Aging Flipped - Defying the Norms and Celebrating Every Chapter of Life

Unmask Your Mental Mischief Makers

Episode Summary

In this episode, Debi Talbert explores how Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) like "I'm too old to start over" can limit us without awareness. She shares strategies to recognize these "age ANTs", see them as distinct from our identity, and choose perspectives that align with our goals.

Episode Notes

Listeners discover how to gain independence from mental mischief-makers through reframing techniques. Debi encourages experimenting with new thought patterns to access untapped potential. For women seeking to fulfil later stages of life on their own terms, this provides tools to overcome self-doubt. It inspires taking the reins of our internal narratives. Join Debi's community at to get the Aging Gracefully Flight Plan: Journey Through Aging with Grace and Confidence.

What are Age ANTs?

Age ANTs are the unconscious, negative thoughts we have about growing older. Common examples include "I'm too old to try new things" and "Every ache means the worst."

Why do ANTs Matter?

Left unchecked, ANTs shape how we see the world and limit our actions. Debi explains how the brain seeks to validate thoughts, directing focus. This impacts feelings and behaviors.

Recognizing Your Own ANTs  

Debi guides visualizing ANTs as separate from ourselves. See them as tiny ants crawling on sentences apart from you. This gives the power to choose different perspectives.

Questioning Deeply Held Beliefs

Some ANTs feel completely true, but asking if all people agree reveals them as stories, not facts. Writing thoughts down helps objectively analyze what's belief versus reality.

Shifting to Supportive Thoughts

Notice which thoughts inspire your dreams or hold you back. Intentionally choose thoughts that support goals rather than ANT-dictated limitations. You have control over your perspective.

Find out about Debi's community Busy Being Flawsome for group coaching on discovering your potential beyond ANT-imposed boundaries at

Episode Transcription

Spot Your Age ANTS


Hey there , my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. I sincerely appreciate you giving me the time and the space between your ears to allow me to share with you my journey of flipping my script about aging, as well as bringing you resources to help you flip your script about aging. So welcome back to a new episode.

I know it's been a minute since there's been some new ones, and I love and appreciate all of you that have continued to listen. Those of you that have found the podcast anew even though , newer episodes weren't being recorded yet, and I sincerely appreciate all of that and my hope and desire for doing these podcast episodes.

Is to support you, is to help you with flipping that script you have in your head around what's possible in this season of life. [00:01:00] And with that in mind, before I get started in today's content, which is all about aging ANTS , by the way, I do have a request for you. If listening to this podcast has been of benefit to you, I do ask that you do me a favor.

Leave a rating, or better yet, even a review. Now, why is that? There's two reasons behind my request. One is that it helps me learn what you like about the podcast. But even better than that, it tells the podcast apps that this podcast is good and that other people should listen to it and it will help get this podcast in front of other women.

Turns out, 22% of podcast listeners are over the age of 55, and so what I wanna do is my goal is to reach a million of those people . And those people listening to podcasts that are over the age of 55, I [00:02:00] eventually wanna reach a million of them. Can, you guys help me get to a million? Your rating and your review helps do that.

It helps more women find the podcast and it really literally changes lives. So if you would just take five minutes to do that, I would be so grateful. And other women who are able to discover the podcast because you took the time to rate and review the podcast will also be so, so grateful.

I often hear from women and my clients that, there's a lot of limiting beliefs based on their age, their education, their experience. They wanna do things that they've never done before but they don't allow themselves the possibility of learning. By doing so, just like myself, I opened myself up to the possibility of learning by doing learning by doing [00:03:00] podcast.

Initially, all of the episodes . We're done in audio form only with me behind the computer, with my mic, with my iTunes, and learning all that process Today, this particular recording, I am using a new platform. It does happen to be on video, so it's very different for me right now. To be standing here in front of the video knowing the video's gonna be shared also and the audio here in the podcast.

But I've decided, and I've learned that people are, are seeking out video also, and people are interested in video also. So my way of learning by doing is literally choosing to get myself even facing all of the discomforts. And the ants, which I am going to talk about here in today's episode. . They came up [00:04:00] while navigating and choosing to convince brain Debi to go ahead and give this a try to go out there and do right.

And so we don't allow ourselves a possibility because we don't get out there and we don't figure things out as we're going along. And so this is really what's happening right now behind the scenes in my office, in my desk. I am struggling in my mind to not watch myself on the video, to be able to bring to you what it is that I wanna bring to you.

