In psychology, the concept of “age” is considered very
differently from the chronologic age. How many years you have been alive is not
the basic concern of psychological age. Your Psychological age is measured by
your involvement in situations you faced in your life, your way of handling
these situations and challenging the difficulties.

 

In life, every period of age has its unique
characteristics, joys, and difficulties that have to be overcome. For example,
for a newborn, although extremely reflexive, grabbing mother’s breast and
starting to suck milk is crucial. A baby has continuing unique tasks for every
age process, such as standing up and walking at age 1, building up the first
sentences at age 2, completing potty training at age 3, making up games at
his/her own at age 4, going to school at 6, etc. A child’s coming to a level to
overcome such matters on his/her own with a strong support, ensures that he/she
would pass that process in a healthy manner.

 

These tasks may seem like processes that can be
achieved by anyone without a major physical disability. However, tasks of age
periods are not only limited to these. For example, between 0-2 ages, you may
build up a belief on whether the world and the people around you are
trustworthy, based on their behavior against you, and on their way of covering
your needs. If the people around you act in a balanced manner on this matter,
you will have a hope on what you would achieve in life. Harsh attitudes taken
and feelings of shame when you are 2-3, at your potty training ages, may push
you into a process of deadly control and avoidance from shame. On the contrary,
people who never faced any rules until this process may not be aware of their
boundaries and believe that the world turns around them. If everything develops
in a healthy manner until you are 4, then you can learn to take initiative in
games with purposes and goals. However, if people around you do not allow this
and continuously decide what you would do on your behalf, you could be stepping
into an indecisive life within this prevention process. The main problem while
going to school between the ages of 6-12, is to study, fulfill
responsibilities, and as a result, feeling yourself sufficient. On the other
hand, if there is nothing in your life except school, and your negative sides
on school matters are continuously stressed, then inertness and agonies of
inferiority complex will begin. You begin to question your own identity as of
the age of 12. Wearing different clothes, being distinguished, feeling your
existence and equipping yourself with features that you can define as “me”, are
the needs of this period. So, what would happen if you are restricted in this
period? You would either become a fanatic advocate of something that does not
belong to you, or deny everything and enter a drifting process that is hard to
define. After 20s, if all previous stages were healthy, you will want to step
into a relationship, searching for intimacy and love. After 30s, comes the
processes of transferring your experience to others, and provide care for new
generations; and after 60s, staying one step behind, evaluating and absorbing
what is happening in life. If things went smoothly up to this point, with
wisdom, you will be more understanding against people and learn to accept them.
However, at the unhealthy end of this process, arrogance and aggression may
come, saying “I’ve lived and seen so much more than you”.

 

As I emphasized at each stage, a healthy psychology
can be possible by experiencing and overcoming the characteristics of periods,
in harmony with your chronologic age, and exactly in that period. Otherwise, as
years go by, it would possible to think at the age of 40 that the world turns
around you, have majority of your friends from teenagers at 45, and not to have
been able to stay at a job for more than 1 year when you are 50.

 

Consequently, most important thing you need to know is
that “looking young” is not a compliment while talking about psychological age.
On the other hand, being more mature than one’s own age might mean you are
missing many things of your age while trying to take two steps at a time. Being
healthy is having your psychological age advance consistently with your
chronologic age.

 

So, now, how old do you feel when you know all of
these?

 

Derya Gülterler, MS

Clinic Psychologist

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