Eldering Principles

By Jim Selman

Eldering occurs in conversations. Elders practice six fundamental principles when listening and speaking with others.


As Elders, we own our circumstances and always have a choice in how we respond. Rather than placing blame or taking credit for our lives and the world as it is, we engage in responding in unprecedented and what might seem unreasonable ways.


Elders appreciate and let go of the past to be present in conversations. By completing our unfinished business, we free ourselves. We no longer have to be dominated by our moods. And we don’t have to have the past limit and determine our choices and actions. This allows us to hear what is happening and see what is showing up in our conversations today, rather than superimpose our past experiences, expectations and moods on the current situation.

Respect & Compassion

As Elders, we treat each other—and ourselves—with respect and compassion. We are patient, trusting that everyone grows and learns at their own pace. Elders acknowledge that all human beings are whole, complete, competent and able to transform and transcend their circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be.

Authentic Communication

We listen non-judgmentally to each person’s perspective, experience and ideas and speak our “truth”. We strive to be authentic in expressing our commitments in the world.


Instead of reacting to our thoughts and feelings, we acknowledge our limitations and humanity. As Elders, we seek to work with others in collaborative ways, rather than persuading, manipulating or dominating.


We care deeply and are connected to other people. Elders give people space to be who they are. We create new possibilities for others and leave it to them to choose whether they will modify, discard or make those possibilities real. We contribute the best of who we are in a way that helps others realize their potential and their grandest vision for themselves. We are valued for our contributions.