In my work as a counselling therapist, I suggest to my clients that they consider a difficult relationship as an invitation to practice respectful assertiveness, the presence of depression as an invitation to meet the challenges in life in new ways, the presence of anxiety as an invitation to know fear and uncertainty with compassion, the presence of uncomfortable emotions as an invitation to heal for wholeness and peace. I hear that the invitations I offer for consideration are a different approach to experiences that most people would want to avoid, deny, or pretend as non-existent. When they say YES – I have this difficulty and NO – I will not meet it in my usual way, then they are energetic to BOTH learning and practicing new thoughts, feelings and actions. The opportunity for choice is the experience desired and now realized.
Do you have any choice whether or not you age? I say NO when age is a number that increases with each passing year we live on this earth. I say YES when age is understood as an activity. You do have choices as to how you relate to the changes that come with advancing age. Do you feel overwhelmed with fear, pain and worry? Or are you at peace with all of it?
What would it be like to say “YES – I am afraid of what lies ahead as I age”? - knowing that as you accept the invitations to open to the realities, you also make space for options to consider. “NO – I will not sit on the couch and eat donuts all day – NO, I will not let my inability to run a marathon stop me from walking”. “YES – I have fear. YES, I remember the times in my past when I said NO to the fear and moved forward with it. NO – I will not let the difficulties that face me in this current stage of my life hinder me from my service to self and others.”
I was recently with a friend and her granddaughter. I believe that to age can also mean to stay young in spirit, so I now omit “old” when asking age. I asked: “what age is she?” My friend suggested I ask her granddaughter which I did. She did not answer. My friend then asked her: “how old are you?” and I heard with pride: I will be 5 at my next birthday”. YES – the young girl is saying she wants to be older. “NO – not happening to me” say those in their 40’s and up. Do we then hear them say YES! with the realization that the previous prescriptions that gave life meaning - material things and social achievement - no longer meet the needs of the soul?
Does this mean that only the very young (low number in years) accept and even welcome increasing age? That as we age, we want to deny the challenging effects of change? What if we say YES to the invitation offered by the aging experience and in so doing, meet our needs for safety, connection, belonging and worthiness? How do we say NO to an attitude of doom and gloom toward the inevitable effects that can have a negative influence on our forward movement through life?
SO many questions that are invigorated within me by the energy of the all-encompassing Spirit in its various forms of expression: emotional, mental, relational, and physical. We have solar energy from the sun, hydro energy from the water, mechanical energy from machines. Let’s consider Spirit energy in that all-encompassing knowingness that vibrates around, above, below, between and within us.
Age has forms of expression as well: chronological, biological, psychological, cognitive, social and spiritual. YES, we want to stay as healthy as possible for our number of years, in our molecular and cellular markers, in our emotions, our information handling, memory, reasoning, our interpersonal connections and our connection with the larger, sacred entirety of being.
When I say YES to Spirit energy, I nourish and open my heart to the wonders of advancing age – how the wisdom of experience will help me heal, grow and learn more about myself, others and my world. One vital lesson I continue to learn is that the invitations offered to me as I age are extended from the Spirit, the loving re-Source with its depth and width of possibilities.
To say NO to the struggles of it all is a natural response. To say NO to the fear, anger, and hurt from the transition through age seems to increase the intensity and negative effects of such emotions. When you say YES to these emotions – I know you are present - then the energy you would normally use to fight them off can now be used to express your NO – I will not let you affect me so negatively. To open the space for BOTH: the YES and the NO invites an experience to explore, reflect, and take action as needed.
Optimistic curiosity, courage, and hope are some of the qualities that inspire us to accept the invitations to age. NO – these qualities are not the sole property of youth; YES – they are shared by those of more advanced years. You can be BOTH youthful in body, mind and spirit and of an advanced number-specific age. What are the benefits for you when you say YES or NO to the challenges of advancing age? Notice what happens when you hold BOTH. Does this create an open space to create what you want so your next moment, days, and years are your best?
I invite you to comment and continue the conversation…
Dr. Glo (Gloria) McArter, counselling therapist, speaker and writer, encourages individuals, couples, and groups to use curiosity, courage, wisdom, and worthiness to nurture good health and wellbeing. As a spiritually independent seeker, she inspires an authentic and vulnerable relationship with the universal energy source of many names. Dr. Glo knows that opportunities and possibilities that are explored and accepted will enhance meaning and purpose in the continual evolution of years and age.
You can read more articles from our interfaith blog, The Spiritual View, HERE