Ep#075 The Inner Work of Age: Shifting From Role To Soul With Connie Zweig, PhD

What if aging was a portal to discovering our true self?

My special guest is giving people life changing tools to embrace aging as an advanced stage of human development, the next spiritual frontier. I speak with Connie Zweig, PhD, retired Jungian psychotherapist, writer and bestselling author about her latest book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul where is she invites us to confront our unconscious beliefs around aging and reimagine later life as an enriching opportunity to experience more presence, to loosen the grip of our busy ego and to trade the image of youth for the depth of age. Dr. Zweig has led seminars nationwide on meditation, spirituality and Shadow Work, helping people let go of past roles, deepen self-knowledge and step into a more expansive and authentic sense of self.

Vist Her Website: https://conniezweig.com

Buy the Book: The Inner Work of Age; Shifting From Role To Soul

Check Out Her Upcoming Online Workshops: https://conniezweig.com

Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.

Christine Okezie (22s):
Hello, and welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening. As I approach my 52nd year of experience on this earth and my first born has just left for college. I find myself reflecting more and more on my personal beliefs about aging and health. Sadly, the research shows that at least in America, most people hold negative attitudes about what life has to offer in midlife and later life. I mean, you don’t have to look far in the world of wellness to know that as a collective we’ve been conditioned to worship at the alter of youth, such negative stereotypes, greatly influence how we view our changing bodies are shifting roles and identities, our sense of worth and belonging in society.

Christine Okezie (1m 8s):
At this stage in my own life, I’m even more passionate about the importance of guiding people to embrace a more empowering definition of wellbeing. That includes caring for ourselves on a much deeper level, because as I often say, caring for your body yields a certain level of health caring for your mind and emotions yields fantastic results. But when you work at the soul level and step into the spiritual domain, while that’s the gold genuine vitality comes from an experience of your true self, a purification of your sense of identity engagement in whatever causes you to have a more realistic experience of the real you, my special guest today is helping people do this important soul work, giving people life changing tools to embrace aging as an advanced stage of human development.

Christine Okezie (2m 8s):
The next spiritual frontier she’s Dr. PhD, retired psychotherapist writer and best-selling author. And on today’s show, we dive into Dr. latest book, the inner work of age, how to shift from role to soul, which invites us to confront our unconscious beliefs around aging. And re-imagined later life as a beautiful opportunity for more presence to loosen the grip of our ego, to trade the image of youth for the depth of age doctors, wag has led seminars nationwide on meditation, spirituality and shadow work, helping people let go of past roles, deep and self knowledge and step into a more expansive and authentic sense of I can’t wait for you to listen to this heart opening conversation.

Christine Okezie (3m 4s):
And if you enjoy it, I’d be grateful if you’d leave a podcast review on apple podcast. And if you haven’t already please hit the subscribe button. It helps me keep the podcast growing. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the episode and hello, doctor’s wife. Wonderful to have you here today. Thanks so much for being on the podcast.

Connie Zweig (3m 24s):
Thank you, Christine. I’m happy to be here.

Christine Okezie (3m 28s):
Wonderful. I’d love to dive into your beautiful book and maybe we’ll start with what inspired you to write this book. You’ve written quite a few already, but I feel like this book was really speaking and coming, you know, it was kind of like a, something that was calling up within you.

Connie Zweig (3m 46s):
That is so true. What a good perception. So when I entered my late sixties and I’m now 72 years of life experience, when I was entering my late sixties, I started to feel disoriented and it was very surprising because I have long-term spiritual practice and I’ve been doing psychological work for my whole adult life. And I didn’t really anticipate that there would be another identity crisis. And what happened was, as I thought about retirement from my clinical practice and I was not contemplating writing another book, I really sort of didn’t know what was next as the roles that I was familiar with began to fall away.

Connie Zweig (4m 39s):
And so I started to read widely in the field of conscious aging, positive aging. And what I found was that there was nothing, there was no material that spoke to me about the unconscious process. Yes. You know, my training is in depth psychology, and that means orientation to the unconscious of the shadow. And so I’ve written these other books about the shadow, and I couldn’t find anything related to that in this field that was appropriate for my stage of life. Yeah. So I started to just think maybe there’s another book for me to write, and it was kind of a shock and I sat with it for a long time.

