How To Come To Terms With The Shame Of Getting Older As A Woman & Find The Beauty And Joy

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Author celebrating with a glass of wine

With over a dozen anti-aging creams and serums on my bathroom shelf, I’ve been marching in unison with a societal obsession to halt the aging process. It seems right after I turned forty, the normal wear and tear of my body became offensive to my existence and detrimental to my self-esteem.

That is until today, when I realized that I was WRONG about the entire aging conundrum.

You see, last night I had one of those dreams that was more like a reality TV show than a movie. My older self showed up in her late seventies. Traces of gray hair beneath her dark chocolate highlights. Wrinkled cheeks, upper lip, and neck. Age spots, soggy abs, and thigh cellulite — my own mom’s worst nightmare.

However, with a total assault to logic, the old me appeared content. She was smiling broadly, her topaz eyes bright, clear and filled with the teasing light of passionate aliveness. Despite her non-Botox-stuffed face, she was HAPPY.

She made a huge impact on me, and when I opened my eyes in the morning, I had to question my relationship with this older version of me — perhaps the most important relationship of all.

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Here's how to come to terms with the shame of getting older as a woman & find the beauty and joy.

1. Understand how we build our perceptions

As a mental health professional, I know that our entire reality is created from mental conclusions formed in early childhood. When we’re born, our minds are a clean slate, and we look at the world with innocent wonder.

As we grow older, observing our environment, we form mental conclusions about life, people — and especially about ourselves. Over the years, these mental beliefs form thick layers of human conditioning — or lenses of perception — through which life appears to us

This is what I call perceptional non-reality. Knowing this, I have to re-focus my lenses in regards to aging.

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2. Reevaluate your core beliefs.

I’ve been asking myself, what is my core belief about aging?

What does “getting old” mean to me? So I write down, getting older means: ugly, decline, disconnected, feeble, depression, loneliness, death.

Inspired by my dream, I cross out these words and write another, a more useful description of what getting older means to me: Maturity, wisdom, self-knowledge, self-respect, awareness, richness of life experience.

The image from my dream floats into my mind, and the realization follows: The beauty of my old self’s self-esteem is radiating brightly from within, consuming wrinkles and age spots. Her physical appearance has NOTHING to do with the emotion of happiness — the most desired state craved by all.

However, I can’t be happy and in “fighting aging” mode at the same time. I have to make the choice to be happy and old. Year after year. Otherwise, I’ll be paddling against nature, totally wasting my time on unnecessary suffering and stress — and today, EVERYONE knows that stress is not good for the skin.

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3. Choose to age gracefully

If I choose to age gracefully, my entire lifestyle evolves into self-love and self-care.

I choose foods that are good for my body—fresh, natural cuisine to fulfill and satisfy me. I stay active and well hydrated. I exercise my body in ways that are fun and enjoyable.

I keep my mind positive and calm. I focus on the bright side of life while accepting its dual nature. I forgive easily and smile more. I recognize no one is perfect and people do the best they can, including myself. I criticize less and praise and appreciate more.

I choose to see my future as vivid and bright, like that bouquet of candles on my birthday cake.

All these are the signs of healthy maturity — an optimistic and exciting aging quest worth celebrating.

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Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family.