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Can You Pinpoint Your Identity After 60?

By Teresa Beshwate August 12, 2023 Mindset

With six or more decades of life under our belt, we have lived long enough to gain new identities and release old ones. In some cases, identity is established based on our phase of life. We were first a daughter, then a student, perhaps a wife, maybe a mom, employee or business owner.

There were natural shifts in identity when we got the degree, said, “I do,” accepted the job offer and when children came into the picture. Identity evolves naturally over time. Some identities are permanent (once a mom, always a mom) while others are marked with a beginning and an ending. Some identities might have felt prescribed, but others are a product of our own choosing.

Unexpected Identity Changes

Yet if you have had enough trips around the sun, it’s likely that life has thrown you a curve ball that brought you to your knees and called your identity into question.

With the loss of a spouse or divorce, we go from “we” to “me.” Retirement or job loss can disrupt one’s sense of identity. Becoming a caregiver, or no longer being a caregiver can prompt a significant shift in identity. Identity can change with empty nesting, downsizing or navigating illness, to name just a few.

Who Are You Now?

Whenever life throws a curve ball big enough to divide your life into “before” and “after,” it is likely time to reconsider your identity.

Do you know who you are now, after an unwanted or unexpected plot twist?

What does it mean to be you – now?

One way you can know that you’re being yourself is that there’s no restriction to how you show up in the world. You don’t second guess yourself. There’s no self-judgment or questioning.

There is simply just being you; telling the truth to yourself and being truthful to others about who you really are. It is caring very little whether someone is going to like you or not.

Your Closest Friends Know the Real You

Think about the people who know you the most. What have you shown them that makes them know you so well? What have you shown them that you don’t show other people? What have they seen that other people haven’t?

“This person really gets me because they know this_________.” That is who you are. That is your authentic self.

But what if you’d like something else? To be a different version of you?

Personality Is Malleable

It’s tempting to believe that personality is hard wired, a permanent characteristic that dictates who you are and how you show up in the world. But in his book Personality Isn’t Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story, Dr. Benjamin Hardy suggests the opposite. Drawing on psychological research, he demonstrates that a person’s consistent attitudes and behaviors – in other words, their personality – is changeable, and shares how we can intentionally create our desired selves.

Including and especially after an unexpected, unwanted life event.

Maybe you’re reeling from the shock, or merely existing, or starting to live again, maybe even learning to thrive. Those are all versions of you. Spend time thinking about who you are in this chapter of your life, and who you want to be. Because in the words of George Eliot, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

In what ways have life events caused a shift in your identity? How has your identity evolved because of the life event? If you could give advice to a former version of yourself, what would you say?

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I’m not sure aabout the advice Iwould give my former self, but recent shift has been the understanding that every relationship comes with an expiry date. we have to move on.


My identity is shifting with the death of my husband a couple months ago. Part of me is still the same, the part that enjoys time in my quilt room, being a Mom and Grandma, but part of me is trying to figure out who I am without being a part of a strong, balanced loving couple. I am off balance, but trying to find the new me, without him.


I’m still the same as I’ve always been, as I’ve always pivoted to when needed and saw that as evolving. BUT I dread the day if my identity would shift to widow.


I hope you’re coming from having a good marriage and love in your life and not simply worried about being left alone. If In either case, keep an open mind. After grieving it might surprise you how much more you see and love about yourself especially after surviving a tragic loss. I hope you only experience one and not compounded by disappointment from family or friends. Finding your strengths will hold you up each time you achieve something on your own. You will discover someone in you you never thought existed…please don’t fear… believe in you becoming a “super” you.

Karyn Loveman

Reinventing keeps one nimple and is a key to coping with change. Ones muscles – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional, get stronger as one practices new insights.

Things get easier. For me, I ensure my actions and words match my beliefs.

It’s freeing. But there’s always a challenge and we get to discover new parts of ourselves.

The Author

Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH, is an author and life coach who exclusively helps widows to move forward and learn to live and love their life again after the loss of their spouse. Her latest book, Life Reconstructed: A Widow’s Guide to Coping with Grief, is now available.

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