Youth ISN'T everything (despite what society tries to tell you).
It's funny how aging works. My teenage boys work as gymnastics coaches with young children. They always get a kick out of asking the little five and six year olds how old they think they are. The answer is often 55 or so. My kids think this is HYSTERICAL, but if I heard that I looked 30 years older than I really am, I'd probably feel devastated.
When I think to myself, "I look younger than I am," I feel relief. I feel confidence. I feel luckier than someone who's told they look older than they are.
Why is this? Why is not OK to look your age, or worse, look OLDER than you are?
The reality is ageism. It's alive and well in midlife. It's definitely received a decent amount of attention in the media, but how many of us have really checked in with our own thinking on this topic? Have you?
Sometimes it's tricky to figure out if the negative thoughts are coming from your own thinking or from a cultural norm about ageism. How OK are you with growing older?
Here are three tips to help you deal with the rude reality of ageism in our society:
1. Check in with your own thoughts about aging
Notice how you feel when you think, "I look great for my age." You know that you feel good when you think you look good for your age, so you have a powerful tool at the ready. That thought makes you feel confident, so train yourself to think it more often! That way, you know where you stand, no matter what anyone else has to say about your age.
2. Prepare yourself for rude comments
Let's face it — rudeness is bound to happen, like when strangers touch pregnant women's bellies or people make sarcastic comments on the size of your nose. Just get ready for it. Why would you want to leave how you feel up to some random stranger's commentary? Knowing how you feel about your age is a start. Having a witty comment ready to go will also help. For example, you could share a positive thought you personally believe about ageing like, "I love that I look my age and because I'm so proud of everything I've accomplished." Of course, you could also ask them, quite simply, "And your telling me this because ... ?" Shuts them right up.
3. Practice thinking about gratitude
Midlife is a time of so much transition. Kids are growing older. Grandparents and senior parents are commonly widowed and need support, or become ill themselves. Your friends are going through the same hard times. Celebrate the fact that you're around to share your life and your love with the people in your world who need your love and support. Remember how much you have to offer, and no one will be able to get you down about your age!
Connecting to your own thoughts about aging is important, especially because the whole midlife thing creeps up you so quickly. Remaining confident and calm will help you stay open and honest about your age, and boost your self esteem.