At a recent gathering, I asked someone for the time as it was too dark to see my watch clearly and I did not have my cell phone handy for a quick check. “No one wears watches anymore. That makes you sound so old,” she pronounced. While I suspect people in droves are not tossing out their designer timepieces or condemning them to a junk drawer, her snippy observation gave me pause to absorb her words. Manners aside, I really do not care how you access the information; in this case it was a simple request for the time. Use a sundial if it suits you better but it was my reaction to being thought of as OLD that was noteworthy. Could one simple comment begin a rapid spiral of negative thinking or was something else available to me if I could step back and notice its impact?
Mid-life and the process of aging can take many of us by surprise. In fact, it can feel like a much faster trip than we planned for and not the ticket we intended to purchase…yet. In our youth oriented environment, growing older is not as honored as it is in some cultures. It may be a time for feeling marginalized; like someone who should take up less space, leaving room for the next generation, those who are energized with fresh ideas to lead.
On the other hand, at a recent workshop I conducted, participants were asked to name four words that best described “aging”. The responses were fast and furious, underscoring the negatives they associated with the word. As these descriptors were recorded, I suggested we look beyond our initial reaction and consider the following choices like:
How did that feel? It was as if a light switch had been flipped on and from this newly positive perspective, we were able to collaboratively fill pages with many more words that were energizing and a reflection of the pronounced shift in thinking.
The words you choose are very important. They can empower you as much as they can weaken you. Words can be used to create clarity or confusion; crisis or opportunity; motivation or disinterest. They are powerful tools with which you can shape your life. As always, it is your choice.
• Select a word at the beginning of each day as a focus for the day
• Notice the language you use positively or negatively
• Become aware of your choices and how you can influence others by making conscious selections