Creative Coping Strategies
So how do we cope with this progression, if we make it through all seven stages?
According to Robert Raines, in his book A Time to Live, there are creative ways to age. Raines offers thoughtful exercises in self-examination that allow us to derive meaning from the inevitable aging process.
The first exercise is called “Waking Up.” Through this “wake-up call,” we are reminded of the reality of our own mortality, the need to achieve a reconciliation or renewal of our relationships, and the importance of gratitude.
“Embracing Sorrow” is, for some, a long put-off task. Through this exercise, we take the opportunity to acknowledge the sorrows, unfulfilled dreams, losses, and disappointments in life, and to derive meaning from these sorrows.
“Savoring Blessedness” comes next. We are asked in this exercise to become attuned to occasions of grace and to examine them more fully. When are we blessed? When are we a blessing to others? What are the ingredients of daily blessedness?
“Reimagining Work” can include a job review and a projection into the future of things we wish to pursue. What creative energies can we call forth?
“Nurturing Intimacy” invites us to examine our willingness to exchange vulnerabilities and offers us the chance to savor opportunities to know and to be known.
“Seeking Forgiveness” calls for the courage of hope in the acts of asking for forgiveness and in granting forgiveness. This exercise allows us to heal by increasing our capacity to let go of the past.
The last exercise is “Taking On the Mystery.” The task here is to free ourselves from long-held conventions, expectations, and responsibilities, and to enhance our capacity to be open to new possibilities and ways of being.
Aging is a process we begin at birth. The quality of our aging depends upon how we embrace that process.
Carter, B., & McGoldrick, M. (Eds.) (1989). Changing family life cycle: A framework for family therapy (2nd edition). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Jacobs, R.H. (1997). Be an outrageous older woman (Revised). New York: HarperCollins.
Raines, R. (1998). A time to live: Seven steps of creative aging. New York: Dutton/Plume.