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20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

Ageing is something that is often only talked about in hushed voices with a carefully chosen group of friends. People fear old age, and that’s completely normal, but counting 40 as old age is a really silly thing to do. I guess we can just blame Hollywood or fashion magazines for the unrealistic expectations we have when it comes to beauty and ageing, particularly for women, but they are not the only ones that demonize mature women. The media went crazy with the recent Caitlyn Jenner story, and some of the remarks related to age were just appalling.

Well, you know what, I’ve learned a lot from the older women in my life, and I hope I’ll be able to share some of the great advice and life lessons with the younger generations one day. Turning forty is nothing to fear. In fact, it has its own set of unique perks, and there are lots of important things a woman learns by the time she turns forty.

1. We have to learn to let people down gently

While it may be much less time consuming and irritating to just turn someone down with a few simple words and a cold stare,  it’s usually not the best way to go about things. Whether it’s a guy at the club asking for your number, or a friend looking for a favour, you need to gracefully decline people in order to avoid conflict or feeling bad afterwards.

2. We know no one else can tell you how to live your life

Your parents, as well as every grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and colleague will have something to say about how you should live your life. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to please anyone and just do the things that make you happy. It’s good to ask for some feedback, but it is ultimately your life and your opinion is the one that counts.

3. We will earn lots of respect and trust through the art of active listening

It can be difficult for people to keep quiet and let another person speak for a while, and even then a lot of us are just thinking about what we are going to say next instead of absorbing what the other person is trying to tell us. Active listening is a skill, and as a woman matures, she learns just how powerful of a tool, or even a weapon, it can be.

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4. We do whatever it takes to feel sexy and confident

You may feel like the person you are is dictated by the way you look, and you may feel like you can’t change the cards that you have been dealt. However, it’s all about how you feel on the inside and your actions that can be used to define you, and you have the right to feel good in your own body.

There’s a lot you can do about aesthetic issues like having bags under your eyes, wrinkles or any other features that you don’t find too appealing. Exercise, aesthetic surgery and good cosmetics can make you feel sexy and confident, and it is incredibly important that you feel this way on a daily basis. But remember that you don’t need to change a thing about yourself, because you’re already beautiful.

5. We know that when we want something done right, we have to do it ourselves

Delegating your work is sometimes necessary, but it’s a bad idea to get used to relying on others for help. Not only are a lot of people a bit irresponsible, but you also get things done a lot quicker when you do them yourself without waiting on others and getting stressed about the whole situation.

6. We need only a couple of good girlfriends and a bottle of wine to get through tough times

Never keep things bottled up inside for too long – calling up a couple of friends, opening a bottle of wine and having a good long talk is one of the best ways to let go of frustrations and grudges. It is a form of mental cleansing that every woman should do at least once a week.

7. We have to calm ourselves down first, before trying to calm others down

You may think that you are being the rational and collected one who is waving a white flag and offering peace, but nine times out ten both parties in an argument are acting out without even noticing it. There always needs to be one side that is somewhat calm if you don’t want things to get out of hand, so it’s very important to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down, before trying to talk another person down.

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8. We find quality sleep to be the elixir of youth

Some say it’s the food we eat, others stress the benefits of exercise, and romantics point to love, but, while all these things are good for your physical and mental well-being, a full 8-9 hours of quality sleep every night will really do wonders for you. Sure, sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of sleep for an evening of good sex, but we should strive to get as much rest as we can during the week.

9. We understand that there’s a difference between having fun and wasting money

When you’re younger you simply throw money away in the name of fun and relaxation, not really caring about saving up. However, as any responsible mature woman who has dabbled in couponing will tell you, there is a way to spend less without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. Spending a Friday night at home and cooking your own dinner is perfectly fine, as a few quiet nights will allow you to save enough money to go on a vacation in a few months.

10. We know jealousy, envy and anger just drain our energy and ruin relationships

People can be quite bad at times, and it is good to keep your guard up or even get emotional every now and then. However, strong emotions can hijack your life and ruin relationships if you let them. Sure, we will all become jealous or angry at some point, but you need to be confident enough to keep your feelings under control. Having something lingering in the back of your mind doesn’t do you any good. You can get addicted to feeling sad or angry, but letting go is the best option.

