One of the more common assumptions I hear from new adult and older adult patients is that its “too late” to make change. This belief tends to be firmly held, often connects to significant regrets in life, and relates to difficulties with acceptance. Exploring the dialectic between acceptance and change is a place to begin. We have to accept exactly where we are in order to, at the same time, make effective change. If we struggle to accept our painful experiences, we create suffering, and remain stuck. Once we are willing to see the world for what is rather than what we wanted it to be, we can move forward and build the life we hope to have.
Helping to identify the destructive and self-fulfilling nature of thoughts like its “too late” can also be helpful. Understanding the connection between this thought and the corresponding feeling helps demonstrate that this cognitive style is only hurting us. Determining where in the chain of events the thought occurs (in response to or resulting in a particular feeling) allows for the development of new strategies to implement earlier in the chain.
Something that I have also found to be effective is psychoeducation of the brain’s neuroplasticity. As the above article points out, we maintain the ability to change our neurobiology throughout the aging process. Research shows that by changing the way we behave we can change the functioning of the brain. This understanding creates a strong motivational foundation of evidence that while it is very difficult, at the same time, it is very possible to make change.