Getting old is something that happens to all of us and like death and taxes is sadly inevitable. However that doesn’t mean that everyone has to like it, and to varying degrees we might find this idea hard to swallow.
While this is perfectly natural to a degree, it is also unhealthy when it is experienced in the extreme, and if you find yourself very scared of getting old then this can start to become a distraction and a source of stress that needs to be counteracted. So how do you go about overcoming this fear and viewing getting old in a more natural and healthy manner?
Get to the Route of the Problem
Followers of Freudian psychology generally believe that a phobia is an expression of an unconscious fear that we are repressing. In other words, we are not actually afraid of the phobia itself, but of what it represents. In some cases this is not entirely accurate, but in the case of a fear of ageing it often is. You see it is very common for a fear of ageing to really be a fear of death, and this is a universal fear that is nevertheless magnified to an unhealthy degree in some cases. If you fear death you might not only have an aversion to ageing yourself, but also the site of other elderly people who serve as a reminder of your mortality. It may be that you also have adverse reactions to other stimuli that is associated with death – whether this be skulls or other imagery.
In any case it is important to recognize the source of your phobia and to track it back to what is really causing the problem. Sometimes facing a painful memory or idea can greatly help to lessen the impact of a phobia through understanding.
Focus on the Good
Meanwhile it is important to focus on not only the negative aspects of getting old, but also the positive. There are many reasons to look forward to getting old as well as to fear it. For one when you are older you will gain more respect from your peers and will have the benefit of experience. At the same time you will for the first time since you were a young child be able to enjoy real freedom without the burden of work, of education or of others being dependent on you. It’s a chance to slow down and enjoy life, as well as to sample some of the ‘finer’ things.
Look at the Right Examples
If you fear ageing then perhaps you have had the misfortune of watching someone age slowly and painfully. Recognize that this is not always the case, and that many people reach old age gracefully and with a lot of their faculties intact – and they go on to lead great lives full of exploration and adventure and personal achievement. Look to some of them for inspiration whether they be in the media or members of your own family.
It’s also a good idea to plan for the future and for old age. If you are currently dealing with your fear by refusing to think about death and this eventuality, then this will only result in your being unprepared and more frightened as a result. If you know more of what to expect, and if you have made plans, then it can make the whole matter a lot less alien. Things like preparing a good pension, and making some plans for how you will spend your time (travelling, writing a book, learning a new skill, working with charity etc) can all help you to actually look forward to at least elements of your old age.