Recently, I returned from a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, where I kept running into groups of older, smiling men and women, most of whom were there to attend a Jubilee that included such notables as the Collingsworth Family and the Goodman group. Just hearing and seeing these participants’ passion for the music was an inspiration and an eye-opener. Many were in wheelchairs or used a cane, and some were bent over with back problems, but they did not let their ailments, their ages, or their pain prevent them from enjoying themselves.
These attendees were obviously feeling good about themselves and life in general. I was impressed that at least 6,000 attendees had registered for this three-day event (9/18-20/2017), and those I spoke with said they had been coming for years! They had something to look forward to every year and they anticipated a future. When people with similar passions get together to have a good time, they are not only enriching their lives, they enrich others’ lives, and they are serving as role models for others longing for things to do.
Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. Eric Hoffer
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So why is feeling good about yourself so important in any stage of life but most particularly in the latter stages? It is a definite plus for enjoying what you do and extending your life. If you are not happy with yourself and you want to make some changes, it helps to have friends in your life. Many things contribute to having fewer friends as you get older, with the most obvious one being that our friends die. Also, having worked takes a toll on many who had to commute long distances, had families to care for, and just did not have the time to engage with friends. Let’s face it, whatever the reason, having a good time for many is a hard goal to attain. We are reluctant to reach out to others for fun or to provide service. How we feel about ourselves makes all the difference in the way we approach new people and situations. Too often, women sell themselves short, thinking that they will not be received well by others. Let me tell you that about 90% of us feel this way to some extent at any stage of life.
So, how do we improve our self-perceptions?
Consider those talents and hobbies you have. These are things that you enjoy and that you can share with others. Consider your achievements in life, how you felt when they occurred, and how you might apply them today. Wow! All of sudden you realize you are not so unworthy after all.
What is it about you that makes you a valuable woman in your eyes? Is it your education, your values, your attitude, your experiences, or your appearance. All of us have been successful in many ways. Remember yours. Write them down if you have to, and ask the following:
- Do you experience cultural activities?
- How do you spend money?
- How do you treat people?
- Do you have a problem with establishing and maintaining boundaries?
- Are you helpful to others?
- Do you belong to an organization that provides community service?
- How do you care for your home?
- How do you respond to criticism or negative comments?
You get the picture. Everything you do, say, think and how you look, behave, and feel all go into who you are. If you believe you are failing in an area, work on it until you feel more comfortable about yourself. It takes courage to feel better about yourself, courage to do things differently, and courage to admit to yourself that there are aspects of yourself you just don’t like. As Gloria Steinem said in Revolution From Within,
“…there is a healthier self within each of us, just waiting for encouragement.”
Are You Willing to Take the Risks?
Remember those times when you stepped out of your protective shell and chose a different way to react to a situation? That involved taking a risk. Life is risky. Remember your first recital, first date, first prom, first day at college, getting married, and having a baby? You have to take “risking it” further in improving things about your self you want to change: One of the most important issues with most women is that of establishing boundaries with those in our lives. This takes lots of practice. We have to learn different ways to say no to those who impose on us, abuse us, and want it their way. They actually convince us that we are their only way out. Some go so far as to accuse us of not wanting to help, being selfish, and not caring about them.
Sarah Breathnach said it best in Something More in describing our loathing thoughts about ourselves when
“…capitulating to the needs of others by disavowing our own; for ignoring the careless cruelties of loved ones in order to keep the peace; for struggling to live up to the expectations of people we don’t even care about; …”
Somehow we have learned to think that we have to be the “better” person by succumbing to the needs and wants of others. We have to learn how to draw the line between the genuine needs and selfish wants of others.
The techniques for dealing with difficult people are well described in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Pulling Your Own Strings, which confirms that we have always been in control of our own destiny. We have to take responsibility for allowing others to mistreat us by taking action to avoid being the victim.
Either pull your own strings and enjoy being in charge of your brief life here on Earth, or let others do it and spend your life being upset and controlled by the victimizers of the world.
Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote a series of books that help you take action towards those who take advantage. Their book Boundaries offers typical situations that disturb us and provides ways of dealing with them. A considerable portion of the book deals with the origins of the poor behaviors, our inability to establish boundaries, the development of acceptable boundaries, and the consequences of allowing people to run over us.
“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Standing up for yourself is empowering and leads to becoming the person you want to be. When we are happy with ourselves, we love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we always put our best foot forward, even when that means we protect ourselves from those who use us or establish conditions to their treatment of us.
Please use the Comments section below to voice your opinions, any questions you are struggling with, and to ask help from others. I like to hear what part of this post you liked the best. Thanks.