Connie Zweig (5m 27s):
And then I found some research by Dr. Becca levy at Yale university. And she’s a psychologist who has spent decades looking at how our unconscious beliefs and fears and attitudes about aging shape our experience of later life. How they, yeah. And she found physical health, mental health, cognitive consequences, even consequences for longevity. So I thought, you know, if this is the case, if our, if the fears that we carry about age or in the shadow, yes.

Connie Zweig (6m 14s):
Then I know how to write about this and I know how to research it. And so that’s kind of how it unfolded.

Christine Okezie (6m 22s):
Thank you. Okay. So for our listeners and to lay even more groundwork, please share with us, you know, shadow work and the shadow working with our shadow. Okay.

Connie Zweig (6m 34s):
So the shadow is the name that the eminent psychiatrist Carl Jung gave to the personal unconscious. And the way that it develops in us is that as children, we are encouraged and permitted to express certain feelings, certain behaviors, and forbidden to express others, right? And so if anger is forbidden in our family, it goes into the shadow. It gets stuffed, it gets repressed. Okay. If sadness is forbidden, it goes into the shadow. And guess what else, if an artistic talent or a gift is forbidden and discouraged by our family, you know, playing music is a waste of time.

Connie Zweig (7m 23s):
You just have to go to work that’s right. Then that talent gets buried in the shadow. And so what young pointed out is that there’s a whole unlived life in each of us that is in the shadow that we really rarely have any contact with. And yet what happens the way that most of us meet the shadow material in our lives is it erupts spontaneously? And we say, that’s not like me. I can’t believe I said that. Or I can’t believe I did that. You know, I’m not mean I’m not critical.

Connie Zweig (8m 3s):
I’m not an addict. Why did I do that? Yes. So some aspect or content in the shadow is acting out at that point. And so the work that I’ve developed over the decades and over four books now is about how to make a conscious relationship with that unconscious material. Okay. How do allow it to come into our awareness so that it doesn’t sabotage us. It doesn’t hurt other people and maybe it even enhances our life. Let’s say if it’s a talent, it could really enhance our life.

Christine Okezie (8m 46s):
Beautiful. So therefore, this transition to later life in aging, is this a portal to do shadow work? Is that essentially what we’re saying? It’s a vehicle, it’s an opportunity to explore, you know, our true identity underneath all those beliefs.

Connie Zweig (9m 4s):
Well, yes. You know, as I was doing the research and I was interviewing hundreds of people, I found that many, many people now in their fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties were experiencing what I was experiencing. Okay. That the loss of identification with our roles leads to a late life identity crisis. Right. And in midlife, when we have a midlife crisis, we can resolve that with new roles. We can find a new career, we can replace our spouse. We can find a new geographical location or a new creative outlet, and that’s sufficient.

Connie Zweig (9m 49s):
But in later life, it’s not sufficient taking on another role actually has the possibility. It can be of benefit, like let’s say volunteering or grandparenting, but it also ha carries the risk that we will continue to identify with the role and with the doing. And from my point of view, the opportunity here is to really find a deeper identity beyond our doing so it’s what I call a spiritual identity. And that can be, have a different language for people in different traditions.

Connie Zweig (10m 30s):
So, you know, Christian Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, they may have a different name for it. I’m just calling it soul because it rhymed with RO. So from role to so beautiful, which was actually coined by the spiritual teacher around us. Right. And I love that term. And so for me, when we shift from role to soul, we begin to, we begin to experience who we are beneath or behind all those roles, all the masks that we’ve carried throughout our long lives. And there’s something deeper in us. There’s an essential nature in us.

Connie Zweig (11m 12s):
You could call it the higher self or spirit or God within whatever we call it. So yes, it’s a portal to that. If we know how to orient to our inner world, if we have the practices that allow us to experience it, not just the concepts, right. As you said, not just the beliefs, but actually the experience. Beautiful. Yeah. So that’s the opportunity now. Okay.