11. We’ll drop a topic if someone isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about it as we are

Did you ever get the feeling that people weren’t that into a topic you were passionately raving on about for 30 minutes? Let’s be honest, I’ve been guilty of this many times myself, and a lot of people will let you ramble on for fear of offending you. The simple solution is to drop the conversation when you sense indifference, but this requires some of that active listening we mentioned before, i.e. allowing other people to chime in with their opinion. You’ll also have to pick up on the subtle, and not so subtle body language cues that are a clear indication that your friend is disinterested and bored.

12. We have life experience that trumps book smarts and theoretical skill

You’ll meet tons of vibrant young people who talk about life, love, philosophy and politics, but it’s easy to see that they parrot a few articles and the 2-3 books that they’ve read. And that’s if they care enough to do some research. You, on the other hand, have 20 or more years of firsthand experience with all manner of people and situations, which means that your opinions will have more weight, and that you can outperform ambitious, but inexperienced youngsters.

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13. We get to have plenty of great sex

With all that life experience, financial freedom, confidence and sexiness, expect to have some great sex. While the old belief that women reach their sexual peak later in life has been challenged by recent studies, you can’t argue with the fact that at this point you are more in-tune with your body and a whole lot more experienced with romance. We know how to pick out the good ones when choosing a partner, and we know full-well how to make him or her happy.

14. We have learnt to get along with the people we work with

Every woman has her share of workplace stress, and a few stories about difficult co-workers that she likes to tell in order to vent a bit, but in the long run it’s best to develop a positive relationship with the people at work. Many business professionals have stressed the importance of team building activities, and even something as simple as a night at the bar with some of your colleagues can really help ease tension at work by building trust and empathy between you.

15. We hold ourselves accountable, which makes solving problems much easier

The moment you start acknowledging the fact that you are responsible for your own life choices, and that there isn’t always someone to blame for your misfortune, is the moment you begin to work harder on solving the problems that keep pulling you back. Giving up the notion that you are somehow owed something by those around you or society in general is the most liberating experience.

16. We have overcome adversity, and we know what we are truly capable off

We all think we’d do well in certain situations and fail miserably at others, but when faced with these situations a lot of people find that the opposite is truth – you might choke up while giving a speech that you have practiced for hours and hours, and on the other hand you might pull someone out of a car wreck and safe his or her life while others stand by paralyzed with shock.

You need a bit of adversity to help strengthen your character and let you find out things about yourself you didn’t know before. At forty, you’ve got plenty of adversity behind you, and you know yourself much better. To paraphrase an ancient general and master strategist: if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

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17. We know our limits, and that actually makes us stronger

The feeling of invincibility you have as a teenager and young adult slowly goes away as you come face to face with some of the harsh realities of the world, but knowing exactly where your limits lie doesn’t clip your wings and make you abandon your dreams. In fact, this knowledge only helps you adapt and choose the best strategy when faced with a challenge.

18. We allow other people to have different opinions

Immature people tend to be very arrogant and think that their opinion is all that matters. Even in terms of fashion sense or taste in music, which are incredibly subjective, some people think that what they like is “the right way”, and will put everyone else down. Over the years, you learn to live and let live – cohabiting, going out and having fun with people with views and sensibilities fairly different from your own.

19. We know love can grow, blossom, and wither away, but you will find it again

When you’re younger love is this huge thing that makes you feel like no one’s ever felt before. However, all relationships go through several phases. The truth is that you can fall deeply in love with someone over several months, feel that your heart is so full that it could just burst, get so attached to them in the next couple of years that you can’t imagine life without them, and then just have that feeling slip away quietly, leaving you indifferent and lonely.

People can also turn out to be jerks, and outside factors may pull people apart. The good news is that we can find this feeling over and over with the right people, and it may even last a lifetime if you find someone who’ll work as hard on the relationship as you will.

20. We are able to provide for ourselves and those we love, and it gives us tons of confidence

One of the biggest problems with self-esteem in young people stems from the fact that they are overly-dependent on others. Their parents have a big say in how and what they do, their peers affect the way they dress and behave, and they are limited by a lack of funds and skills. A woman turning 40 is able to provide for herself and the people she loves, and this gives her the confidence to be herself, stand up for her beliefs, and challenge others when they step over the line. There is no feeling like having enough financial independence to call your own shots.

When all is said and done, life beyond forty presents an exciting new chapter in every woman’s life. Reaching a mature age is not viewed as something negative – at forty we still have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves, only now you know better and can make smarter decisions.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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