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Dr. Ruth On... Being independent versus being vain

Created date

July 13th, 2009


As people get older, they don't always recognize the difference between being independent and being vain. How many people go around for years saying, "Could you please repeat that?" instead of getting a hearing aid. Or won't walk down the block to buy a container of milk because they don't want to be seen using a cane. Perhaps at a certain age you can no longer be as free as you once were, but if a hearing aid or cane or any other trick you can use will allow you to maintain certain activities, then that's what you must do.

Accepting limitations

Maybe it's because I never grew beyond 4'7'' that I've never minded asking for help. In an airplane, I can't reach those bins for my carry-on luggage, and so I have no choice but to ask some big, strong man to help me. Of course, that also gives me an excuse to thank him and talk to him and often to make friends with him. So do I care that I am not independent in this particular setting? On the other hand, I fly all the time despite needing help with my luggage, so the reality is that I am a lot more independent than if I allowed myself to be hemmed in by my height. We all think of ourselves as still being that young person we used to be. For months before I turned 80, I said I didn't want to have a big party because I didn't want to sit there with so many old people. How foolish was that? Of course, my party was filled with people of all ages and I loved every second of it; I was just being stubborn for no good reason. I'm not a young person anymore; at my age, I have less time to waste complaining. My aim isn't to allow my age to stop me, but to figure out how to get around any difficulties. For example, I was an avid skier and loved to go flying down those snow-covered mountains. But I stopped a couple of years ago. Not because I couldn't physically ski anymore, but because the risks of my getting injured were getting higher and I didn't want to be stuck inside wearing a cast for a month or two. I tell you this because I don't want you to think I don't practice what I preach. So while you may face certain limitations, instead of allowing those limitations to further limit you by pretending they're not there, instead embrace them. You'll quickly learn you have independence within those limits. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is an author, lecturer, and the relationship expert on RLTV's Daily Cafe.