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Making change is often challenging, especially when people we love and respect express intense emotions about our choice to change. Making change in our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond can attract even more criticism from loved ones and friends because of their strong attachment to who they think we should be and what they think we should be doing. Because we live in an ageist culture, limiting expectations often form unconsciously around us as we age, and while these limiting beliefs may be intended to support our well being and safety, they often act as gatekeepers, ensuring we make minimal changes, even positive ones.
Since most of us tend to define ourselves through our relationships, changes, especially those we make to support our health and personal fulfillment can feel like an attack on friends’ and family members’ choices. Happily, the desire to make change in later life often comes with its own “this-is-absolutely-right-for-me” imperative. This means disapproval from adult children, intimate partners, close friends, and even our wellness team members cannot impugn the inner guidance prompting us to change. If we avoid making changes simply to please or comfort others who may be living from fear rather than love, we threaten our own authenticity. When this happens, the body will complain loudly about this betrayal, through pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, or all three.
Supporting mature clients who want to make changes that may not be approved of by family and friends is one of the most rewarding aspects of my coaching practice. The road newly taken is not always smooth, but it is full to the brim with learning opportunities and positive growth. Those of us called to make big changes in our later years can do so with relative ease when we follow a few simple guidelines.