Do signs of aging on your face or body concern you? Do you feel pressure to stay looking a particular way (as in, forever young)? If this is resonating, then you, my dear, are not alone.
In this episode, I’m breaking down different aspects of the aging process (it’s more hopeful than you think!) and giving you some ideas on how you can age gracefully and gratefully because when you really get down to it, it is a privilege to age!
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think I noticed myself aging until maybe my mid-40s. For me, I didn’t think about it until it started happening. I am lucky to feel perennially 28. I’m not in denial, but I don’t feel that different. Still, physical changes started happening and I have spent a few years in contemplation of what it all meant to me.
Especially as a woman in the States, we have been so culturally conditioned to chase the fountain of youth. Hollywood, The Real Housewives, The Kardashians…it seems everywhere we look, people are getting work done on their faces to desperately try to turn back the hands of time.
I’ve spent time in therapy working through my own conditioning around this. I’ve asked myself, and I invite you to think through these questions as well, “How do I want to age? What does aging successfully or well look like for me?”
What I’ve decided is I want to age the same way I strive to approach everything in my life- thoughtfully, mindfully, and well. For me, that shift in perspective helps move the sole focus from what my face and body look like towards what it’s really about, which is what do I need to do to maintain my cognitive, physical, and psychological health.
Let’s look at some statistics about women and aging. There was a study done in the Bay Area that found the majority of women they interviewed said life gets better with age. They reported lower levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness in women 45-75 years of age as compared to those in the 25-35 years of age range. While this was a small study (just about 1,300 women), it is evidence worth thinking about as we consider aging.
For many women, our sense of self, our mental and psychological strengths, and our relationships get better with age. Many of us spend years multi-tasking our butts off, organizing and caring for families and friends while managing careers and learning how to advocate for ourselves in everything from our earning potential to our health. By the time we reach middle age, we’ve learned how to overcome hardship and how to deal when shit hits the fan.
As we age, women also tend to deepen their friendships, so our relational strengths are higher than when we are young. This support network of friends (which women tend to have more than men) can bring so much satisfaction into life because sharing your joy with people who care amplifies that joy! Your burdens are lightened because you have people who can be in the trenches with you when life gets rough.
I personally have had the same close friends since Richard Nixon was in office 👀 (we were little kids!) and they’re an important part of my wellness. These are just a few examples of women’s particular strengths that help us not only be happier as we age but also to live longer and healthier lives.
The good news? It’s not all downhill from here, people! So what can we do to age in the best possible way we can?
We need to, to the best of our ability, stay physically well and free from disease and disability. That means taking good care of our bodies and our brains to support high cognitive and physical functioning. Aging well also means committing to being actively engaged in life, cultivating our friendships and other healthy relationships, and spending time with people who have shared interests and passions.
Inside this week’s guide, you’ll find some questions to help you get more clarity around where you are right now in the aging process. They are based on my 5 pillars of self-mastery – self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love. I’m also giving you some ideas to help you reframe any outdated thoughts or beliefs around aging because what we know from a societal and cultural point of view is there is a very powerful narrative about how women need to stay forever young while men are allowed to age and can continue to be desirable through their older years.
You might not know that in my previous career I worked as a talent agent and I saw so much of this damaging collective belief system around women and aging played out over and over again in casting. For TV commercials in the US, it would literally be a 45-year-old husband cast with a 22-year-old wife- I found it so offensive! The media has been broadcasting this message for years- that women lose their value as they age based solely on their physical looks.
So if you are struggling with this, again, you are in no way alone and it is my hope you will eventually be able to reject that story about aging. Self-acceptance is such an important part of this process. And listen- I’m not saying this is easy. I was raised in this society and I’ve been going through it too!
What it has required to meet my personal goal of doing this aging thing mindfully and well is talking in therapy about how I feel about it. It’s witnessing the changes happening in my face and body with self-compassion, acceptance, and eventually celebration. This really is an inside job and you do have control over how you decide to relate to the natural aging process.
Since we’ve established that the top 3 important factors for successful aging are taking care of your cognitive brain, and your physical body to the best of your ability, and being socially engaged, which includes having healthy relationships. How do those things look in your life? For me, I am lit up by my marriage, my family, my friends, by the idea of having new adventures, and by my work.
You, my true blue crew, are a huge part of what lights me up about my life! The possibility of helping as many people as possible- I’m not going to say it keeps me young (lol)- BUT I am going to say it keeps me striving to be the best version of myself.
The question I invite you to contemplate is, who will YOU decide to be in this aging process? Whatever is right for you is right as long as you are making choices mindfully, compassionately, and lovingly. Be sure to get your downloadable guide right here to help you get more clarity around how you are currently relating to aging and what you can do to best support yourself on this journey.
Let’s tackle this thing together, shall we?! Leave me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole because I want to know what your thoughts are, what you’re struggling with, and what it means to you to age gracefully and gratefully!
We are all so incredibly lucky to be here on planet Earth at this time. I hope this episode made you think, let’s keep the conversation going, and as always, take care of you.