"I'm too old" (and other stories)
a dive into our limiting thoughts
A few days ago I bumped into an article on BBC.com on the concept of "late bloomers" and... its flaws (shared here on linkedin), and quite serendipitously in the past couple of weeks, I found myself involved in conversations where the idea of being "too old" - for doing or becoming something - repeatedly came up.
As someone having gone through this pattern myself at a certain point in life, I could recognize some of the emotional mix that such thought was generally suffused with.
This month's article wants to offer you a plunge into a different perspective, and an exercise to train your mind at it. Keep reading!
The limiting thought
When we think to be too old to do something we would instead like to do (change a job that does not fully satisfy, travel on your own for a few months, launch a new business, learn to play the piano, change city, lifestyles or relationships, whatever it is) we're telling ourselves (and others) a story that goes generally like this: “this is possible for someone else but not for me, because...”.
What follows is a more or less rich list of the reasons and, depending on the story, of the resources that make this choice possible for others but not for us.
But we'll see that actually resources (like circumstances and conditions) have a rather flexible nature, depending on what paradigm we decide to move throughout.
The point is that with our thinking we create the perimeter of our life.
A thought that keeps you from moving towards your most fulfilled, energized, healthy version of you is a limiting thought, it is a belief that is sabotaging the richest expression of yourself, and that, if not brought to self-awareness, is entertained until it becomes in your mind a general rule and then a perfect excuse to settle within a less than satisfying routine.
Living with such limiting thought drains you from energy and vitality, and over time fills you with different degrees of frustration, resentment, unhealthy habits and relationships, a judgmental attitude towards others and low-level waves of stress and anxiety.
The antidote to this state of play exists, and is the path to personal empowerment and self-responsibility.
It is the path that moves the focus of your attention from whatever is outside of you (the resources out there that you don't have, the behaviours of the others, the limits of the environment you live into, the flaws of your job or of your boss, whatever you may complain about) to the inside of yourself (your own power, your mindset, and the whole web of your true resources) and from there, back to the outside, but now with a different attitude, one to contribute, to share your gifts, and to authentically celebrate the happiness, fulfillment and success, both yours and of the others.
What has changed during this process is your sense of self, self-worthiness and self-realization: once you are satisfied and truly content with yourself, you are not comparing yourself to others anymore, your dominant modality is one of gratitude, forgiveness and growth, and victimization habits like gossiping or criticizing just lose their interest.
The paradigms behind
But why do you have a limiting thought? Where does it come from?
Our beliefs are mostly created in our childhood and young adult phases, through models that have been important in our development (parents, teachers, mentors, friends) or environments we have consciously or unconsciously decided to fit into (schoolmates, teenage group, college clubs, etc.), and they continue to be developed or confirmed in our adult phase, mainly through cultural, societal and community-based models.
The problem with the "I'm too old" limiting belief (and many others) is that they are generally not built on reality and facts but on models of reality, quite often unconscious ones.
Let's see here a couple of them (but others may be at play, depending on each specific situation).
One model of reality which underpins our age-as-a-limit story sees life as a one-direction trajectory with fixed milestones and timelines to check, as in a to-do-list.
To "fit in", we shall move along this line and preferably at a prescribed pace: there will be a proper moment to have sex for the first time, a proper one to marry and have kids, a proper one to start working, to climb the ladder and achieve “success”, and another one to retire and take care of grand-children or finally enjoy your hobbies.
Simple, and straightforward (with variations allowed, depending on cultures).
A companion underlying model sees aging as intrinsically bad. Age here is a liability, unless it is accompanied by expressions and symbols of "success" (which help you show how you checked your list above); here age also needs to be "hidden" and get unnoticed in some manner to preserve as far as possible a static image of endless youth.
When we live our life framed in a combination of these two paradigms, fear of aging becomes a domina