I distinctly remember the first time I felt shame around aging. I was 32 and I looked in the mirror and noticed my facial pores were bigger. I remember thinking to myself, “I look like my mother.” It was NOT a compliment.
The next time I felt shame about my age was exactly 10 years later. My mother had written on my Facebook wall, “Happy 42nd Birthday Lisa”. I remember staring at it, horrified. So many thoughts raced through my mind. “Did she really post my age out there for everyone to see”? “Should I just delete it?” “Doesn’t she know that it’s rude to broadcast a woman’s age after their 25th birthday”?
I contacted my female friends of the same age. They all agreed. Her offense was unforgivable.
My now 52 year old self laughs at these memories because I’ve grown into fully owning my age. It’s been a 20 year journey and, if I can help even one person out of the shame that they feel merely for living, then I’m here for it.
Aging is living, after all, and living should be celebrated, not shamed.
Here are my tips for building confidence around aging:
- Find your Community: Think about your current community and people you spend the most time with. Do you feel confident and inspired after being with them? If the answer is no, it’s time for a change. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire you to be your best self encourages positive feelings around value and self worth. Don’t underestimate the power of community.
- Pay attention to your self talk: Are you friends with yourself? Would you tell your best friend the same things you tell yourself? Negative self talk is extremely damaging to self esteem because we tend to believe what we say. A great resource that can help change the way you talk to yourself is a book called, “What to say when you talk to yourself” by Shad Helmstetter. Notice when you have a negative thought about yourself and find a way to challenge that thought. An example might be, “I look terrible.” Ask yourself, “Is that really true?” After you challenge the thought, your answer might be something like this, “Sure, I am tired because I didn’t sleep well but I love this sweater I’m wearing and my make-up is on point today.” Find something you like about your appearance and tell yourself that instead of your initial thought. With enough practice, you will be complimenting yourself daily, Kind of like you would your best friend.
- Wear what makes you feel great. Find your own style and wear what makes YOU feel great. When you think you look good, your confidence is instantly elevated. This looks different for everyone. It could mean rocking your favourite lipstick shade or pair of jeans, or it could mean wearing those high heels even though you’re only going to the grocery store. While clothes and shoes and makeup are all external things, and confidence comes from within, feeling great about how you look does affect how you carry yourself and how you see yourself in the world.
- Learn something new. Learning and growing is key to building confidence. As you age, your tendency may be to stop trying new things. This is detrimental to your overall well being as learning is a powerful way to change the chemistry in your brain and rewire your brain’s circuitry. Trying new things is exciting. It makes you feel alive and reminds you that there is so much more to explore. You may also learn through trying something new that you have talent in areas you didn’t even know about.
- Offer to help others. One of the absolute best ways to build confidence is to help others. Offer to mentor someone younger. Helping others gets you out of your head and puts the focus on the person you are helping. It is also a great reminder of how wise you are. Afterall, the only reason you know what you know is because of your years of lived life experience that your mentee does not yet have. Also, helping others just feels good!