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7 Tips to Heal Old Wounds Late In Life (In The Autumn of Life)

Tips to Heal Old Wounds Late In Life - In The Autumn of LifeDiscover tips to heal and make peace with old wounds late In life and embrace your autumn of life with empowering insights and helpful exercises.

Recently, a brave soul reached out to me with a heart heavy with past hurts and a mind buzzing with questions. She’s in what she calls the “Autumn of Her Life”- a season of reflection, rich with colors yet tinged with the bittersweet.

She wrote in her email to me: “I’m at a stage of life where I might be in the “Autumn of my life.”  Lot behind and not so much ahead.  Want to leave not sad, unhappy about life.  In pretty good health, good mind.  Overall, basically well.  Have talents, skills.  Feel creative.   But have hurts, resentment.  Not understanding rejection from deceased Mother, living half sister.  Wounds just won’t heal.  Seems to be robbing me.  Stealing my peace.  It’s a mess.  Too much to text.  Feeling so tired and empty and alone, hurt by things that happened long ago.  I’ve let go but others won’t go of decisions and actions mom made over 60 years ago.  Unloved.”

I felt many people might resonate with exactly what this reader shared. So it got me thinking:

  • How do we navigate life’s later chapters – when old wounds can still feel fresh at times?

I thought I’d explore this question further – and share tips to help heal old wounds late in life.

I’m sharing this article because I am a leading behavioral change expert and recognized expert executive coach for the last few decades.

I love to help people and companies move through challenges and emerge with greater fulfillment, productivity and happiness.  With this in mind, I also founded the The Tweak A Week Online Course.

7 Tips To Heal Old Wounds In The Autumn of Life – Late In Life

Tips to Heal Old Wounds Late In Life Autumn yearsComing up I share helpful strategies to face and heal old wounds, so you feel happier and at peace in your autumn years.

Pssst….If you have something you’re presently struggling with, send me an email via my contact page, and I might choose to write a blog article response to help you (always in an anonymous way).

1. Deal with unresolved feelings towards family

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room – or rather, the elephant that’s been sitting on your chest for 60-something years, making it hard to breathe.

This is especially challenging when rejection and misunderstanding are part of the mix. It can feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that’s always one move away from completion. It’s frustrating, it’s complex, and at times you might question if it’s even possible to solve.

Assignment: Engage in Letter Writing Therapy.

This technique involves writing letters to your family members expressing all the thoughts and emotions you’ve held onto. Write without the intention of sending these letters. This is a space for you to be completely honest and unfiltered.

Research (including that by James Pennebaker) has found that expressive writing can help reduce emotional distress, as it helps process complex feelings and leads to a greater sense of psychological well-being.

After writing these letters, some people choose to keep them in a private place, destroy them, or read them aloud in a therapeutic setting as a form of release.

2. Understand Your Autumn

healing late in life woundsIf your autumn is looking a little gray because of past resentments, it’s okay.

You must take time to understand that even the most beautifully painted skies have a bit of gray.

Assignment: Construct a Personal Acceptance Narrative.

Write a short narrative about your life where past resentments are acknowledged as part of your story – but they’re not the defining elements.

Use compassionate language towards yourself and frame challenges as steps that led to wisdom.

For instance, take my client Marilyn.

She’s a 72-year-old woman who felt that her life had been marred by a long-standing rift with her brother. So, Marilyn decided to face this gray area head-on. She sat down with a cup of her favorite tea and began to write. Her narrative started with her childhood memories, weaving through the years of laughter and tears. And then she paused at the chapters filled with silence and absence where her brother’s presence should have been.

With each word, she used the language of compassion, not just for herself but for her estranged brother too. She acknowledged the resentment as part of her life’s rich tapestry – but refused to let it dominate her story.

Instead, Marilyn chose to see the estrangement as a path to self-reliance and independence, qualities she cherished in herself.

Her narrative didn’t erase the past. But it allowed her to view it through a softer lens—one that acknowledged pain… but also recognized growth.

Through this exercise, Marilyn found a newfound sense of peace and comfort.

According to research on self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff, this practice can increase life satisfaction and reduce the negative impacts of self-judgment and isolation.

3. Your Feelings Are Valid, But They Don’t Have to Be Your Pilot

It’s okay to have these uncomfortable feelings. What’s not okay is letting them fly the plane.

You wouldn’t let someone who’s feeling road rage drive your car, right? So, why let old grudges and pains steer your life now?

