Trashing Trash Talk: Foster a Positive Self Image

in Lifestyle,Well-being

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Those of us over the age of 45 face many negative societal stereotypes – we’re “past it,” not as creative, as productive, as energetic, as adaptable or technically proficient as our younger counterparts.

These are completely unfounded . It seems North American culture views” older” people as less attractive and less advantageous – as opposed to other cultures that revere and honour their elder citizens.

Unfortunately, these negative societal stereotypes can have a destructive effect on our self-esteem, and worse still, many of us start to buy into them – as witnessed by the self-deprecating way we sometimes refer to ourselves.

For example, if you’re at work and can’t remember where you put an important file, do you say, “Oh, I’m having a senior moment?” or “Gosh, old age is catching up with me?”  Or if there’s a job posting or opportunity to work on an exciting new project, do you say out loud or to yourself, “I don’t have the stamina for that,” or “I’m too old to learn new tricks.”  Do you think, “I wish I was young again?”

By voicing such negative comments, you’re accepting and reinforcing these societal – and workplace – stereotypes.

And, more importantly, you’re damaging your self esteem and limiting yourself personally and professionally.  Think about it. How would you feel if someone said to you – “You don’t have the brains to do that job!” or “You’re ugly! You have grey hair and wrinkles!”  or “You’re an *(&$(& idiot!”  How would you feel?  I imagine you’d be hurt and upset.  So why do you talk to yourself like that?

As real as those thoughts seem to be, they’re not a true reflection of you.

You possess a wide array of skills and have experience, wisdom and maturity – attributes only age can bring   As KAA-Boomers, we should all be celebrating and embracing the depth and breadth of that wisdom, not belittling it.

The only way to counter ageism – and allow ourselves the freedom to continue reaching for our professional and personal goals – is to turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Stop and listen to yourself.  We often don’t realize just how negative our inner voice can be – or how destructive.  Eventually, we really start believing what we’re saying about ourselves and that can has a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.
  2. Write down what you’re saying. You might be surprised at just how often you’re berating yourself.
  3. For every negative word or phrase from your notes, create a positive one. Write it down…and practice saying it. The next time you hear yourself start the negative phrase, replace it with the positive one. “I’m too old to learn this new technology” can become “I’ve mastered a lot of skills over the years. Experience tell s me I can master more.”  ”I’m so stupid” might be “Hey, I screwed up. I’m only human.” “I’m having a senior moment!” becomes “I can’t find that file…not surprising with just how much I’m doing and accomplishing.”
  4. Create mantra for yourself. For example, “I’m older and wiser. I’m experienced and mature. I’m really good at what I do.”  It sounds corny, but it works. As you repeat it to yourself over and over again, you’ll start to believe it.

Remember, no one else is going to watch out for you with the same intensity as you can. No one knows your experience, your life, your knowledge, your skills and your passions as well as you do.  Embrace your age. Celebrate it.  Words are powerful and really can change the world – and you.

Barbara Jaworski is Canada’s leading expert on boomers, chief KAA-Boomer of the Workplace Institute and author of Rebel Retirement – A KAA-Boomer’s Guide to Creating and Living an Explosive Second Act.

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