So today's podcast, I wanna talk about spotting your age ants, and we're gonna talk about what an age aunt is. I'm also gonna talk about why they matter., what to do with them because we all have them. So first, let's get into the first part. What is an age ant? Now, personally, I first heard about this term ants from Dr.

Daniel Amon. I came across a book that he had co-written [00:05:00] with Byron Katie for kids. And the book. And if I had the book, I'd be showing it in the video, but I have given it to my grandkids. But the book, it even came with this stuffed ant eater. And of course when I saw that, I decided, oh, my grandkids need to have this one, especially after I read the content and what was in it.

And so I totally loved the ant analogy. And inside the book he's talking about teaching kids in a very fun, playful way. About the automatic negative thoughts, which are ants that we have. And then he is teaching concepts in ways and ideas on how to use the ant eater to actually eat up those ants. And so when it comes to growing older, we do have a lot of automatic ne negative thoughts, and we're often just believing them and not even really seeing them as thoughts.

Maybe you recognize. Some of the following negative thoughts and automatic [00:06:00] negative thoughts. Here's a few that I hear a lot from my clients. I also hear them a lot inside my own brain. Debbie and I have been actively working on noticing how much these age ants are impacting me, so maybe you can resonate with some of these.

I can't believe how many wrinkles I have now. Hing is just really showing up on my face. I'm too old to try new things, and one I had this morning, I'm too old to get in front and do this podcast on video I got too many wrinkles coming in there, so both of those really showed up this morning. And then every little egg and pain makes me fear the worst.

I'm feeling like I'm becoming invisible in social situations. Do any of those sound familiar? That's a very short list, but common automatic ne negative thoughts that I have had myself. I've heard my clients say them and maybe even yourself. As I pointed [00:07:00] this out and termed them

Aging thoughts. I really want you to now bring in some awareness. This is gonna be my what I want you to do. So this is gonna be your opportunity to be and do in the world, and really what I'm asking you to do is simply bring in awareness of your age ants, what's showing up for you. The truth is that we have tens of thousands of thoughts every day, depending on the research that you read.

Some people say, We have 10,000 and some people say we have up to 60,000, and some people say we have even more. I've never really found like a definitive answer that feels like this is definitely the answer, but just know. And the point is that we have thousands and thousands of thoughts that float around in our minds every single day and what we can agree on.

again, is that, I can't really quote a percentage, but what we can agree on is that some [00:08:00] we feel good about and some we feel bad about, but what science has shown in the way our brain is designed is the majority of the thoughts that our brain kind of points out to us and that we notice they're negative me.

And this is simply because our brain is designed. With a negativity bias. And so one of the best terms and the best ways to really, besides Dr. A Amen's aunts, his last name is Hanssen. And right this minute I've lost and forgot to put it in my show notes, the, but I will put it in the written text here when you see on the episode and where you'll be able to click right on it.

His last name is Hansen, and I cannot remember his first name, but the way he described, and I heard him describe, he was on, somebody else's podcast, and what happens with the brain's negativity bias and the way it actually works. So if you can think of, and imagine and visualize a spaghetti strainer, right?

So that strainer that we [00:09:00] pour the spaghetti like after we've cooked the pasta and we pour the pasta into it, and then we're draining out the water. So what happens in the brain is the negative things that the brain notices and picks upon and takes in is the pasta and the positive things that are happening in our life and the things that are going well for us.

Is the water and it flows through the brain like that. That's so really the negativity things are very sticky. And stucky. And stucky. Okay. And stuck like the pasta and then the positive flows through it. And we forget about it, like the water is flowing through the strainer. So it doesn't mean anything is gone wrong because we are have these age ants.

And we're noticing you all the time. It's simply the way that our brain is designed, right? And, and so really understanding that is gonna help us let go of making it think and believe something has gone wrong with us. And it [00:10:00] simply just means that they're here and they're there. For the purpose of, of survival, our brain is designed to prioritize keeping us safe.

therefore, it wants what it considers unsafe things to be sticky in our minds. Those stick and stay in mind over the things that that feel good.

I hope that that makes a little bit more sense to you as to why these ants would be here and these automatic, automatic negative thoughts that we have. And then also on top of how we are conditioned and what we notice and what we see and how we're advertised to all around the aspects of we should do anything to not age right?

