I recently wrote an article on the secret of being fearless in your 60s. It covered the things that older women worry about.
In the comments, women shared their fears about not having enough time left, not having enough money, not being beautiful enough, not having enough talent, not feeling good enough – just not BEING enough.
We all want to be considered worthy and precious. Unfortunately, we live in a world filled with unrealistic expectations. We won’t admit that we look at Facebook “likes” as an indication of how popular, interesting, smart or witty we are.
Deep down, most of us care about these social triggers, even though we know we shouldn’t. It’s almost as if the entire world has become a game, with points being earned for our small social “achievements.”
Judging ourselves based on what others think is tiring and counterproductive. As Brené Brown, author and Ted Talk presenter, reminds us, “The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting, but, as hard as we try, we can’t turn off the tapes that fill our heads with messages like ‘Never good enough’ and ‘What will people think?'”
Women in their 60s, including myself, struggle with a fear of lacking social worth in a unique way. Like many women, I have struggled with the “good girl” syndrome – a belief that, in order to be appreciated and considered worthy, I have to be perfect. For most of my life, I believed that, in order to have any value, I had to be a perfect woman, wife, mother and worker. Did you feel the same?
Our search for perfection, as women, has an impact on our deepest emotions. For starters, it makes criticism hard to take. It feeds a vicious cycle that creates insecurity and undermines perfection.
Many of us were raised in a culture where conformity was a prerequisite to achievement. This is not necessarily true for kids today. When we were growing up, we honestly felt that we had to please everyone in order to be considered fundamentally worthy.
So, we defined ourselves in terms of other people’s expectations. We worried obsessively about what our parents, kids, spouses and colleagues thought of us. We learned to set goals that reassured us of our worthiness. We said, “I will be good enough when I… have more money / have more friends / have more stuff.” We continued, “I will be valuable when I get my degree / have a child / build a successful business.” We searched for perfection and lost ourselves.
Of course, this is not just a problem for older women. People of all ages face unrealistic comparisons. Advertising agencies know that they can’t sell us something unless they make us feel inadequate. Social media shows us only the “best bits” of people’s lives. But, older people suffer from a lifetime of built-up expectations.
Now that we are in our 60s, it is time for us to let go of perfection. It is time to realize that we are good enough, just the way we are. This doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to be the best people that we can be. But, it does mean that we should abandon unfair comparisons and focus on the things that we can control. Here’s how to get started.
Fear only works its dark magic when we allow ourselves to slip into regret about the past or anxiety about the future. Our issues with self-esteem are fed by time-based comparisons. We feel back about the decisions that we have made and we worry about what the future will bring.
If we force ourselves to remain in the moment – to stop worrying about our failures and anticipating the worst – the fear vanishes. You are where you are. That is what it important. External comparisons are meaningless. You are good enough.
One practice that I have found helps me immensely, when it comes to living in the moment, is meditation. If you haven’t yet watched my interview with Susan Piver on the topic of the importance of meditation for older women, I highly encourage you to check it out.
I recently recorded a short video on the topic of compassion and got some great feedback from the community. The truth is that depression and fear can be negated by compassion and kindness.
Helping others changes the lens through which we view the world. Rather than focusing on ourselves, we see what we mean to others. Our fears become dreams and our frowns become smiles.
Perfection is meaningless when we are giving back. You are good enough just for showing up. You don’t have to compare yourself to others. All you have to do is make a difference in your own special way.
There are so many ways to get involved. Most of these don’t involve money. You can be a mentor to young people, keep your neighborhood clean or volunteer for an organization that you care about. The only mistake is staying in your own little world. Here are 6 places to find volunteer opportunities.
Here is the video that I recorded on the power of compassion. Please take a look and join the conversation at the end of this article.
Feeling that you are part of a community is a great way to start your journey from “I’m not perfect” to “I’m good enough”. We need to move beyond the perfect images of people that we see in social media and get out into the world.
When we force ourselves to see others in person, we see their colds, experience their personality flaws and hear about their problems. We realize that, like us, everyone is on their own journey.
Life after 60 is one of the hardest times to make new friends. With our kids out of the house and our careers ending, we are losing many of the social connections that we relied on. This is all the more reason to get active. So, follow your passions, get in shape and talk to strangers. If not now, then when?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Are you ready to move from “I’m not perfect” to “I’m good enough?” Do you agree or disagree that social media and other digital experiences make it hard to avoid unfair comparisons? Why or why not? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.
Tags Finding Happiness