“Retire from work, but not from life. “
– M.K. Soni
When we retire, the biggest complaint most people have is that they have too much time on their hands. Unfortunately, retirement often means more time to ruminate on what is not working in our lives. We can often feel directionless and purposeless. The more we feel this, the more negative messages we give ourselves. Messages like ‘I’m too old’ and ‘It’s too late’ become our inner dialogue and create new neural pathways. A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something. And once those neural pathways are embedded, changing them is not an easy task. But there is a way to change those messages. It’s called Creative Positive Reframing (CPR), and it’s a process that actually changes the neural pathways in your brain, so that those limiting beliefs like ‘I’m not old’ and ‘It’s too late’ are transformed and actually become supportive rather than destructive. Try these tools and see for yourself:
- Identify Negative Messages
Action: Identify the limiting beliefs that have sprung up as you approach retirement. Negative thoughts such as, ‘I’m too old to do that’ or ‘There’s not enough time anymore’ are self-sabotaging.
Practice: Interrupt it! Once you’ve identified those negative messages, shift your focus. Take a deep breath and interrupt your own train of thought . . . and get rid of it!
- Get the negative out
Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you are caught in a negative thought spiral – it’s time to get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.
Practice: Get rid of it! Pull out a pad of paper and write out all the garbage spiralling in your head. Write about not having enough time and the negative thoughts you have about getting old. If you feel stuck, write about feeling stuck. Keep writing until the thoughts stop coming. And then tear that paper up or burn it!
- Replace the negative with positive statements
Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations or questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral.
Practice: Affirm it! Create positive statements and questions. Affirmations often work, but sometimes questions work better. If your affirmation is, “There is plenty of time” and your brain argues back “No there’s not!” then use a question instead. Something like: “What can I do today that I have put off?” Or mix the two in this way: “I have enough time. What is something I have always wanted to do but have put off?”
- Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you
Action: If you have a negative thought loop about aging and lack of time, start thinking about what you would like to do with the time you have.
Practice: Write about it! Describe your ideal situation in writing, be as specific as possible. Describe what you would like to do now that you’re retired, actually feel how good it would feel to do what you have put off. For example, think about traveling places that you’ve always wanted to go to. And then focus on why it’s important. Examine why travelling would make a difference in your life. Get excited about it.
- Creative visualization – Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
Action: This next step takes the previous step and solidifies it; it is a powerful process. Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ to attain that which you most want or want to change. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative by imaging all the things we DON’T want.
Practice: Visualize it! The key to visualization is to first see what you want, and then create a mindset that you already have it and you believe you deserve it. Relax and be sure you won’t be uninterrupted. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Really see yourself travelling for example. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes. This process is the most powerful piece, solidifying the previous steps.