An old saying goes, “Getting older is inevitable, growth is optional.” These wise words can lead one to pause at any stage of life and wonder if they are participating in the optional opportunities that life offers. Specifically for those who are in late adulthood, it’s interesting to meditate on the tension between ego integrity and despair. This theory, founded by theorist Erik Erikson, speaks to these two paths of psychosocial development a senior adult can experience. Here are the top three most interesting nuggets from this theory according to simplypsychology.org:
- Life Review. Late adulthood is a special time to look back over the events and meaningful experiences of our lives. Those who do a life review and come to the conclusion that their accomplishments led to a successful life, enter into developing a deep sense of integrity in the way they see themselves. However, if the view of self is filled with guilt about the past, a lack of accomplishment and an overall sense of dissatisfaction, this leads to despair.
- Wisdom. If after one’s life review, a sense of acceptance and satisfaction emerges, wisdom blossoms to its fullest capacity. Wisdom enables a person to rest in a place of completeness and acceptance of what the future holds.
- Movement and Balance. During this stage of late adulthood, it is normal to oscillate between ego integrity and despair. Perhaps the ebb and flow of the two facets of this stage are what keeps us growing, all for the purpose of enhancing well-being.