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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aging: Making Peace with the Aging Process

Making peace with the aging process isn't always easy.  Several months ago, I was with a friend (I'll call her Betty, which isn't here real name).  Betty, who was about to turn 60, showed me photographs of herself when she was in her 20s and 30s.  She was reminiscing about those earlier days, lamenting  the aging process, and wishing she was a young, slim and attractive as she appeared in her earlier photos.  

A week later, we were together for her 60th birthday bash.  Surrounded by her husband, family, and friends, Betty was beaming with happiness and appreciation.  One by one, her husband, daughters and friends stood up and made toasts to her.  

Then, Betty's 85 year old mother, Joan, stood up to make a toast.  Still vibrant and in good health, she made a poignant toast to Betty, thanking her for being such a wonderful daughter, wife, mother, and friend to everyone at the party.  Then, she also talked about how happy and grateful she felt to be alive, in good health, curious and still learning new things almost every day.

Making Peace with the Aging Process
Afterwards, I spoke to Joan to find out more about her wonderful attitude towards life in general and the aging process in particular.  She told me that she approached every day with a sense of openness and curiosity.  She remained involved in her hobbies and interests, and she maintained close friendships.  She let go of petty resentments and forgave people who had hurt her.  She hardly spent time thinking about getting old.  Of course, she had lost her husband and many dear friends along the way, which was hard, so she wasn't in denial about her age or that she would die one day.  But she felt she still had a lot to look forward to and a lot to offer, so she didn't want to waste her time worrying about getting older and death.

Living in a culture that's obsessed with youth and good looks, it's hard not to be affected by worries about the aging process.   This is why I was so impressed with Joan's positive attitude about aging and her philosophy about life.  I thought how wonderful it would be if we could all approach the aging process with such openness and grace.   

I recently had a chance to speak with Betty about her party and, in particular, what her mother had to say about aging.  Betty said she had also been reflecting on it.  She said she also realized how much she had to be grateful for.  She had a loving husband and family, good friends, and good health.  She was  gainfully employed and loved her work.  After hearing her mother speak at her party, Betty said she made a commitment to herself to stay focused on how lucky she is and to appreciate all the inner resources and strengths she developed over the years.  She said when she was in her 20s and 30s, she was filled with self doubt and apprehension about the future.  It wasn't until she was in her 40s that she began to develop a degree of self confidence.  She told me that she wouldn't go back to how she felt when she was younger for anything in the world.

Remembering our self worth as mature adults can be challenging when we're bombarded on a daily basis by messages that it's better to be young and good looking.  Sometimes, we need good friends or supportive family members to remind us of who we really are inside, where it counts the most.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

Photo Credit:  Photo Pin



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