gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 - Page 54

{ } AGING with an Attitude T hroughout our lives we deal with disappointments and challenges that test our ability to accept the reality of a given situation. Never is this more prevalent than in the aging process. As we age, our growing limitations often cloud our perspectives, making acceptance of any new reality not just diffi cult but one that we feel we should protest—and in some cases, just deny entirely. Are you one of those people who still have a pair of bell bottom pants hanging in your closet, waiting for them to come back in style or fit again? Are you in an ongoing battle with your grown children because they think it is time for you to stop driving? You know they are right, but you just can’t give up your independence. Do you live in a two-story home when your arthritis is giving you clear signals that those stairs need to be a thing of the past? These are just a few of the realities that aging presents; where acceptance is the key to your future. Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, once said, “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Denial of what is, can be exhausting! It can zap your energy. When something IS, and you try to deny its existence—suppress, or forget it—it will persist, whether you accept it or NOT. So, why can’t an older adult accept it when it is obvious that they should no longer drive? Why would they continue to hang on to their independence when it means risking the lives of others? Why can’t that older adult who broke his hip and can barely walk from the living room to the kitchen accept that his children are merely trying to keep him safe when they offer to bring in a 54 The Art of Acceptance… Key to Aging with an Attitude caregiver? Everyone who denies that an adjustment to their life is in order has a reason for doing so. The interesting thing is that those who deny that they can no longer do many things they did ten years ago, tend to be very intelligent. Earth to older adults— you can live in constant battle and paddle upstream until you get too tired to paddle and you are forced by life to succumb, or you can choose to let y our canoe go with the flow and enjoy the ride. It is difficult to accept that aging can post limitations on us, but it is much more difficult not to, which causesc your children sadness, worry and stress. You don’t have to like it, but you do, as a mature human being, need to acknowledge and accept what is. Acceptance opens the door to healing, to forgiving, to opportunities! Fighting what is, blocks the flow of life and creativity. No one is going to judge you because a caregiver drives you to play pool with your friends. No one will look down on you if you wear a watch that signals an alert should you fall. If they do, you might want to consider “opting out” of their lives. Visiting Angels used to have a client named Virginia in Morgan Hill. Initially, she hated using a walker so she would walk at a “high speed.” You could almost see smoke on the cement. She walked that fast. She accepted what was with an “I’ll show you attitude,” grinning as her caregiver rushed to keep up with her. She was living proof that acceptance does not equal defeat or weakness. It just meant living your reality. As Tony Robbins, a famous life coach says, “reframe how you look at life. Reframing is the difference between being constantly disappointed and GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN february/march 2019 being consistently satisfied.” When you take a different route to go home, for example, you are exposed to different things. What you encounter when you change routes, you don’t necessarily encounter when you take the same route you take to go home. When you reframe how you look at life, how you look at your situation, you are merely taking a different perspective. You are opening yourself to new possibilities, to a new way of experiencing life. And by the way, when you free yourself from the struggle of denial, you make a choice (i.e. you are in control) to work with what is, rather than waste energy fighting what is. It’s no secret that I am a big advocate of “aging with an attitude”… the right attitude. I urge all my clients and even my friends and relatives to do so. Accept what is, work with what is, make the necessary adjustments and you will find that you have no time to worry about the changes because you will be “aging with a positive attitude.” Sources: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy of Borderline Personality Disorder by M. Linehan “Meaning of Everything” by T. Robbins “The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What is” by J.Frazier. Written by Dorie Sugay, the Executive Director of Visiting Angels.