Written by Debbie Casson, Ollie Coach trainee
Today is my birthday. I am 40 something years old. Birthdays aren't one of my favourite things, but that’s something I am going to try to work on, with the help of my Ollie Coach Training, using a technique called ‘Map Over’. Essentially it focuses not on 'what happened' (because we can't change the past), but on 'how' you feel about it. So as well as training to help others, it's also going to help me.
But I haven’t been thinking about my birthday this week, my thoughts have turned to ageing. How I look (not in a fashion sense), my body image, and how my body is ageing. Ageing is a difficult thing for most people, more acutely for women I feel, and I think it actually inflicts quite a lot of emotional damage upon us. Writing here I am speaking for myself obviously, but I feel it may resonate with a lot of other women too. Classically in my 20's, 'the world is my oyster' was my mind set, and I didn't realise how lucky I was. I would often look at women who were having plastic surgery, or Botox, and wonder why they wanted to do this to themselves? Did it make them feel better? How could someone willingly injected a toxin into their skin, simply to remove a few lines for a short time? Fast forward 20 years and I'm actually suddenly thinking, is it something I should do? But then I think, who is this for? Is this for me, or is it for someone else? Why would I go to extreme lengths to make myself look 'good'? I can't see myself everyday, I'm inside looking out, not outside looking in. So it shouldn't matter to me if I have another few more wrinkles on my face, I'm still the same person I was in my 20's (though hopefully a little wiser!) But it has started to affect me. I'm scrutinising photos of myself, and I have to take lots just to find one that looks decent enough to use for my Instagram or Facebook account. I'm not into selfies, its not my thing, but I do need the occasional photo of myself, and I'm starting not to like what I see because I'm comparing my current self to my youthful self, and I'm struggling to accept the changes!
The idea of 'beauty' has been around us for centuries, influencing our cultures and ultimately how we view ourselves. Think of Cleopatra, she was worshiped for her beauty, right? Take this quote from 'britannica.com' "...She came to represent, as did no other woman of antiquity, the prototype of the romantic femme fatale." Yet her actual accomplishments include, speaking many different languages, influencing the politics of Rome more than any other woman of her era, leading a fleet at the naval Battle of Actium, and influencing the way Western empires would be governed in the future; yet that is not what people think about when they refer to her.
I do look at social media platforms, which I feel heavily promote youth and looks, but as I've simply illustrated above, this isn't a new phenomena. This affects men too, but I don't think "growing old gracefully" applies to them in quite the same way. I especially get affected by seeing women my age, or older, who seem to have incredible social media images, it pushes me into wondering how they look so amazing. Should I buy some expensive cream to lift or get rid of lines and wrinkles? Do I need to start wearing layers of make-up to hide as much as possible? Should I seriously consider having fillers injected into the lines around my mouth? Sadly its all an illusion, magically created by special apps and 'filters' that cleverly make people look youthful, though often we don't realise this fact, resulting in negative self thoughts, and sometimes influencing us to take actions like the ones listed above
So how do we stop ourselves from becoming affected by this emotionally? How do we stop the negative thoughts, the damaging opinions we have of ourselves? How can I come to accept the body and face life has shaped for me? I think self love (this isn't the same as being self obsessed) has a big part in this, learning to love who we are, learning to nourish our bodies and minds with good food, exercise, and positive thoughts. (It's been said by many experts for many years, because its true!). Sometimes this can mean getting help from professionals like Ollie Coaches or other therapists, but that's OK as it's another form of self love because you are finding ways to navigate your ‘Reality Tunnel’, your view of the world, which ultimately helps you feel comfortable in your own skin. Being mindful can also help, appreciating the little things creates a sense of well-being, so that those little lines and wrinkles will start to represent the privileged of ageing, not the burden of it.“
By Debbie Casson - Ollie Coach trainee.
Debbie is a mum of 3 boys living in Somerset, along with a dog, chickens, fish, stick insects and crested geckos! She’s passionate about the environment, animal welfare, along with psychology and the creative arts.
To get in contact with Debbie email Info@ollieandhissuperpowers.com