“How do you want to experience your next years?” This is a question that counselling therapist and mentor, Dr. Gloria McArter asks of her clients who are reflecting on the past and thinking about new possibilities in their 50s and beyond.
As a mentor, Dr. McArter, who earned a Ph.D from California Southern University in 2002, brings her practical and professional experience to a group called the WISE circle. WISE circle brings people together to openly share in the joy and uncertainty that comes with growing older.
Q&A with Dr. Gloria McArter
Q: How can we thrive emotionally and mentally as we get older?
A: Your ability to thrive depends on your relationship with yourself. Believing that you’re a worthy and valuable contributor in the world has a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional health. Beliefs that serve us well and support joy, happiness and satisfaction are worth retaining. Those that initiate gloom are worth revising. It’s up to us to rewrite our story if it no longer serves our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Q: Why do you think that the goals of our youth no longer satisfy us as we get older?
A: As we age, we begin to search inwards for meaning in our life. Our focus changes to being more attentive and patient in the present moment. It becomes less about accomplishing things and more about finding real meaning in each moment. In our younger years, we might have said, “Life will be so much easier and enjoyable when I have more money.” But later we say, “Life means more to me when I connect with someone or have a meaningful conversation.”
Q: You teach a concept called “inner spaciousness”. What is it and why is it important?
A: Inner spaciousness is an energy that lives within us all. It’s what resonates in the heart and stimulates the soul. It’s about being present in the moment and not allowing yourself to be bombarded by thoughts about the past or the future. You can tap into inner spaciousness by just being still and focusing on your breath as you meditate, practice yoga or walk. It’s from this quiet place that we can look, listen and be present.
Q: Age-related shame pervades our culture so insidiously we don’t even realize it’s there. How do we change our own perception of growing older?
A: I challenge people to reframe negative thoughts by looking at things that have made their life worthwhile, then listen to what your body is telling you when you acknowledge those achievements. Know that you’re not alone in this struggle or transition. Find a community of like-minded people to share your thoughts and your time with. This is the work of WISE circle, where men and women come together to openly talk about the struggles and triumphs of aging.