50,000. Believe it or not, that’s how many thoughts the average person is estimated to experience every single day of his or her life. Yes, that comes down to 35 thoughts-per-minute. Right now, you’re adding to that figure, thinking thoughts just thinking about all of those thoughts, emotions, and reactions. It all casts Darth Vader’s famous line, “Search your feelings, Luke…,” in an entirely new light. In retrospect, given the math involved, Luke would’ve needed a robust search engine with a targeted algorithm.
But when it comes to your feelings as you age, specifically, there are at least 40 that you should delete from your daily thoughts immediately. These are the 40 feelings that are simply beneath someone of your wisdom and experience, and once you’ve expunged them into the void of the universe, you’ll be living a much happier and healthier life. So read on—and for more things you should quit after 40, don’t miss the 40 Things You Shouldn’t Believe After 40.
Self-Consciousness About Your Body
“This kind of insecurity and close scrutiny of our physical attributes is expected and common during adolescence and even young adulthood,” says Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, psychotherapist, relationship coach, and divorce mediator. “However, by one’s late twenties, they should have grown past this as they are past the developmental stage where it occurs. If not, it’s likely they are developmentally stuck in other aspects as well.” Your views might change too. For proof, see these 40 Ways Over-40 People View the World Differently.
Discomfort at Being Different
“Again, this is a developmental issue that teens and younger adults struggle with, but that levels off in one’s 30s,” says Coleman. “By then, we seek ways to be different and celebrate these, not wanting to conform as we did when younger. By our 40s, we have developed our own sense of style, have made lifestyle choices that are a good fit for us—and what others do should have no real impact on what we do.”
Need for Friends’ Approval on Decisions
Whether it’s your style choices, interests, hobbies, or career decisions, by the time you’re 40, you should be looking internally to decide whether they are the right calls—and not rely on friends to help you decide. For more amazing advice on aging, here are 40 Ways to Make Your 40s Your Healthiest Decade Yet.
Hang Ups About Your Family
Chances are, when you were young you harbored some insecurity about your family, whether it had to do with wealth, education, or culture. But you’ve officially grown up.
“This is very common in young people, but by our 40s we have created our own life, established ourselves and formed an identity that is separate from that of our family of origin,” says Coleman. “If not, we are developmentally stuck, and that is definitely a problem that will impact our functioning and relationships.”
Sweating the Small Stuff
Again: 50,000 thoughts. If you belabor all of them, you’ll lose your mind. Whether you’re worried about asking for an extension at work or if you’re running late for a meeting, remember to try to pick your worries in life. And if you’re indeed worried all the time, check out these 10 Amazing Ways to De-Stress.
That Bad Times Are Permanent
When you were younger and something didn’t go your way, you may have thought it’s a trend. But once you’ve experienced the ups and downs of several decades, you know that sometimes, well, stuff happens. And it’s not because you’re cursed.
That Good Times Are Permanent
But we’ve also learned that nothing great last forever, either—and that that’s okay. After all, life is a struggle with plenty of ups and downs.
“I’m not good enough.” Stop saying that.
“Who gave you permission to have bought into this feeling?” asks Marcie Anderson, Ph.D., author and expert on meditation and relationships. “In our younger years there are too many opportunities for us to feel that we’re not enough, but once we take a few knocks, we can choose to gain wisdom and a more refined perspective. Once we learn that we are in control of what we choose at all times, we’ve got a choice and a voice when it comes to ourselves. Then, feelings of unworthiness can be released and let go.”
Lack of Responsibility for Mistakes
“This is a big one for most people,” says Anderson. “What, you mean I can’t blame my parents or my employer, or the President for my own current situation? No. Where does blaming come from? Do you have a need to be right? Do you shrug off taking responsibility for your choices, words and actions? Feelings of swimming upstream fighting the rough waters relates to the feeling or need to blame others.” And if that sounds like you, be sure to read these 20 Signs You’re Definitely a Narcissist.
Need to Compare Yourself to Others
“Where is this feeling coming from?” asks Anderson. “Has it ever served you in a positive way in the past? Have you grown tired of your ego’s need to be right and to rank yourself or place in life?”
Of course, we all feel antsy or impatient, usually at the grocery store or in traffic. But by age 40, we’ve learned to redirect feelings of impatience toward more constructive actions. We can actively decide to listen to an audiobook to make our drive time more constructive, or strike up a conversation with the person behind us in line to make waiting to pay for groceries less aggravating. And if you’re an impatient person, check out these 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time without a Smartphone.