Christine Okezie (11m 45s):
So there is an opportunity, a grand opportunity to, you know, like you said, step into a deeper identity, a deeper experience of who we really are, but there’s a lot of things that get in the way in, in this culture and that do it, you know, external situation, as well as our own internal mythology and storytelling around that, you call it the inner agency. Right. And I’d love for you to explain, you know, this inner ages, we all have one, right? How, who, who is it? And how, how might we begin to confront that?

Connie Zweig (12m 20s):
Okay. So there are actually 10 or 12 inner obstacles that really keep us from aging consciously. But the very first one that I uncovered in myself is the part of me that was in denial about my age. And I, as I explored it, I came to realize that, you know, we live in a culture that worships youth yes. And has no rights of passage for elderhood. So there’s no real respect and honoring of the elder, we become a senior with our Medicare birthday, you know, but what does that really mean?

Connie Zweig (13m 3s):
That doesn’t imply a new stage of life internally, developmentally. Yes. So to become an elder, we need to actually do a few things to cross that threshold, do some inner work. So w the first one, the first step that I found is breaking through the denial of this shadow character in us. That’s called the inner ages that has internalized the ageist messages of our culture. Exactly. I remember growing up and watching TV and older women were patronized were laughed at going to the movies where, you know, jokes were made about older people in general.

Connie Zweig (13m 55s):
They never really got starring roles when I was growing up. So unconsciously, I was not aware of this as a kid, but unconsciously, I internalized the message, right? Young is good and old is bad, right? Productive is good and unproductive as bad, right? Strong is good and weak is bad or independent is good and dependent is bad. And so all of those qualities go into the shadow. And then what happens? We all, we all grow old. Every one of us, if we’re lucky and all of those internalized messages in the inner ages, cause us to deny that we’re aging or to be ashamed of it, or to try to hide it through surgery or anti-aging products or whatever.

Connie Zweig (14m 56s):
I have an 89 year old friend, Christine. And he said to me, I don’t want to be with those old people. I’m not like them. And so he’s missing out on becoming an elder

Christine Okezie (15m 12s):
He’s missed opportunity. Yeah. Yeah.

Connie Zweig (15m 14s):
I know. He’s

Christine Okezie (15m 16s):
And one of the things in your book, you talk, it’s not about positivity, right? It’s not about, you know, kind of glossing over because, you know, there’s, there’s that nuances as well. Right? So we want to, you know, step into a more expansive identity around this later stage in our life. But sometimes we can fall into the pitfall of authentic positivity, especially when it comes to, you know, these types of issues and you so beautifully lay out something called kind of holding the tension of opposites. Right. So where we’re having a realistic view of the stage of our lives. Yeah.

Connie Zweig (15m 51s):
Yeah. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s not all Pollyanna good. And it’s not all declined bad. Yes. And especially now with the new longevity, our health span is catching up to our lifespan. Some people are really thriving in their nineties. Now it’s the first time in history. It’s unprecedented for the species. Yeah. But it’s not all good and it’s not all bad. And so I was trying to point out the whole truth and let’s see if we can carry the complexity of the whole truth of old age. You know, it includes loss and it also includes grandparenting.

Connie Zweig (16m 36s):
And great-grandparents,

Christine Okezie (16m 39s):

Connie Zweig (16m 40s):
There’s a lot of complexity here and I didn’t want to sort of split off one side or the other.

Christine Okezie (16m 46s):
Thank you. Thank you. Now, how do our beliefs, this is really fascinating. It’s what you got you into this book’s topic. How do our beliefs about aging, our attitudes, they, how do they actually have a direct effect on our wellbeing?

Connie Zweig (17m 2s):
Well, we know now, and you notice from your expertise in food, right. We know now that the body and mind are functionally identical. Yeah. So it’s not like the shadow is in some corner inside our head. Right. It’s in ourselves, it’s in our muscles. It’s in the whole body mind system. Yes. So if we internalize that inner ages as a child and we carry it throughout our lives into midlife and then into later life, and we begin to dread growing older, we begin to fear it, that unconscious belief and those feelings are messages to our body, mind that something dangerous is happening that’s right.

