40 Things to Stop Believing About Yourself After 40
You aren’t still wearing the same clothes or driving the same car as you were two decades ago, so why are you still punishing yourself with the same outdated beliefs?
“I’m a hideous, fat slob”
“The unrealistic and unattainable beauty ideals in our culture have led to 91 percent of women being unhappy with their appearance at one point in their lives,” says Susan Edelman, MD, psychiatrist, and author of Be Your Own Brand of Sexy. And it’s not just women—many men feel self-conscious about their looks as well. This can lead to dangerous dieting behaviors, depression, and anxiety. Check out these 10 ways to improve your body image, without losing weight.
Reframe it: “I want to be healthy and happy, not be a certain number on the scale.”
“I have to look like a model or I’ll never get a boy/girlfriend”
Let’s be honest: Most of us don’t look like models! And that doesn’t make us unworthy of love or a happy relationship. “How you treat people is much more important than your appearance,” Dr. Edelman says. “Being kind, generous, or a good listener is much more likely to help you to attract and keep a nice partner.”
Reframe it: “We’re all going to look different, that’s part of what makes us who we are.”
“I’m only successful if I’m better than someone else”
Beating others out for a promotion or being the thinnest person at your high school reunion may feel good in the moment but in the long run, this urge to define yourself by being better than others will backfire, says Emily P. Lockamy, a therapist based in Wilmington, North Carolina. “A more effective way to foster a positive sense of self is to develop self-compassion and self-appreciation,” she says.
Reframe it: “Success is being fulfilled, and the more fulfillment there is to go around, the better.”
“I need to do everything”
There is tremendous pressure put on young people from an early age to excel at everything. You’re expected to get straight A’s in school, be a leader in the community, make the travel sports team, have a large friend group, be invited to the cool parties, and have a body like a supermodel, says Tracey Masella, a licensed social worker at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. But this leaves you always hunting for the better opportunity and never satisfied gathering the good enough experiences, not to mention exhausted! By the time you’re 40, it’s time to ditch these expectations.
Reframe it: “I don’t have to do everything, I can choose to only do what makes me happy and fulfilled.”
“I’ll be happy once I’ve reached this next goal”
Having goals is great but making your self-worth contingent on checking off all the boxes will leave you never feeling good enough and always wanting more, Lockamy says. These powerful quotes will help you find the gratitude in the little things.
Reframe it: “I can be happy now, here’s a list of things I’m grateful for.”
“I’m such a worthless loser”
Thoughts like this one are a feeling, not a fact, says Cecelia Mylett, Psy.D, LCSW, Clinical Director at CAST Centers. Acknowledging the feeling behind it—loneliness, depression, frustration—can help you recognize what your brain is really saying and not get bogged down in self-doubt.
Reframe it: “At times I feel I am not good enough, but I know I am a great friend (or whatever it is that you feel good about or accomplished in your life).”
“I’ll do it tomorrow”
“Many of my younger clients struggle with procrastination; they know what they need to do to have the life they want, but they just can’t seem to get it done,” says Kenny Weiss, a licensed counselor. If you’re stuck in this loop, know you’re not alone and try our 9 tricks every procrastinator needs to know.
Reframe it: “I’m going to work at this for 15 minutes and then I can take a break if I need one.”
“I can’t say no, that would be rude”
Not saying “no” not only stresses you out but it can hurt those you’re trying to help if you can’t deliver or resent them for asking. Part of being an adult is learning how to give a gentle but firm “no” without lying or making excuses, Weiss says.
Reframe it: “No, I won’t be able to do that.”
“This is the worst thing that ever happened to me”
Believing that every failure or setback is the worst it could be with no option for a turnaround is a recipe for depression, says Eliza Belle, PhD, a licensed psychologist. While something may feel like “the worst” at the moment, realistically it probably isn’t and reminding yourself of that fact can help you take action, she adds.
Reframe it: “Everyone has setbacks, I’ll get through this.”
“I want to have a life like Kim Kardashian or Kobe Bryant”
Growing up, many of us idolized singers, actors, athletes, or other celebrities but part of being a grown-up is recognizing how unrealistic those ideals often are and finding more appropriate role models, Dr. Belle says. “Look to your real-life support systems and work on your own goals and expectations, instead of someone you see on TV or social media,” she says.
Reframe it: “I want to live my best life, not someone else’s.”