Someone points out you have a strand of white hair and mentions the fine lines and wrinkles on your face which weren’t there last year. Suddenly you realize you look more haggard than before, your birthday is approaching, again. Do you feel a slight dash of panic? We explain this fear of getting old many people suffer from.
Related article: Facts about aging
The fear of getting old is old conditioning based on past emotional trauma. When these old fear patterns start to unravel it might be uncomfortable. Just let it pass through without bothering about it much, or analyzing it. It will dissipate in time – Deepak Chopra
There seems to be a lot of fear that surrounds the topic of aging and if you have a fear of growing old, this fear may stem from the following factors:
Most see fine lines and wrinkles, frown lines, laugh lines, sagging skin, etc with a sense of negativity. These are linked with ‘ugly’. This seems to apply to females more often than not, thanks to marketers. They spend billions in advertising every year to reinforce negativity in the notion looking old, so it leads to continual sales for their anti-aging products. The anti-aging consumer goods category continue to grow yearly.
Sickness, pain, suffering.
With old age comes increased probability of sickness, decreased physical ability, medical conditions such as dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), heart disease, cancer, etc. These are seen to come hand in hand with pain and suffering.
Being lesser than who they should be.
All of us have goals and dreams. When you were younger, you would have consciously or unconsciously envisioned yourself being somewhere at a certain age. It may be to earn a lot of money, achieve a certain amount of success and have a family. Reaching a certain age reminds you of your visions, and simultaneously triggers the realization that they are not where they want to be. This realization can be quite painful for some.
Fear of Loss
Growing older comes with loss – seeing people pass away, losing what they have now, losing their youth, losing their health.
People see old people as a burden and they try to avoid them. For example, my grandmother is in her 90s and she has over ten children. When it comes to taking care of her, all of them try to shift responsibility from one another, giving reasons like they are too busy. Old age tends to bring solitude.
Ultimately, what’s the end of our physical existence? Death. People fear death. Death means losing everything we have. Everything we have built. It also means the end of our existence.
Whether you spend 1 minute entertaining the thought, or 10 years, you are still going to grow older. Time will pass, the sun will continue to set and rise, Earth will rotate on its own axis, ocean tides will rise and fall dependent on the gravitational pull from the moon. Flowers will bloom and wilt. Life will still go on.
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Ways to see growing older as full of possibilities and adventure.
What if you could change your entire perspective on aging? What if you could bring back the joy that you felt in your youth? What if you could see your life as something that continued to be full of possibilities, opportunities, and adventure?
1. Cultivate Your Relationships
The older we get, the more crucial it is that we matter to someone and feel a sense of connection to at least one important person in our life. Whether they are family or friends, if you stay in regular contact with those you are close with, calling them regularly and hanging with them in tough times, they will relate not to how you look, which of course will change, but what you are deep inside.
2. Connect With Your Spirituality
We need to be in touch with more than just our day-to-day routines and reality. As the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins says, “There lives the deepest freshness deep down things.” We very much need constant contact with that freshness and life. Whether it is through meditation, prayer, or humbling personal experiences that show us how human we are, we can all find that sense of meaning in life that goes beyond ourselves and gives us an inner refuge and home.
3. Make a Difference
As Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, “The world is hungry for our help and our love.” Animals, people, and the earth all need our service. Choosing the field we can best help in, we tap into our inner power and act to make a difference in life.
4. Protect Your Health
We all know that eating a healthy diet from all the food groups strengthens our body and helps prevent disease. And appropriate, natural exercise renews us both mentally and physically. But try not to be obsessed with perfect health or fear of sickness. Do what you need to do, and then relax into a vastness deeper than yourself, the well-being fostered by your connection to the universe.
5. Exercise Your Intellect
As we read widely and listen well, we will continue to relate widely to diverse peoples and opinions. Our inner life will be richer as we better understand our past and, with curiosity and discipline, learn, accept, and build on new things.
6. Nurture Your Creativity
Nourishing a sense of connection to the beauty and goodness of the universe, we test our own powers of making new things and finding new solutions. Whether it is in art, gardening, writing, crafting, or in our relationships, we feel that something greater fills us, passes through our minds, and makes the universe—and ourselves—richer and more beautiful.
7. Rejoice in Nature
As you walk, hike, or relax at the seashore, take the time to breathe deeply and take the beauty of forests, mountains, and lakes into your heart. As the years pass, such connection with nature will give us all a sense of being grounded in something stable and yet magical, relaxing into nourishment and support from the greater universe.
8. Build Your Legacy
When I think of how best to spend my time, I give greatest value to what will be there when I am gone. That’s why with parents, I urge you to spend maximum time with your kids and give, give, and give more. That way, the good in you will take root in them and live on. What else will? Well, all of us have to work to make a living; but with every other minute available, try to channel your actions into what will outlast you and build your legacy. It may be the trees you plant; or the art you paint, sculpt, write, or build, or the minds you enrich.
Age matters less when we pour ourselves into people and things that will in their own way continue us. It is our job to search this out and put our efforts there. If we do this, we may not even realize we are growing old.
Dr. Stephen Ruppenthal