Connie Zweig (17m 56s):
And something happens where the result is. And again, this is Becca Levy’s work at. Yeah. The result is that people have more cardiac issues when they have negative beliefs about growing old, they have more heart disease. People have more memory loss. If they have fears about growing older, people have more emotional and mental health issues. If they’re carrying these fears and they have less will to live because, you know, why would you have a will to live if it’s all bad?

Connie Zweig (18m 43s):
That’s right. It’s, you know, so our thoughts and feelings in the shadow are actually shaping our experience at this time of life. Okay. So my message is, well, there’s something we can do about it. We can learn how to tune in and uncover those negative negative messages. And you may have seen this with people with eating disorders or food addictions. You know, you may have seen that when you uncover the negative internal negative messaging, the behavior can change.

Connie Zweig (19m 24s):
Absolutely. So we take what’s unconscious and we become conscious of it. And I really went through that in the last four years, myself. I really went through the process of letting go of a lot of beliefs and fears and stepping into the unknown about this time and emerging, renewed with purpose and vitality as an elder. And so I know that it’s possible with the practices in the book. And, you know, there are a lot of practices. Some of them are about doing a life review. Some of that doing emotional repair with people, some are about doing spiritual repair with people and some are about meditation practices.

Connie Zweig (20m 12s):
And if you want to, we can dig into any of those.

Christine Okezie (20m 16s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, and all of the tools and practices that are essentially inviting us to an internal reorientation, right. Are really there. That’s the medicine, you know, I think what you talk about and, you know, because the culture and the conditioning and actually just the life stage is so externally oriented, right? So it’s a real pivot, you know, to come into this work, because if it’s a whole sort of new call it a changing of the guard, you know, so we, we want to squash the ego. The ego actually has a very fundamental, important role. We want sort of the ego to step aside. So something greater, more, more intelligent, more magnificent can step can come forward.

Christine Okezie (21m 1s):
Right. And so I love that analogy. So please, you mentioned the elder before we get into some of the practices, or maybe you could weave that in, how do we contact, how do we become an elder? How do we contact our inner elder as you so lovely. We put it in the book.

Connie Zweig (21m 17s):
I really appreciate how you’re articulating this. Christina’s wonderful. Yeah. It’s wonderful. So I kind of see the book as providing the Rite of passage that’s missing in the culture. Yeah. Thank

Christine Okezie (21m 35s):

Connie Zweig (21m 36s):
And so for people who are interested in continuing their emotional development or their spiritual development now beyond midlife, there are a series of practices and I’ve now had hundreds of people in workshops go through them. So if we start with uncovering the NRA, just then we can break through denial, without that we can’t become an elder. Got it. Right. Cause we’re still, we’re still identified with youth.

Christine Okezie (22m 13s):
Yes. Yes.

Connie Zweig (22m 14s):
If we can do a life review, meaning we really in writing, examine the flow of our lives, how it unfolded the important people, the important events, what were the lessons we learned? What were the traumas? How did the trauma take you in a new direction? You know, who, what were the remarkable women and men you met, who were guides for you? What were the losses you experienced? And then my addition to the life review is to add the dimension of the shadow. So for everything that was expressed in our lives, something else was repressed.

Connie Zweig (22m 59s):
Yes. So in my household, academic performance was, was stressed. It was emphasized. And so my creativity, my musical or artistic interests or gifts were repressed. It wasn’t, it wasn’t valued. Right. Right. I didn’t know I was a writer until, until I was in midlife, actually. Beautiful. Yeah. I didn’t know that I was not developing relational skills because I was so focused on my studies. Yes. And I had to learn really the skills of intimacy later in my life.

Connie Zweig (23m 42s):
Each person is living out one story consciously and another story unconsciously. And when you can see the whole sweep, you people tell me they feel gratitude that they never felt before. Yes. I can say that part of becoming an elder

Christine Okezie (24m 1s):
Last thing, your life, right. Blessing so much. I work with folks and this is a thing you probably are. So also in the note, there’s so much regret and the regret itself shoulda, woulda coulda, you know, missed opportunities. You know, why didn’t, I know that sooner and I take better care earlier. There’s so much repressed, you know, guilt around that. And so your life review process, I want us to share in the book. I actually, I got very emotional reading it, you know, to be honest with you, I felt myself just tearing up as I was reading the passages because it really is this beautiful. Oh, I got this feeling in the center of my chest.

