often requirescourage and an openness to the unknown.For someone with a specific worldview to consider the possibilitythat there may be a deeper spiritual fabric to the universe would bea risk.It would involve suspending certain beliefs long enough to allowthe glimmer of another reality to break through. For the Christian toexplore the teachings of Buddhism or Native American spiritualitycan take a lot. What he or she once believed may be transformed bya new or broadened perspective of life and God.To expand a narrowly religious understanding of God through thestudy of transpersonal or Jungian psychology could be an importantand rewarding gamble for those who entering their later years.So, the next time you have a hankering to part with your money ina casino, maybe it’s time to part with certain beliefs that no longerserve your soul.

For more info, contact Dr. Andy Drymalski, Reno and CarsonCity psychologist at phone number (775) 786-3818, or Enjoy his blog at