What is going on after we’ve crossed the magical threshold of 50? I’ve heard some of my friends complain that the day they turned 50 felt like crossing a sort of invisible bridge to old age. They were not happy about this number reminding them that they had already been on earth for half a century. Statistically, at this age, we’ve already lived more than half of our lives and we are now well on our way to the other end.
It is not rare that this vision lays a burden on our shoulders and we begin to lose our self-esteem.
The signs showing loss of self-esteem at 50, especially with women, include low mood, the feeling of isolation, sadness, critical self-talk, anxiety, depression, and retreat from social life. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, learning new things, getting more active, and finding new communities you can regain confidence.
What are the signs of low self-esteem at 5o?
Studies have shown that in the USA and Europe self-confidence levels are beginning to plummet among the population at the age of 50 to 60 years.
Many different signs are indicating that your self-esteem is lowering. Most of them are interconnected and it is difficult to point to one specific symptom alone.
If you’ve noticed a change in your mood and general outlook on life, and you’re doubtful about whether you’re suffering from lowered self-esteem, you should check for the following signs:
You are feeling tired
Yes, of course, half a century on this earth has left its traces behind. Having passed the threshold of 50 you cannot expect to be as energetic and fit as in your teenage years. But if you feel constantly tired, there is more to it than that. In this case, you should check your sleeping habits and your overall physical fitness. Lack of physical exercise and an irregular sleep pattern could be at the bottom of the problem. If not, persistent tiredness can be a sign of a depressed state.
You’ve gained weight
It is very common to hear people, especially women, complain about gaining weight after 50. The changes taking place in our hormone balance caused by menopause are accompanied by some undesirable side effects such as hot flushes, sleeping disorders, and weight gain. Yet, this is not the only reason why you may have put on some weight. Eating and snacking excessively can be one way in which we try to compensate for things we’re lacking.
You’re neglecting yourself
What is it you see when looking into your mirror? Is its reflection showing the person you want to be or do you just risk a short glance and then turn your back on it?
Of course, at 50 or more you certainly have some wrinkles showing on your face, and most of the time your body has lost a bit of its shape. This is only a sign of the natural aging process. But if you do not like what you see it is perhaps because you’re neglecting yourself.
Grey or white hair can be beautiful if you care to have a haircut that fits your personality. If you do not like it then there is still the possibility to cover it by hair color. Are you paying attention to your looks in general? Why then wear these trousers that do not fit you? All in all, you do not feel attractive anymore and you do nothing to change this.
You feel inadequate
Whatever you do, you are convinced that you cannot do things as well as you did before. Everybody else, your colleagues, your friends, and your neighbors seem to be more deserving than you. When comparing yourself to others in your age group, you feel inferior. You feel like they are more attractive, more intelligent and they’ve achieved more than you.
In the workplace, you sometimes feel disconnected and your colleagues seem to provide smarter solutions to problems popping up. Your daily routine has dulled you and you feel like you’re making more mistakes of inattention.
Negative self-perception has become your constant companion.
You’re particularly self-critical
Before leaving your home you just took a last glance in the mirror. No, your haircut definitely doesn’t fit you, and your favorite cookies already seem to have settled around your hips. Hence, you’re pulling your shoulders in so you don’t stand out.
When you compare with others, things are even worse. Your best friend seems to be much more attractive, younger, and fitter. You have difficulty in finding some outfit concealing the obvious imperfections of your body.
You tend to scrutinize everything you do for possible flaws.
You have difficulty in accepting compliments
Even though you’d badly need them right now, you have difficulty accepting compliments. This is due to the belief that you do not deserve them.
Certainly, people around you want to cheer you up by being nice to you. If someone gives you a long look you will feel ashamed by your unflattering appearance and your clumsy behavior rather than admit that this could be because this person could be attracted to you.
You avoid social contacts
Because of your lack of confidence, you begin to avoid social contact.
Even the shopping trips you used to undertake with your best friends are no longer a delightful pastime. There is no use in trying outfits that will only show you’re too old to wear your favorite jeans and skirts.
When invited for a dinner, you’re looking for an appropriate excuse why you can’t accept the invitation. You do not feel comfortable about your looks, and you ask yourself what you could add to the conversation since you’re feeling somehow out of touch.
