How to grow through the fear and bias
Most of us have prejudices, and most of us have them around old age, whatever age we are! It’s been shocking for me, as an expert on creative ageing, to admit this is true of me.
I realise that one simplistic way that I categorize people I meet is ‘old’ or ‘regular’. ‘Old’ people have white hair and wrinkles, they move slowly and not in straight lines. You have to slow down and concentrate to communicate with them. This summer, as I approached seventy, I still felt depressed at the prospect, despite working hard at being positive. I’ve realised that the heart of my depression is joining a category about which I still have prejudice: old people.
At least I can see the opportunity here, to find ways to unpack my hangups and clear them will help my own ageing process, and hopefully others. This is part of a wider change in our outlook on life, which is vital as we get older: choosing our own beliefs and values, and not being manipulated and prejudiced by the media.
Claiming your freedom
Recently I spoke to a friend who turned seventy some months ago, and asked her how she felt. “It’s liberating”, she said. “No one has expectations of me, I’m free to be myself”. For those of you reading this who are somewhere North of fifty, the gift I want to offer you is this: you’re free, but you have to claim your freedom.
Claiming your freedom means noticing where your attitude to yourself, and your approach to life, are being limited by negative beliefs that you still carry about ‘being old’. It’s high time you lightened up, and shed your excess baggage!
Groups can help this process. I don’t mean a bunch of people in a pub, or probably not. Gatherings like men’s or women’s groups, or creative ageing workshops, have helped me to feel that I’m accepted and appreciated as I am. Groups can support us in feeling that the beliefs we’re choosing are sane and healthy, even if they differ from society’s norms. If you want to try this out, come to the Elder’s Circle I’m hosting at Hazel Hill Wood on Sunday October 7. Details here.
As i write this, it’s a month since my seventieth birthday: so far, my seventies feel a bit of a laugh. I do have a sense of freedom and lightness, as if it doesn’t quite matter who I am anymore. Or as if I’ve slipped through a hole in the fabric of space-time, and I can choose who I am, all over again.
The process I’ve described above, of dropping prejudices and choosing positive beliefs, has worked for me, and I hope it helps you. You’ll find it explored more fully in Chapter X of my new book: the chapter is called Change the Story!
Alan’s new book is Not Fade Away: Staying Happy when you’re over 64. For more details click here.