Christine Okezie (24m 43s):
There was just a warm heart kind of opening that you’re invited to hold yourself through. You know, it’s very, very, very healing. Very, very,

Connie Zweig (24m 56s):
So I think we want to say to people, what do you need now in order not to die with regret? Who do you need to forgive? Or who do you need to receive forgiveness from now? Okay. Right. Okay. Who do you need to tell? I love you that you haven’t been telling or who do you need to say? You know, I’m hurt and I haven’t told you about it. Can we talk about it? Or what do you need to do that you can reclaim from the shadow now so that you don’t die with regret?

Connie Zweig (25m 37s):
My friend Phil told me that after a long career, as a writer, he has been pushing away this dream of writing a novel and he is going to do it now he’s 73. And he said, it’s the one thing that if I don’t do I’ll die with regret. So we, you know, many of us have one of those things, you know, maybe it’s seeing a particular culture. Maybe it’s picking up a craft, right? Maybe it’s seeing a particular artist’s work, whatever it is.

Connie Zweig (26m 19s):
See if you can fulfill that dream now so that you begin to move toward life completion. Love that. So that’s part of becoming an elder.

Christine Okezie (26m 30s):
Now, one of the key portal to this new, you know, working with age as a Rite of passage is you call it mortality awareness and, and many traditions, you know, Buddhism comes to mind and, you know, has a deathlessness practice, right? Where we befriend the notion of our finite body so that we can appreciate the infinite that is always present. Right. Please share with us, why is mortality awareness such a key portal and how do you support people to kind of get over it? You know, in this very, very big fear that keeps us stuck.

Connie Zweig (27m 14s):
You know, I watched during the COVID pandemic, as more people woke up to mortality, because in our culture, there’s been a lot of denial about it. You know, death is it’s out of our sight. When someone passes, the body is taken away and we often don’t see it again and that’s done differently. In other cultures, we don’t talk about it. Grandma’s sick, but we don’t talk about what’s happening. My own husband, his father died young and nobody ever told him what was going on or let him see his dad or so, you know, death is hidden away.

Connie Zweig (27m 57s):
And as a result, when we are beyond midlife, we often are in denial of our own mortality. But think about it, if we’re not acknowledging the shortened time horizon, okay, then there’s no urgency to do all this inner work we’re talking about. Yes. How do we become an elder if we’re just kind of taking for granted that we’re going to live on and live on? Someone said to me yesterday, she said, well, I’m 65. I have lots of time. So, and maybe she does, but the point is that she’s not acknowledging her chronological age.

Connie Zweig (28m 39s):
And so the body will pass. You know, I, I often say my canniness will pass. And whether, you know, some of us have the belief that something in us will not die. And for some people that’s atoms and molecules. And for some people, you know, that’s our breath joining the atmosphere. And for some people that’s a soul that will be reborn. And for some people, you know, th there’s just a range of belief for some people they’ll go to heaven and be with God.

Connie Zweig (29m 19s):
So for me, I, I worked really hard to make the book, not about beliefs. Beautiful. It’s not dependent on what you believe. It’s nondenominational, all the spiritual teachers who I interviewed are from a range of denominations, just about every one. And this experience of, to so is not about what you believe, it’s an experience. So whether you believe in some kind of immortality or not is not the point. Yeah. It’s not the point, but I will say that I think part of becoming an elder is re-examining our spiritual beliefs beautiful, because we don’t tend to be reminded to do that.

Christine Okezie (30m 10s):

Connie Zweig (30m 10s):
I was working with a guy who had been doing Buddhist meditation for many years, but when we really kind of excavated his beliefs in the shadow, he was terrified of going to hell from his Catholic childhood. Interesting.

Christine Okezie (30m 26s):

Connie Zweig (30m 27s):
Yes. So we have these layers of beliefs and it’s a, it’s a time of life when it’s a good idea to examine them and see if they fit who we are. Now,

Christine Okezie (30m 39s):
You, you talk about in the book, how our emotional and spiritual planning is equally important as our financial planning, that really crystallized it for me.

