Aging Wisely: The Emotional Challenges has emerged from my experiences of growing older. I have become increasingly convinced that feelings are the predominant guide for our actions, directing our choices and selecting our social relationships. My practice as a clinical psychologist centered on helping patients know those feelings that bound them and kept them from happiness in their lives.
Hidden feelings are often expressed in unknown and unbidden ways. For instance, I was especially impressed with one patient, an attorney, who avidly repeated that he had no feelings. His wife agreed. Nevertheless during one discussion, he blinked repeatedly while discussing a problem. When I questioned what he had felt at that moment, he said, with effort, that he was "afraid” of what he had said. From this point, slowly he became more aware of his feelings, making problems easier to resolve. The research demonstrates that as we grow older, we rely more on our feelings for the decisions and choices that we make.
"To your own self, be true,” rings the bells of our hearts that to be true to our self is to be true to our feelings and knowledge. Observing oneself, family, friends and patients as we have grown older instigate the thought that it might be easier if the aged became more aware that their feelings, their stresses and their concerns of life were shared by others.
The growth of the field of Developmental Psychology now includes the phases of aging, similar to other stages of growth. The research has familiarized us with the stresses that come at the time of life when we expected life would become easier, more content and less fearful. Instead we often find an increase of stress and anxiety alongside more pleasurable feelings of well being.
Satisfaction with life calls for an emotional balance that brings quietude and nurtures secure feelings. It requires acceptance of our positive strengths and of our personal limitations to come to terms with ourselves. Hopefully, these thoughts will help the reader find that emotional balance which ensures contentment and gratitude for life itself.
In those moments when you are alone with your thoughts and memories, does a quiet contentment seep through your being? Have you a sense of satisfaction and gratitude with your life?