My age is keeping me stuck?!

Postby miss_maui » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:18 pm

Hello everyone,

I want to thank everyone in advance for reading my post. I hope you can offer me some advice :-)
I'm female and recently turned 31. About 1.5 to 2 years ago my life started to fall apart. I got fired from my very first full-time job out of nowhere, been stuck in an abusive relationship that almost cost me my sanity (luckily, I'm out of it now) and just when I thought it couldn't get worse I got very sick, so I had to move back home. I'm currently still at home, unemployed due to my illnesses and in debt from grad school (banks slowly start to pressure me into paying more than I can handle right now).

Little by little, I'm pulling myself out of this mess... I get all medical help I need (which I'm grateful for) and my family supports me emotionally and also helps with food, clothes and some medical bills. I started seeing a therapist. In a few weeks I'll meet up with a credit counselor to see what I can do.

My big problem is that somehow my age is keeping me stuck and I don't know what to do. Somehow, the illness is a blessing in disguise because it's pointing to a lot of things that have been emotionally affecting me for years and that I had no explanation for. I read a lot, started eating healthy and also my thinking is slowly being transformed. Doctors are convinced that they can help me and I'll be fine in a few months. I should be very grateful and full of willingness to start over. But instead I'm beating myself up for not getting everything checked sooner, for not getting out of this abusive relationship sooner.. I could be in a good place by now if I just acted sooner regarding pretty much everything.

So now I think I screwed myself over by not doing all of that in my mid to late 20's. I ask myself if anybody ever wants to hire a 31 year old and if anybody will ever want to be in a relationship with me now that I'm in my 30's. It takes away so much of my energy because I feel like even though I'll probably be way healthier and happier than I've ever been, it's all downhill from here.

I have no idea where this mindset is coming from. Somehow I think life is only worth it if you're 20. How stupid is this?!

I'm really looking for ways to get rid of these limiting beliefs. My therapist is not of much help, he thinks once I'm back to "real life" (working...) I won't have so much time thinking about my age. I don't feel like it's that easy.

Any comment would be very much appreciated :-)

Thank you!
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#1

Postby WonderGurl » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:01 pm

miss_maui wrote:I have no idea where this mindset is coming from. Somehow I think life is only worth it if you're 20. How stupid is this?!


Right??

miss_maui wrote:I'm really looking for ways to get rid of these limiting beliefs. My therapist is not of much help, he thinks once I'm back to "real life" (working...) I won't have so much time thinking about my age. I don't feel like it's that easy.



What is ever easy? You don't get rid of limiting beliefs. You replace them with new better beliefs. Instead of paying all your attention to all these negative beliefs, nurture the new helpful beliefs you choose to identify the key areas with. The old ones will wither away as you are not focusing on them any longer. As it's a process, it will take some time. There are various techniques to achieve it, but find what suits you personally.
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#2

Postby cynthialeighton » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:06 pm

miss_maui wrote: I could be in a good place by now if I just acted sooner regarding pretty much everything.


On the other hand, here you are with a brand new life. You could be in a worse place right now - you could be where you were for the next 31 years. Instead, you get the opportunity to start over and the support to do so. I encourage you to look at all the things you've done right. There are plenty! For example, leaving that abusive situation took courage.

Allow yourself to wallow a little in gratitude. Count your blessings. That will help you to take the small steps it's going to take to build a new life.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:08 am

miss_maui wrote:I have no idea where this mindset is coming from. Somehow I think life is only worth it if you're 20. How stupid is this?!


You said it.

The mindset comes from ignorance. No worries, we are all ignorant in our own ways. Many times our ignorance does us no harm. I'm ignorant about how black holes work and how to cook haggis. Fortunately, me holding naive or ignorant beliefs about those things doesn't really matter much.

On the other hand, being ignorant about other things can do us harm. If you are ignorant about how the body works or how relationships work you can form beliefs that are not only counter productive, but harmful. If you believe apples will cure pancreatic cancer, that ignorance is definitely harmful, just ask Steve Jobs. And I'm in no way saying Steve was a dumb guy, he was just ignorant about that specific area.

