I thought today that I would give you some idea of where I have been and where I am going, and why I believe that I can support people in their own ageing adventure.
I started working with older people forty years ago as a care assistant in residential homes, having realised that I had a vocation for that.
Through that, I learnt what makes people in general tick and observed the different ways that people age. Some strong and cheerful even through great adversity, and others bitter and twisted and very difficult to care for.
This implanted in me a desire to make sure that I would not go into my own ageing with unforgiveness and lack of a loving attitude towards my fellow humans.
I opened my own care home after a lot of hard work, passing social services inspections, having converted and painted and decorated, and furnishing a house from scratch, while still working on a night shift. Getting about four hours of sleep a day, over many weeks.
I left the caring profession after a very difficult personal experience with divorce and loss and then meeting and marrying my second husband. But still found myself caring and supporting Elderly neighbours
I also gained experience of the middle age population and enjoyed observing them, by becoming involved with the WI as president of my local meeting, and also did two years on the Cornwall Executive commitee.
At the age of 67, I was introduced to Life Coaching, which in turn led me to realise how much I loved learning. I had not had much oppurtunity at school and left at the age of 15, then married at 19, and went on to having three children and was “just a Naval Housewife”.
I had been led into Life coaching by a friend who was impressed with how healthy I was, and had kept my weight under control. She was convinced that weight management would be a good way for me to go, under the auspice of Life coaching. So I went to University, part time, at the age of 67.
Because of my backgroud of bingeing and dieting for over forty years, I felt right about this. I then went onto writing books about the subject and designing a website.
We have looked at how forgiving others can be liberating for you and your wellbeing and vitality.
Have you considered that you also need to forgive yourself?
Many of us have made errors of judgement, mistakes, been unkind or even brought about our own and others downfall with something that we may have done. Also in these days of societal judgment, such as illness, obesity, lack, and keeping up with the Joneses, we can easily find fault with ourselves, and wonder what we must have done wrong.
Often we can be the victim to our own misplaced guilt. For example, many working women feel guilty about leaving their kids, or the stay at home Mums feel guilty for not making a contribution to the household costs.
Another example is when you lose a loved one, part of the grieving process is to blame yourself for something that you may have done to hurt them or not done enough.
This is where it pays to take a good look at yourself, using your chosen method of meditation, and make sure that there is a real need to forgive yourself when you have not done anything wrong.
However, you may know for sure that you definitely did something that hurt or caused someones downfall. Only you will know the answer to this one.
Don’t forget to bear in mind what I suggest about doing a little at a time. Often this can be the easiest ones first.
In that case the procedure for forgiving yourself is much the same as forgiving others, which I covered briefly in the previous blog.
We are made up of mind, body and spirit. Unforgiveness can manifest itself in all three. Our mind can be fixated on the thing that needs to be forgiven, whether this is for yourself or someone else, which in turn can affect our physical and mental health. This in turn can break our spirit.
A simple exercise would be to visualise each component, speaking to the other. A sort of you talking to you.
Another way of doing it would be to seperate yourself into parent, child and adult. This is called Transactional Analysis. Write as if you are each of those characters in turn. Then speak to them. Parent to child, child to parent, and then think of how the adult would deal with, treat and talk to other two.
In our everyday lives, we usually react as if we are either one of those three. The parent could be bossy and expect you to behave in a certain way that keeps them happy. (Use what ever your perception of a parent or guardian was when you were a child.)
The child would be the one in need of some love and understanding.
The adult, would be the person reading this and understanding where each of the other two are coming from.
Then go through the forgiveness exercises and much in the same way as the mind, body, spirit assigment above, get each character to talk to the other.
It will definitely help to be using your journal and writing it down. Perhaps write a little script as if you are writing a play.
I hope that this will help. Don’t forget that you can join us in the group on Facebook, and ask or discuss anything that has come up for you here.
Unforgiveness is one of the biggest blocks to freedom. Particularly as we age. To become a wise and joyful Elder, we need to come to grips with this important aspect of our lives.