Connie Zweig (30m 50s):
And there’s no guidance for that. I mean,

Christine Okezie (30m 53s):
So you talk about it’s an a, in this work really resonates with me in terms of, it has to be an actual experience and embodied experience, you know, of our, and you call it pure awareness, you know, or you call it our soul again, contextuality is, is op you know, variable for folks, right? What are some key practices that you, you know, lead people in or invite people in so that they can have that sense of something greater something beyond the body, beyond the mind, right. Beyond, you know,

Connie Zweig (31m 28s):
Yes. Beyond age, you know, there are three steps to a right of passage. There’s letting go stepping into the unknown and then emerging renewed. So the first step is letting go of our identifications with roles, with success, with achievement, with image and how look I had so many women tell me how really upset they are, about how they look. Yeah. A friend of mine got Botox this week and I was really shocked. I was really, I was shocked.

Connie Zweig (32m 9s):
Yeah. So, and I’m not judging her right. Feel, I don’t feel judgment. I just feel surprised because, you know, but she, but it’s all about the ages culture in which we swim. I mean, that’s the messaging. So, so the first step in the practices is letting go of these identities and how do we do that? Because it’s not easy after a lifetime of believing, I am the doer, I’m the provider. I am this the therapist, I’m the CEO, I’m the mom, how do we actually let go?

Christine Okezie (32m 48s):
I’m the pretty one. Or I’m the one that, you know, always gets attention in the room or I’m the one that has to be perfect. Right. And, and I just want a segue before you continue. This is a real, I think, compelling issue for a lot of the folks that I work with and listen to the podcast when it comes to women and their eye self-image, you know, their hair starts to thin, or, you know, their bodies change. There’s, you know, I mean the whole $65 billion diet industry is, is based on youth identification. That’s right. And, and there, we have an collective challenge, right.

Christine Okezie (33m 30s):
To remind our own individual family cultural conditioning. So this is a great burden, but I want, would love for you to share. I love that, you know, I agree. I’m the same way someone says, you know, I want to go get light Bodan or I want to, you know, you know, get some fillers. It’s not useful to feel judgment because I don’t walk in their shoes, you know, but I do feel a lot of compassion for people. And, and, and just hope that perhaps there’s something, you know, that they have to go through something, but I would love for women to have more of support and sort of an empowering message around. It’s not about not wanting to be attractive.

Christine Okezie (34m 11s):
It’s not about not wanting to, but it’s about being in more harmony and in more sort of flow with that, which is naturally part of this, of the stage. Right. So how do we facilitate that? What are some words or strategies that we can really help women over this, this, this burden,

Connie Zweig (34m 33s):
One of the practices is I am not my body.

Christine Okezie (34m 39s):

Connie Zweig (34m 39s):
You know, I am not my image. I am not my appearance. Whichever one feels like a fit for you. Yes. And allowing that to sink in for, you know, until you embody it, you can do it like a mantra. I am not my body. I am not my image. I am not all of the goodies I’ve gotten from that or all of the negative gazes I’ve gotten from that. No, I am not that I am something deeper and whatever that is, I am myself.

Connie Zweig (35m 20s):
I am that which lives in breathes through everything.

Christine Okezie (35m 25s):
I am,

Connie Zweig (35m 26s):
I am, I am, I am a soul on a journey. I am that. Yes. So you begin to build energy in the psyche for that identity. And you begin to consciously release the negative body images and all of the charge that you’re carrying with that. And you know, this is actually a good practice for women at any age. I would say, you know, for women or men who are struggling with those body images, negative body images, that is a place to start.

Connie Zweig (36m 7s):
And what you might notice is discomfort coming up and that’s a shadow character. So if you say to yourself, I am not my body. And then you hear a voice say bullshit, right. Or what are you talking about? Right. Or tell that to my boss. Right. Right. Then you recognize that is a shadow character. And that is a part of you that you can kind of become aware of and work with it in such a way that you observe it and don’t identify with it.

Connie Zweig (36m 53s):
Right. So you’re letting go of the identification with the body. And at the same time, you’re letting go of the identification with the resistance to that, because that resistance is the deeper unconscious saboteur obstacle that’s been keeping you from from getting a larger, deeper identity. Thank you. So let’s say the same thing with the doer and you know, the moment of retirement, I interviewed so many people, men and women who cannot face retirement.

