The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Grumpy Old Man Syndrome: 8 Strategies for dealing with him.

Statler and Waldorf
of "The Muppets" fame
I am now part way into the eighth decade of my life (no, that doesn’t mean I am in my 80s – do the calculations!) And being that old I discover that occasionally I can slip into one of the hazards of becoming older - Grumpy Old Man Syndrome.

Obtaining an older age as a male does not, of course, automatically qualify one as a Grumpy Old Man. However, the sobriquet of “grumpy” does, in my observation, fit many old men. I am not immune to it either.

Whether it be something as simple as a loud party going on in the street whilst trying to get to sleep, or (as is often the case for me) an annoyance that humanity continues to destroy this glorious planet, or simply a diminished supply of testosterone, being an older man can stimulate grumpiness.

So, how do we older men deal with Grumpy Old Man Syndrome? I outline 8 strategies that I have discovered that helps to deal with feeling grumpy. If they assist you also, then please try them out.

For anyone of a young age reading this, I might add a further strategy. You might call it a pre-strategy, or Strategy Zero. The strategy that gets put in place before these 8. The pre-strategy is this:

Strategy # 0. Don’t wait until you get to be an older man before learning and implementing these strategies. Some of them take years to learn and make part of your life.

Onto the 8 Strategies for dealing with Grumpy Old Man Syndrome.

Strategy # 1. Name it. When grumpiness arises, don’t try to repel it, just recognise it and name it. “Oh hullo, Mr Grumpy” I say to myself, “there you are again.” Intriguingly, when I do, I feel a smile arrive on my lips and in my eyes. Grumpiness then seems to dissolve.

The great psychologist, Carl Jung, is reputed to have stated that, ‘What we resist, persists, and becomes larger.’ Although no such verbatim quote can be found, some of his writings can easily be condensed to this short phrase. Effectively, trying to repel grumpiness in our mind we only end up in a struggle that does not dispel the grumps, but usually ends up with us becoming more grumpy – because our struggle has been futile.

Name it, greet it, and watch it slowly dissolve.

Strategy # 2. Accept it. Associated with the first strategy, this strategy simply accepts grumpiness as one of the myriads of feelings and emotions that we humans encounter every day.

It has been estimated that there are more than 34,000 unique emotions and that most humans experience around 400 emotions in any one day. Grumpiness is simply one of these.

That’s life.

Strategy # 3. It won’t last. Emotions, like all other phenomena, are impermanent. They do not last. The mantra, ‘This too shall pass’ is a useful one to bring to mind when dealing with grumpiness, or indeed, any other emotion that we find unhelpful or harmful.

When we realise that grumpiness is but an ephemeral emotion, then we allow it the time and space to arise and then to slip away.

Strategy # 4. Grumpiness is not alone. Often grumpiness socialises with other feelings and emotions, such as disappointment, despair, angst, anxiety, guilt, shame, or unhappiness. Grumpiness co-emerged with, and because of, other emotions.

Recognising this interplay of emotions allows us to delve further into what may lie behind, or below, the emotion of grumpiness. In doing so, we may discover that we have an unmet need that one of those other emotions is alerting us to.

If we find an unmet need, then we can devise a plan to either a. meet that need or b. find an alternative if the need cannot be met.

Strategy # 5. Grumpiness may be an indication of grief. Of the 5 “stages” of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, despair, acceptance) grumpiness would seem to be an amalgam of despair and anger.

If the feeling of grumpiness is part of the grief process, then that tells us we have lost something, or someone, that we were very attached to. We are grieving the loss. Grumpiness, at this stage, is an expression of that feeling of loss. Knowing this, we can identify what the loss is. With that knowledge, we are able to work through the grief process.

Strategy # 6. Deep Time. Our life upon this planet is a blip in the deep time of the cosmos. When I consider my lifetime against the time that galaxies, stars, and planets (including this one) have been forming and evolving, then I recognise both my insignificance and, paradoxically, my uniqueness.

Noticing my insignificance, the grumpiness is so fleeting that it become irrelevant.

Noticing my uniqueness, my grumpiness becomes a waste of time.

Strategy # 7. Bring to mind the Serenity Prayer. The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed the Serenity Prayer in the 1930s. The wording has had different versions over the years, with the following today being the most widely quoted:

‘God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

If you are a non-theist, then you may wish to find a substitute for God. No matter who or what the prayer is addressed to, understanding the difference between what we can change and what we cannot has bearing upon our grumpy feelings.

More often than not, I discover that my grumpiness stems from something I have no control over. Discovering that allows me to step back and accept whatever that prompt is and allow my grumpiness to pass.

Strategy # 8. If all else fails, then repeat Strategy # 1.

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