Right from when we are born, we experience hurt and damage to our body, spirit and mind, mostly from the circumstances and other people in our lives.This may be bullying, misconceived parenting, religion, cultural ideas, peers, siblings, friends and even from those who love us.
No one cannot go through life without damaging experiences, and many of us carry these experiences throughout life. Even bad experiences later in life, can do untold damage.
For many years the Fruedian idea of how damage being done to us, is the cause of who we become, and that there is no turning back. This has been the basis of Therapy, the cause of illness, and spending immeasurable amounts of time and money on our “Inner child”. Particularly the “hurt inner child”.
Whilst this can happen, there never seems to be an answer to the question of “How can I change it!” Cognitive behaviour therapy, (CBT) has been successful in some cases, and is the most popular way of getting over hurts and behaviour, but this is only touching the surface, or the “outer” person.
To really get over things and make changes, there needs to be more work done by the individual themselves and this is why life coaching is becoming a powerful tool. Life coaching is the tool used by people when they want to move on, once they get over a major life change, such as losing a job, bereavement, divorce, retirement, and often when people just feel “stuck” and don’t know where to go next.
In most cases the reason why people cannot move on is that they are not taught how to forgive or what it really means, and that forgiveness can be the first step to moving on with their lives. In the case of ageing, it certainly needs to be dealt with if we are not going to carry bitterness and resentment into our vulnerable older years.
Have you ever thought that you need to forgive yourself?
You could be surprised at how much resentment you are carrying around towards yourself. At the bottom of this anger and resentment you could be carrying unforgiveness around just for being human!
Everyone makes errors or judgment, being unkind, saying hurtful things, playing jokes on others at school, telling lies and so on. These human errors are almost impossible to keep a record of.
It may be something that you did that was quite a major incident in your life and had disastrous, life changing effects on yourself or others.
You could be carrying this around and it is affecting everything you do in the present time.
It is just the same as resentment and unforgiveness to others.
When you did your Life Review from my post “Expectations and Consciousness in Ageing”, you may have uncovered stuff about hurts and pain. You may also have something that happened in the past that you talk a lot about, or that you think a lot about. That one will be obvious.
In any case, sit quietly or go for a walk on your own and think about what you would like to be “rid of” with memories and overuling resentments. Would you really like to be free of these?
Let’s look at what forgiveness really is!
Forgiveness is misconstrued in our society and beliefs. It certainly was for me, until I learnt one important componant that made it easier for me.
The following quotes are extracts from “The Art and Science of Forgiveness” by Frederick Luskin, PhD and featured in a book called Consciousness and Healing.
“Forgiveness in no way means you have to reconcile with someone who treated you badly. I see this confusion over and over in the work that I do. For example, if you were the recipient of childhood abuse, or are in a harsh relationship, you can forgive the offender and, as part of that choice, make the decision to end or limit contact. Forgiveness is primarily for creating your peace of mind. It is to create healing in your life and return you to a state in which you can live and be capable again of trust and love.”
He goes on to say;
” Another misconception is that it depends on whether or not the abuser or lying person apologizes, wants you back, or changes his or her ways. If another person’s poor behaviour was the primary determinent for your healing, then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. In another vein, you can forgive your ex-spouse for his or her insulting speech and even abandoning you or your children, but forgiveness in no way means you do not take your ex to court to make sure your children get the support payments to which you are entitled. Forgiveness and justice are not the same! You can seek justice with an open heart as well as a bitter one.”
In other words you can forgive without condoning the behaviour that hurt you.
” Lastly, forgiveness does not mean that we forget what happened to us in our urge to move forward and get on with our lives. It is ludicrous to expect anyone who has been badly hurt not to remember the wound.”
Luskin does not suggest that you dwell on your greivances. Jesus said that we need to forgive not just 7 times, but 70 times 70.
This simply means that everytime you remember the hurt, just say to yourself that you have forgiven.
I found this information a liberating and life changing experience. Like other people I have had some major hurts in my life and spent many years believing that I could not forgive the people who hurt me, because that would mean that I had to forget and reconcile, and write to the person to tell them that I had forgiven.
