How To Be More Confident As We Age

Self-Confidence and Aging

Do you ever catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror as you’re coming out of the shower or getting dressed — and your eyes zero in on “that part?” You know the one that’s shape-shifting and so obediently obeying the laws of gravity?

That wasn’t there last week was it? Or last year? You KNOW it wasn’t there five years ago. ARGHHHHH!!! What’s happening here?

Maybe it’s on your face or thighs or midsection. Whatever you do, do not hold up a mirror to get a rear view!

There’s some small part of everyone that believes aging won’t happen to US. That’s for old people. Inside we still feel 30 (or whatever the youthful number is for you). And if we feel that way inside, why oh why is our outside betraying us so cruelly?

Aging can really take its toll on your self-confidence, especially in this youth-oriented, appearance focused culture. (Have you seen the latest news stories on the trend of women wanting a “thigh gap” where their thighs don’t touch even with their feet together? Really??)

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No matter how young you feel, how healthy you may be, how well you take care of yourself — aging happens without your permission or input. You can stave it off for a time with creams and surgery and exercise and hair pieces, but eventually all of those efforts blow out the window, along with a good chunk of your self-confidence.

This realization has hit me hard in the last few years. This “thing” that once seemed so far in the distance is now upon me. And I don’t like it. I pouted about it for a while and still find myself wanting to stomp my feet at the unfairness of it all. Isn’t there something we can do to put the brakes on this slippery aging slope?

So much of self-confidence is wrapped up in how we look and how we think others perceive us. As we see the signs of aging, not only do we deal with the pain of physical changes, but also the stress of accepting we have little control over the situation. It’s a double blow to self-confidence.

For the most part in the last year or so, I’ve worked to befriended aging and have tried to look on the bright side of getting older. (It’s either that or have myself cryogenically frozen and hope for the best when I thaw out in a few hundred years.)

Appearance isn’t everything. In fact it’s not much of anything when it comes down to what’s truly important, sustainable, and valuable about life. The things that foster long-term self-confidence are accessible to us whether or not we have wrinkles, saggy skin, or little hair.

In fact there are many reasons to feel more confident as we age if we can unhinge from the unsettling physical changes and appreciate the benefits of aging.

Here are 5 ways to help you love your wiser self and feel more confident as you grow older.

1. Self-esteem increases as you age

A long-term study reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, reveals that self-esteem improves as we grow toward middle age and peaks around the age of 60. It may be the peak in self-esteem happens because people have achieved some professional success, have learned how to manage personal relationships and have some leisure time.

2. 40, 50, and 60  aren’t the same as our parents’ 40, 50, and 60

When you were 20 and thought of yourself at midlife, you probably imagined retirement villages and elastic-waist pants. But this generation of mid-lifers isn’t the same as our parent’s generation. We are more educated about health and exercise, take better care of ourselves, and have many more options for staying active, connected, and engaged in life. We don’t have to buy into preconceived notions about getting older. We can find our passions, begin new careers, run marathons, and reinvent ourselves completely.

3. Our brains are getting better

According to CNN.com, “Research details a number of ways in which the brain actually improves with age. And what’s even more interesting is that many of these advanced abilities correlate with key conceptual elements of innovation and creativity.” As we get older, we are better able to see the big picture, be more empathetic, make important mental connections, anticipate problems, and reason things out. There’s not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective.

4. Greater self-awareness

As you get older, you have more experiences and time for self-reflection on what you have learned through those experiences. You grow in emotional maturity and self-awareness, and as you gain more and more self-awareness, your experience of life will expand exponentially. You have learned to align your life with your integrity, your values, your purpose, your passion, your spirituality, and connect with the core of who you are.

5. More focus on what’s truly important

During our young adult years, we tend to focus on ego-driven superficial pursuits — making lots of money, accumulating material things, appearing a certain way to others. But as we get older, we have learned what’s truly important and valuable in life. These things include our relationships, meaningful work, interesting and fulfilling experiences, continued growth and learning, and joy in simple things.

