One of the best books on conscious aging that I’ve read so far is: Do Not Go Quietly: A Guide to Living Consciously and Aging Wisely for People Who Weren’t Born Yesterday, by George Cappannelli, co-founder of the website Age Nation. In it he acknowledges the outdated misconceptions about aging in our culture and encourages us to set new standards for entering our 50’s, 60’s and beyond. One chapter in particular stood out for me and it had to do with fear.
I would bet that the biggest misconception around aging has to do with the horror stories we’ve been told for generations: illness, our bodies breaking down, loss of freedom, sadness, loneliness, etc. Hay House founder Louise Hay descried fear as a thought that we hold on to until it becomes a belief. So what if we looked fear right in the eye and had a conversation with it? This is what Cappannelli encourages us to do – have a conversation with fear.
To do this, he suggests that we pick one fear from our list, for instance, sadness. Then we write down our question about sadness and ask it to talk to us. From there we have an actual conversation with our fear, writing down the answers and posing the questions until we can acknowledge that it is just a thought, and a thought can be changed. Sometimes, the author suggests, the conversation will move into other areas that may be connected with sadness, like loneliness or loss of freedom. He advises that we just keep the conversation going and see where it leads. He also suggests that we do not try to go through the entire list of fears at one sitting. Instead, we can take one subject at a time and have a conversation until we get a feel for the process. At that point we can make a commitment to come back to this exercise again and again until we have dealt with all of fears on our list. We cannot find our way out of fear unless we confront it, find out what it has to tell us, and then lovingly let it go.
Reading this was a powerful experience for me. I think our fears about aging are more powerful than the actual reality of aging. We have only to look around us to the many examples of people well into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond who live healthy, happy and productive lives to see that if we change our thoughts about aging, we can change our experience of it.
Since you are all exceedingly smart and creative, you know by now what our assignment for this week on the Home Page is going to be about. As always, have fun, and keep writing.
Peace and blessings.