The great thing about ignorance is there is a simple cure. Knowledge. It is through gaining knowledge that you can change your mindset, to adjust your beliefs to be more productive, more beneficial, healthy.

What I recommend is you seeking knowledge about individuals, maybe even specifically women that accomplished great things in their 30's, 40's, 50's,...90's, etc. Don't read just one story, but find as many as you can. Find some role models among these women, learn about their goals, their struggles, their lives. As the term role model suggests, begin to model your mindset, model your behavior after these women.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/0 ... 14089.html
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#4

Postby miss_maui » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:20 am

Thank you so much for your helpful replies! They really did make me think.

I tried very hard to analyze where this belief is coming from. I think (and I hope you won't be "mad" at me for saying that so openly) that along the way I've adapted the belief that a woman is worthy as long as she is beautiful, young, healthy and slim. I also adapted the belief that the best is somehow ahead of me and I just need to let it find me while I do my thing.

While I was still in my 20's, abroad for grad school, doing freelance work and other exciting jobs/internships, volunteering and so forth I had the mindset that there's still plenty of time for me to find out what and where that "happy place" is. I thought it must be around the next corner... once I graduated... then the next corner... once I decided to go for my master's degree... still didn't arrive... well, I must find it abroad, in a vibrant city then.... still no success... You get the idea. It didn't worry me too much back then because in my mind I still had so much time being desirable for everything I wanted to attract (the right job, the right partner...) plus I also had the time to improve so I could add even more value to what I naturally had to offer simply by being young. I hope this makes sense.

It's a really weird situation inside of my head. I'm not only dealing with the aftermath of my abusive relationship, the health issues, the unemployment and the money problems, but I'm also in this downward spiral of thinking that now my time to be this great, happy person who will eventually find the right partner and do a job she loves is over. It's so ironic because due to my health issues I finally found out what has been causing my sadness and depression all of these years (because although I was so young, I wasn't truly happy!!) and I will start getting treatments which will make me healthy AND probably happier. One effect of my illnesses is excess swelling in my arms and legs, so now that the doctor's are finally on the right track they will be able to treat me for that problem as well.. So chances are high that I will look and feel better and be perfectly fine by the end of this year, beginning of next.

But this angry, mean voice in my head is telling me "Well, that's great and everything, but people still won't give a damn because you will be AUTOMATICALLY less desirable than a 22 year old." or "Good for you, but now the great guys are already taken, so good luck finding that great guy you could have had a few years earlier." or "Ok, but now you have gap in your résumé and the good jobs will go to somebody who didn't waste that time."

I mean, not everybody is thinking these things, right? There are probably tons of men out there who are crazy about women in their 40's, 50's, 60's.... Heck, my mom is in her early 60's and still gets hit on. But all the self-awareness is not helping and I wonder what I can do to stop limiting myself. It slows down my motivation, it makes me sad and it makes me SO critical with myself. I do receive compliments and nobody ever said I look old or anything. I also catch myself looking at celebrities that I think are beautiful or interesting and once I see that they're my age or older I think "Oh, ok, so not SOOO great."
I'm very aware of the fact that this is severely unhealthy and I'm looking for anything that could help me get rid of this mindset.

Some days I wonder if these thoughts are a weird way of trying to keep me in this place I'm in now. Resisting change by giving me something I can't change. Maybe parts of me are afraid of blooming and finally becoming the person I always wanted to be. Because I always thought the great "Oh hey, I've arrived finally, now my life is perfect" moment would come in the future, I maybe had to wake up to the fact that life is now. I had to wake up to so many painful truths... that I wasn't loving myself, that my choice of men were unhealthy, that I didn't take care of my body..

Now the big question is: How do I get un-stuck? How do I learn and understand that I'm worthy, even when I'm 100 years old and wrinkly and lost all of my teeth? Why did I start attaching so much value to age?

