Some cultures have created an unhealthy belief that “it is impolite to ask a woman about her age”. I strongly disagree with this belief and here is why.
First of all, we need to understand why this belief even exists.
- It is based on the idea that a certain age is better than the other.
- It is also based on the expectations of the society of how you should be at the age of …
The first reason is a pure age discrimination also connected to a gender discrimination (because it is ok to ask a man, while it is completely inappropriate to ask a woman, right?) and the second one is ignorant of each of us being unique, having our own unique development path and pace of growth.
When we identify with this mental setup, we place ourselves onto a very thin ice.
Why a thin ice? Because then when somebody doesn’t know about our hurting belief or doesn’t identify with it, then just a simple neutral question can trigger an explosion of pain which resonates with our feelings of not being good enough.
The “Holder of the problem” rule
But if I ask a person about anything and the person is triggered, who does actually have a problem? The asker or the triggered one?
Of course the triggered one! But we tend to blame the asker for revealing the wound.
“Don’t be a jerk and don’t ask me about this and that because I could feel bad!” is sometimes what can be heard from the mouths of hurt people.
So in the case of age sensitivity, the woman has a problem with accepting who she is and then she projects it on others, giving her own power away, becoming dependent on specific actions or inactions of others so she can stay happy. And then, if the person decides to be true to himself/herself and not take the responsibility for her traumas, she can feel very agitated and betrayed.
This is a very important and general concept to realize – We tend to blame others for discovering our own challenges and wounds.
Every time, when you find yourself saying that somebody else should be different so you can stay untriggered, it is usually an indication that you have given up your own power and you are choosing to allow others to influence your state of being. But sometimes, their path and values can be different than yours, so expecting them to honor your beliefs is in a conflict with the idea of unconditional love, ignoring who you are and who they are.
Take your power back! We need to move away from the old paradigm’s reacting based on the subconscious patterns towards the new paradigm’s conscious choosing and responding.
Now, I personally actually like this simple “How old are you?” question. Not because I care about the age that much (although it is fun to get a confirmation that the age means nothing, really). But because it can reveal very quickly how deeply wounded the woman is. Generally, the more the lady gets triggered, the more problems she has with accepting who she is. So when it feels useful for me to get more insights about what kind of a person I’m dealing with, I simply ask.
No more taboos
Let’s now look at the other perspective – the asker. What happens if I am curious about something but I choose to not ask so I don’t accidentally trip over somebody else’s wound?
I introduce the element of fear into the communication. This is based on a belief that it is somehow bad to trigger people. Yet, we are each other’s mirrors and it may be our responsibility at certain times to show others what they don’t see by themselves and fulfill our soul contracts. I’m not saying we should be blunt to others, but rather that we shouldn’t need to be afraid to communicate.
From my own experience, I can tell that the deepest “hits” into my emotions have revealed the best understanding about who I am and what motivates my actions. And the understanding is something that is very liberating.
But we need to see the triggers the way they are – signals for action.
- They either reveal one of our core values – who we are. And then we need to claim our space so we don’t sacrifice who we are to please others.
- Or, in most cases, they reveal a wound, a pattern or a belief which doesn’t serve us and which needs to be processed. Without the trigger we wouldn’t have known about it and we couldn’t move on. So I personally am very grateful every time somebody triggers me for this reason. Because it actually helps me in my effort to become a better version of my true self.
Maybe you are familiar with the beautiful 4 agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Don’t take things personally.
- Do your best.
The idea of “It is rude to ask a woman about her age” is strongly violating points #2 and #3.
To illustrate the challenge deeper, if I identify with the idea that it is taboo to ask a woman about her age, consciously or not:
- I create an assumption that the woman I want to ask has an issue with her age in the first place.
- I create an assumption that the woman wouldn’t handle my question gracefully.
- I need to guess/assume her age without a verification (if I really find that information useful for whatever reason).
- I invest my energy into the momentum of the age discrimination.
- I invest my energy into the momentum of the gender discrimination.
- I create fear to ask, effectively blocking the natural flow of communication.
- I reinforce the idea that people can blame others for their own unhealthy beliefs and expectations.
- I give up the opportunity to play my role of a mirror and I deprive the lady of a chance to notice her unhealthy beliefs (if she has any).
“Ask me whatever you want. I’ll answer whatever I want.”
Honestly, people can ask you anything they want! Your part is to choose a response based on who you truly are. “I don’t want to answer.” is also a completely valid answer. Take responsibility for your behavior back.
You can imagine somebody else’s perspective/question/opinion as if they place a “gift” for you on the table in front of you. It is your choice to buy it or not. You don’t have to take it! You know who you are and you don’t need an approval of others to be you.
Or perhaps a more familiar analogy may serve better. When you enter a shop, you also don’t automatically buy everything that is offered to you. You look around and say “No, thank you.” to all that doesn’t resonate with you and pick only what is relevant to you without judging all the other unpreferred options.
Working with offered perspectives of the others is the same. They are still valid points of view. But they may be irrelevant to you at that time. So simply choose what’s yours to be/do/have and go on 🙂
How to establish a healthier relationship with age?
Let’s stop for a moment and think about what age actually is. Based on my current understanding:
Age is an amount of time that a certain individual has had to gain experience and wisdom in this lifetime.
In other words, it is just a number! It doesn’t say anything else than what is contained in this statement. If you compare two people of the same age, their experience and wisdom will be very different. There might be expectations of the culture of what you should be like or look like at given age, but that circles back into you buying into trying to fit in to please others rather than being your real self. Not necessary anymore.
Furthermore, nowadays, people start remembering their past lives. So suddenly, small children can become far wiser than mature adults if they tap into the memories from other lifetimes. We all have been the elders so many times in our past lives that judging people on how long somebody has been walking on Earth right now is a bit naive.
It can take just one profound recall or what the spiritual community calls a “download” of information and you can become a completely different person than a couple of seconds ago. Completely different! And of course, the same applies to everybody else.
So sometimes, when someone feels bad about their age, I remind them that the bigger the number is, the wiser and more experienced they theoretically are. Practically as you might have seen, even that is not guaranteed 🙂
Vision of a responsible and healthy culture
One of my goals is to create a community of people who take full ownership and responsibility for their lives. Community of people who don’t choose to play victim or to blame others for their misfortunes. I desire to empower people to feel safe to express freely. I choose to work on empowering people so they take their power back and fully acknowledge whatever the others say or do without any fear of being triggered. A community of people who are grateful for other perspectives and use them as mirrors to learn more about themselves with a gratitude in their heart.
All this is why I don’t buy into the idea of “You shouldn’t ask a woman about her age” and why I don’t feel bad about asking.
(Written in the Nubian Desert on November 5th 2020)