Acknowledge them, wave at them, and then gently but firmly guide them to the backseat.

Assignment: Practice Emotion Regulation Techniques.

Begin by identifying and labeling your feelings daily. This can be done through journaling or writing notes on your phone.

Once you’ve labeled your emotions, do a technique called “cognitive reappraisal.”

Meaning? Try to reframe the meaning of the emotion-eliciting situation – to something more positive.

For instance, view a past grudge as a closed chapter that taught you valuable lessons – rather than an ongoing narrative.

Swap out “I can’t believe I did that” with “I learned something important about myself in that moment.”

“Cognitive reappraisal” has been shown to help a lot with “emotion regulation.” According to research by Gross & John, it can reduce the emotional impact of painful memories.

4. The Art of Emotional Archaeology

Digging into our past can be like an emotional Indiana Jones adventure, minus the cool hat and whip. Sometimes, you find treasures. Other times, you find sand traps and other dangerous encounters.

It’s essential to explore these ancient ruins of your life with care, knowing that not all relics need to be displayed in your mental museum.

Assignment: Create a Timeline of Life Events.

Do some Life Review Therapy. Map out the significant events of your life on a timeline, including both positive experiences and challenges.

Literally create a timeline map. It helps to see your life in this kind of clarity – so you can see how many positive events are in your life alongside the challenging ones.

As you review the timeline, practice “selective reflection” by choosing to focus on events that have helped shape you in positive ways or have led to personal growth.

When you encounter a “trap” (a painful or negative event), acknowledge it and then write down a lesson it taught you or a strength you gained from it.

This exercise is rooted in something called “Life Review Therapy,” which research reports improves self-esteem and creates more meaning in someone’s life. Basically, it helps you to see the value in all of your life experiences, not just the positive ones.

5. Forgiveness: For You, Not Them

Forgiveness is like decluttering your soul. It doesn’t excuse their behavior. It just acknowledges that you’re no longer willing to pay the storage fees for that emotional junk. And trust me, those fees are expensive!

Assignment: Engage in Forgiveness Meditation.

Set aside a few minutes each day to practice a guided forgiveness meditation, focusing on releasing the hold that past hurts may have on you.

During this meditation, visualize the person you wish to forgive (which could also be yourself) and repeat a mantra of forgiveness, such as “I release you from the pain you’ve caused me. I let go of the burden.”

I offer this popular forgiveness therapy meditation on my Youtube Channel.

Studies, like those conducted by Fred Luskin at Stanford University, indicate that forgiveness can lead to decreased stress and improved emotional well-being.

6. Plant New Seeds

planting new seeds of lifeImagine your life as a garden. Sure, some plants didn’t thrive. And maybe there are weeds of regret.

But guess what?

You’ve still got soil, and it’s never too late to plant new seeds. Creativity, talents, skills – these are your seeds.

Plant them, water them with positivity, and watch your garden flourish.

Assignment: Cultivate a Growth Activity.

Choose a new skill, hobby, or area of knowledge that interests you and dedicate regular time to develop it. Whether it’s learning a musical instrument, a new language, or painting, commit to this growth activity with the understanding that it represents the new seeds in your life’s garden.

Research on neuroplasticity reports that learning new skills improves both cognitive abilities and emotional well-being (Draganski et al).

7. Connect and Reflect

healing old wounds planting new seeds of lifeFeeling unloved and alone is like wearing noise-canceling headphones in a world playing your favorite song. Take those headphones off. Connect with people who resonate with your tune. Reflect on your worth and allow the love you deserve into your world.

Assignment: Initiate Meaningful Conversations.

Make a conscious effort to reach out to a friend, family member, or even a new acquaintance each week for a meaningful conversation. Discuss topics that are important to you, exchange life stories, or share your feelings.

The act of connecting verbally can be incredibly powerful.

Additionally, if you intentionally practice active listening during these conversations, you further strengthen your relationships and enjoy a deeper sense of connection with others.

Studies on social support, like those by psychologist Sheldon Cohen, have consistently shown that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being.

Recap: Heal Old Wounds Late In Life – In The Autumn of Life

Remember, dear reader, the autumn of life is not just about looking back at the falling leaves. It’s also about appreciating their beauty and preparing for new growth. Your past may have its shadows. But your present has its light.

And who knows? Maybe it’s time to kick those old emotional leaves up and dance in the joy of now.

If you’d like more support to move through challenging situations, book a free Mindset Mastery consultation here to see how I might help.

Think happier. Think calmer.

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