Hope you don't mind that I wrote so much, I just felt like I needed to clarify what's going on in my head.
Your suggestions were awesome, I had to think about them a lot and it really helped me.

Wishing you all a great day!
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#5

Postby miss_maui » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:38 am

Oh, by the way: What I also think is contributing to the issue is that I somehow don't focus on how I feel, what's best for me. It's all a bit focused on how others would/could perceive me. I want to look and be perfect for others because I think without other's admiration and approval I will never feel the happiness I so desperately crave.
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:10 pm

miss_maui wrote:While I was still in my 20's, abroad for grad school, doing freelance work and other exciting jobs/internships, volunteering and so forth I had the mindset that there's still plenty of time for me to find out what and where that "happy place" is. I thought it must be around the next corner... once I graduated... then the next corner... once I decided to go for my master's degree... still didn't arrive... well, I must find it abroad, in a vibrant city then.... still no success... You get the idea. It didn't worry me too much back then because in my mind I still had so much time being desirable for everything I wanted to attract (the right job, the right partner...) plus I also had the time to improve so I could add even more value to what I naturally had to offer simply by being young. I hope this makes sense.


Two things going on:

-1- You seem to think life is an event, not a journey.

-2- You are defining happiness external, by what you believe others think or want instead of internal by what you think or want.

There is a story of a person on a train. They are headed to a new town, to start their new life. When they get there life will be perfect and they will be happy. At each stop they ask the conductor if this is their destination. The conductor always replies there are still more stops along the way.

There are so many things happening. People come and go, there are beautiful views, the weather changes, food is available, there is a car for entertainment, but the person just keeps thinking about the final destination.

Eventually, like all things the train ride does come to an end. The person gets up believing they have arrived at their new city where they will begin a new, happy, life. As they get off the train they are met by the grim reaper and he asks, "Did you enjoy the ride?"

I am butchering the story, but the basic point is the person never appreciated the ride. They believed the train was to get them from point A to point B and that their real life would begin when they reached point B. They had it wrong. All along the purpose was to enjoy the ride, to look out the window, to drink a glass of wine, to converse with the people. There would be good and bad times, some bumpy turns and stops along the way, but they were always living life in their head, thinking about some ideal future.

I think you would benefit greatly from looking into mindfulness skills. Learn how to live and appreciate the moment. Stop living in the past and the future and live for today. Live like today might be your last day. No one is promised tomorrow. So much time is wasted living in our heads, ruminating on the past or the future and not focusing on the present. You can control the present, you can't control the rest.
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#7

Postby WonderGurl » Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:42 pm

miss_maui wrote:... I'm also in this downward spiral of thinking that now my time to be this great, happy person who will eventually find the right partner and do a job she loves is over.
...
...which will make me healthy AND probably happier.
...
But all the self-awareness is not helping and I wonder what I can do to stop limiting myself.
...
Because I always thought the great "Oh hey, I've arrived finally, now my life is perfect" moment would come in the future, I maybe had to wake up to the fact that life is now.


You seem to have a pretty good grasp on yourself, but all the self awareness is not helping because although you are aware of what you had been doing wrong in the past, you are still doing it today. For instance, in your past you thought that your happiness was waiting for you in your future. Then, you came to realise that the only way to experience happiness is now, you cannot experience your future happiness. That's a huge leap you made in your awarenes about how your past self viewed happiness. Happy days. However, you are still thinking along similar lines: this will make me happier, or that will. You still to this day view your happiness as something belonging to your future: your future health, your future partner, your future improved financial situation...

You also have a pretty gloomy view of your present as you always have.

If you want things to improve for you, you need to reframe, or change your opinions, about your past, present and future. Right now you're operating from pessimistic point of view. If you want to be happy, you have to find ways to flip it on its head and develop an optimistic view of your past, present and future.

miss_maui wrote:Now the big question is: How do I get un-stuck? How do I learn and understand that I'm worthy, even when I'm 100 years old and wrinkly and lost all of my teeth? Why did I start attaching so much value to age?


