Growing older is not a bad thing, it’s simply a part of life. The trick is to focus on the growing part of the process, while not giving in to external views and defeating attitudes that say older equals passé or irrelevant.
Here are three ways to prevent falling prey to the ageism traps and to take control of your narrative.
- Own your definition. Never utter the words old when describing yourself to others. Once you label yourself, you give everyone a license to follow suit! You are never old (especially in the workplace), you are experienced, seasoned, sassy, rising in age, evolving, growing, and smart. If someone wants to rope you into their “We’re so old” pity-party, reject it! Externally you might say, “Really, I don’t feel old at all.” Internally be sure to tell yourself, “Nope, not me. You may be old, but I am as energetic and snappy as ever.”
- Control your inner dialogue. Your mind uses your internal dialogue to define you and to set your internal clock. If you tell yourself you are old, your mind will believe that it must be true, and it will follow that narrative. If your back hurts, instead of saying to yourself that it hurts because you’re old. Focus on how to heal it and say instead; now is a good time to stretch more regularly or lift weights to strengthen my core. If you are faced with new technology that is well known by millennials; don’t say that because you are old, you don’t know this type of stuff. Instead, focus on the opportunity to learn. Tell yourself that it’s something worth learning and figure out how to master it. If you see lines on your face, know that everyone gets them. They are an external veneer that supports the solid experience of a dynamic woman. If you want to soften your wrinkles, there is nothing wrong with buying a good face cream, giving yourself regular facials, and improving your diet to support your evolving body.
- Don’t compare yourself. It’s a waste of time, and it will lead you down the destructive path of trying to be like others. You are unique, and your experience and life lessons have gotten you this far. If you want to change, do it because it’s part of your plan and purpose. If you want to improve your health, do it because you want to embrace vitality. If you see someone younger or more fit, don’t compare yourself, feel jealous, or admonish yourself for not being like they are. Send them a silent blessing and bask in your uniqueness. Then, focus on your goals and set your personal plans into motion. I was recently introduced to a Japanese term called Wabi-Sabi, which loosely stands for embracing imperfect beauty and how celebrating your imperfection helps you create a more joyful existence. So, see yourself as a unique individual that is uniquely beautiful.
Ultimately growing old is a part of life. You can embrace it and feel the joy and excitement that every day brings, or you can allow it to define you and slow you down. By controlling your image, managing your internal dialogue, and embracing your imperfect beauty, you can take the reins of the age conversation, push against the ageism narrative and make the passing of time just another thing you know how to rock.