On top of the brains design, Is what causes us to have these age ants. The reason we want to pay attention to the brain and more attention to these things is because we want to be able to notice how hanging onto the thought and believing it as if it's a fact, [00:11:00] is creating an outcome in our life and creating how we feel.

I hope this is starting to make sense. Because knowing our thoughts, we get to choose the thoughts and we get to choose what we want to believe when they show up. Just like the positive things for the brain and the strainers kind of float in the water. We don't have to, we don't have to let those thoughts stay sticky and stuck in there.

We can choose to let those ones that aren't very helpful for us float on through into the strainer. So the thoughts, they're just showing up in our mind, right? And it's matter. And why does it really matter? To know what they're showing up in our mind and to really understand and have this awareness around your age, thoughts, and your age ants is because, two things

One is because of the way that our brain filters the data, we have this filtering system. Besides the negativity bias, we also have this filtering system in our brains [00:12:00] that's designed to validate our thinking. It's the reticular activating system. What that means is that it's always looking for data in the world.

Biasing the data in the world that lines up with what we believe. So without the awareness that these are ants, automatic negative thoughts, and as they're showing up and without the awareness that they're simply that, that they're simply a thought, it is not something that we have to believe. We start, the brain, starts to go and look in our world.

All around what fits what this bias. This negativity bias that's going on in our own minds. And so this is why you want to start off by igniting curiosity and bringing in some awareness around what your age ants might be. I want you to think about, have you ever thought when you've gone to go and buy a car, And you are looking at the cars and you find, you decide on the one that you [00:13:00] want, the brand, the color.

As you're doing all this research for the car and trying to figure out which car you want. And then once you make that decision on the make model color of the car, the next thing you know, it suddenly seems like there are more of those cars on the road. And that is simply because you have activated your brain's filtering system to pay attention, to pay attention to those cars.

It's not because there are literally more. Of those particular cars in the color that you want on the road, even though it feels like that to us in the moment, especially while we're looking for the car, and even after we've just driven the car off of the lot, all of a sudden we're like, I never saw any of these cars before, but now I see the exact car I wanted and I wanted this color.

And sometimes it's like, I wanted this color because there were none around. That's really what's going on in the brain, it's that reticular activated system. You've activated it, and so the brain is on purpose looking for and noticing and pointing out to you all [00:14:00] of the cars.

The same thing is happening with our thinking when we're believing all of those automatic negative thoughts, especially the age ants. I'm too old. The world only favors youth and beauty. I'm not doing this right. Society thinks older people are just a burden, et cetera. And there's ton of them.

There's a ton of them. When we are thinking about those and when we're believing them, what we're essentially doing is giving our brain the homework assignment of finding the truth in those thoughts. And also we're blocking off evidence that doesn't align up and does not line up with those thoughts because of our brain's design.

So what I want you to do, again, this is why I want you to bring in this awareness, is I want you to take a moment or a day think about how long we have been believing those thoughts, that we're too old and that the world only values youth and beauty, and that our brains, that's what our brains is gonna show us.

As [00:15:00] we're bringing in this awareness and the reason we can't change what we're not aware of, So I want you to start gathering awareness throughout the week and in your, for those of you that are willing to do the rate and the review, if you wanna type in a review of some of your awareness of what you got.

I said do that because I really wanna know what are your age ants, what's coming up for you around that? The reason this matters is that, we're having these thoughts, right, and again, sorry, I got distracted seeing myself in the camera. I'm forgetting the direction of my train of thought.

My A D H D brain. I work here. Alright, well this is me busy being Flo, right? There's thousands of thoughts, right, that we have around . Where society is only valuing youth and beauty. However, I want you to know also on the other side, there are also thousands of people that are [00:16:00] defying the social norms and the social messaging around aging and going after their dreams, starting new jobs, creating businesses.

But when I first started doing this for myself back when I was in my mid fifties, And really figuring out, okay, I know that I'm gonna retire from this, retire this flight attendant gig eventually. But I don't, I, I love learning too much. I don't wanna just sit around and in retirement for me, I didn't want it to be where I was simply sitting around.

Not doing much right, and vegetating and not learning anymore, not engaging with new activities. I really didn't want that for myself. However, so at first, when I was first, like turning 55, I found myself with a lot of those age ants that I really didn't understand that I had, and I really wasn't aware.

of how those were impacting me. And so all I, and [00:17:00] I also did not see, and my brain had not been exposed to yet all of the other people in the world that were over 55 that were actually defying social messages around age and that they were going after their dreams. And they even were like myself starting businesses in their sixties.