You do the opposite. You stop focusing so much of your mental energy on what appears to you to be the fact that you are stuck. Dump that thought. Shift all that energy you are wasting on those useless thoughts on productive ones: what have you going for you now, today, not what might potentially happen 69 years from now.

You have been focused on the future all your adult life and you still are. Your age is just one symbolic expression of your general thought patterns. Your thought patterns is what is sabotaging you. Change how you think about things in the way that serves you.
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#8

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Apr 27, 2016 4:34 pm

An additional note miss maui, I know many men that prefer women in their 30's over a 22 year old. I for one am single and looking and would not for a second consider a 22 year old more appealing than an older woman. I discuss with my friends who equally find there to be little substance or attraction to a woman that is at a vastly different stage in life. My friends want an older woman that would rather have a good conversation than go to a dance club. They want a woman that would rather get up early and walk in the woods than party all night and wake up at noon.
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#9

Postby cynthialeighton » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:09 pm

miss_maui wrote:Maybe parts of me are afraid of blooming and finally becoming the person I always wanted to be. Because I always thought the great "Oh hey, I've arrived finally, now my life is perfect" moment would come in the future, I maybe had to wake up to the fact that life is now.


Your insight about waking up to the fact that life is now is an important one. I encourage you to allow yourself to explore that part.
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#10

Postby miss_maui » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:38 am

Two things going on:

-1- You seem to think life is an event, not a journey.

-2- You are defining happiness external, by what you believe others think or want instead of internal by what you think or want.



You did sum that up perfectly. And I LOVE the story about the person on the train, thank you for sharing that. Especially the first point got me thinking.. I actually made a thought experiment: I imagined myself in my mid twenties, happily married, in my dream job, fit and healthy, happy, in no debt, with no problems and admired by a lot of others. My initial feeling was "Wow, that's awesome, now my life is really starting!" and a SECOND after that I got sad and BORED. There was no development, no edges, I was so plain and boring. I had no empathy for others because I never struggled. I got bored with what I had because perfection never improves. I lost my passion for reading because the stories and information didn't push me towards things anymore. In my fantasy, all I cared about was maintaining superficial stuff. It was quite shocking.

Mindfullness is definitely a huge challenge. But I think it's rewarding and very important. What helped you staying in the present moment?

Thank you so much for adding the note on you and your friend looking for a more mature woman. It's crazy, in my mind I think every guy would choose a 20 year old over pretty much anyone and then I go out and look around and see men showing off their 50year plus wives, kissing their (definitely not 20 year old) girlfriends, flirting with women BEYOND the age of 25... If my beliefs were true, every guy would drop his girlfriend/wife the second she's over 30 and there would be no such things as marriages later in life, silver weddings, ... And it would also mean that all women are doomed. They can enjoy life between the ages of 15 and 29 and then they need to find another planet to populate!? That would mean no value for mothers and only value for extreme superficiality. It baffles me that I know stuff so clearly in my mind, yet my feelings are different.


WonderGurl,

thank you SO much for your reply. Exactly, you're so right with everything you said. I find it very hard to flip that switch though. Maybe I really fear living in the now, being optimistic and vulnerable, because I risk getting hurt and disappointed again. By putting my happiness in the future, I can cope with not-so-great circumstances NOW way better.. It also makes it easier to avoid responsibility. However, it's strange because I DO get stuff accomplished in the now.. I managed moving abroad by myself, getting two degrees, ... But I never put myself to the limit and sometimes I don't know if what I'm doing is 100% what I WANT or LOVE to do. Hope this makes sense. Maybe I lost myself a bit because I focused too much on what everyone else is thinking.

I find it so hard to determine where I should start. Obviously, my health is the #1 priority at the moment.. But how do I unlearn the negative beliefs in my head? How do I find my essential self? How do I form new ways of thinking?

