I Choose Me! Becoming Your Own Best Advocate in the Years After 60
Being the product of an abusive father, I grew up a people pleaser. By constantly trying to please him, I learned to survive. In doing so, for years I kept lying to my inner self.
We all know we should never lie to ourselves, but not only do we frequently do so, we also look for as much evidence to confirm the lies we tell.
Self-deception has a lot to do with not having the courage to live our own life. We often live the life others expect of us, especially when it comes to work.
For instance, I always felt a bond of purposefulness when working toward common goals and solving problems with others in my work life. I was certain this was making me totally fulfilled.
But imagine how deceived I felt when, toward the end of my career, I realized what I was doing was living the life that others expected of me. I had become a product of others’ wants and needs and, although that was fulfilling in a strange and comfortable way, retirement exposed the real me.
Somehow, in the journey from my childhood to retirement I had lost my real identity as a person. Many psychology books say that when you retire you finally have time to stop and look in the mirror, and sometimes the person looking back is no longer the person you knew.
AARP Magazine interviewed Maria Shriver about finding joy. One of the questions they asked her was which of her many roles is her favorite.
Maria paused and then said, “I’m trying to get away from roles. I used to identify myself strictly in terms of my role, but when your roles fall away, part of you falls with them.”
That is often our struggle as our “roles” fall away. How do we develop patterns for new ones?
Owning Your Own Power
Dr. Joseph Parent asks: “Why is there a need to prove our worth over and over again? Especially when asking ourselves ‘What is wrong with me?’ makes us feel instantly defeated.”
Fear of change is sneaky and keeps us negatively motivated. Owning our own power is where we should be at this time in our lives; defining it in a different way, or really in whatever way gives us the most pleasure.
Choosing you has to do with finding joy in whatever makes you happy. Sometimes it is hard to accept that handling the change means facing the unknown, the insecurity, concern, and even excitement of finally being on your own.
We all are told over and over again to put together a roadmap for our lives. But perhaps, when we retire, the roadmap we had until that point is no longer relevant to our new direction, especially when someone else designed the roadmap.
When you have spent the majority of your life obeying every road sign, is it not time to challenge the one that says “no trespassing”? Being brave enough to choose the road less traveled with all its twists and turns, on your own terms, offers detours that redirect you to unimagined and exciting places.
I have decided that I’ve come to a point where I can no longer tolerate in my life people that drain me. After I retired, it dawned on me that out of the many people I had surrounded myself with, there were several that I did not like, were very needy, or had nothing in common with me.
They were in my life because I had tolerated them, not because I was choosing them. So, why was I connected to those that did not enrich or make my new life better or more fulfilling in any way?
By choosing me I learned that I am a more resourceful person than I thought, in many different ways. There are things I will do and things I won’t do, and I am now very specific with myself about boundaries.
My List of 9
- I am no longer trapped in “yesterday’s solutions.” It is a new world. Look for new solutions that are relevant today.
- I have become more affirmative about standing my ground. The people pleaser has left the building!
- I am learning to be happy with myself and love who I am and what I do. Judgement from others about my life and how I live it is no longer allowed.
- I know I am a serial worrier and I cannot control what is happening all the time. But I have learned that dialing up Domino’s for a pizza and a pint of my favorite caramel pecan ice cream is not a way to cope with stress and anxiety.
- I have learned that dreams have no expiration date!
- I have learned that not every day will be perfect. “Some days you’re the pigeon and somedays you’re the statue; just live with it!”
- I have learned that overreacting is pretty much a character flaw. Nothing is ever as good as it seems or as bad as it seems on any given day.
- I have stopped judging myself so harshly when I find myself off course.
- I have learned that laughter really does change everything.
W. Somerset Maugham wrote, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” This is the key, making sure that the changes you make take you to the next step of happiness you so richly deserve.
How have you become your best advocate? Are you on the way to choosing you? Are there things you no longer allow yourself do because they strip your identity off? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below.