“Certainty is a cruel mindset”
Ellen Langer, Counterclockwise
Want to know what really gets in the way of aging gracefully?
Let me give you an example.
The other day a woman came to me for a session. She is in her 80’s and has been working with me for a while. She has some balance issues due to arthritis but all things considered she does incredibly well.
However this week she came in with a very painful hip and was having trouble sitting, standing and walking.
When she got to the chair and sat down she was feeling so defeated that she felt like she could not get up from the chair. In fact, she tried to stand but could not.
She believed that it was her age that was preventing her from getting out of the chair and that perhaps she would never be able to get up unassisted again.
I knew that it was her self-limiting belief that was preventing her from standing and not her ability nor her age.
I could feel the defeat and frustration build in her to the point of tears. She was so focused on her hip and her failure to stand up that indeed she could not get out of the chair.
So I changed her focus. I asked her to sing a song with me. We started singing “Hello Dolly.” And you know what? She got out of the chair like a 10-year-old. She popped in and out of the chair 3 or 4 more times.
Because she was moving better she no longer had the pain in her hip. We walked around the room. At this point, we had sung snippets of a half dozen songs and she was laughing.
We had interrupted her self-limiting preconceived idea that her hip was failing her and that she would never be able to sit and stand easily again.
Self-limiting preconceived ideas and beliefs– we all have them.
They influence our expectations of ourselves and of others but most often, these preconceptions are self-limiting beliefs.
More often than not, our expectations of ourselves are limiting, not encouraging.
They are based on old tapes that are going around and around in your head. Preconceived ideas are not based on what is actually taking place here and now.
They are based on the past and are not relevant for today.
These self-limiting beliefs become a mindset and this mindset eventually becomes a reality.
I call this place of limiting self-belief the Rat Hole.
The Rat Hole becomes a vicious circle.
Round and round you go focusing and obsessing about your limitations and what you can’t do.
You become disengaged from your active life and retreat to a place of discouragement and self -doubt.
And then you start to believe in the stereotypes about aging and what it means to get older. You invest yourself in these stereotypes and cannot imagine yourself any other way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You do not have to do a 180-degree turn to change. All you have to do is shift your position or attitude a few degrees to set off on a different course.
What are your preconceived ideas about aging that could be limiting you?
Here are some that I have heard:
1. Pain and stiffness are an integral part of getting older.
This is false. Pain and stiffness are often the results of how you do what you do. Pain and stiffness are not an inevitable part of getting older. If sitting is painful for you then chances are it is the way that you are sitting that is causing the pain. You can learn how to sit differently. In my next video “Slouch No More” you will learn simple ways to improve your sitting.
- I am too old to change the way I do things.
This is false. Change occurs by bringing attention or mindfulness to your activities. We can learn at any age. You are never too old to change.
- My balance will inevitably become compromised.
Ok, so it is true that your balance decreases as you age but by challenging your sense of balance that decline can be reversed and drastically improved. There are some very simple ways that you can challenge and improve your balance.
- I’m a failure. I try hard to do X but I can’t do it no matter how hard I try.
Guess what: it’s not you. It is the trying that is getting in your way. Don’t try. Stop trying. Think of allowing yourself to do the activity. To allow is a much more constructive way to approach a task.
- I’m in pain now and thus I will never be able to go back to doing the things I love the most. My pain has put me in a place of inevitable decline.
The truth is that many of the aches and pains that we experience are caused by how we do things. You can learn how to move with less pain and stiffness. Pain and stiffness do not have to be an inevitable downward spiral. You can regain those activities that you thought you would never be able to do again.
You can purchase my Amazon Bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here.
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My name is Mary Derbyshire and I am a movement and fitness coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique a mindfulness practice that teaches you HOW to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves. I am passionate about teaching how to move and to keep them moving!