The other night I was having a quiet time with a group of women friends. The holiday season brings up memories of childhood for many of us, so some of the discussion had to do with our past and current relationships with members of our family or those who took care of us while we were growing up. We also talked about current romantic relationships, which led into reminiscing about old boyfriends and girlfriends. Some of us talked about friends from long ago whom we had lost track of, and others described twenty-year-old friendships that now are so precious.
We talked about what it takes to have a good, healthy relationship, and about the deep, potentially long-term damage a toxic relationship can inflict on one’s life. It was surprising at least to me how many of my friends could relate to the impact of a difficult relationship with a family member.
We even talked about the pets we’d had over the years. There was this favorite-of-all-time cat or that fun-but-bratty dog. For some of us one of the most important relationships we’d had during the very intense COVID years was with the furry friend we were with 24/7. We weren’t seeing another living being during that time!
After I thought about our wonderful evening together, I realized that even though we were talking about our relationships with others, we made many negative comments about ourselves. Several of us mentioned how much weight we’d gained during the past three years. Or how uncomfortable we felt when we tried to put on a pair of pants that had a zipper rather than an elastic waistband. Some talked about how self-conscious they felt about their now gray hair. There was the self-criticism about how little they’d accomplished during the past three years even though there were wide-open days after days. A couple of the women berated themselves for being lazy about getting up. Or getting dressed, and going out to meet people now that this is possible. One woman agreed that, although she doesn’t want to become a hermit, it has just gotten so comfortable to stay home in sweats!
Women Over 55: You Are Your Most Important Relationship
And this all got me to thinking that, surely, our most important relationship is with ourselves. That’s right, Women Over 55: You Are Your Most Important Relationship. How do you feel about who you are, how you look, what you’ve done in your life? Are you happy with who you have become? Do you feel as if you’re enough? What is the quality of what you say to yourself about yourself most of the time? (Is it something you would say to a friend?)
This is very tricky particularly at certain times in our lives. When we were adolescent girls, many of us let others’ opinions pretty much determine who we thought we were and how we felt about ourselves. Many young mothers get entirely consumed with whether they are a good mother. Much of the time the answer seems to be no because it’s often not possible to live up to that ideal of a “good mother.”
And now, later in life, we have the very difficult task of feeling good about ourselves when close to 95% of what we see and hear tells us that it’s bad to get old. And, sadly, “old” is getting younger and younger with women in their thirties choosing to have Botox treatments to get rid of those insipient facial lines.
What can we do to counteract all this? We know how important it is for our physical and mental health and longevity to feel good about ourselves and about the fact that we’re getting older. And that is where we have to remember, Women Over 55: You Are Your Most Important Relationship!
My Challenge To You
I challenge you to stand in front of the mirror and stay there until you see yourself as beautiful, just as you are. This morning on Facebook I saw a picture of a friend and her husband that had been taken forty years ago. An immediate, spontaneous thought went through my head: both of them look better now. Do they look young and sprightly? No. They look lovely, wise, and seasoned. They look like people who would be wonderful to sit down with for coffee and a long conversation.
I challenge you to pay particular attention to your self-talk over the next couple of days. What habitual messages do you give to yourself? Are they mostly positive or are they mostly negative? Really tune in and listen to what you’re saying to you about you. Are you treating yourself at least as well as you would treat a much-loved friend or a partner or lover?
I challenge you to be thankful for the gift of getting older. Celebrate the joys of being who you are at this time in your life. Are there challenges as we age? Of course, but there were challenges when we were younger too. What’s very different now is that we have the wisdom to look at the challenges and walk through them if we choose to.
I challenge you to become very conscious of the nature of the relationship you have with yourself. If it is satisfactory to you, great! But if it isn’t, what are the first, small steps you could take to change it?
I celebrate you and the remarkable woman you’ve become. And with you, I look forward to whatever you choose to do in this next exciting phase of your life. Because Women Over 55: You Are Your Most Important Relationship!
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another, learn and grow together, and further the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.
We will be beginning another Prime Spark Women’s Story Circle in January. If you’re interested in knowing more about that, please send an email to [email protected].
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company. Sara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!