wisdom

Find a Way: 12 Aging Well Tips for Sensitive Introverts.

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I am in my sixties. That sounds old to me. AARP. Medicare. Senior discounts. Golf. Geezerville.

But I don’t feel old. In fact, other than some creeping potential decrepitude that I have yet to discover, I think 60-something is kind of fine. Pretty great, actually.

You, too, can have a pretty-great-actually time into your 50s, 60s, and beyond. Here’s how:

1. Get plenty of psychotherapy: You will need to address the dysfunctional family patterns and beliefs that were handed down to you, especially if there was abuse or neglect. This will not stop your skin from sagging, but it will reduce your anxieties and build your self-confidence.

At its best, it will heal any shame that you have carried for years and allow you to live more as your true self. To find meaning and purpose in your life. Maybe even to explore several career paths that are extremely satisfying. Maybe even to find love and sweet intimacy with a partner.

I am still waiting for that last one. Even though I’ve had a couple of fulfilling partnerships over the years, I am now prepared for the deepest most loving-est one yet. I have been a client in various therapies since my 30s. It has made a huge difference. 

2. Create a strong network of friends: You may need to work at this because your rainforest mind (your depth and intelligence) makes friend-finding complicated. Start by doing activities that you enjoy, and look for potential friends there. Initiate contact.

Nourish the connections, even if the people you find are busy (which they probably are). Eventually, they will realize that you have done them a huge favor and they will love you forever for all of the effort you made to woo them. Don’t believe me? Ask my friends. They will tell you that they will love me forever. 

3. Dance the Argentine tango: The tango appeals to smart, sensitive introverts because it is complicated and creative. It requires intense perception and depth. It might be the first time you experience someone following you.

But also, you can be approaching geezer-hood and still attract attention. People will watch you with admiration. They will think that you are beautiful. They will ask to embrace you. Some of my favorite memories are dancing with a very skillful leader, and not only feeling graceful and sweetly connected to another human but also noticing people of all ages watching me and smiling appreciatively. 

4. Let your free-range, out-of-control, expressive, wild hair be itself: You may want to buy expensive hair products before trying this. I have had a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with my hair ever since it turned curly in puberty. If you have curly hair, you know what I’m talking about. It can be hard to manage and the opposite of smooth, sleek, soft, and popular.

But I am finally much more appreciative of my curls. Hair-acceptance will translate into more self-acceptance for the you-ness that has always felt like too much.

5. Give yourself permission to always be working on yourself in various ways: Self-help and introspection is not narcissism. As an introvert, you may be accused of this, and you may believe it, but your intention is to be a more loving, compassionate, contributing human, right?

So, in addition to the years of psychotherapy mentioned above, experiment with other growth modalities. Acupuncture, energy medicine, 12-Steps, bodywork, time in nature, meditation, spiritual practices, massage, journal writing, visual art, music, dance, reading, martial arts, astrology, tarot, running, and more. I have tried many of these and can attest to their effectiveness.

6. Avoid mirrors when you have your reading glasses on: Seeing yourself in great detail, especially into your 50s, 60s and beyond, can be a jolting experience. I recently had my reading glasses upgraded and made the mistake of leaving them on while passing a mirror. It was a little disconcerting.

There are times when a softer gaze is more appropriate than a thorough, carefully detailed examination. This would be one of those times.

7. Pay attention to your posture: Seriously. Not only is this good for your overall health, it can prevent future issues including problems with your joints and spine. You already know about the importance of exercise. But do you know about how much moving matters? Katy Bowman is the person you want to meet. Learn about her work with nutritious movement.

8. Build a spiritual practice: Meditation and time in nature are often practices that work well for sensitive introverts. A regular practice soothes your nervous system, expands your intuition, and connects you beyond the visible world to a larger, loving, spiritual energy field that is all about Love. This is particularly important as you age and begin to think about your legacy.

I am still developing my connection with Spirit. I find dancing, singing, and journaling to be my way into the invisible spiritual realms. 

9. Maintain your sense of humor: It can help with the day-to-day complexities of life to find ways to laugh at yourself. I often keep in touch with friends via email, and find that writing to them allows my introverted inner comic to show up. We commiserate about our newly acquired quirks.

It is easier to be funny when describing your bone loss and your, um, what was I saying, diminishing word retrieval capacity to a sympathetic audience of other highly sensitive introverts. GIFs come in handy too. 

10. Find people from all over the planet who are creating a better world: Living in the 21st century is all kinds of stressful. For so many reasons. But there are people around the world who are taking positive action. Find them locally and online. Connect with some of them if their actions speak to you. Support them with financial contributions and appreciation. Speak out about injustice.

Find your particular introverted way to step up. In my case, I use my blog, books, counseling, and consulting to support highly sensitive intelligent humans. This is my way of contributing.

11. Find a career path that allows you to age gracefully: There are some jobs that are more appropriate than others for an aging body. Consider careers where you don’t have to move much, and where the older you are, the more in demand you will be.

Being a psychotherapist, blogger, consultant, and author, I’ve realized that I managed to find work that I love and that will take me into old age with ease. People don’t mind that I am older or that my knees are creaking. In fact, they think I am wise.

12. Don’t run out of hair products: No explanation needed.

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Paula Prober is a licensed psychotherapist, consultant, author, blogger, and tango dancer in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. She consults internationally with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. Her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released by GHF Press in 2016. Her second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019. Paula blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, a blog in support of the excessively curious, creative, smart, and sensitive.

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