How to Take Your Power As You Age, by Confronting and Asking for and Giving Accountability
© 2011 Michele Toomey, PhD
Once you have stopped being a victim, you are in a position to confront anyone who has upset you, and ask for accountability. The first step when confronting, is to speak. Tell the person who has upset you how what they said or did affected you. Ask them to be accountable by asking them why they did or said what they did. Confrontation with accountability takes courage, discipline and brains. I would like to ask you to find the courage, challenge you to use the discipline, and show you how to use your brains to age as a person of integrity.
Integrity means honesty and truthfulness. It also means oneness and wholeness. To be a person of integrity means you need to confront yourself and others whenever you are upset and discover what is going on for you and how you want to deal with it. This allows you to be both truthful to yourself and at one with yourself. Being one with ourselves fulfills the most important need we have, the need for intimacy, oneness.
We can't be intimate or at one with anyone else if we can't first be at one with ourselves. That is why victimhood is so costly to us. It prevents us from having intimacy with those we love. Victims can't be at one or intimate because they are not dealing honestly with their own access to the power of words. This dishonesty violates their integrity and there is no oneness when our integrity is violated. Victims assume they will have intimacy if they are rescued or protected by someone else. That assumption never yields intimacy, it yields dependence.
Victims by creating a dependency that is burdensome for the one expected to protect them, develop a childlike relationship which gives the protector the power of a parent who tells the child what to do or not do. The protector then has too much power and the victim has too little, not a relationship that cultivates intimacy or shared responsibilities and equal rights. It too often yields alienation.
As we age, family, and if we have children, our children do take on more and more responsibilities for aging parents. If we do not become powerless victims of aging, we can be intimately involved with our family helpers as they take on added tasks that have become too much for us. Rather than becoming a burden, we can become partners who share in taking care of us. Partnership has a mutuality about it that cultivates working together and being intimately involved with each other. Our integrity is intact and we are able to be intimate and at one with ourselves and those we love.
Rather than complaining or arguing when we need help or need to reveal how we are feeling, we need to have the discipline and use our brains to speak with honesty and respect. Sometimes it seems easier to hint at what we need or how we feel, but that often leads to manipulation and usually becomes annoying. As for complaining, that is understandable the first time as a way of informing, but when it becomes repetitious and whining, it is frustrating to hear over and over and over again. It is the voice of a powerless victim asking to be rescued. Very alienating. It never forges a partnership or respect, and certainly never yields intimacy. We suffer when we do victim and don't take our power with words.
If we never blame, accuse, attack, become suspicious that we are being taken advantage of, gossip, or act helpless like a victim, we can deal with the hard facts that come with aging. We have a right and a need to feel secure and cared about as we age. We also have a responsibility to take the power we do have, and develop the discipline it takes to think before we speak, to dig deep inside ourselves and find the courage to deal with what aging brings us, and invest the effort it takes to use our brains to sort out what is going on for us and how we want to deal with it.
Do not tolerate abuse or threats, but do not abuse or threaten, either.
Use the power of words to respectfully, fairly, and caringly express yourself when you are upset, and ask directly for what you need. Become the woman/man you choose to be as you travel through this last phase of your life. Don't become a caricature of yourself and don't let anyone trigger you into becoming one.
We are not in control of our life, but we are in charge of how we deal with it. Take charge of your life with integrity, which means with honesty, fairness, caring and respect. If you do this, you will be intimate and at one with yourself and those you love, and aging will not be a time to dread or fear, but rather a time to cherish and grow into, so that we are not diminished by our aging.
We deserve to live these last years with stature and dignity, feeling proud of who we are and grateful for what we have.