“To us, we’re so important,” says Anderson. “We’re on a tight schedule and we’ve got a ‘to do’ list longer than the naughty and nice scroll Santa Claus relies on for doling out presents. But if we stop, take a few deep breaths, and take personal inventory of all of this—bringing our attention to the fact we are stressed and even angry due to a lack of patience—we realize that we’ve allowed, yet again, our own selfishness and self-importance to shed a negative light and energy on our lives.”
“While we can certainly allow ourselves to feel angry, a mature person responds without anger and without seeking retribution,” says Laurie Buchanan, Ph.D., holistic health practitioner, transformational life coach, and author of The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace “We don’t sweep events under the carpet and pretend they never happened. Rather, we address the situation and communicate our thoughts about it clearly. Instead of letting anger make us bitter, we learn something useful from the incident and we learn what we’ll do differently in the future.”
Ongoing Shame or Embarrassment
“By the time we’re 40, we should have stopped giving our power away to others,” says Buchanan. “People can only make us feel small, exposed, and unworthy if we let them. And the truth of the matter is, when someone tries to shame us it’s usually because there’s something going on with them—not us—and they’re outwardly displaying inward pain.”
Jealousy happens, sure. But that festering, clinging, and ultimately angry jealousy should, in your 40s, give way to more mature, constructive emotions. Those include appreciation (for any success) and the pleasure in helping others accomplish their professional goals.
Jealousy in Other Aspects of Life
“Jealousy stems from insecurity and occurs when we compare ourselves to someone else,” says Buchanan. “It might be what they look like, their possessions, their relationship, or their social status. By the time we’re 40, we should have enough life experience to be self-assured. By this time, we should have stepped into our confidence and not rely on people or possessions to validate us.”
“I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, ‘It is what it is,’” says Buchanan. “By the time we’re 40, we should understand that the choices we made in the past are done, and we can’t change them. We know that the only thing we have control over is the present moment. A place where we can focus on what we’re doing right now.” And for more on the importance of letting go, check out the 40 Most Common Regrets Over-40 People Share.
Holding on to Grudges
“Each of us at some time will need to extend forgiveness to someone for something he or she did or failed to do,” says Buchanan. “And each of us at some time will need to receive forgiveness for something that we did or failed to do.”
“Denial is a coping mechanism designed to protect ourselves from something negative that’s going on in our life,” says Buchanan. “Sometimes, short-term denial can provide us with time to adjust to something painful. But an ongoing relationship with denial isn’t healthy. By the time we’re 40, we should understand that it’s in our best interest to acknowledge all aspects of our life—illness, addiction, eating disorder, financial problems, trauma, relationship conflicts—not just a select few.”
Need to Beat the Other Guy
Closely related to jealousy is the zero-sum idea that our success must come at the expense of someone else—or that someone else’s success somehow makes us look bad. “Our emotions shouldn’t leave us feeling ‘right’ and others ‘wrong,’” says Buchanan. Once we hit 40, the drive to beat others or enjoy success only at their expense should have dissipated.
“You should no longer feel doubtful about yourself because at this stage of life, an individual should be well acquainted with his her strengths/weakness and virtues/flaws,” says Damon Nailer, a consultant, educator, speaker, and author. “In addition, he/she should have accepted and learned to live with them by now so there is no need for feeling insecure or vulnerable but one should be confident in his/her identity and courageous in his/her pursuits.”
As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
“At 40-plus, we should feel very encouraged with our current status and position in life, and if we aren’t, then it’s not too late to make adjustments and create new goals, dreams, and aspirations to pursue,” says Nailer.
While contentment is good and by 40 we should have a general sense of satisfaction about our life and decisions, you also don’t want to be too content—to the point that you aren’t challenging yourself. It’s healthy to always be looking for new ways to improve.
Uncomfortable With Forgiveness
“Usually when we’re in a good mood, we can at least consider forgiveness of another’s words or actions, and forgiveness towards ourselves,” says Anderson. “But interestingly enough, when we’re in a bad mood, forget it.”
She adds that being unable to forgive “blocks us in a powerful way” and ends up just stressing ourselves out more in the long run.
Distrust of Strangers
We are rightly taught from a young age to be wary of people we don’t know. But as we get older, the opposite becomes much more valuable a trait. We find that approaching new people as if they are simply friends we have not met is much more likely to yield a constructive, enjoyable interaction—and lead them to becoming actual friends.
