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Self Help for the Elderly

Monday, March 16, 2020

What does self help mean?

Self-help or self-improvement is the achievement of a higher social status, level of knowledge, or general character development as a result of one’s own efforts. The idea of self-improvement and activities that center around improvement of the self are important to the elderly population because they give life meaning, purpose, and direction. Elderly individuals who feel like their lives are still meaningful and purposeful are more likely to be healthy and they’re more likely to have a high self-esteem and feel good about themselves. Active involvement in leisure activities are some of the most beneficial self-help activities recommended for senior citizens who wish to enhance their longevity and live happy, healthy lives, but volunteering or starting a new business is also becoming trendy as a way to continue to get the most out of what life has to offer.

 

As people live longer, the aging process and later adulthood has taken on new meaning. For example, many late middle-aged adults today are starting what they refer to as their “second adulthood”. This is a time when adults who have already raised their children and perhaps achieved some level of success (or not) at a profession seek out new territory to explore. These older adults may go back to school to get a degree as a non-traditional student or they may start a new business doing something they’ve always dreamed of doing. The idea of a second adulthood is a re-conceptualization of the aging process as a time to do what may not have been possible during one’s first adulthood due to the pursuit of financial success or a family.

 

Self-help is a creative process where a person can create new challenges for themselves that specifically lead to personal growth. In the past, when people got older, they retired into oblivion, but today, the elderly population seeks out volunteer activities, new business opportunities, and ways to contribute to the community according to their specific abilities and desires for personal growth. As such, self-help is not just a way of healing the self, but also the social environment that surrounds the self. As a result of the process of doing self-help and self-improvement, elderly individuals tend to be healthier, live longer, and feel happier than those who stay within the narrow limitations of traditional thinking about growing older.

 

Being challenged is important at any age. Peak experiences or experiences that cause a person to lose touch with their problems and daily concerns to focus on the task at hand are essential for good mental and physical health according to recent research. When people retire, they often try to relax and “take it easy”, but challenges, especially challenges that engage and inspire creativity and curiosity, are associated with better outcomes than a perpetually laid-back existence. Seniors who don’t want to start a new business can benefit just as much from taking up a serious leisure activity. Research has shown that elderly individuals who become seriously involved in leisure activities experience a myriad of health benefits.

Self help in psychology

Self-help psychology is all about learning how to help oneself both from undertaking intentional personal experiences as well as from reading books and learning through other types of media. The self-help industry covers a wide-range of personal issues that people confront at all stages of life. Self-help does not require an interventionist like a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or any other kind of therapist. Rather, the individual seeks out experiences or other types of learning material that will lead to personal growth via a self-created pathway.

 

The theory behind self-help is that people heal themselves. A therapist can act as a guide, but people who have no desire to change aren’t likely to experience profound results whether they go to a therapist or read self-help books. Profound change and real personal growth happens when people are open and ready to make changes. Going into the self-help experience with an open mind and a willingness to be challenged by new activities are essential components of success using this framework. For the elderly population, particularly seniors who are retired, self-help and self-improvement can be a guiding principle for daily life. To the extent that the senior seeks out situations that lead to self-reflection and higher self-esteem, self-improvement can yield great rewards beyond even physical and mental health. The self-designed path to personal improvement can lead to wisdom and a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

What are the psychological challenges of improving yourself?

One of the biggest challenges that people face when they set out to do self-help is the fact that it can be hard to get to the core of the issues that people confront as human beings. Psychologically, humans are wired to avoid pain, both internal and external, so it can be challenging to achieve any kind of lasting growth by simply reading a self-help book or attending a seminar. People who feel like they’re mostly happy are likely to still harbor pain and emotional blockages that can loom ever larger as old age sets in. Releasing these emotional blocks that may go back even to early childhood can contribute to greater levels of happiness as people get older, but in order to confront these blocks, people must be properly challenged. Emotional blocks often require some level of mastery to be released and people tend to avoid participating in activities and reading material that could benefit them most without ever consciously realizing that they have a pattern of avoidance.

What are the effects of self improvement on self esteem and overall health?

According to scientists, self-esteem is an issue for many elderly individuals throughout the world. Improving self-esteem can enhance longevity, health, and happiness in aging populations. Research has shown that self-esteem and autonomy are correlated concepts, but self-esteem and health are too. These three elements, autonomy, self-esteem, and health play an important role in people’s lives at all ages. If a person loses their sense of independence, self-esteem can suffer. If self-esteem goes down, the person’s overall health is likely to decline. By participating in activities that are engaging and challenging, but not overwhelming (this is known as “flow”), elderly individuals can maintain a high level of self-esteem and a sense of independence that extends to the outer reaches of their physical capabilities.

What are self help principles?

