In todays article I wanted to talk about the worry of getting old. To some extent, we all have it. Worrying about a time in our lives where we have no idea how we will be when we get there, is to some extent – natural.
But for some of us, the fear of getting grey and wrinkly, and worse still losing our marbles (as we so eloquently put it), can send us into a real panic.
September is World Alzheimers Month…
And I was talking to a client the other day, and she started to tell me about her Mother. Her Mum has started to show the first signs of Alzheimers, and so when I asked my client, a perfectly innocent question, I think it was something like, ‘where would you like to see yourself in a decade?’ her answer totally surprised me.
‘Not where my mother is, that’s for sure. In fact, not old at all. I’d rather you shoot me than let me grow old disgracefully’.
Of course, I know to some extent, she was joking, but I could tell from her body language, that there was some real truth in that.
I dug a little deeper, and it turned out that actually, she had a real fear of ageing. And this fear was almost stopping her from living in the moment. Subconsciously, on a deep level, a real part of her felt, that if she let go and enjoyed things, time would pass her by suddenly, and before she knew anything about it, she’d be the elderly woman with the grandchildren.
So, let’s talk about a fear of ageing, and how it can affect our living in the moment.
Basically, by worrying about the future, in particular, ageing, subconsciously you are resisting the passing of time. This means that you aren’t fully connected to the flow of the present moment.
Think of it a little bit like if you were sitting on a ship that was about to set sail, but you are at the back of the ship, furiously gripping onto the railing. Holding on so tightly isn’t going to stop the ship from going anywhere, but what it will do, is mean that you miss the joy of most of the journey.
So, what can you actually do about it?
Well, the first piece of advice that I can give is that you need to learn to just accept that growing old is a natural part of life, and is something that will happen to all of us. There is nothing that you can do to change things. Even if you spend a small fortune on Botox and Fillers, your organs on the inside, are still going to grow old on you.
Here are my top 3 tips on how to handle your fear of growing old.
1. Acceptance: You have to accept that growing old is a part of life, and that you have no choice but to head there. Only when you let go of your resistance, will you be able to accept this, and the best way to do this is to remember what I said above, that you’re going to age anyway, so think of yourself as being on a ship, about to embark on your dream journey, with your dream journey being your life. Holding onto the railings on that ship, with your eyes closed tightly, isn’t going to achieve anything, other than you miss out on your whole life experience.
2. Understand the link between stress and worry and ageing. Stress and worry will only make you age faster. Fact. Worry raises your cortisol levels, and upsets your hormone balance. Worry can affect everything from how you sleep at night to your fertility. In terms of ageing, stress will rob your body of vital nutrients, and will affect your mind and your appearance. And, did you know that there the Alzheimers Society have shown that there is also a link between stress and dementia? They say on their website:
“Stress affects the immune system, which is known to play an important role in the development of dementia.” – alzheimers.org.uk
Therefore, worrying about specific issues that we assume are related to age, such as alzheimers can actually speed up the condition.
Therefore, worrying about growing old is actually counter-productive as it is one the quickest ways to get you there!
3. Think about your legacy. What do you want to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for? If you can write a list of all of the things that you’d want people to remember you for and then make it your mission to go about being that person you will have a focus, and you will be able to replace your worrying with something proactive. Yes, time is limited, so USE IT WISELY. Make sure that you live every single moment whilst you can.
If you find that worrying about ageing really is stopping you from living, to the extent that my advice above means nothing to you, and your worry has become bigger than you are, then it might be time to seek therapy. Together, we can work on uncovering what is really going on for you (often it could stem from seeing a loved one grow old and become sick, or even die), and then tackle that.
But the main thing that I want you to take away from this is that there is something that you can do about your fear of ageing. And it’s important that you realise the link between stress and premature ageing. The worrying that you are doing about it could actually be the one thing that brings your fear on faster.
Until the next time,
Christopher Paul Jones. The Breakthrough Expert.