The fear of being of no interest or even being a burden to others in social life makes you shy away from social life.
You focus on yourself
At 50 plus many of us have more time to spend on ourselves. Family life is less intense and chores tend to diminish as our children have grown up and begin to take in hand their own lives.
This is the perfect moment to start thinking about our own wishes and desires.
When my children left home, I felt the burden of my usual chores lifting. Never before had I had the opportunity to take care of myself and I was really looking forward to taking advantage.
But then, I noticed that I found it difficult to change my mindset, going from caring for others to caring for myself. I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do with all the free time I had gained. At the same time, I realized that my recreational activities were inbound only and that I had almost no social life. I ended up spending this newly gained time focusing on myself and my problems.
Don’t misunderstand me – it is healthy to be able to focus on yourself, above all when you are on the threshold of a new period in your life. But for me, it turned out to be a journey to hell in the end, and it took me years to recover.
Excessive preoccupation with personal problems can isolate you from the outside world. There is a distinction between analyzing the present situation and laying out future options and turning around the past in your head and complaining about your unsteady present situation.
You’re not able to determine your goals
Inevitably, if you turn around in your corner, focussing on the negative sides of your life, you won’t be able to focus on future goals. Feeling left behind, unattractive in every possible way, is no basis for investigating your future opportunities.
As soon as I considered a possible way for me to achieve new objectives I immediately thought that I would never be able to do what needed to be done. And this left me in a kind of static situation where I could neither go forward nor backward.
But everybody needs objectives to achieve because life is moving forwards and you need to take challenges to do so.
Every time we have overcome some difficulty, even if it is sometimes hard, we are compensated by the feeling of a small victory.
And then we can see new opportunities coming up. This makes us feel alive and active.
You have difficulty in finding your own identity
This is especially true for women who have taken care of their families. Even if you have your professional career, when your daily family life begins to shrink, it is often difficult to fill that void.
Who are you now when your principal identification was to be the mother of your children?
This crucial moment, when you separate from your predominant image in society can be a puzzling one.
Perhaps you will find that you are too old to go for new opportunities and at the same time you’re no longer needed in your full-time function as a mother.
Some friends of mine were longing to have grandchildren as soon as possible to fill the gap provoked by their children leaving their homes. I have never felt this longing, and I even felt ashamed about it.
You feel isolated
With all your self-doubts and limited social life, no wonder that you’re beginning to feel isolated.
Your tendency to avoid social events keeps you from making acquaintances that could broaden your horizon.
Focusing on your problems and criticizing yourself is widening the gap between you and the life going on around you. Each day you miss contact with the outside world makes you more reluctant to stretch out for opportunities to find some more sense.
Eventually, this could lead to depression. The lack of human contact and input can make you feel unloved and abandoned.
You feel sad
The loss of sense and self-worth makes you sad about your whole condition.
Nobody loves you because you are not worth being loved by any other than your closest family.
You have the feeling that out there people are attractive, they do interesting things, they are participating actively and making the world go round. You’d like to be part of all this bustling but you do not know how to contribute.
You feel ashamed
You feel surrounded by people that are more successful and attractive.
You focus on what you’ve defined as the negative points in your personality and on the things you haven’t achieved so far.
And you feel that others are doing much better than you. You feel ashamed for your failure to be as successful and happy as others seem to be.
You feel anxious
Low self-esteem can create anxiety.
You’re afraid not to meet other people’s expectations.
In the workplace, you are afraid of making mistakes or missing important points.
When you’re invited you do not easily speak up for fear of saying something irrelevant or stupid.
On social events, choosing your outfit always ends in disaster since nothing will hide your imperfections and you fear that others will focus especially on them.
Criticism hurts you profoundly since your inner voice tells you that it is justified, and there is nothing you can do to change things.
The best way to defend yourself is aggression. Your opponent is supposed to back off and stop bothering you.
What are the causes of low self-esteem after 50?
Age stereotypes are still present in our society. Even if many laws have been created to prevent ageism, particularly in our working world, stereotypes are persisting.
Ageism is based on the belief that you’re less energetic and productive from a certain age onward. You could be ill more often, and your wages are too high compared with those proposed to young colleagues.
