OLD AGE AND AGING

borko

The aging process is an important phase when it comes to our emotional development, with the aim of slowly preparing us for the dying process. Just like any other phase in life, it has nothing to do with free will. Whether we will age or not has nothing to with personal choice. It is only a question of whether we are going to go through this phase consciously or not. The more we resist it, the more painfulit is going to be, and the lower the quality of our life will get.
That is why it would be a good idea to learn how to consciously move through the aging process, i.e.how not to resist it. As in all other developmental phases, the key is not to fight against what’s going on – to accept it all. This applies to:
-All physical sensations which old age brings: at this age we start to perceive our physical body in a new way. We start to feel sensations in our body we haven’t felt before. This might surprise us in the same way we were surprised in adolescence with some phenomena not familiar to us until then. However, unlike adolescence, when everything seemed new and interesting, in old age we slowly begin to notice these physical phenomena. We call them painful, uncomfortable, disease. We have turned old age into physical disease because we refuse to accept its true nature.
-All mental processes accompanied by old age: we begin to think about some things which we never thought about before, and we start seeing some things in a completely new way.This may seem strange to us because we had already formed a view of the world which is now changing fundamentally. The thought process itself changes. It might be difficult to connect certain ideas in our minds, difficult to recall certain information, express our thoughts and feelings in a way that is understandable to others. In other words, mental processes become a challenge in a whole new way. We could view this as something exciting if we didn’t associate it immediately with senility or dementia. We have turned old age into a mental illness because we refuse to accept its true nature.
-All emotional processes, feelings, and psychological contents caused by old age. We can even begin to slowly say goodbye to the world, just as we embraced it with curiosity and hope in adolescence. We can even start dreaming “strange and bizarre dreams”, experience emotions which are new and unfamiliar to us. We could see this as something exciting if we didn’t label it immediately as involuntary melancholy, or, generally, as something negative. We have turned old age into an emotional illness because we refuse to accept its true nature.
This is just one side of the story: refusing to age because we are refusing to accept what old age leads to – dying.
There is another side of the story. Old people tend to exhibit ambivalence towards death. On the one hand, they refuse to die, and on the other, they look at it as the “natural way to end a life”. Which is, in a way, similar to the dilemma young people face –to be or not to be in love. Young adults have the desire to extend all those strong feelings and romance, but they also have the desire to “grow up and become a mature person” in a psychological way, by not falling in love again. In the same way authentic growing up and maturation can not be accomplished if weskip the whole process of falling in love, it can only be accomplished by falling in and out of love and getting disappointed, therefore, we can also say that authentic death can not be accomplished by skipping old age and dying, it can only be accomplished by consciously going through all of these phases and experiencing all that these phases bring. In the same way that the attempt to “grow up and become a mature person” is linked to the attempt to avoid all the suffering that comes with falling in and out of love, we see that behind the attempts to “have one’s life come to its natural end” there is an avoiding of all the physical, mental, and emotional states which are a part of aging and dying, which we consider inappropriate, and therefore view as suffering.
Therefore, authentic death can only be achieved if we completely embrace aging and dying, along with all the things that accompany these processes.

Danijela Stojanović, clinical psychologist and therapist