Age may be just a number, but hopefully life and time do bring us some evolution, right? It may come either in spurts or so very slowly, but change can be a welcome gift. Life is always better after a little growth. Agreed? With some recent changes in my life I am realizing there are some things that need to be left behind. I’m just too old for some stuff. And whatever your age, I suspect you are too.
- Gossip: Oh man, friends. Is it just me? Am I being too picky? Because, when did gossip get to be so commonplace again? We learned in middle school how destructive it is. I feel like as a general population of people my age, both male and female, gossip was for the longest time not tolerated. The Golden Rule reigned. But somehow gossip is making a comeback and sarcasm has become the humor of choice for so many folks. Criticizing each other behind our backs, making snide and deeply hurtful remarks, forming secret allegiances, it is all so normal that I can no longer keep track of who feels how about what common friend. Not a good feeling. And who knows how those same people truly feel about me? Even a worse feeling. I’m too old to share in or tolerate gossip.
- Feelings of Inferiority: My natural tendency is to be extremely self punishing while seeing only the impressive, amazing qualities of others, especially women. While this could serve anyone well in a healthy context, I’m really too old to dwell in a state of self hatred. It poisons the atmosphere, you know? This weird combination of tendencies magnifies both assets and deficiencies into a distorted, fun house reality that only breeds low self esteem, jealousy, insecurity, then a twisted kind of inter-personal battery. Inflated self worth, which is bizarre. And to me this includes allowing myself to be bossed around or mothered by people who are not my mentors or authority figures. It can invite people to be be awfully condescending, you know? I generally try to make room if someone close to me has a need to give advice or lecture, and often I even ask advice when I don’t particularly need it, because of either self doubt or politeness, but all of these habits can be extremely destructive to both parties. If I put up with it for too long, I will eventually snap and catch the advice-giver quite by surprise. That’s not very loving of me. And posturing myself to receive lots to unsolicited advice from others who probably don’t know my heart and also don’t now any better than me, well, it’s a recipe for bitterness. Harboring feelings of inferiority is not the same as seeing room to grow. I’m too old to waste time and energy on this any longer.
- Active Negativity: Everyone has bad days, difficult seasons of life, and straight up bizarre, confusing situations that have us occasionally kind of howling at the moon in frustration. Sometimes there is a legitimate need to vent or acknowledge problems so they can be dealt with. But then there is the bad habit of being determined to feel defeated or attacked. Short changed, victimized. The tendency, no matter how much good is flourishing, to focus on the blemishes and failures. The funny thing about focus is that it works as a magnifier. It’s fertilizer for reality, and I’m too old to keep focusing on the negative stuff. I’m also too old to surrender my time to chronically negative people.
- Aimlessness & Losing Control Over My Time: This hearkens straight back to posturing myself for others to take control. And it has been resulting in lots of time wasted and resentful feelings of obligation then bitterness. I am just too old to allow it to continue.
And with none of this do I mean to sound superior or overly maternal; although this is all advice I’d be thrilled to offer both of my daughters at a receptive moment. They are both at the perfect age to launch their womanhood and adult relationships in healthy ways. Besides them, this writing today is just an expression of what I have learned about myself, of what thresholds I have for my own little corner of this big, beautiful world. To the people in my personal life, it might help explain why I have less tolerance for some difficult relationships than I used to have. Again, this is not about judgement of other people; it’s about deciding what I can handle for my own life. Judging what is good for my own environment and for those close to me.
So, hey… Let’s not magnify this darkness too much. Let’s instead cast some light into it, replacing those bad habits with good ones. This is a healthier mechanism, right? What can we do more of that will eventually get us to do less of the gossiping, feeling inferior, remaining in negativity, and living aimlessly? Here are my thoughts:
- More Constructive, Loving Words: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything,” may be a good start. But silence can be pretty hurtful, too. Let’s replace the gossip and sarcasm with genuine, loving words. Not fake stuff, either. I want to make a better effort to see the best in people, even people I find difficult at the moment. Then speak it. Words are phenomenal. Women can be supremely effective with this if we choose it. I’ve enjoyed female bonds that are nothing but constructive and nourishing, amazing stuff! And unfortunately I’ve seen female bonds deteriorate into deep wounds, all because of words. I want to remember how powerful my tongue is and how influential my spirit can be, then make an effort to draw out the best in those both nearby and far off. I want to remember that everyone has a history I know little to nothing about, and assume that most folks are at any given time doing the best they can do. Replace judgement, even when I am feeling hurt, with understanding. At the very least, I will check all the words coming out of my mouth so that I never start or participate in gossip, nor allow it by passivity. Speak well of other human beings. Period. No matter who they are or how I am feeling temporarily.
- Honest Assessments of What I Bring to the Table & Taking Better Ownership of My Decisions: For me this starts with just a nice, deep breath. Maybe some yoga or a long run, but mostly just listening for God to say something soothing to me. Assessing my place in life has a lot more to do with listening than declaring. Is the same true for you? We can always go about setting goals and staking claims around the planet, and that’s great! But settled confidence and stronger, more deliberate decisions come with a quiet mind. Fewer distractions. Lots of deep breathing. I’m too old for being so desperate to fit in and allowing others to tell me how to live.
- Harnessing My Imagination & Choosing to Dwell in Possibility: It’s a choice that can become habit and then blend seamlessly into a natural state of being, but it is first a choice. Maybe a long series of tiny choices. I think this has a lot to do with gratitude, too, so yes to purposefully saying thank you for more stuff in my life. Yes to making as many conscious little choices as possible throughout each day to see the good around me and imagine better things coming. I believe in the wild, wonderful power of imagination, after all. I need to get back to acting on that belief.
- Focus, Then Speak My Mind Without Apologizing: This has a little (maybe a lot) to do with pawning my decisions off on other people for fear of making my truest opinions known. The old habit is based in fear. Its replacement is based in love. Not just selfish love, either, because being gently but firmly honest about my heart can only build more genuine connections with other people. It could mean occasionally saying goodbye to people, or maybe just redefining my relationship with them, but if those bonds were based on something other than the truth of my heart, what am I really losing? Also, the older I get the more quickly time passes, and I keep hearing that this only becomes more and more true. I’m too old waste time or to live anything but a genuine life, day to day.
You know what I’m not too old for? Bouncy houses. Not too old for that yet, thank goodness.
What do you think? Are any of these things plaguing your every day life? Your relationships? If so, how do you hope to remedy it?
Happiness is an inside job.
Get to work.