Change is one of those things that will forever be a part of life. As the aphorism goes, change is the only constant, and depending on how you look at it, change can be either a friend or foe. 


When it comes to growing older, change is often seen as a foe. We’re collectively programmed to believe that we must go to great lengths to stop and reverse the effects of time as if age isn’t natural and an inherent part of being human. To become aware of this collective aversion toward aging, simply observe the language used when talking about aging alongside the messages reinforced in the media. The ubiquitous language and messages fuel anti-aging propaganda, which causes us to try to avoid a part of our evolution when we should be choosing to embrace it. 

The Radical Act of Self-love 

How many of us can confidently say that we love who we are? When we look in the mirror, do criticism or affirmations arise? For most of us, accepting and loving who we are is foreign. So much so that we don’t believe there’s any other way to be except critical of ourselves. However, there is another way. Instead of waking up and falling into the trap of finding all the things “wrong” with us, we can choose to love, accept, and embrace who we are. Once we make this choice, we open the door to cultivating Maitri: loving-kindness and unconditional friendliness toward ourselves. 


Choosing to accept and love ourselves instead of criticizing and berating ourselves is a radical act in a culture that tends to emphasize the latter. Especially when it comes to experiencing change unique to aging, practicing self-love is essential to forming a healthy relationship with life’s ebbs and flows. The Sanskrit word “Maitri” captures the essence of this. Maitri encourages us to develop an unwavering relationship with ourselves that is built on compassion, acceptance, and appreciation. It’s not an overnight process and can take time just like any other relationship we have with others in our lives, but it is an undertaking that is worth the time and effort.   

Cultivating the Power of Maitri 

Cultivating Maitri will look different from one person to another. However, there are some things that each one of us can incorporate into our lives that will fuel the fire of Maitri. 

Changing Our Internal Dialogue

We’re constantly exposed to messages that tell us that we need to “fix” ourselves to be worthy, and since we frequently take in these messages – sometimes unconsciously – we can start to view these messages as true. This is why the first step to cultivating Maitri is changing our internal dialogue about ourselves. 



Most of our internal dialogue is informed by societal messages, and we often allow these messages to run through our minds unchecked. We do this without realizing the subconscious impact they may have on our self-image and perception of change, and the only way to avoid falling prey to these societal messages is to become aware and shift the narrative. For example, instead of allowing anti-aging propaganda to influence our perception of aging, we can choose to view aging as a natural process of life that is beautiful. 

Anytime we’re dealing with an internal dialogue that contradicts Maitri’s core tenets of kindness and acceptance, we can remind ourselves of our power to shift the narrative. 

Self-care is a right, not a luxury 

Self-care plays an intricate role in Maitri. After all, Maitri is the practice of self-love, so naturally caring for ourselves is an act of love toward ourselves. 


Self-care can be as simple as incorporating a soothing skincare routine into our lives or creating time for some R&R. In a culture that prioritizes hustling and bustling, it can be difficult to practice self-care because it’s seen as a luxury that must be earned. However, this is a mentality that eventually leads to stress and burnout. This is why it’s the Maitri way to slow down and care for our needs – mentally, physically, emotionally (and spiritually if that’s a need) – because self-care is not a luxury, it is a right. 


Dwelling in Our Most Authentic Selves

Answer this: Would you talk to or treat a friend or loved one the same way you talk to or treat yourself? For many of us, the answer would be no. Why? Because more often than not we’re hyper-critical of ourselves in a way that would be condemnable if we did it to others in our lives. So, why do we feel comfortable acting as an enemy to ourselves rather than a friend? If we contemplate this question long enough, we’ll realize there isn’t a legitimate reason; we’re simply hard-wired to do so. With this realization, we decide to take a different approach to the way we interact with ourselves. We can choose to embody maitri, unconditional friendliness toward ourselves. 

Unconditional friendliness toward ourselves means dwelling in our authenticity, relinquishing judgment, and embracing all the versions of ourselves we’ll encounter throughout our lives. 


There’s truly no greater gift you can give yourself than the gift of friendship, and the way to build any friendship is to invest time, energy, and attention – our relationship with ourselves is no different.  


It goes without saying that change is difficult no matter what phase of life you are in. It’s common to view change as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. However, this doesn’t have to be the case; change can be viewed as a positive occurrence necessary to our evolution. This perspective especially holds weight when we inevitably experience the process of aging, which is reputed to be bad and therefore leads to futile attempts to cover it up or reverse it. When we choose to love ourselves in the midst of change rather than attempting to control and avoid it, we cultivate the one thing that will be solace: Maitri. 

June 06, 2024 — Aaliyah Alexader- The Caraline Team

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