We are fortunate enough to live in a free country, but are you emotionally free? I'm talking about freeing yourself from the negative chatter (both internal and external) that holds you back from doing what you want to do or simply being who you want to be.
You know what I'm talking about. As women in the throes of perimenopause and menopause, we constantly have to filter out those subliminal messages that make us feel less than fabulous.
I am reminded of the record album (yes, that dates me and I'm proud of it!) and book titled Free to Be... You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends back in '72. Although the overriding theme was gender neutrality -- promoting individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one's identity -- a major message was that anyone can achieve anything. That's a concept we can take to heart as women truly in the prime of our lives.
We are often quick to blame the media, the entertainment industry and advertising campaigns that -- while perhaps not blatantly disparaging older women -- glorify youth and, by association, cast a negative light on the natural process of aging.
Restorsea, a natural skincare brand, is making an effort to "reverse the negative stigma associated with aging, encouraging women to embrace it instead." Its first digital advertising campaign, featuring new brand ambassador Gwyneth Paltrow, is centered on the idea that "Your Best is Yet to Come." Restorsea Founder and CEO Patti Pao started her company at age 50. "Proof that 'Your best IS yet to come,'" she said.
While I commend Restorsea for its efforts, I must question its selection of Paltrow as brand ambassador. At 41, she's a mere youngster compared to many of us.
Restorsea wasn't the first brand to look at women in a new light via its advertising campaign. The 2004 Dove Campaign for Real Beauty ad campaign featured real women whose appearances were outside the stereotypical norms of beauty. The ads asked viewers to judge the women’s looks (oversized or outstanding? and wrinkled or wonderful?), and invited them to cast their votes online.
In 2007, the Dove global study, "Beauty Comes of Age," revealed that 91 percent of women ages 50-64 believed it was time for society to change its views about women and aging. The campaign celebrated the essence of women 50-plus -- wrinkles, age spots, gray hair and all. Internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz captured images that celebrated what, until then, were viewed as "flaws" in aging women.
The Restorsea and Dove campaigns are admirable, but what we need to do is not look outward, but look inward. It's those pesky little voices in our head that we need to turn off, to drown out with positive reinforcement.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, negative thinking leads to negative self-talk, which can affect self-esteem and even physical health. Positive self-talk, however, boosts a woman's confidence. Here are a few thinking traps we should avoid:
- All-or-nothing thinking. Black or white/good or bad thinking takes into account only extremes and does not look at the whole picture. Sure, I may have a few more wrinkles, but that's not all. I also have a lot more wisdom and moxie.
- Crystal ball thinking. While we may wish we could read other people's minds, it just ain't so. Thinking that others are viewing you as old and irrelevant will only lead you to project those thoughts onto yourself.
- The blame game thinking. Similar to personalizing, this is when you think in terms of “poor me” or “it’s all [fill in the blank's] fault.” Blame game thinking puts you at risk to behave as either a victim or a blamer. Instead of blame and shame, train yourself to think not as a victim, but as a victor over aging.
- “Should-ing.” This type of thinking assumes (and you know what they say about assuming!) that you and other people should think and/or act in certain ways. If you think that you're old, out of touch, and should take a back seat in life, you'll tend to act that way. If you think that you're vibrant and can contribute to society, look out, world!
- “What if" and “if only” thinking. Thinking like is likely to reinforce resentment, fears and anxiety. You can't turn back the clock, so there's no use in thinking "What if I were 10 years younger?" or "If only I didn't have these wrinkles ...." Change "what if" to "what about" -- as in "What about I smile at my reflection in the mirror?" Change "if only" to "if I want to" -- as in "If I want to, I can [fill in the blank]."
So I ask you, are you truly free? If not, release the mental shackles that are inhibiting you on a daily basis. Erase the negative soundtrack that's running in the background of your brain. Replace it with thoughts that validate who you are as a woman.
Now that's celebrating independence!
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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Ellen Dolgen is an outspoken women's health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.
After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through-before, during, and after menopause-with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a "sister" and confidant to all women fueled Ellen's first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers' requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen's weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.
Menopause MondaysTM is a platform from which Ellen reaches the true needs of her readers through varied and substantive discussions of menopause, women's health, and the modern woman's life today as a menopausal woman. Her weekly newsletter provides readers the most current menopause news and research. With her updates, women gain access and the knowledge needed to take charge of their health and happiness. Her motto is: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
In addition to Ellen's ever-growing social media presence, EllenDolgen.com has fast become "the place" on the web for informative and entertaining women's menopause and wellness engagement. Ellen is #1 on Dr. Oz Sharecare.com Top 10 Social HealthMakers on Menopause. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, EllenDolgen.com / Menopause Mondays was named first on the list of the "Best Menopause Blogs" by Healthline. Ellen is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women's health blogs.