“I’m Getting Old”…and Other Self-Talk that’s Really Bad for You
Photo credit by Maureen “Mo” Reilly; creative commons license
What was it you just said? “I’m getting old”? Or maybe, “I must be getting old and decrepit”? Rest assured, with that kind of self-talk, you’ll be feeling older than you are, faster than you can imagine.
How can I wake you up from giving yourself the polar opposite of affirmations so that you don’t fulfill your own prophecy long before your body, mind, and spirit are ready to decay and fade? Oh, I know:
You’ve been slapped by the cold, wet salmon of self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, you just attributed an inconvenience, twinge, or annoyance with becoming old and decrepit.
Am I saying that the human body doesn’t age, weaken
, and wear down with time? No, but I do believe that mindset can contribute to an early frailty and stagnation that, for some elderly folks I’ve known who have been upbeat and vibrant, didn’t happen until the very, very end of their long lives. I’ve known too many people to go from being healthy and productive to fragile and apathetic, and the transition has been a steady stream of self-deprecating remarks on their age and the expectations they have of it.
When I was a teen, my middle-aged mom used to tell me that “Age is a state of mind.” It is, but it’s more than that. Age is a mindset, and if that mindset is tainted with constant, powerful phrases—incantations!—of how old and weak and damned we are becoming by the minute, then the negative mindset will shape our physical reality.
I’ve become very aware of men and women between 35 and 55 who tell themselves and others at least 5 or 6 times a day (that I know of) that “I’m getting old.” Older, yes, but old? Many of the times, they tie the phrase to some minor health issue that isn’t necessarily a sign of aging. For example….
– A colleague of mine is having trouble thinking. Every time I am in her presence, she makes a remark about getting old and that she can’t seem to focus. I’ve known this woman for 20+ years and when she was 30, I recall that she was under a lot of stress and complained to me frequently that she couldn’t seem to focus. Every time in her career that the stress has been overwhelming, she’s become fragmented and unfocused because she’s been pulled in so many directions. The difference now is that ever since she turned 50, she gives her age as the reason. Over and over and over. Never mind the pressure, the stress, the fact that she needs to be cloned several times to do her job.
– A guy friend of mine is in his early 40’s. Every so often in his life, he does something stupid like go join a gym and kill himself working out the first day. The next day, he can barely move because he’s so sore and stiff. When he was in his 20’s, he complained that he’d overdone it at the gym—a valid point!–and then snoozed in his apartment for the next week while he recovered. Now, it’s because he’s getting old, he says. Not because he didn’t work up gradually to a tough routine. It does take his body longer to recover, yes, but his entire focus is on his age as an excuse, not on taking care of himself properly.
– A female friend of mine makes fun of me—as well as anyone else who has problems occasionally with their glasses prescriptions. As the human eye ages, it loses its ability to accommodate near and far vision without help (readers, multi-focal contacts, laser eye surgery, etc). I refuse to say, oh, I need glasses because I’m getting old. I needed glasses when I was 13, and I’ve had a long history of all sorts of contacts and glasses and tweaked prescriptions. I need glasses but I need them for slightly different reasons, and those reasons have changed many times over the years. So what? But this particular friend hates her glasses—which she’s always had, by the way—so she makes a huge point to ranting whenever anyone pulls out reading glasses or uses a non-microscopic font. “You must be getting old,” she says. “Hell, I know I am!”
I’m afraid she’s going to be one of those old folks who spends all her time comparing notes and competing with other old folks to see who has the worst medical symptoms. Sheesh! Bring it to yourself as fast as possible, will you? This is prime Law of Attraction stuff where a person can certainly fast-forward into that reality. The elderly people who are the most vibrant don’t seem to be the ones talking incessantly about this little ache or that little pain—they focus on other stuff. You look at them and see the deep wrinkles but still think of them as “young at heart.” They are still lots of fun to be around.
If you remember the Carol Burnett skit that later became “Mama’s Family,” Vicki Lawrence played a woman decades older. It always amused me how she could just become “Mama” so quickly, enough so that it was a little disturbing whenever she played her younger character, who was closer to her own age. Good actors can easily morph into other realities of themselves–the characters they play–if they’re in the right mindset. Most people don’t claim to be actors but too much time in that mindset of I’m old, I’m fat, I’m bald, I’m…whatever…when they are not physically those things yet will put them on the fastrack to making it reality.
Instead of hurting yourself with endless negative self-talk, try something new. Wipe that cold, wet salmon off your face and the next time you have a scatterbrain moment, say, “Wow, I forgot what I was going to say. Good thing I bounce back quickly!” If your knee hurts, say something like, “My knee hurts. It’s a good thing I’m healthy and my super-duper vitamins make me feel better every day!” And hey, if you’re having a hot flash, just remember that not so long ago, most women didn’t survive to see menopause and that you are one lucky woman to be so vibrant and sexy and alive!