Statistics show that you are more likely to be dismissed when you’re over 50 if your company is on a downwards trend than your younger colleagues.
This status quo can cause anxiety. Workers over 50 hence tend to be discreet so as not to stand out and be exposed.
Social and other media
Wherever you go, you’ll find that over 50, women are considered less attractive than men of the same age. It would still seem more common to see an older gentleman with a young lady on his arm, but when it’s the opposite, people like to make deprecating comments.
But in most of the media, young and active people are in the spotlight. You can see perfect youthful faces and bodies throughout your day promoting things you’d like to buy.
Anyway, even if more and more older people show up in advertising campaigns, they often do not reflect reality.
You do not know how many surgical procedures they have gone through to be as stunning as they appear on the screen. And photoshop will contribute to creating the perfect illusion.
Tips to regain your self-esteem after 50
Several tips can help you regain self-confidence after 50. You should lead a healthy lifestyle and regain your inner balance. Revitalize your social life, avoid comparing with others and take on new challenges.
We all know that sleeping enough is one of the most important foundations of a healthy lifestyle. Our organism cannot function well if we do not give it enough rest. But this is easier said than done.
Our capacity to fall asleep and then stay asleep may depend on various factors.
Of course, specific, serious problems you may face during the day will have negative effects on the quality of your night’s rest. But there are some basic rules that you should observe to ensure that you’re not adding some extra difficulty to getting enough sleep.
- Keep a regular wake-sleep cycle
- Slow down activity before going to bed
- Take a light dinner only in the evening
- Keep your bedroom dark, calm, and provide enough fresh air
So now that you have given yourself enough rest at night you should be in good condition for moving your body! This is all the more important as we lose muscle strength and flexibility as we grow older.
Among the most beneficial effects exercise provides are:
- Exercise helps prevent health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, arthritis, anxiety, and depression
- By improving your heart and lungs you boost your energy level.
- Regular exercise may help to reduce weight
- Doing some workout, especially outdoors, helps improve your mood.
- Last, but not least, regular exercise will help you sleep better
Keep a healthy diet
Eating healthy provides lots of benefits for your body and soul and it is worth spending some time preparing healthy meals. You do not need to go on a diet right away, but preparing your meals yourself and choosing good quality ingredients is worth the effort.
As a general recommendation, avoid too much salt, sugar, and saturated fats.
Ban industrial foods with lots of additives from your shopping list.
Fruits and vegetables should be on your menu every day.
Try to variate your meals as much as possible, eating should always be a joyful moment.
When was the last time you just sat back and relaxed?
If your professional life is intense and you’re piling up all kinds of problems in your head throughout your day you should allow yourself some peaceful moments.
Some of the most beneficial effects of relaxation are:
- Slowing heart rate and lowering blood pressure
- Reducing muscle tension
- Improving concentration and mood
- Improving sleep quality
- Boosting your self-confidence
The easiest way to relax is by doing things you really like to do and setting aside the time needed to do them every day. This may need some organization but the benefits are worth it.
If you have a garden you can enjoy planting and organizing during the nice season and planning during the winter season.
The combination of physical exercise outside and artistic conception is perfect for heightening your spirits.
You may also go for a long walk, do some jogging, play a musical instrument, paint or do some other craft.
If you want to learn some relaxation techniques you can choose amongst the following:
Whether you want just to change your ideas by doing something different you enjoy or by diving deeper into the different relaxation techniques that exist, there is always the possibility to allow yourself some time off.
Stop comparing with others
Your best friend is more interesting than you? You are surrounded by colleagues that are more efficient and seem to live up to your company’s expectations better than you?
You feel that there are lots of people more interesting, intelligent, and attractive around you and you don’t even come close to measuring up.
Comparing with others is almost unavoidable and natural. But the way you do it may be a game-changer.
Whereas you’ll have perhaps less difficulty in realizing that media and social media often show people from their best sides by using all kinds of techniques, you tend to be less aware when confronted with people in real life.
When you compare you usually focus on what a specific person does or has better than you. But you almost certainly leave out what the other does not have.
Try and make a list of everything you feel others do better than you and try to imagine a person who would incorporate all these factors. This would be a character coming directly out of a fairy tale!
