53. The Art of Aging- Breaking Free from Age-Related Anxiety

Hello, hello, how are we doing today? You know, I really hope that you’ve taken some time out for yourself Somehow, in some way, before we get started, I just want to give you your daily reminder that you are loved, you are worth it, you are needed, you belong here and it will be okay. Sometimes we just need that, don’t we? Sometimes we just need to take a moment and remind ourselves that there’s more to life than what we’re currently worrying about.

Speaking of worrying, lately, I’ve been struggling more with the idea of getting old. My body’s been going through some changes and I am in Peri-menopause and my vision isn’t always 2020 anymore and sometimes my back hurts and I’ve been really concerned about my brain not functioning as quickly or as well as it used to and foods aren’t reacting in my body, the way they used to. My grandma always used to say Amber never grow old. She said that because being old was terrible for her. And so every time there was something about my body that wasn’t working, how it used to, I’d feel terrible and groan about getting old. It was not something that I was looking forward to. I remember watching her slowly go downhill and just kind of stop living life. She narrowed her food choices to three things; an egg casserole, apple sauce, and vanilla wafers. She kept praying for God to take her every night and she just sit on the couch and watch everyone else live their lives. Every now and then her sassy, spunky, personality came out and she’d joke with me, but the older she got the less frequent that happened. She just kind of gave up. It was hard watching her suffer. But I wonder how much of that suffering could’ve been prevented?

The ideas of “it’s not fair,” “this shouldn’t be happening,” “this is awful,” or “it would be better if” can occupy our thoughts, consciously or unconsciously. Are we spending our time seeking evidence to validate these ideas instead of deciding to embrace the joy of living?   If we could try our thoughts on, as though they were an outfit, are we literally putting on “old age” and all the ideas that go with it, as though we are putting on a dress and then deciding we have to wear it even if we didn’t like the fit, style or color. Seeing old as a bad thing is like checking ourselves into jail, being handed that ugly orange jumpsuit and having to live in it like we have no choice. And no, my style friends out there. This is not the orange is the new black mentality.

Amber , never grow old. Growing old is miserable, is a belief that we can choose…or not. Did you know it was an option to not think this way? I realized thinking this way, was not serving me. Growing old is a bad thing, is not a fact. Holding on to this belief was not allowing me to live my best life and to continue to dream big because I kept consuming too much of my mental capacity worrying about getting old. I spent too much time looking for all of the signs that I was getting old and too much of my day trying to fix it.. I spent too much of my day thinking about preventing my aging, instead of Working towards something that I still wanted in my life.

So I decided I wanted to start thinking about my age in a way that would serve me. So Instead of, never get old, I began with the question how can I always live young? I think sometimes when we don’t accept things that we can’t change, we end up making it worse because of the thoughts that we have about the things we can’t change. We compound our physical suffering by mentally suffering with all the not-fairs and what-ifs draining our mental reserves. If we can change it then awesome! But what if you can’t? Do you think oh my bones are achy or my back hurts my knees are going out and then you compound that suffering by believing and I hate it. Or I’m having a harder time with my memory lately and so I chalk it up to being old and instead of excepting that my memory isn’t what it used to be and it’s not a problem, I make it into a big problem and think that there’s something wrong with me. So not only am I thinking my memory isn’t what it used to be, I tack on the end “and that’s a problem”. Me thinking that that’s a problem spirals into consuming a lot of time looking at ways how to fix the problem. It stops me in progressing in my life because now I’ve given myself a problem that Needs to be fixed. What supplements can I start taking? Should I be starting to do brain games to keep my brain more flexible and active? Is it because I am too stressed and so I need to meditate more. Or my eyes aren’t what they used to be. Sometimes we stop our self from fully living because we spend our time Trying to not get old. Because we think getting old is a problem. There are so many more people who complain about getting old then celebrate getting old.

How much space in my life do I want to take thinking about my problems or trying to solve a problem that Might not even be a problem to begin with. Are there ways that we can keep our brains more flexible? Absolutely! But if we’re only allowed so many hours a day of mental capacity, how much of that are we spending worrying about the problem and trying to fix it? Accepting that this is what’s happening to us is a short cut out of the worry cycle. A coach I look up to says that worrying pretends to be useful, but it never is. Worrying keeps you stuck. It puts your mind into a state of panic, and so you might come up with ideas on how to solve it, but your ability to come up with the most effective, useful, and the most creative answers will not come when you are stuck in worry.

When you are in a state of calm, that is when your brain is free to think the most creatively. That’s probably why I have my best ideas when I’m in the shower. My brain probably doesn’t care if the kind of ideas are bad or not because I can’t do anything about it immediately. So there’s no immediate danger having this thought because when I’ve got shampoo in my hair, I cannot immediately act on it. So no harm thinking it because I am safe. What if we had the belief that my knees are aching but I am safe? Would that change how we look at our knees aching? Maybe. Will it change the chemicals that are firing in our bodies because we are coming from a more calm state instead of a stressed out worry state? Maybe.

