Getting better, not just older, a continuation

By Norman Araiza

Last weeks discussion of negative traits of the elderly ended with compulsive talkers. Often times, compulsive talking is exacerbated by another condition commonly known as being a control freak. Control freaks seem to know intuitively how things should be done. Paul Simon must not have been referring to control freaks when he wrote “50 ways to leave your lover” because control freaks only recognize one way…their way. They have no problem telling us how something should have been done. When we are driving with them in a car, they want us to know the best way to get somewhere or how they go even if it is just going to our own home. Control freaks want to control everything in their world except their ability to tell others of their insights.

Next in my list of all too common unhealthy characteristics of the mature set, is referred to as Rigidity! It is a fact of science that as we age we tend to become less limber and flexible both mentally and physically. Yoga and exercise can be helpful in postponing the loss of physical flexibility. Yet, even in advocates of Hatha Yoga, mental rigidity may be a lurking problem. Many of us pay more attention to our physical rigidity never noticing the slow onset of our mental rigidity.

New behaviors, new or different people and attitudes are not welcomed by the rigid personality. Unforeseen yet necessary changes to plans grate harshly on this personality. Intellectually, the rigid person is aware that the only thing constant is change. But, they don’t like it and they will fight it or at least complain about it, pointing out to others their strong disapproval.

Lastly, in my collection of infamous habits or traits of the elderly is what I refer to as the Dogmatic personality. This is the person that believes he or she is right and will argue, regardless of the amount of evidence presented to the contrary. In social settings, many people may disagree with an expressed view. They just keep it to themselves.

In contrast, the dogmatic personality feels compelled to argue over it.

Perhaps this is just a different shade of the “Rigid” personality I just described; nonetheless, it falls into the same boring category of obnoxious traits of the aged.

It is very stressful to be rigid and resistant to change. It is going against nature. Quite naturally, our body goes into a defensive posture mentally whenever we recognize something of which we are not in accord. Why put it through the stress? It is not as if we wake one morning and we have adopted these characteristics. No! They arrive slowly, unconsciously. Each time we exhibit the behavior, win the attention of others, it is reinforced and we increase the chances it will reoccur. Anyone can be a critic. It’s easy to find fault. If you are not going to change the very thing that you are critical of, then keep it to yourself!

While these characteristics may seem laughable in our neighbors, they are without a doubt, associated to poor health as well as a poor quality of life.

Through courageous self-examination, we can begin to catch ourselves at being less than whom we are capable of being. Become aware of the voice in your head. Listen to the complaining, the ridiculing, the judging as well as anything it says that doesn’t make you feel good. As you grow in awareness you will also grow in your ability to edit out the negative reactions.

Please make a personal commitment to practice tolerance and acceptance in your daily life; and as you go about your day, look for the joy that is everywhere in our fair city and acknowledge it, if only to yourself. Remember that life, for most all of us, has never been more free and easy.

Norman Araiza, MA, is an American trained psychotherapist enjoying a limited practice in SMA. He is available for consultation at 152 7842 or 2gatos2@gmail

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