So here is Alice who, two years ago, lost her soul mate (that’s what they seem to call them these days), who she had been with for over sixty years. The hole in her life almost seems unbearable. Then here’s George who’s just been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and has, at the age of sixty two, been given seven months to live. Here’s May whose kids plotted and took virtually all her savings and dumped her in a poor quality care home which they never go near. Here’s John who, at sixty, was told he could no longer perform the job he’d held for over forty years and was then put under so much pressure he retired from ill-health with not so much as a gold watch!
Yes, without doubt, life can suck, as they say today. We lose loved ones, we lose our health and we lose our jobs, money, family or goodness knows what, and we’re left feeling lonely, hurt and angry, and the grumpy future stretches away ahead of us. Now there is no easy way of saying this. Yes, all that may be true, but if we allow all that yuck to bury us, we are really not only going to sound horrible, we’re going to look and smell horrible too! We’ll probably let ourselves go and most sensible persons will want to give us a wide berth!
Some obvious things that help perpetuate the grumpy persona :
1. Belief that people should be perfect
i.e. failure to accept that people will not be perfect.
- also tied in with my inability to be gracious to less than perfect people.
2. Belief that I’m always right
i.e. failure to accept my own fallibility – I can get it wrong!
- also tied in with my inability to say sorry.
3. Belief that the world owes me
i.e. failure to take personal responsibility
- also tied in with my tendency to look down on people.
4. Belief that I’m always right and the world owes me
i.e. failure to accept I can’t always get my own way
- also tied in with my own self-centredness.
5. Belief that being miserable is the only way to deal with what has happened
i.e. failure to see I have the capacity to rise above this
- also tied in with my sense of failure and low self esteem.
OK, I’m going to use a horrible expression but I hope it will communicate. Instead of going down under whatever the past has dumped on me, can I instead cultivate a reputation that I am “a really nice person.” Now I did say that was a horrible expression but in the light of the five things above, for the remaining years of my life can I learn to be, and thus become known as, someone who is really nice. Can I be
- Graciously accepting and caring of those who are less than perfect?
- Honest and able to apologise for being less than perfect myself?
- Light-hearted and good to be with?
Now I do have someone in mind who I do know, and this person is now quite elderly. This person bemoans the fact that they have little contact with their family and few friends. The obvious answer to this person would be, what do you expect, you are so often wrapped up in yourself, not caring about others, never just listening to others, and constantly moaning. Is it any wonder that people avoid you?
How many years have I got left? I don’t know but this person has set me thinking: I don’t want to be like that in my old age. I want to be someone who other people think is good to be with, someone who will listen to them, someone who obviously shows care and concern for them. It’s not quite a New Year resolution, but I reckon that aim might make for a good future. Why not join me in this new project.
Now I’ve entitled this ‘FIVE ways to be a Grumpy Old Person’, but actually they could all be summed up as being totally focused on myself. As we said at the beginning, we may have every legitimate cause to be self-focused but if we remain like that we only harm ourselves in the long run and we fail to enjoy the years we have left to us.
You may not want to communicate with other people because of what you are feeling, but actually getting out and meeting other people can be very therapeutic. Rochford Life covers a variety of groups that operate within the community, whether they be art groups, holding an allotment, being part of the WI, or whatever. There are plenty of people out there to act as a starting point of recovery or change of life perspective. Why not risk it and step out into a new world where ‘grumpy’ doesn’t exist.
Quote: “Being a mother gives you an incredible feeling of empowerment, you think if I can go through such pain and that level of sleep and still operate and not be grumpy you can do anything.”
(Source: Anna Friel)
12. Five Ways to be a Grumpy Old Person
Why do we write these articles? Well, I suppose one of the primary reasons is that we hope people will find them helpful. We’re not out to chide or berate, but to encourage, but to do that we have to sometimes look ourselves straight in the face, in the mirror, so to speak. So let’s talk about grumpy old men and women.
OK, let’s be fair, some of us have got every cause to be grumpy! I’ll put names to these people just to make for easier reading but I don’t have specific people in mind and certainly not people with these names so, from the outset, my apologies if I have used your name.