Every thought that we have will create a chemical reaction in your body and that chemical reaction is what creates what you’re feeling in your body. That’s why, when some of us feel stressed, we feel it in our shoulders or we feel a tightening in our chest or we have a harder time breathing. We all react in different ways to each emotion, but we are all the same where we all have a thought, and if we choose to believe that thought it will produce a chemical reaction in the body.  This thought could put you in a fight or flight mode, which could freeze your brain from creating the most useful thoughts for you, creating the most useful solutions for you. So if we could look at getting old as not being a problem, then what?

What if we just decided that we would always live young?  How can we move closer to that life instead of the one we’re currently living?  I work on finding proof how what I’m experiencing isn’t necessarily a product of being old to pull me away from the worry and the panic.  I tell myself something like, ok, Amber, you are starting to get blurry vision. Do you know children who have blurry vision. Yes, I do!  They’re not old. And thank heavens for the superpower of glasses! Thank heavens that can be easily corrected. Do you know young people who have aches and pains in their bodies? My teenage daughters played soccer, so their knees and their ankles and their backs hurt. They didn’t like it but they didn’t think that they were getting old. They knew it was just a product of their living. It was a product of them doing something that they loved. So do achy knees or blurry vision mean I’m getting old? Not necessarily. It just means that I am human, and have a body and I’m living life.

Sometimes our body works how we want it to and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes our body works how we expected it to like how other bodies work, but sometimes they don’t.

Now I’m not saying this because I’m trying to avoid the facts.  I’m working on getting myself out of the panicky, I need to fix something right away because something’s gone terribly wrong mode.  Once I’m out of that mode, my brain is able to look for more useful solutions.

So what does it mean to always live young?

I think the first step would be accepting that our body isn’t doing what it used to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean somethings gone wrong. What if it didn’t cause us into worry, but instead to be more curious? What if we stayed calm because this current condition is not a problem? How would we go about seeking ways to help ourselves out? Always live young could simply mean not compounding the human body’s experience with the ideas that it shouldn’t be happening or I hate this or this is a problem. What if we completely expected this to happen and so when it did happen, it’s more about the fact, this is what’s happening.

We make it more of a problem, then it has to be. We obsess over all the things that we can’t do instead of focusing on what we still can do. We take up too much mental capacity mourning the life that we are leaving behind and we forget to enjoy the life we have left.

Have you seen the meme on social media where the woman’s saying I am not 48 years old, I’m on level 48! If this was a game and I started on level one, then I would have limited experience and limited knowledge about the game. But think about how many obstacles you faced. think about how many challenges you overcame and how many bad guys or demons you learned how to break through. Think about how many barriers you’ve had to crush or walls you’ve had to scale to get to this level. What if your life was as fun as a game and being on level 48 was a huge accomplishment? If you’re talking to gamers, and you ask them what level they’d rather be on, I guarantee they would be more proud of being on level 48 then on level 15. And yet I consistently say to myself, oh to be young again. Of course there were things that were fun being young. Being young meant you had less responsibility, but it also meant that you had less freedom.

When we were young, it was easier to believe that anything is possible because we didn’t have so many experiences to tell us that it might not be possible. We looked forward to our future and freely dreamed about it because it was fun. It was fun to imagine what our life could be. But then life Hands us experiences, and instead of deciding, look at all my wins that I gathered or look at all the levels that I have passed, we focus on the barrier in level 16 or the villain in level 18. We don’t see the power ups that we got in the game and how we overcame The barrier or the demon. The power up of resiliency, or of determination, of courage or the power up of compassion. we use the barrier as our reason why we can’t do what we want now.

 Life can cause us to be a cynic or life can cause us to be compassionate. Don’t let the villains turn you into victims and don’t let the barriers keep you from moving forward. thinking I am old or I’m getting old could be a barrier.  my friends, achy knees are not something we need to be a victim of. They don’t have to be a end-all barrier.  If it were a game, you’d figure out how to conquer that villain. Maybe achy knees, memory, loss, blurry eyesight, are the product of a good life lived. Maybe they’re just a product of life.

Either way, It doesn’t mean that we have to stop living life and start fixing a problem. And if it does mean we have to slow down, then what can we learn at this newer pace? It’s OK to slow down, just don’t let it stop you. Don’t get stuck on a level because you’ve got a villain in front of you that you can’t quite get past. A year older means you’ve passed another level. A year older means you’ve collected more power ups. A year older means you’ve collected more bonuses along the way. What are the bonuses you’ve collected so far?

I love my grandma, but I am not her, and I don’t want to think the way she did.

Don’t allow your limitations to completely limit you where you still have a capacity in other areas.

I’ve decided I’ve spent too much of my time combating the inevitable, which is my age going up. I spent too much of my time worrying about getting older, which ironically, the stress of it, was taking years off my life, making me older than I was.

Always live young, my friends. Live young and dream big!

Have a brilliant week!

And remember, you are loved!

If you’re looking for a life coach, I’d love to be yours.  If you want to lose weight, better your relationships, or need help with crafting your confidence, I’ve got you!  go to myinnerlove.com and sign up for a free mini-session today.

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