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  • emilygilliland8

Do you have age anxiety?

Do you feel stressed and anxious when you think about ageing?

Has entering perimenopause increased this stress?

Firstly, it’s not your fault! We live in a culture (in the west at least) that is obsessed with youth, younger is seen as “better”. We have lost the idea of “elder wisdom” now we can all google everything. Despite wisdom and information being two very different things. So we don’t think of older people as valuable. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that people, especially women, have anxiety about ageing. Women, and those socialised as women, are taught by our society that our value is in our physical appearance, fertility, sexuality and youthfulness. Men are allowed to be older and powerful; women become miserable crones. Women ‘peak’ in their teens to 20’s – we have a short shelf life of acceptability in society.

Maiden, Mother & Crone

In society’s stories and folklore, women are allocated three archetypes based on age and status – maiden, mother and crone. The maiden is worshipped in society, the mother to a much lesser extent. The crone – rejected and feared (the old witch in the woods of the fairy tales).

As women we are told we must look younger, stop ageing and that we should be constantly trying to be young. But as women we can’t win, because when we do try to ‘stop’ ageing, society deems that as wrong as well - we are trying too hard, being vain and trying to look young and that’s a negative. No wonder so many of us have some issues around ageing!

Loss of power

Women are taught that how we look is our sole power, our one valuable asset, the thing that makes us relevant. And when we ‘lose’ those looks as we age, we then believe we lose our power. No wonder then that a lot of women feel this ageing anxiety particularly as they approach menopause. They see it as a physical sign that they are now old and therefore worthless and powerless.

So what can we do?

We can’t easily change the messages society gives us. What we can do is change the message we give ourselves.

Let’s look again at the crone. She is rejected by patriarchal society BECAUSE of her power. The crone is powerful, she lives outside of the identity options women are given, she cares not one bit for the social rules, she couldn’t care less about who finds her attractive or doesn’t. She doesn’t give a single fuck about what anyone thinks of her.

As humans we tend to reject what we fear. The crone as an archetype has been rejected by the patriarchy not because she is useless and miserable, but because she holds power, wisdom and a rejection on the norms and she is feared. Does the crone actually sound terrible? Or does she actually sound like a major badass? I know what I think…

Choose yourself

When you tell yourself that you can’t age, you’re rejecting yourself. You’re telling your brain that you need to be younger, a past version of yourself, that the best days are behind you and everything is worse from today onwards. It’s not surprising that makes you feel anxious.

As you become older you can learn to love yourself, to stop caring about what other people think. That doesn’t mean you have to stop looking after yourself or not care at all about how you look. Those are choices you can make, you can make whatever choices make you the happiest!

  • What it does mean is that you need to decide for yourself what your own worth is.

  • What do you believe about yourself now?

  • And what do you want to believe about yourself?

  • What do you believe about your worth?

  • Why you’re here?

  • What your purpose is?

  • What do you want to be able to look back on and be proud?

  • You need to create your own value and decide it for yourself.

  • See the value you already have.

Take some time to think about what comes up for you, how you feel and write it down. Can you speak positively about yourself now and in the future?

if you find yourself struggling with this exercise, you’re not alone. This can take practice and it can bring up some big emotions and memories. Be gentle with yourself, you can’t often change your deep-seated beliefs in one go but you can practice believing something closer to the the ideal you decided on above. One step/belief at a time.

Need some help? Midlife therapeutic coaching is a safe space to go deep with your beliefs and really find a path toward the change you want to see. Get in touch to arrange a chat to see if coaching is right for you.

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