Connie Zweig (37m 35s):
Right. And they’re exhausted. And they can afford to, it’s different when people can’t afford to yes. These people can afford to, and they can’t face it. Why I am the doer, right? I am. I be, if I wasn’t, who am I, if I’m not the salesperson or the teacher or the secretary or the nurse, who am I, if I’m not that, and that’s the stepping into the unknown step two, thank you. And allowing yourself to experience the uncertainty and facing the shadow character that comes up there. Oh no, this is too scary for me.

Connie Zweig (38m 16s):
I’m going to hang on. I’m hanging on for dear life. I’ll never retire, right? Oh, no. I’m going to be useless. I’m going to be invisible. I’m going to be irrelevant. And you notice those are important fears. I don’t, I’m not dismissing them. Yes. They come from the shadow. Yes. They’re part of the age-ism in the culture. Right? Right. They’re connected to the inner ages. They’re connected to your early family dynamics and how retirement was modeled in the family. Like I can say my father was forced into retirement at 55.

Connie Zweig (38m 56s):
Never worked again, and didn’t do nothing with his life. Right. And that’s my model. So there are these images in the shadow about retirement that are running the show and we don’t even know it

Christine Okezie (39m 11s):
So much suffering. Yeah.

Connie Zweig (39m 17s):
So, so again, I am not the doer. I’m not the provider. My identity is bigger than that. I have served my family, but that’s not all of who I am.

Christine Okezie (39m 31s):
Thank you.

Connie Zweig (39m 33s):
So who am I, then?

Christine Okezie (39m 35s):
That’s always the struggle in question right now, the way to know that is through, in your, in your work, spells this out, it’s really through contemplated practice.

Connie Zweig (39m 47s):
That’s right. It’s through deep experience of silent mind and just sitting in that refuge of silent, and then you observe a thought comes up. You know, I don’t like this. I’m uncomfortable. Okay. That’s a shadow character. Right. What is it trying to tell me?

Christine Okezie (40m 13s):
I had been doing, doing, doing, you need to get up and do something productive,

Connie Zweig (40m 18s):
Right. Y to be worthy, to be worthy, to be important, it’s to be seen whatever it is for each person. Yes. And so there’s this, this internal struggle for a while before you kind of settled down into the shift, but it’s a very kind of, it’s a very meaningful and valuable shift for people who make it. And it doesn’t mean we stop doing, we don’t have to start doing in order to turn into shift over to being, we just do with a different state of mind.

Connie Zweig (41m 4s):
Yes, yes. With Vince elders.

Christine Okezie (41m 7s):
Yeah. It’s internal shift. It’s an

Connie Zweig (41m 10s):
Internal shift. Yes.

Christine Okezie (41m 12s):
This is, this is another, I think something that you clear up in, in your work is it’s not about coming to a halt on the outside. Right. It’s just coming into a different level of awareness and consciousness around that, which you choose to engage in whatever activity that is at whatever you know, role that you are playing. Perhaps it starts there, right. It’s not like, okay, at 65, I need to become a meditator. Right. It’s really, how can I shift that frame of mind into what I’m doing now, I think is the invitation. So

Connie Zweig (41m 50s):
Let me give you an example of that. I spent Sunday with my 10 year old grandson. Yes. And neither of us felt like doing. And so we sat on the couch for hours and this is a very active kid, sat on the couch. And I visualized that I was like a big tree and giving him shade and that he could absorb the stillness from my body. Wow. Because he’s in a very anxious, chaotic household at home. And so he doesn’t get that from either parent.

Connie Zweig (42m 33s):
And so there was this quality of being that was exchanged between us. Now that doesn’t mean that next time we won’t play catch, but because I have this awareness now of the elder, I can attend to him and I can give a value to just being, and I can tell him how valuable it is. You know, that I see him, even though he’s not doing homework. Right.

Christine Okezie (43m 4s):
Not performing, he’s not

Connie Zweig (43m 6s):
Performing, which is what his parents are constantly pushing on him. Yeah. Right, right. So that’s an example of that.