There are some basic self-help principles that elderly individuals can use to get started on the process of personal improvement. Because the self-help industry is rife with redundant information and advice that may be of limited utility, those who are truly interested in personal growth can follow the principles below to locate a desirable path that has the potential to lead to peak experiences and growth throughout the remainder of their lives:

Self-Acceptance:

While change is often a major goal in self-improvement, self-acceptance is often the first necessary component of any kind of lasting growth. Self-acceptance is all about seeing what’s there in terms of the self and accepting it as it is, without the need to change it. Without self-acceptance, it is impossible to accept others as they are and that can lead to some major setbacks on the road to self-improvement. In most cases, improving the self involves a component of accepting others as they are, without judgment. Generally, the process of becoming less judgmental toward others begins with becoming less judgmental toward oneself.

Change One Thing:

Bill O’Hanlon is an author and therapist who popularized the simple idea of changing just one thing at a time. His methods were called “possibility therapy” and according to his view, people don’t make big changes all at once. Rather, they change just one thing at a time and that one thing opens the door to new things that the person can change and so on and so forth. The genius of this philosophy is that it shrinks the challenge of self-improvement down to manageable baby steps that anyone can handle.

 

A person who wants to conquer a particular fear may recognize that their fear is holding them back from experiencing things that they’d like to experience. O’Hanlon’s perspective was that rather than trying to conquer the fear, a big, multi-faceted project in most cases, it would be better to simply make some small behavioral change related to the fear. For example, a person who is afraid of traveling abroad, but who wants to travel abroad, may go to the airport once a week, a place they otherwise would never visit. This once-a-week outing would lead to a cascade of other changes and experiences. A person who is afraid to contact an estranged loved one may start the process of change by volunteering at a local homeless shelter to get to know and understand people better in general. The goal of this method is for the person to do one thing different than what they would normally do in order to move toward the desired change without necessarily knowing the exact path to that goal ahead of time.

Change Your Mindset:

Intention plays an important role in changing your mindset. Intention is the vehicle that people use to go from one state of existence toward a personal growth goal. What do you want to learn? How do you want to be different than you are right now? Intention should always be launched from a spirit of radical acceptance as well as openness to new experiences. Intention acknowledges the role of mystical and divine experiences in leading us inexplicably to desired goals.

 

In addition to setting an intention, positive affirmations can help change a prevailing mindset. Of particular value are positive affirmations that follow the rules of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP affirmations are calibrated to speak directly to your unconscious mind in a language that it can understand to yield the maximum benefits.

Seek Out Challenges, Peak Experiences, and “Flow”:

 

Rather than just reading a book and doing positive affirmations, one of the best ways to foster personal growth and self-improvement is by seeking out new experiences. New experiences can benefit people of any age, but most people have a need for specific experiences. These are experiences that cause a person to confront a fear or overcome a long-standing prejudice. Often, people who engage in these kinds of experiences enter into a mental/emotional state known as “flow”. In this state of mind, the person feels fully engaged in the experience they’re having and they often lose touch with their day-to-day problems.

 

There are 9 components to “flow” that define the experience and the state of mind:

 

●       It involves a balance of challenge and skill.

●       The goals are clear.

●       The feedback is unambiguous.

●       The participant feels their action and their awareness merge into one thing.

●       The participant becomes fully engaged in the task.

●       There is a sense of control.

●       The participant experiences a loss of self-consciousness.

●       The experience of time passing transforms. Time may seem to pass more quickly.

●       The participant wants to engage in the activity for no other reason than to do it, rather than to accomplish a specific end-goal.

 

Embrace Uncertainty and the Unknown

It’s always tempting to stick to what’s known and to stay within the realm of personal expertise when designing an action plan for the future. But often, self-help and self-improvement happens by following the path less followed, or at least the path that’s unfamiliar to the traveler. Casting oneself out into the unknown is difficult because the results are uncertain, but in terms of personal growth and self-help, this is the most likely direction to lead toward profound results. Making a bucket list and working toward each list item step-by-step is a good way to set a course that leads into uncertain situations filled with unknown outcomes that will be truly meaningful in the grand scheme of things.

 

Does Self Help Work?

Anyone who has ever gone to a doctor or a therapist knows that all help is self-help, even if an expert doctor, psychologist or a psychiatrist is involved! Without the desire to grow and help oneself, medicine and psychotherapy is only of limited utility. Though there are not a lot of self-help books, MP3’s, and seminars that are truly ground-breaking, the self-help movement is strong because intuitively, humans know that they are their only hope. True transformation happens as a result of a strong desire to change. Personal growth is something we foster in ourselves.

 

Resources:

 

1- https://www.amazon.com/Cant-Hurt-Me-Master-Your/dp/1544512287            

                          

2 - https://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Equals-Freedom-Field-Manual/dp/1250156947

 

3 - https://www.andrews.edu/~coffen/Do%20one%20thing%20different.pdf

 

4 - https://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-Experience-Perennial-Classics/dp/0061339202/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=flow&qid=1584124221&s=books&sr=1-1

 

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