Making New “Glory Days”: How to Stop Obsessing About Youthful Successes

“Ahh, the good ol’ days.” How often have we heard or uttered this familiar phrase? It can be a source of great pleasure and amusement to reminisce on a time when we were younger, remembering a special event or activity. We tend to look at our past experiences through a filter that magnifies the positive while diminishing the negative. While there’s no harm in basking in a memory, it can be harmful if you spend so much time looking at your past, that you neglect your present and future.

If you’re someone who spends too much time thinking about the “glory days” of your youth, you might think it’s because your life has become dull and monotonous. With the carefree days of your youth behind you, you might long to be back in that time period to escape your present. But if you take a closer look and examine your life, you may be surprised to notice that you look back not because your past was so great, but rather because your present is not. The more time you spend reminiscing, the worse your current life becomes, neglected by daydreaming of the past instead of imagining new heights to which you can aspire.

Get Rid of Unneeded Memorabilia

Sometimes a memento is a special memory of a special time, and sometimes it’s just an object that’s imprisoning you in your past. Getting rid of an excess of items associated with the past will help you stop living in days gone by, and free you to live in and enjoy the present.

Fully Appreciate Each Day

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” One way to stop living in the past is to enjoy and appreciate each day. Start keeping a journal and jot down three things you’re grateful for each day. Take a walk, or cook a special meal. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of every day.

Make Future Plans

Nothing can keep you from looking to the past quite like looking to the future. Plan a vacation or create a goal you want to reach in the near and distant future. Maybe you want to learn a new language, start playing the piano, or read all the classic novels. There’s a lot of life waiting to be lived, so make the most of it.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a moment of nostalgia, it’s important to live in the present, and spend your time enjoying your life as you live it. If you make the effort to create a better life for yourself today and in the future, you’ll not only bring yourself great happiness and satisfaction, but you’ll create many more memories to relish in the days to come.

If you’re struggling and looking for support and guidance to create a better, more satisfying life, a licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

5 Tips for Making Friends in Midlife

For many people, middle age is the catalyst to take stock of life. The kids have flown the coop and there’s more time to reconsider your likes, dislikes, goal, and dreams.

Middle age is also the time we tend to look around at our social circles. Are our friendships still there? Have we lost friends due to illness, a move, or divorce? Do we want something different out of our friendships? As we age, we tend to have less tolerance or energy for fluff friendships. We want substance and real, genuine connections.

But making friends when you’re older is not always that easy. It was simple in school or during those early days in our first job – you saw the same people every single day. You were surrounded by friend candidates. But once you hit middle age, it becomes more difficult to meet new people.

The good news is, while challenging, it’s very possible to make new and lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help you make new friends in midlife:

1. Don’t Feel Embarrassed
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about being lonely or friendless. It is far more common than we are led to believe from the media. So, don’t feel bad, and get ready to put yourself out there.

2. Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your values. As an added bonus, studies have shown that people who volunteer are healthier and live longer!

3. Take a Class
Do you have a passion for dance? Painting? Photography? Taking a class is a great way to learn more about something you already love, be engaged, keep your brain young, and meet people with similar interests and hobbies.

4. Reach Out to Acquaintances
How many times have you run into someone you “sort of know” at a work function or at your local Starbucks. Every time you have a conversation with this person you think, “Gee, I wish we were friends.”

The next time you see this person, ask if they’d like to have lunch. Get their contact information and follow up. You never know, it could be the start of something worthwhile.

5. Get into the Habit of Being Social
By midlife we’ve gotten into some pretty significant habits. Some good…some not so good. If you’ve never been a social butterfly – but instead someone who is used to staying home with the kids or simply staying in because it’s easier – putting yourself out there will probably feel weird. However, it’s important to try to be social daily. This could mean simply taking a walk around your city or neighborhood and saying hello to friendly faces or calling up an acquaintance for a chat.

Good relationships are important for our overall health and the quality of our lives. While it may seem intimidating to build new friendships in midlife, these can actually be some of the most lasting and profound connections we end up making.

 

Do you believe you lack social connections because of fear, grief, or a low self-esteem? If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to talk about how I may help.

