Vignettes on Aging – Reassurance

We all have insecurities – regardless of age or background.

Many of us have insecurities related specifically to being older. We feel less attractive, less knowledgeable, and not as sharp as we were in our 30’s. It doesn’t matter how you may protest, “No, I’m totally self-confident,” you have experienced questions about your capabilities. We all have!

I was on the twenty-fifth row of a knitting project when I discovered a couple of things: first, the yarn didn’t really work for my project and, secondly, I’d made a mistake way back in the third row. I unwound the entire project and began again with a different pattern. But I was rattled. I even had a mini-panic attack. Was I no longer capable to judge what I was doing before I began, and what was up with that mistake in the third row? Not like me to do that. After ripping out every row, I drank a bunch of water and went for a long walk. The project will be there when I’m reassured, when I’m feeling more than capable of doing it well.

Being insecure doesn’t define who you are, but it can cloud enjoying life a little – or a lot.

First, it’s important to acknowledge that we elders are all winging it here in this getting older thing. Without previous experience or a playbook to show us the way, we don’t know if we could be aging in a better way. We don’t know what it’s like to do it better. We don’t even know what to do or what the next step is. We don’t know if we’re doing it right at all.

In steps reassurance to the rescue.

Reassuring ourselves and other elders that it doesn’t matter if we’re doing the aging process the right way is the best counterbalance to feeling out of step with our lives.

There is no right way. There is our way. I know that I’m doing it my way. Not what you think is right, perhaps, but the best way that works for me. My way includes staying in the present, avoiding negative people and angst in general and being open to new things.

What does reassurance look like? How can we successfully reassure ourselves and others? There are no pat answers that do the trick for everyone. We all need to decide for ourselves what it takes to feel good about our aging process. Reassurance and comfort go hand-in-hand.

A few things that reassure me are:

~speaking compassionately to myself: ‘The way you feel doesn’t define who others see you as.”
~speaking the truth to myself about the importance or lack of: “If it’s true that others are judging you, does their opinion matter?”
~reminding myself that “This too shall pass.” Sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.
~listening to classical music reassures me that there’s a bigger world ‘out there’ with lots to offer.
~letting a couple of close friends in on what’s troubling you is a great way to get reassurance from others. Two of my dear friends that I felt comfortable enough to share my feelings with both reminded me that I was stressed and concerned because I wanted to always do my best, and that my mistake didn’t reflect on me as an aging adult but was a brief moment in time indicative of nothing more than that.

All of these will work to reassure someone you know who is struggling too. A key component to helping another is to listen. Just let them express that which is troubling them and remind them of the ways you reassure yourself.