Four ways to embrace ageing
The women I work with often tell me they feel invisible once they hit their late 40’s or early 50’s. Suddenly they feel unworthy of notice because they have lost their youthful looks, and find it difficult to embrace ageing.
From childhood, women are brought up to care about their appearance, expecting that they will be valued based upon their ability to look youthful and attractive. An expectation has been created that we can ‘fight’ age, and if we don’t, somehow we are letting ourselves down.
But, if you rely on your appearance to define your worth, you are setting yourself up for lower body image and self esteem as you age. Appearance is a very fragile foundation on which to build self-esteem. Looks are temporary. Getting older is a harsh reminder of this.
“It’s hard to grow old gracefully in our changing bodies, but ladies, we have to. No plastic or synthetic anything in my body. I will have earned each wrinkle and grey hair, and I want to proudly display them like trophies of a life well lived.”
Dr Julie Holland, from ‘Moody Bitches’
Of course you want to keep yourself as fit and healthy as possible through healthy eating and exercise, but ultimately your body is supposed to age – and that’s okay.
When faced with the passage of time, how do you embrace ageing and see it as a new era of possibility in your life? Here are my tips:
Love your wisdom
My Mum used to say, “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders”. I got sick of hearing this as a teenager and 20-something, but I totally get it now. With age comes wisdom, and the only away to acquire that is through the passage of time.
“So much emphasis and worry are put on physical ageing in women and their appearance, that emotional maturity and freedoms that can come at this time are given short shrift.”
Dr Julie Holland, from ‘Moody Bitches’
Although being young had its benefits, I wouldn’t want to go back. I remember being unsure of myself and painfully self conscious about my body. After many ups and downs in life, I now know who I am and what I want. I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever did when I was young and nubile. I wouldn’t trade wisdom for youth now.
When you look back at your younger self, what would you say to her with the benefit of hind sight? I’d say, “Don’t worry so much about what others think about you or what you look like. Do what you want, not what you think you ‘should’ do.” That’s wisdom.
Ultimately, the most successful older women are those that realise they have many qualities to offer other than their looks.
If you’ve made it this far in life, whether that’s your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or beyond, be grateful for that! Life is a privilege. To value life or yourself by something as trivial as appearance is to deny the person you are and the life that you have led.
After all, who has got you through life? You have, and more particularly, your body has carried you along the way, constantly working for you. If you have a body that is healthy and enables you to do what you want, be grateful for that.
Even if there are parts of your body that don’t quite work the way they use to do, focus your attention on what you CAN still do, not what you are no longer able to.
Focus on your achievements
What you look like is only a very small part of who you are. Defining your success in life by your ability to fight age is an unfair representation of the life you’ve led so far.
Look back over your life – what are you most proud of? It doesn’t have to be earth shattering to be an achievement to you. Whatever has given you a sense of joy or fulfillment is an achievement. Make a note of these and refer to them whenever you need a boost.
Do what fulfills you
Focusing on what you love will give you a sense of purpose, fulfillment and an identity that isn’t tied up with age. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that life is on its downward slope as we get older. But, if you draw on the wisdom and skills that you’ve acquired so far, it’s likely you’ll be able to identify new pursuits that will help redefine the next phase of your life.
“The most interesting thing about menopause is what happens after. Women come into their own. It’s a time of redefining and refining what it is we want to accomplish in our time left.”
Dr Julie Holland, from ‘Moody Bitches’.
Ask yourself what you’d really love to do that you haven’t had the time to do before? What hobbies did you enjoy as a child that you might be able to go back to now? What things have you told yourself you’ll do ‘one day’ when you ‘have time’? That time is NOW!