Don’t Believe the Hype! Challenge unrealistic expectations and get happier
Feb 08, 2024
There are so many messages both in social media and in our own heads that we have to conform to a certain definition of beauty and success. How about some new perspectives, so you can not be trapped, even unknowingly in the comparison game, (which as the saying goes, “compare leads to despair.”) This is about looking at these messages through a new lens and finding more freedom and joy.
First step always is awareness – to be aware of what we have been conditioned to believe, so that we can decide – is that valid for me personally, or not? Always remember, you have a choice. I’m going to give you a few scenarios and see which ones resonate for you:
Here are some typical stereotypes:
- For 20-50, either to get married and have kids, or justify why you don’t want to.
- Another stereotype is: "do it all" – work, family responsibilities (often with very little support), and when we’re older there’s a pressure to take care of both older parents and younger, grandkids, and often put yourself last.
- There’s pressure to be governed by the advertiser’s beauty standards (which make most people feel bad about themselves) Women in their 20’s are doing “preventative” botox, and when you get to my age, 66, I myself have a counter full of “miracle” products for sagging skin, sunspots, wrinkles, you name it. We look to correct our so-called “flaws” instead of celebrating that we’re alive and actually vibrant.
- For younger women, it’s doing the relationship dance between self-empowerment and being seen as loving; they CAN coexist. And for older women, there’s the nonsense of being “less than”, or over the hill, and being embarrassed instead of honoring the hormonal changes that can end up actually giving us more freedom.
- And… there are the so-called norms of sexuality – who said everything stops when you get older?
We should note that this is not just for women; everyone is dealing with society’s so-called "norms," however they identify. More often than not it’s so ingrained in how we’ve been brought up, what we watch, and what we believe by default, that it’s rare to challenge it. So here are some questions to help wipe the dust from our glasses: And you can write these down to journal later.
- What were you brought up to believe? How did that make you feel about yourself?
- What does society lead you to believe? What does that do for your confidence?
- What do you actually believe is in alignment with your core essence, your true self that can see beyond the usual manipulations?
There’s an unrecognized prejudice against getting older, to which I say “Really, it’s a gift not everyone gets. Besides, what’s the alternative?” But, because of our conditioning, most of us carry this tendency to DREAD getting older in our own hearts, again without even knowing the extent. I love the quote by Mary Pipher, ““Of course, ultimately ageism is a prejudice against one’s own future self.” Let that sink in – most of us are carrying prejudices against our OWN future self.
So what can we do, at any age, to counter this pervasive groupthink that affects how we feel about ourselves at some very deep levels?
- Stay Curious – when you are confronted with a negative belief, ask is this really mine to carry or am I getting sucked into what Tara Brach calls – the “Trance of Unworthiness?”
- Cultivate friendships with people of every age. People whose energy resonates with yours – it doesn’t matter the age. There are plenty of old souls in young bodies, and many in older bodies who have lots of wisdom, humor and vibrancy to share.
- See beauty everywhere – in yourself, in nature, in people's smiles, in the smooth skin of babies and the weathered skin of those who have had a few more circles around the sun. Look for the light in people’s eyes, don’t be dazzled by decoration.
- Monitor the media – that is don’t swallow it as truth – it’s a business that makes money off of people’s insecurities.
- Be fully yourself– The way you dress, your passions, your expression, your values. Your essence knows what’s real and what’s hype. Remember, in all the days of your life, you are the chooser. Don’t inadvertently give your power away.