‘The danger in letting others define how we see ourselves in our 60s’

Jul 13, 2019
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Baby Boomers should not let the perceptions of others define how they see themselves. Source: Getty Images

‘Who are you?’ It’s probably one of the most confronting questions we can be asked. The obvious answer: “I’m Paul, I’m married, live in Coffs Harbour, publish books, used to be in tourism, marketing, sports promotion and advertising etc.” is also not the right answer. I’ve just trotted out my personal CV, which covers what I’ve done and what my experiences are. However, that’s quite different to answering the question ‘Who are you?’

Throughout our lives we’ve been conditioned to think of our external appearance as a major component of who we are. “I’m overweight”, “My bum’s too big for these jeans”, “I look really cool in this outfit”. While the glossy magazines promote our physical appearance as all important, it’s a big mistake to believe that it defines who we are.

To answer the question ‘Who are you?’ we have to really look inside ourselves. We need to consider issues like — our values, our attitude, our passions, our compassion, our purpose in life, our spiritual beliefs, our motivations and whatever else drives us.

Many of these topics involve questions we have never asked ourselves, so it’s no wonder that we have never discussed them with other people. If we don’t know who we are, it can be difficult to form a close relationship with another person. Perhaps these are questions that we should ask ourselves and those people who are important to us. It is possible to change some of our internal settings and it’s quite likely that your partner could point out some aspects of your personality that could be improved. Next time you’re at a dinner party, this could be a more interesting subject to discuss than current television shows or the latest celebrity gossip.

As we get older, and hopefully wiser, many people start considering issues like ‘what’s it all about’, ‘who/what is God’, ‘is there life after death’. If we don’t think about some of these issues, we are in denial and that’s not a great place to be. These are all big issues and whether we like it or not, they impact on our lives.

One of the benefits of living for 50 or 60 years is that we have been around long enough to realise there are more important questions than how much money we have, the value of our house, the brand of car we drive and the title on our business card.

You can read more about these issues and buy books about them on our website at www.retirementbooks.com.au.

How would you answer the question ‘Who are you?’ if asked? Do you let the way others see over-60s define how you live your life?

Keen to share your thoughts with other 60-pluses? You can sign up as a contributor and submit your stories to Starts at 60. While you’re at it, why not join the Starts at 60 Bloggers Club on Facebook here to talk to other writers in the Starts at 60 community and learn more about how to write for Starts at 60. Community blogs published on the website go into the draw for some great weekly prizes.

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