And so I, my aunt, my age, aunt , It kept me from seeing that until I, on purpose, started thinking about what is it that I want? And then I started looking for and noticing just like when you're gonna go to buy the car. I started noticing and looking for, and, and being exposed to all the other people in the world in their fifties and beyond.

That we're starting new things, creating new jobs for themselves, creating their own thing or going and, or living in their retirement years, being active and doing things that were new and different for them. [00:18:00] And even pursuing more careers, more jobs, all kinds of different activities and it became easier.

For me to embrace what was actually happening and for me, embrace the hard of going after something new and different while being doing that, doing . And doing it while experimenting with it and figuring it out. If you've been believing your age ants, nothing has gone wrong.

It's simply because your brain is busy showing you what your ants are, automatically thinking what your automatic thoughts that are showing up there. That's really what's happening. It's not that anything has gone wrong, it doesn't mean that you're too old. It doesn't mean. That is too late for you.

It doesn't mean that life is half over. That's just simply the data that currently right now [00:19:00] your brain has been looking for. And so I really wanna encourage you, and the reason why I want to encourage you to pay attention to your age ants is because of this process that I know I've taught in other episodes, But it's called the observation cycle.

And so what happens is we notice something, we have a thought about it. That thought creates a feeling, and that feeling fuels our actions or our behaviors or our lack of action. And so if we think that we're too old or we can't figure things out, or we've not managed our money well, Or, I'm alone now.

Nobody's gonna want me. I'm too old. I'm too old to date. If we're really believing all of those things, that's going to create within us the emotions of insecurity and self-doubt, and from the emotions of insecurity and self-doubt, we are not able to fuel the actions. Of getting ourself to try [00:20:00] and experiment new things.

We need to at least be in the emotions of possibility, of willingness, of grounded. And sometimes we wanna be even in the emotions of, I'm gonna do this, it's gonna be scary as heck, and I'm going to do it anyway. Now this one me, I call that joy fear. Just like doing this and realizing I'm gonna do this in front of the video, I wanna start adding video along with the audio content.

I chose to tell myself, yes, this feels uncomfortable. Yes, this feels awkward. And every time I catch myself in the video as I'm doing this, my brain is like, oh, that just doesn't feel great! All of that is happening for me. So I want you to think about the types of things that you do when you're feeling doubtful or insecure.

If anything, you probably avoid taking action. Especially the actions that you would like to take, and then when you don't take those actions you would like to take, then on top of that, you stack on the [00:21:00] hard and you start beating yourself up over it. You probably end up second guessing yourself.

You probably end up in a place of indecision instead of being able to make decisions. And humans who are believing that we aren't doing things, " right", whatever that is, we don't feel good. We feel insecure and we feel doubtful. And so of course we don't take the kind of action that we want to take to create what we want to create.

So if we're walking through life with an age ant and it's doing, it's doing what our brain is designed to do, and then we're gonna feel bad. And then we don't create what we want and then we start to doubt ourselves on top of that. And then we start to stack on this shame, blame cycle. And so can you see how it makes sense?

How the awareness of your age ant , and understanding that it's there and then pausing and questioning it [00:22:00] would start to make things different for you. And so I really want you to take the time. and really understand that and start spotting those age ants that you have. And the good news is we don't need them to go away.

We honestly don't need these age ants to go away, but what we do need to do is acknowledge them for what they are. We need to see them as separate from us. We need to think that we are the thinker and those ants and are just thoughts in our mind. So we really want, and that's how I, for me, the way I do that is I start terminology and using Brain Debi .

So it's literally like I have made my brain a separate entity. Yes, I know it's in my body and all that stuff, but to help me with this kind of stuff and to really uncover my age ants and a variety of other ants that I have going on, automatic negative thinking in my mind, I use the terminology of [00:23:00] brain, Debi , and I even think of my brain as like this, this, part of me trying to be a standup comedian.

That, that the, the mean kind of standup comedian. The one that call, the one that points out all the shame of the shame of people. and, and so, that really helps support me. And what I want you to do is really throughout this week and between now and the next episode, or even go over to my website and, you can ask me for help if you're finding yourself really stuck there.

