Age complexes: what they are and how to overcome them

In an age where physical appearance seems to be more and more important, it is not uncommon for many people to suffer and become obsessed with reasons related to the image they believe they offer to the world. Age is, in many cases, one of the most relevant factors in this type of concern.

In the following lines we will see what age complexes are and various tips for dealing with them.

    What are age complexes?

    Age complexes can be understood in many ways, but in psychotherapy the most common is to think of them as a type of discomfort and insecurity associated with beliefs and expectations about what means to be old. perception that this is moving further and further away from what we assume to be the optimal time of our life journey.

    In practice, in most cases, those who experience it consider this “optimal time” to be what we usually mean by young people., And they also assume that this is the phase of life that is most valued (or maybe even the only one valued positively) by others.

    However, as in virtually all psychological phenomena associated with self-esteem, age complexes do not have an innate origin or in a biological process in our brain triggered by our genes.

    It is important to emphasize the latter, because age complexes are not a form of discomfort that arises in us by nature for the simple fact of making years. Although we do not realize it, there are a number of social and cultural dynamics that promote the emergence of these complexes and which put us in situations where it is easy to feel uncomfortable with our age as we move away from young adulthood.

    Otherwise, this phenomenon would occur in all human cultures, but it is not. And in fact, the concept of “youth” is also to some extent very mobile and with somewhat arbitrary, or at least socially consensual, boundaries.

    This is why in age complexes one cannot distinguish between how we see ourselves when we look at ourselves in a mirror and what we assume others are thinking when they see us, the consciousness of objective elements, such as the time that has elapsed since we were born and the appearance of our bodies, are mixed with beliefs and ideas about what it means socially to be this age and look like this in the context in which we are let’s live. Fortunately, this also implies that by changing certain mental patterns and contexts to which we are exposed, we may also be able to strengthen our self-acceptance.

    What must be done to overcome these insecurities?

    The most effective recommended way to overcome age-related complexes is to undergo psychotherapy.. And in many cases, this is the only way to achieve meaningful progress and good management of self-esteem that is consistently maintained over time, especially in people who suffer tremendously for this reason.

    However, there are several key ideas that can be helpful. Let’s see what they are.

    1. Get used to questioning the standards of what is considered beautiful

    As I have argued before, the complexes for the age that we have they almost always intervened by what we think others think of us. This happens especially in a society like ours, where youth prevail, or directly adolescence.

    We are thus entering a competition to do our best in which even contempt for the world of appearances can be read as a personal “trait”, a trait which leads us to try and play in the league of rebels and misfits, the paradox. should be noted.

    What happens is that this fixation on aesthetics mainly passes through the doors inward, that is, into the individual mind of each one. Except in the extreme cases of people giving a very good or very bad image, in our daily life we ​​tend not to pay much attention to the appearance of others.

    For that, it is good that you question the beliefs on which this idealization of youth is based and that you make your conclusions about what you live in everyday life. For example: have you considered that during the last decades, the canons of beauty are always oriented towards the very young, among other things because there are many companies competing to see who happens to represent the best? the new ”in the eyes of potential buyers? It is a process that has little or nothing to do with aesthetic pleasure, but with the creation and maintenance of market niches.

      2. Check your references

      It is very common for those who suffer from age complexes to have no reference from their generation or older than themselves.. In this way, it is easy to consider that all that is interesting in the company takes place in the younger generations.

      This leads to the feeling that this is no longer “our world”, something totally harmful and irrational in the worst sense of the word (especially considering what was discussed in the previous section).

      3. Get used to detecting problematic thoughts

      Now that you are used to adopting new benchmarks, it’s time to get used to neutralizing in time those ideas that often come to mind and which wear down our self-esteem with no basis other than dysfunctional beliefs. To do this, bring a small notebook with you and see in it the thoughts related to age complexes that come to your mind, including the place and time.

      A few times a week, review these notes, compare and look for common elements between these ideas; this will make it easier to understand why they are artificially created manufactures in combination with social trends, assumptions and generally ideas that are not your own, so to speak.

      4. Practice self-compassion

      Many are surprised to find that, as a rule, the level of self-esteem of the elderly remains relatively stable and is clearly not lower than, for example, of adolescents. Part of this happens because at this age it is more common for the level of acceptance to increase in the face of what we usually think of as imperfections. In fact, the idea of ​​aging tends to produce more insecurity than old age itself.

      With that in mind, it is worth betting on the practice of self-compassion, the principle by which we assume that we are not perfect entities, and that we do not have to stand out above all of them. the others in a positive characteristic. The important thing is to keep going, not to tie our goals to what others achieve. Which brings us to the last tip.

      5. Reformulate your definition of “aging”

      Most people considered non-young can do the same activities as most young people; if there are significant limitations, these are only quantitative in nature: Not having the same mental agility, not having the same physical endurance, etc.

      However, it should be remembered that we often associate “aging” with “limitations” not because of biological (and therefore inevitable) limitations, but simply because over time we settle more down a path. of life in which we feel comfortable. But this apparent reduction in the variety of everyday experiences, or even the number of friendships, should not be confused with something inherent in our age: if we don’t like something, no age is unsuitable for trying. to change it.

      Are you looking for psychotherapeutic support?

      If there is an aspect of your life that is causing you emotional distress and you are considering psychological therapy to overcome this kind of problem, contact me. I am a psychologist with over 25 years of professional experience in psychotherapy, and I am specializes in acceptance and engagement therapy, in person (in Valencia) and online. My contact details are available on this page.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Allen, AB and Leary, MR (2014). Self-compassionate responses to aging. Gerontologist, 54 (2): p. 190-200.
      • Dietz, BE (1996). The relationship of aging to self-esteem: the relative effects of maturation and accumulation of roles. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 43 (3): pages 249 – 266.
      • Shallcross, AJ; Ford, BQ; Floerke, VA; Mauss, IB (2014). Improving with age: the relationship between age, acceptance and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104 (4): pages 734-749.
      • Wagner, J .; Hoppmann, C .; Ram, N .; Gerstorf, D. (2015). Self-esteem is relatively stable at the end of life: the role of resources in the areas of health, self-regulation and the social. Developmental Psychology, 51 (1): pages 136-149.

      Leave a Comment