As I said, I am seeing a therapist, but it's a bit of a bumpy ride with him. He keeps saying that my problems will vanish once I have a full time job again and I kind of think that's not very helpful. But that's another topic ;-)
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#11

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:29 pm

miss_maui wrote:Mindfullness is definitely a huge challenge. But I think it's rewarding and very important. What helped you staying in the present moment?



I have a very solid process for staying in the moment. I call it "Planning Sunday" and I have been using it since 2009. Before I talk about my process, I have an analogy I always use of climbing a mountain to help explain my philosophy.

We all have mountains we want to climb. How do we go about reaching the top? First you sit on a rock and stare up at the top. It is way up in the clouds and so far away that all you can do is imagine standing on the top. You have a mental image of yourself looking out over the valley. That is vision. You are envisioning a future state you want to achieve.

But, you can't sit forever otherwise your vision is just a dream. So you shift your focus and stop gazing up at the top of the mountain. Instead you now are looking up the trail. You pick a spot as far up the trail as you might be able to see, you pick another rock and begin to walk. When you walk you focus on the journey. You pay attention to all the little things going on around you. When you get to the next rock you once again take a seat.

As you sit you once again gaze up at the mountain. You also think about the past. You reflect on your progress. This allows you to learn from your journey and adjust your plan moving forward. Sitting on the rock allows you to once again envision a future and think about the past, but remember you cannot sit too long as there is much adventure to be had. So once again you look up the trail, pick the next rock and begin to walk.

When walking you are in the moment. The past is behind you and the future has not yet arrived. All of your focus is on the current leg of your journey.

Planning Sunday
The same as climbing a mountain, Sunday's are my rock. On Sunday I allow myself to rest, to reflect on my past and envision my future. I allow myself some time to gaze at the top of my mountain. I use Microsoft OneNote and each Sunday I take some time to write, but most importantly it is on Sunday that I look up the trail and pick my next rock. What this means is I use Sunday to choose the things I want to accomplish the following week.

When I wake up Monday, I am on my journey. I focus only on the targets I set for the week. The past and the future do not matter. By narrowing my focus I stay mindful of my journey. I get to enjoy my week as I walk my path. I keep my head down and don't stop to gaze at the top or get mired in the past. When Sunday comes, I once again take a seat.

That is my process, it works for me.
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#12

Postby WonderGurl » Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:38 pm

miss_maui wrote:I find it so hard to determine where I should start. Obviously, my health is the #1 priority at the moment.. But how do I unlearn the negative beliefs in my head? How do I find my essential self? How do I form new ways of thinking?

As I said, I am seeing a therapist, but it's a bit of a bumpy ride with him. He keeps saying that my problems will vanish once I have a full time job again and I kind of think that's not very helpful. But that's another topic ;-)


If you are not 100% happy with your therapist, maybe you should consider employing a therapist you are happy with?

Where do you start? That's a question and a half. Nobody can answer it for you but your own good self.

All depends on what you want to achieve, depends on you goals. Once you have them identified, prioritise. Well, you have started on that, your health is #1. What are your goals in other areas? Then break them down one by one and analyse. What do you need to be, do and have in order to achieve them? That will give you an idea where you need to start.

You see, all in all you have started already. You are fixing your health, you are seeing a therapist, you are out of that blasted relationship, you are evaluating your inner space and what needs to change, etc. What you need to do now is have patience with yourself learn to enjoy this never ending process of growth and change. Learn to be happy with who you are now, regardless of how imperfect you life may appear to be. That's probably the first thing you should do.
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#13

Postby cynthialeighton » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:45 pm

miss_maui wrote:My initial feeling was "Wow, that's awesome, now my life is really starting!" and a SECOND after that I got sad and BORED.


Your life is really starting each day. What you are doing right now is real. And valuable.

When your dreams bore you, that's okay -- dream bigger!
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#14

Postby Rosemary chika » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:57 am

You really dont need to worry much about that. only believe in your self for get what people might be saying about you have a great confidence in your self you are beautiful and wonderful. i wrote an article on confidence buildind as a result of what so many people are passing through and this has really been a great source of relief for so many people in the society and the world at large.
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