Imperfection is human and may even be the reason why we love some people.
Instead, think of all you have and focus on your own strengths.
Try to imagine having one other person’s capability and then decide if you would really like to be like that.
Life is not about measuring yourself constantly with other people’s merits. It is about finding fulfillment, joy, and happiness, and the journey to get there is an important part of it.
Be grateful for what you have
As we’ve seen above, a comparison with others is not very helpful when trying to gain self-confidence.
This does not mean that you should not try to improve and go forward in life. But it is crucial to become aware of everything you already have.
Very often we forget about the people we love and we’re loved by in return, our family and our friends.
Being in good health is a blessing.
We can be grateful for having a good job, knowing that there are lots of people that don’t.
If you have your own house be grateful for it, even if it is smaller and less beautiful than your neighbor’s.
You can complete this list with a lot more points if you like. The important thing is that you are aware that you can be grateful for all you have and have achieved already in your life. And don’t forget, others might envy you for that in return!
Check your priorities
When overwhelmed by negative feelings and low self-esteem a good method for getting some structure into your ideas is to check your priorities and evaluate your present state.
What would you like to change most?
Are any of your habits harming you?
Are you a smoker or are you addicted to sugar?
Sometimes you’ll find that there are several harmful habits to get rid of, and you’ll have to start one at a time. It is no use to try and change too much at the same time as this is the surest way to fail.
Drop your bad habits step by step. Every small success is a victory and will encourage you to go further.
Learn something new
When was the last time you’ve tried to learn something new?
Perhaps, if you’re the sporty type, you may find some new sport to take on. This is not only beneficial to your health but can be much fun, especially when engaging in group sports.
Learning new things always gives you a sense of accomplishment. And don’t forget, you don’t have to be perfect in every aspect.
Be courageous and train your willpower by trying something new!
Choose a new activity or hobby
Look around you, there are so many opportunities and there is so much choice.
The important thing is that you may find a new passion, something that really makes you dive into a new world.
Is there a talent that you’ve always had and you could not pursue?
Age brings along more time to spend on your own personal wishes and this is the moment to tackle a new hobby. If you have friends already engaged in a hobby, consider giving it a try.
You can also ask your friends for advice and compare the results with them. In addition to spending your time doing something interesting, you can reap the benefits of sharing your hobby with your friends.
Find a community
As important as it might be to spend some time by yourself and contemplate, it is also important to spend part of your time in good company.
If you do not already have a circle of friends or acquaintances sharing the same interests, you should be on the lookout for one.
Depending on your interests you may join a book club, choose some group sport, or engage in some volunteer activity where you can bring in your skills.
On top of doing the things you like you may get acquainted with people sharing the same interests as you. Anyway, meeting new people and making interesting acquaintances is always inspiring.
Avoid relationships that bring you down
Sometimes we are in contact with people that do not help us feel good. These may even be people you like and they are not even conscious of their negative effect on you.
When you feel oppressed or sad being with a person, you should ask yourself if it is better to take some distance. Especially when your self-confidence is already low and you cannot deal with somebody who brings you down any further.
Try and find people with a positive, supportive attitude. Lamenting only makes things worse and you need to surround yourself with positivity.
Dress up and take care of your looks
Yes, even if you feel you’re not of much interest to others, try and prop up your looks!
It is not necessary to change your whole wardrobe, but changing small things can already have a great effect.
When going for your next haircut, get advice from a good hairdresser.
You can be sure that this will be noticed around you and surely you will be complimented.
Learn to love yourself
Learning to love yourself doesn’t mean being selfish. You cannot be happy without accepting yourself.
Accept your imperfections if they are not harmful to you, instead of trying to be someone different.
Remember that positive reactions from your surroundings are not always based on physical appearance or special achievements. It is the huge number of small things that make out a person’s value and that make people love each other.
Even if you are more prone to losing your self-esteem over 50 you should know that this is not a dead-end.
With more time at your disposal at this stage of your life, there are plenty of opportunities you can seize to find fulfillment. If you take care of your health by adopting a healthy lifestyle, the newly gained energy will boost your curiosity to find new challenges and make new acquaintances with whom you can share your happy moments.