Jump seat coaching. There is an ask Debi tab there, and you can put in what you're stuck with so that you can start to untangle what's going on. Well my, so what I really want for you from this episode is for you to bring out the awareness of what your age ants might be, and pay attention to how you are believing them as if they're actually true, instead of letting them float on by.

I know because we don't need to make 'em all go away, but we wanna do [00:24:00] is really stop, pause, and question them and find out for ourselves is that actually true? Who says who? Who's the they that actually got to decide? And where? Where did this thought come into my life in the first place? I. Where did this come from?

What am I exposing myself to, to have me automatically believe this particular thought? Really opening yourself up to that and see what comes up for you. What I wanna offer you today, And many of us, almost all of us, are walking around with all these thoughts and these negative ants that we couldn't stumble upon.

And they're in there by accident and it's all part of how we've been conditioned. And so we really didn't pick them on purpose. We really start to feel like they're true when we think them, and most of them make us feel bad. And when we keep believing them in our brains we just keep finding evidence for them too because of how our brain is designed and they will [00:25:00] keep changing the way that we show up and they're gonna keep us stuck if we keep believing them.

They're gonna keep us in, in the cycles that we don't actually like. Yet we're unable to untangle that particular cycle for ourself . The first step of untangling that for yourself is awareness of your age ANTS . And it's really great news now that you have this concept in here, . And even if it helps you visualize that eater stuffed animal they're just stories in our mind and they're just automatic negative thoughts.

I want you to really imagine yourself. I would do the ant eater thing and really imagine yourself pausing and seeing it as like a tiny ant going up on a hill, and it's so particular tiny and minute, and do I have to actually believe this?

It doesn't mean it has to stay that way. And we're, and really asking yourself, do I have [00:26:00] to keep this thought? Do I feel trapped when I keep this thought? Do I think I'll never be happy again? Is there no one that understands me? All of those things, like really paying attention to what's going on and what does your brain tell you and what does it feel like when it's doing all that for you, and pausing and asking yourself, do I actually wanna keep doing that?

This is simply this little tiny ant on the floor. And it's a thought, and it does not mean I have to keep it. I really want you to start getting curious about that and when you can pivot your mind to a thought that doesn't take you where you wanna go and really see, oh, it's what I'm thinking.

That's not helping me. What do I want to think instead? Can I stop thinking it? Can I really realize this is simply an age ant or some other kind of ant? And then [00:27:00] it'll put you back in the place. Just that pausing and questioning it. And really letting yourself see it as like t his tiny ant on the floor.

Even that will put you back in the driver's seat instead of being driven by the thought. And that's what I want for you. So truly, I know it sounds silly to think of this as ants on the floor. , but it really does make a difference and that's why I like to use metaphors and also to help you like kind of visualize and see the ants, and it's gonna really help you diffuse your thinking.

And when we can diffuse our thinking, we can get some leverage over it. We can choose something separate. We can choose something different. We can choose something new for ourself. Just because the answer showing up doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. Doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong.

And also they are not you, and you don't have to keep thinking them, but you can see and I wanna encourage you to see [00:28:00] yourself as separate from them. Now, before we go, I'm just going to say one last thing. It's also totally okay to believe that your thoughts are true. It is the continuing to believe. That make them feel true.

But some of your most challenging ants are going to be the ones that you believe are factual. I want you to give yourself permission to question them.

In Busy Being Flawsome , we do a whole lot of this. It's one of the main things I do as a coach and one of the ways we can do it. Is to get it onto paper. If you're not sure, is this an ant or is this a truth? Put it on paper. Ask yourself, would everyone in the entire world, no matter their culture, no matter their background, no matter where they're from or when they lived, Would they agree with this [00:29:00] thought?

And if the answer is no, that means this is an ant. It's not right. And so that gives you the chance if this is an ant and not something that's factual, that means you don't have to keep believing it if you don't want to. You can keep believing it if you want to, but you also don't have to keep believing it if you don't want to.

I want you to be on the lookout for those age ants, those automatic negative thoughts. Imagine them you're over there to the side and then that ant. Is on the floor crawling and those little ants are crawling around for those sentences. And you're not them. They are not you. You do not have to keep believing any of that if, because if you keep believing, it's gonna take you in the direction that you don't wanna go.

And that's what I've got for you this week. Take care. I love you all. You've got this. I'll see you next week.