But then I realised that it was inner work that I needed to do and as long as I held unforgiveness, I was also holding onto the hurt. I learnt that letting go of the hurt did not mean I needed to put it in the past and forget about it.
Now I simpy do as Luskin and many others suggest, I simply forgive the person over again.
In the next blog we will look at HOW TO FORGIVE. This is something that is not talked a lot about. It can also be a stumbling block, so make sure that you “tune in” again to the next one on Forgiveness and Ageing.
Continuing our exploration of Expectations with Ageing, today I am going to look at a Life Review.
This exercise will help you to clear the path for expectations in your ageing journey, and will also give you an outline for the next few days of looking at expectations.
It will also help you to have an experience of conscousness.
Simply, find an hour to sit and write a resume of your life. It does not have to be a complete life story, but can be broken down into ages, such as 1 to 7, 8 to 16 and so on.
What were you doing in those years?
Next, anything that brought up certain emotions, happy, sad, fearful, angry etc make a special note of and close your eyes and get back to how that really felt AT THE TIME, not necessarily how you feel now.
Bring yourself to the present day and how you feel now with hindsight.
It could be anything, your graduation, your wedding, passing certain exams, your first love, an illness, someone dying, divorce, leaving home, etc. So there will be a mixture of emotions.
Think about smells, sounds, who was there, environment, what you were wearing. etc.
Maybe you are thinking that you do not have time to set aside, if so it may help toset an intent for the day, what ever day you choose to do this. The intent being that you want to make notes throughout the day of any memories that may come to mind about the past. (You will be surprised at how often this happens in any persons day) Carry a note book with you or a peice of paper and jot them down. You won’t need to write them in detail, as the memory is there tucked away, and will surface when you need it.
Then later in the day you should already be off to a flying start for the exercise.
Namaste. May you be blessed with this. It can be quite emotive, but keep calm and trust me to show you how it can be dealt with.
The next blog will be looking at how to start healing your past.
We can have several “roles” in our life, such as Mum, Dad, Daughter, Son, Auntie, Grandpa and so on. But who are you at the core of your being?
“What is Conscious Ageing and how do I do that?”
This is the most asked question when I tell people that I teach Conscious ageing.
In the next few blogs I will take you through some initial steps to finding out.
Today we look at “Ageing and who we really are”
Writing down the answers and your responses, using pen and paper,to the following questions is the best way to do this, because you will then be able to read back through, make any adjustments and monitor exactly where you are. This will in turn help you towards becoming conscious.
If you just answer in your mind, with no notes, you will easily forget and your thoughts will just be put somewhere else and mixed in with the rest of your thoughts for the day and get lost. That is the reason why many people keep a journal. There is something in writing it down, with a pen and paper, that instils it into your sunconscious.
It is still better if you obtain a special book for your journey through consious ageing, and write a little dedication and promise to yourself. It will be a great way to monitor your progress and look back on it in years to come.
Please remember that this is only for your perusal and no-one elses. It is not an examination, there are no right or wrong answers. Only you will see this.
So here is a list of questions and thoughts. This is where you are today.
Which decade of life are you in?
Which age do you actually feel?
Are you a carer (for someone who is ill, or for children?)
Are you nearing retirement?
What is your current state of health?
Generally speaking do you feel; happy, sad, fearful, worried, depressed or can you think of any other emotion that takes precedence over the others in your everyday life?
Do you live alone?
Do you live with a partner?
Do you live with a relative other than your partner?
What is your gender?
Do you have any living parents?
Do you have children?
Are they living with you or apart from you?
What are their ages?
Do you have friends, close friends, or just aquaintances?
What is the state of your finances?
Are you dependent on other people in any way?
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your everyday life?
What are your particular interests?
By answering these questions and pondering over them, you will begin to have more of a picture of how conscious you are. Are you living a life that is just being what other people see you as? (See my blog, “Whose life are you living?)
Two more questions.
What do I expect people at my 90th birthday party to say about me?
What would I like them to say?
The next part of this mini series will cover your expectations.
Enjoy your day, and set aside an hour to enjoy this exercise in finding out who you are?