It suddenly hits you. You look in the mirror and the person staring back at you is barely recognizable. How did it happen? What happened? How did time slip away so fast. Whether it’s thirty, forty, fifty or another number, at some point most people have their own mirror-moment and it usually is unpleasant.
Have you had your mirror-moment?
“Age is but a number”, or so the saying goes. For some people it really is just that, while for others it is a constant uphill battle. For them, age is their ever present enemy, lurking in the shadows of every day. Every grey hair, every new wrinkle and every age spot feels like a personal, yet inevitable and inescapable affront that threatens their entire existence.
Why is ageing so overwhelming for some?
The word Gerascophobia is derived from Greek ‘tha geraso’ which is a phrase that means ‘I am getting old’ and phobos meaning dread or deep fear. (http://www.fearof.net/fear-of-getting-old-phobia-gerascophobia/)
The physical changes we all experience as we get older have the potential to derail even the most content person at some point in their life. However, it is often not the physical changes that threaten our inner peace, but rather the realization that time could be running out to achieve that goal, that dream, that purpose we aspire to achieve or obtain before we say our final goodbyes.
Ironically, our attitude about age can profoundly impact how healthily we progress into the unknown territory.
How can we combat age related anxieties?
- Stop procrastinating. Do what you want to do NOW. Make a list of all the things you want to do – no matter how insignificant they sound – and add a date to get them done. Some things will be easier, more realistic and more attainable than others. This is the time to get a little goal setting done. (See our blog post on goal setting for more specific guidelines.) As soon as you get the first item on your list done, it will spur you on to keep going. Remember: You may need to adjust the list from time to time and that’s okay – it’s part of the goal setting process and it’s part of life.
- Find something you like about yourself – physically or emotionally – preferably something that is there because of your age! For me, it’s definitely confidence. As a younger person I had countless hang-ups about so many things. It stripped me of my confidence and I second-guessed myself and my abilities all the time. As I grew older, it changed and I can safely say that I am undoubtedly more confident and able to celebrate my skills, abilities and strengths and I am even more forgiving and accepting of my weaknesses.
- Practice Gratitude. Yes, I added that and yes, it is important. Over the past year we have had a couple of acquaintances and friends who passed away unexpectedly. They were in the prime of their lives, some not even in their fifties. Time was not on their side and they were not gifted with an opportunity to “do …. tomorrow.” They did not get a chance to do the things they wanted to do “some day”. Every morning gifts us with the opportunity to tackle something on our list and every evening when we go to bed we have the responsibility to be grateful for our gift of time.
- Focus on the positives. Growing older is not all bad. With age comes a level of self-assurance and respect guided by experience. Life experience cannot be bought – it is earned. Life’s hard knocks offer invaluable lessons, propelling us into my personal favourite, the wisdom category! Find the positives in your life that have arrived at your door step because of your age.
- Be prepared. Ageing is inevitable and if we are given the gift of time it is unwise to remain unprepared. An ostrich approach will not serve anyone well, so choosing to ignore the process and everything that goes along with ageing will ultimately add to existing anxieties. Don’t allow poor or no planning to rob you of the opportunity to enjoy all of the seasons of your life!
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” (Sarchel Paige)
Embrace your age, every grey hair, every wrinkle or sore muscle and joint. Forget the fear and celebrate your wisdom and experience and build on your comfort and security in your sense of self.
What do you enjoy most about being older?