4 Tips for Making Friends in Your Golden Years

Though young people seem to dread getting older, the truth is, many things get better with age. We tend to have more self-confidence, more money in the bank, and more time to explore our goals and dreams.

But in some ways, getting older can be difficult. We tend to lose connections with friends and can find ourselves feeling alone and isolated. And it’s not as easy making friend in your 60s, 70s, or 80s as it was in your teens and 20s.

Human beings are social creatures. We become depressed and anxious when we become isolated. And studies have shown that we age better and are healthier when we surround ourselves with friends.

Though it can feel challenging to make new friends in your golden years, it is very possible to do so and here are some tips to get you started:

Commit to the Process

Making new friends will take a bit of work and commitment on your part. You can’t expect to give it one week and find 5 new close friendships. Just commit to the process knowing it is, in fact, a process.

Change Up Your Routines

You can’t expect new people to come into your life by doing the same old thing day after day. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and try new things, visit new places and explore new hobbies and opportunities. The good news is, while it may feel a little uncomfortable at first (especially if you’ve gotten very comfortable in your daily routines) the payoffs – those amazing new connections with wonderful new people – will be entirely worth it.

Be Open Minded

Be open to friendships you may have never been open to in the past. If you don’t think you could ever be friends with someone from a different political party, economic background, or someone younger, think again. A new person with different life experiences can greatly enrich your life and perception of the world. That’s a beautiful thing!

Lose That Fear of Rejection

A fear of rejection is one of the biggest we humans face each day. Yes, you are going to feel vulnerable putting yourself out there, and yes, not everyone you feel a connection with will necessarily feel the same. But here are a few other truths you should remember:

– Most people feel the need to connect with others and are happy to make new friends.

– We all feel awkward with small talk and the beginning stages of any new relationships.

– All of your most meaningful relationships you’ve ever had started with you getting to know a stranger. Even your own children were strange new beings that you had to get to know.

 

Don’t allow yourself to become lonely and isolated. There is a big world out there with wonderful friendly people who are just waiting to get to know you! And if you are suffering from social anxiety and would like to speak to someone about that, let’s talk about how I may be able to help.

Why Aging and Depression Often Go Hand-in-Hand

They say that with age comes wisdom, and for some, that may be true. But with age also comes some very big challenges. In addition to dealing with the onset of disease and physical disabilities, older people must face loss: the loss of a spouse, loss of friends, loss of siblings, and even the loss of memories.

“Getting old is not for sissies.” – Bette Davis

When you consider all of this loss, it’s not surprising that aging and depression often go hand-in-hand. While feeling sadness over these losses is a normal part of life, some people experience profound depression.

But, if earlier in your life you never really experienced depression, how do you know the difference between it and sadness? Here are some signs of depression:

  • Trouble sleeping (either falling asleep, staying asleep or both)
  • A change in appetite
  • Sudden mood swings (such as irritability and anger)
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts

At some time in our lives, most of us have experienced one or two of these symptoms. But when you experience more than one or two at a time, and these feelings linger and deepen, that is a clear indicator of depression.

Beating Depression Will Require Trust

When someone who has faced so much loss becomes depressed, what can they do to feel better? The answer to that question is to seek the help of a therapist who can help you navigate your emotions, offer tools for mood management and even prescribe medications if they feel it will help.

But there lies the conundrum.

Those suffering from depression often feel helpless, that is to say, they feel they are beyond being helped. When a person feels that no one and nothing can help them, they will not seek help and refuse it when it is offered. In fact, some depressed people even become angered when loved ones try to help.

This is when trust becomes a vital component to getting well. Older people have spent a lifetime forming relationships with family and friends. They know the connection and love is genuine. Therefor they must trust that when a loved one comes to them and says, “I love you and I’m concerned. I think you’re depressed and you need some help…” they recognize they are coming from a loving place and trust they want what’s best for them.

If you yourself have tried to help an older loved one but they refuse to listen, consider having someone else they might trust even more speak with them. This could be an old colleague, their doctor, or your local pastor. And sometimes you may just have to get a group together and have an intervention.

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, you can feel better. You can remember that life is worth living, even while feeling so much pain and sorrow. If you would like to explore treatment options, please contact me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may help.