Christine Okezie (43m 14s):
Yeah. That’s beautiful. That is beautiful. Now, in the later chapters, in the book, you talk about how this inner work of age, you know, towards more sort of self-awareness individual self-awareness is actually another portal to what’s happening today. A call to socio-political awareness, to conscious activism. And I’d love for you to just share your thoughts because it leaves the reader with make, I felt you do your, your inner work is, is indeed so valuable to the inner work of the collective specially at this time in our history.

Connie Zweig (43m 54s):
Well, thank you, Christine. I, I, you know, some people are very introverted and they will want to find a spiritual practice in the book and they will want to have more solitude and quiet and maybe just be with their grandkids. I think people are more extroverted and they want to be more engaged with people and community and outer purpose. And this is very individual. There are no should in the book, not. So this is really fully each individual’s. And for people who are drawn to service or activism, what I’m suggesting is that when we do the inner work, we can bring that quality of awareness that we were talking about into our activism.

Connie Zweig (44m 49s):
So for example, I was a political activist in Berkeley, in the late sixties, Probably before you were born. And if I look at that now I see how angry I was, how much enemy making and projection I was doing, how much of it was fueled from my childhood. I see through it now in that way, it’s not that the values weren’t were wrong. It’s just that the state of mind in which I was engaging them, that’s right.

Connie Zweig (45m 29s):
Was youthful. And it was reactive. Yes. And so now, as elders, we can engage the causes of our time with a different quality of awareness, with the long view of our lives, without projecting an enemy, making, you know, field, maybe more by compassion and anger. And there are many examples of this. There are many, many people engaged in the climate crisis as elec with elder groups and with intergenerational groups now and in police reform and in gun control and in anti-racism efforts.

Connie Zweig (46m 20s):
And so we can engage if that’s where our passion arises, that’s where our generosity points us. We can engage with, with, you know, wonderful purpose and give our gifts because we have so many gifts to give, but I’m just suggesting that we do it differently now than we did in the past.

Christine Okezie (46m 45s):
I love that. Thank you. Thank you. Wow. So, you know, what’s the number one thing, you know, if you could distill it, you’ve shared so much already, what’s the number one thing you want readers to take away from your book?

Connie Zweig (47m 3s):
You know, this stage of life, post retirement until the end is an unprecedented longevity. It’s really changing the species. And so let’s take advantage of it. I want to invite people to join me on this journey and deepen their own. Self-awareness deepen their relationships with the people they love and their deep deepen their relationship with spirit or the divine so that when they come close to the end, they can begin to feel fulfilled.

Connie Zweig (47m 46s):
They can, they can really say I did everything I wanted to do. I said everything I wanted to say, I’m an elder now. And I’m giving these gifts. This is how I feel about my book. I feel this is the final gift of this lifetime. It’s my sixth book. It’s the last one. And there’s an incredible fulfillment that comes with that. And people can find that in any form, they can find that by making a video memoir for their family. Yes. But he can find it by engaging in mentoring to us.

Connie Zweig (48m 31s):
So many young people need mentors. There are just many, many ways, and they can find it through meditation as well,

Christine Okezie (48m 37s):
A hundred percent. A hundred percent. Yes. Thank you so much. Great. And so you mentioned, I know you’re very active right now and have lots of opportunities to engage with this book in a, in a practice. Is there anything special you want to share? Anything you have coming up specifically,

Connie Zweig (48m 56s):
People can go to Connie’s wide.com and I’ll keep posting my events. There. There are many of them in October and November. Great. There’s also an online national conference around the themes of my book. That’s being hosted by Pacifica graduate Institute. And if they go to the retreat at Pacifica where the conferences are listed, they can find that there lots of stellar speakers around the inner work of age, that’s November 12, 13, 14.

Christine Okezie (49m 32s):
Fantastic. I’ll make sure to include all of that in the show notes and thank you so much for your time and for all that you do in the world. I really appreciate it. It’s good to go. You

Connie Zweig (49m 42s):
Loved meeting you. Thank you so much.

Christine Okezie (49m 45s):
Thank you. And take good care. Bye.

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