Intellectually we understand aging. So why does the first wrinkle or gray hair send us into an emotional tailspin? As smart women we were raised to believe that success and happiness are based on intelligence and accomplishments. Many of us never expected to feel this deeply about a seemingly superficial issues.
But let's face it, we do!
We hope you will approach the six steps summarized below with the kind of support and patience--and a bit of humor--that we all deserve at this phase in our lives. And remember, as you practice these internal steps toward external change, the goal is to feel and look beautiful for the rest of your life.
See Also: Beauty & The Boss
Step One: Turn Your Uh-oh Moments into Ah-ha Ones
The first step toward making any kind of change is acknowledgment. Decide if your concerns over aging and beauty are issues you would like to resolve. Take an honest, courageous look in your mirror and ask, Do I recall a moment in time that felt like a turning point in my aging process? Was there a moment when you said to yourself, "I feel and look old"? This first step allows us to own our honest feelings about our changing looks and see clearly through the paradoxical pulls that cloud our vision.
These uh-oh moments are experienced deep within us, as if something fundamental has changed in our identities. This is often accompanied by embarrassment and shame, as if we've been caught off guard and feel guilty that we care. We fear that we have lost control, as if abducted into an unwelcome phase of life. The first step is acknowledgment that our uh-oh moment exists and can be used to gain awareness. Only then can we turn uh-oh into ah-ha!
Step Two: The Only Mask You Wear Should Be Made of Honey and Yogurt!
This step is about coming out of hiding, from behind beliefs and actions that disconnect us from what we really feel. These behaviors make us look truly unnatural (those lips!), sometimes downright silly (those tight cutoffs!), and certainly distract us (those overtime hours!) from dealing with real issues. We are much better off removing the inappropriate cover-ups and allowing our vulnerability to show instead. Only then can we learn our genuine feelings. And they are often less problematic than the masks that cover them.
The reality is we are getting older, but aging doesn't have to be a dirty word. In other words, 40, 50 and 60 are just numbers, stages of life that don't have to--nor can they--be warded off. After all, what does 50 really look like today? It surely isn't the picture we have of our mothers or grandmothers. From our perspective, 50, 60 and older can look great if you take off your mask and let your face grow into becoming who you are. Masks are brittle. Masks are fake. Stop hiding. Take a look and see what's coming. You are getting older, but you're going to be more than okay.
Step Three: Talk Back to Those Internal Dialogues
Easy to say: Face your uh-oh moment, take off your mask and listen closely to the words you hear inside your head. Not so easy to do when the words you hear shout, You look old! We know, and hopefully you know by now that you're like millions of women who take a look at themselves and hear, You look tired. You look terrible. Give up. Give in. Get your face done, a little of this, a little of that. It's at least a fix. Fix what? You look like your mother. You're invisible. Too visible. Too old!
Maybe it's time we say "shush up" to the voices that get in our way. Listen to where these interfering voices originate. If you pay careful attention, you'll be able to hear that they most often come from your past. Sometimes they resonate with the voices we hear coming from the television or radio. Take hold of these dialogues and rewrite the script. You will always have conversations in your head. We all do, men and women alike. But you can create new lines, with new roles that speak to you in a kinder and gentler tone. The words come from your voice now. Speak up, loud and clear.