Ageism Is an Inside Job.
I’m ageist. There you go, I’ve said it. And though you may deny it, so too are you.
Ageism is inherent, it’s in all of us. It runs deep in the fabric of society, transcending gender, race, and borders. It’s a plague and it’s catastrophic.
When it’s ‘out there,’ on every street across the world, it’s easy to identify. When it’s inside our hearts and minds, it is not. But identify it we must – and more than that, we must challenge it.
How often have you heard yourself say “I’m too old to change,” or “I can’t do this anymore”?
This is internalized ageism and although we don’t realize it, we elders are more ageist than anyone else. We’re also less willing, or less able, to do anything about it.
But do something about it, we must. Not on social media, in politics, law or in organizations – it’s already being fought on those fronts. Our job is to challenge it in ourselves, in our own minds.
"Why bother?” I hear you ask. “Is this a cause really worth fighting?”
Internalized ageism is poisonous. At its worst, deadly.
When we speak of ourselves as ‘old,’ ‘inferior,’ past it,’ we become those things. Our words have power. Our thoughts impact our psyche and our behavior. They stop us from doing the things we were meant to do and living the life we were meant to live, simply because we believe we can’t.
How often have you looked in the mirror and recoiled at the image reflected? Gray hairs, wrinkles, and age spots are all signs of experience, of a life lived, but we’re programmed to view these things in the most negative way. The loss of beauty, youth, and vitality… the dawn of deterioration and diminishment. We need to shift this mindset.
And then there’s ‘retirement' which is the driving force behind the development of ageism. For generations, the end of our working life has been hailed as the time we can do what we want, when we want, if we want, but when we get there, we’re disappointed, because we find it an empty, lonely, and soulless place where we’re besieged by health and financial worries. Here we fester as ‘failures’, tip-toeing towards a quiet death, thinking there is no other way.
BUT THERE IS. If you challenge yourself to break free from this ageist mindset, the voice in your head which speaks those ‘you are now worthless’ thoughts, you can make the next thirty years of your life, the best years yet. When we stop believing the ageist views inside us and start challenging the ageist views in society, we open ourselves up to a world of new possibilities. And we’re in the right frame of mind to embrace them. In this ‘new’ world, age is seen through the lens of relevance, resilience, and wisdom. Life becomes rich once again. Our days are full of purpose, passion, and prosperity.
George Jerjian is author of DARE to Discover Your Purpose and founder of Retirement Rebellion – helping boomers live a life of passion, purpose, and prosperity. www.georgejerjian.com