The feeling of “not-enoughness” is something coined by life coach Kate Romero, who says people often can feel that they are not doing or earning enough, “no matter how hard they work or how much money they have.”
By the time we are 40, we should have a pretty good understanding of what we need to be happy in life—how much we need to earn to pay for the things we like and how much time we need to set aside for vacation, leisure, and non-work activities to help keep those feelings of “not enough-ness” at bay.
Fear of Success
This usually manifests itself in a middling job in which you don’t push yourself to exceed expectations. By the time you are 40, you should have grown beyond such anxieties.
Need to Please People
A desire to make others happy is a valuable trait, but not when it becomes your full focus in life, dominating all other personal concerns or priorities and taking precedence over what you actually want for yourself.
Need to Be Liked
“If everyone likes you, it means you’re a chameleon shape-changing all the time to get approval and validation,” explains Gary Van Nguyen, a lifestyle coach and “The Warrior Mentor of Men.” “It’s exhausting and you have no sense of who you are. If you’re being a real person, someone isn’t going to like you and that’s okay. If you’re focused on expressing your true self, the people who like you for you will stay, and the people who don’t will leave. Isn’t that great?”
“If you’re over 40, you should get to decide if you’re enough or lovable. No one else,” says Van Nguyen.
Worried About Things Out of Your Control
“As one ages, the art of worrying should exceedingly diminish. Why?” asks Nailer. “There are elements and events which can be controlled and others that cannot. With age comes the wisdom to differentiate between the two, thus allowing us to not be overly concerned with those things that are out of our control and to make an attempt to fix the things that are ultimately placing worry at bay.”
“Of course, none of us have had all positive and wonderful experiences, but we must focus on the good and inspirational encounters and events that have occurred throughout our lives, and always be mindful that it is never too late to create new, exciting, and awesome experiences,” says Nailer.
Bummed About Friends Spending Time With Significant Others
“By the time we reach our 40s we have accepted that our relationship priorities have changed since our freer, solo youth,” says Coleman. “We should no longer take it personally that an old friend spends more time with a partner or has separate plans with their partner and family or coupled friends that don’t always include us.”
The Need to Feel Perfect
“By this time, we have more life experience and have known many less than perfect yet really great people along the way,” says Coleman. “We should have learned to accept our flaws and to highlight and use our gifts and talents—accepting that no one is great or perfect at everything. No one.”
Obsessed With Aging
In some ways, your 40s are the time of your life when you really start to feel the effects of aging—you’re not able to party as hard as you once did, gray hairs are appearing, and you might not have the endurance you once did. But it’s also a time where you’ve gotten wise enough to realize that stressing about aging is not a good look.
“The fact is, at any time, we could leave the planet,” says Kisma Orbovich, founder of meditation and spirituality service Illumination Academy. “So by honoring every moment, month and year as a time to do what we desire and are guided to do is exhilarating. The alternate of this creates sadness and a loss of life purpose.”
Worried Others Are Out to Get You
Call it mild paranoia, but whether it’s the person at work with whom you compete or a rude barista who messed up your order, it’s not uncommon to see something sinister to blame when you don’t get what you want. The truth is, it’s not about you.
Upset That Life’s Not Fair
“Every moment that you expect life to be fair is a moment you’re expending emotional energy that leads nowhere,” says Van Nguyen. “Life is life. Good things happen. Bad things happen. When you’ve matured, you realize what is and isn’t in your sense of control. Only use your energy on things that you can control and influence. This is a really tough one to master because life isn’t personal.”
Fearful of Change
We may like things to be exactly as they are, but instinctively seeing change as something to be feared or avoided is not healthy or realistic in the long run. And by the time we are in our 40s, we see change for what it actually is: what makes for an enriching, interesting life.
Frustrated at Not Being Over Any Particular Feeling
While there are plenty of feelings we should have gotten past by the time we are 40, that does not mean you should beat yourself up over still hanging on to any particular emotion. As Caitlin Magidson, LCPC, a counselor, career coach, and therapist points out, “While it might be nice if we could let go of past insecurities or fears, sometimes that’s not the case because of past trauma, unresolved grief, or pains that are not yet healed.”
She suggests that those trying to find more peace and joy in life should work with a therapist or other professional “to move through any ‘stuck’ places in life might be the next step in processing and letting go of experiences that don’t serve us anymore.”
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