Getting older can impact self-confidence if we focus on the physical changes and the loss of youth. But why struggle against something we can’t control? Instead, choose to focus your attention on the positive aspects of getting older. You may find your self-confidence gets better and better with each passing year.

How has aging impacted your outlook? Do you find yourself focused on the changes in your appearance or do you appreciate your wiser self? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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  1. I am 56 now and agree with all five of the points that you make here. I have never felt so strong, vibrant and self confident as I do now.

    I think those feelings are also quite powerful in creating a life full of the things that do matter. Everyday I feel lucky to be exactly where I am!

  2. All I can say, Barrie, is THANK YOU. Thank you for these thoughts today – how perfectly timely! I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now with these issues, but they seem to be even more present in my daily life lately (I’m 52 and have quite a helluva time dealing with everything that relates to aging!?!). Your words are comforting .. I’ll digest them over time and hopefully start seeing the positive side of getting older.

  3. I’m sure there’s a gender thing going on here. So, as a dude (still think of myself that way) who’s about to turn 48, and a happily married one at that, let me just say the women who command my attention aren’t the 20 somethings, and not really even the 30 somethings. They may be cute to look at, but in reality don’t have what sustains my interest, even with a passing glance.

    Roundabout way of saying that the people you probably want in your life aren’t those who look at parts and skin elasticity and make snap judgements. Yes, most of us like physically fit members of the opposite sex (or same sex if that’s your preference). But that’s also on a sliding scale with age (pun intended).

    Ease up and have fun with the aging process, like Barrie says. After all, fun is really what it’s all about! 🙂

  4. In my view, the best ways to maintain or increase your confidence are to make sure that you stay in good health, and to continue to pursue your long-term goals. If you have identified your lifetime goals, you will remain active and motivated even at an advanced age. I liked the advice in the article, I would have only expanded the motivational aspects.

    • Mohamed Sherif says:

      You are absolutely right. am 57 years old and am truly feel younger of 10 years at least.
      having goals and to be in good heath is the main key for a life reasons. just be yourself not younger or older. And remember always you are still alive.

  5. I love the way I look as I age. I am now several years older than my mom was when she died and I feel so much younger than she did.

    life just keeps getting better if we let it. Thanks for another great post Barrie.

    With love, Susan

  6. Hi everyone I hope you’re all well.
    Now I’m sure most of you are going to gasp when I say what I’m about to say, but, I’m 27. Yeah fairly young I know. But I’m really struggling with my confidence. My appearance had changed a lot in the past 2-3 years. I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my face particularly. I have lines on my forehead that people twice my age don’t have. No one from my friends or family realise how much they get me down (I’m booked in for botox later this month).
    I went out tonight for New Year’s Day and all I could focus on was the young girls with their smooth, plump, line-free faces. I miss the days when men looked at me in bars the way they look at them. A lot of my friends are much younger, some as young as 19, and I feel that when I’m out with them I look like their supervisor. I know I’m still young in many respects but I feel that as I’m getting older there’s so much about my lifestyle I feel I need to change (although I don’t want to as I’m not ready to). I still feel like I’m 23/24 inside but seeing as I look older I feel that it’s only right/appropriate (socially) to behave the age I look/am.

    • Hi Mully,
      I know how frustrating it must feel being a young person and thinking you look older. You probably don’t look as old as you think — but even if you do, I’m sure you know that the only way to make peace with your appearance is through acceptance. You can do some things to improve and change it, but ultimately we must learn to love who we are, flaws and all. Aging is inevitable, and even 50-somethings still feel young on the inside and must cope with the loss of a youthful appearance. Focus more on living life rather than your appearance — or anyone elses!

  7. If I do not reflect on what I think other younger people think of me I’m okay with aging in a healthy way. Staying present mAkes others opinion never matter…

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